Modern blog writing is about so much more than just sitting down and typing until your fingers go numb. Sure, there is definitely something to be said for putting your digital pen to paper and getting something out there on the web, but the truth of the matter is that if you really want to garner an audience that makes your site “must read” content, you need to focus these efforts and address the issues and ideas that matter most to these viewers.
The best way to do this? Ensuring that your brand has a meaningful and vibrant relationship with consumer data. To help you evaluate where your brand stands on this front now – and give you the tips and guidance needed to take this relationship to the next level – let’s spend a few minutes talking about the best ways to fit data into your blog writing and content marketing practices.
Does Data Really Matter?
“A more data-driven approach is key for reaching consumers and moving the industry to the next generation of content marketing.” – Steve Sachs, iMedia Connection
Of course, for those of you out there that are already doing okay with your blog writing endeavors, all while not putting much effort into accumulating and utilizing data, the idea of pushing further into this portion of the content marketing world probably doesn’t hold much appeal. Unfortunately, as Steve Sachs of iMedia Connection and many other industry voices explain, this is a dangerous line of thinking.
Having reliable consumer data – and a solid plan for utilizing this information – is vital to the success of your brand moving forward. Even if you’re getting by now without an actionable approach to optimizing your content, it won’t be long before the more progressive competitors you face on the web surge ahead via stronger viewer interaction, thus leaving your posts behind in the virtual Stone Age.
If this nightmare scenario doesn’t offer up enough motivation, Liz Morrell of Marketing Tech News points out that a survey of the members of the Content Marketing Association (CMA) shows that the best and brightest brands can’t get enough data. With 92 percent of these organizations reporting that they use data to refine and optimize their content, and an additional 83 percent within this group planning to use data even more in the future, the message is clear; getting the most out of your content marketing strategy means working hand-in-hand with consumer data.
Laying the Foundation for Data-Driven Success
Now that you understand the need for data, it’s time to dig into the particulars of instituting this approach in your current blog writing and content marketing methodology. According to the Content Marketing Institute’s Ben Harper, it all starts with evaluating the pillars of your current content environment. The areas worth studying and examining include:
- Website Content – How does your current content test with target audiences? Are any systems in place for gathering or extracting data and feedback from these posts?
- The Competition’s Content – While metrics might be hard to come by on this front, there’s plenty of benefits to be had by keeping an eye out for what’s working and what’s not on the other side of the marketplace.
- Guest Post and External Content – Applying the same lines of thought illustrated in the points above to your external content strategy can unveil vital information and guidance regarding fringe or newly acquired segments of your growing consumer audience.
- Social Media Interaction – In terms of sheer volume, no source on the list compares to the information offered by social media. Tracking likes, favorites, retweets, community interaction on specific posts, and the plethora of other social activities can give you an eagle’s eye view of the topics and trends that truly resonate with your target demographics.
Naturally, there’s more sources and points of data allocation that deserve a place in the discussion (as you’ll see shortly.) However, utilizing Harper’s list and evaluating the foundation of your data inflow is a great way to start revamping and enhancing your relationship with this guiding information.
Going Beyond the Foundation
In terms of taking the next step toward a deeper and more meaningful relationship with data, Mathew Sweezey of ClickZ suggests delving into the outreach side of this practice. Specifically, Sweezey pinpoints surveys and other tactical methods that elicit a response from your audience as prime tools in your data-driven blog writing arsenal.
Essentially, the premise behind this approach centers around the notion that observable data – page views, social likes, etc. – is a strong foundation. However, the best brands go a step farther by harvesting information via surveys and other feedback requests. By doing this, your brand will have a repository of first-party data that helps shape and mold your future content endeavors.
A Data Relationship for All Brands
Finally, no guide focused on enhancing your relationship with data would be complete without addressing the concerns surrounding the cost of this process – specifically as it pertains to small businesses. Thankfully, Marketing Land’s Chris Marentis and other industry thought leaders help erase these concerns by noting that with the right approach, there’s no reason why your content marketing and blog writing strategies can’t rely upon data; regardless of your budget.
“Use this power wisely to make the most efficient use of your limited time.” – Chris Marentis, Marketing Land
By embodying the mindset of making the most out of limited time and other resources, there’s no reason why even the smallest brands can’t generate just as much impact as the industry heavyweights.
Should you find that you don’t want to walk this path alone, John Rampton of Forbes magazine suggests working with a team of content experts who know how to use data to its full potential. With only 18 percent of those polled by Rampton utilizing data properly, it’s clear that finding the right expert does take some time and effort. However, if you’re willing to find a group that knows how to foster a balanced and healthy relationship between data and blog writing, you’ll be putting your budget – and this newfound knowledge surrounding the importance of data – to good use.