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The worlds of content and data are about to collide

“Content” and “big data” were two of the big buzzwords of 2014. But did they really interact? … No, not so much.

By now, everyone has heard about how marketing needs to learn to love and embrace “data.” As we continue to integrate technology into our marketing efforts, the idea of content marketing has taken on a special life of its own, driving thought leadership and consumer engagement separate and apart from traditional forms of marketing. Content marketing truly is becoming a company function in its own right, and I see no stop to that growth in the upcoming year.

That being said, just as marketing as a whole needs to use data to drive decisions, both creative and function-based, so does content. Content cannot live without understanding and utilizing data to be able to grow. To firmly establish content as a useful subject matter within a company, you need to be able to understand the data that drives creation, promotion and ROI. So let’s dig in.


First, you need to have a solid understanding of your performance data:

  •  Where are your readers spending their time?
  •  Where are they (or aren’t they) clicking?
  •  Have they submitted their info in return for your content? If so, what  are the types of content they are interested in downloading?
  •   Where are your major exit points?
  •  What do your readers like? What don’t they like? This can be easily  understood by reading heatmaps.

Once you have the answers to these questions, you can begin to collect the relevant answers (your data points!) which will drive your content creation decision-making process. When you have a solid understanding of your customers’ activity, you can use this information to decide a creation schedule, editorial calendar full of topics that your readers will most likely enjoy, and monitor and measure your successes.


When determining where and when to promote your content so that it is most effective (i.e. gaining the largest readership and engagement levels possible), use the following questions as a guideline:

  • Where are your customers?
  • What do they like to read? Do you have your personas?
  • Did you do your market and target customer research? This will determine where and to whom you promote your content. It is irrelevant to shovel out your content to the world if no one cares and no one will read it.

Know your customers preferences and reading habits before you try to push your content in their faces. This will help to ensure that your content is correctly placed in the most relevant channels and that it gets in front of the readers who are most likely to be interested and engaged.


What are your goals and KPIs? Have you set them? You need to be able to track back to the value your content brings your company. You’ll never get funding or any green lights otherwise. Determine what you’re looking to get from your content, make sure it relates back to value for the company, then figure out how you will quantify it. Being able to show $’s, value and progress are so important to being able to build out a content function within your company.

These are just some starting guidelines. Every company’s marketing departments, capacities and goals will be different. Try some of these ideas out – make sure that you routinely monitor and measure them – and see how it affects your department and overall business. It may take a while to strike the unique balance of techniques, but once you do, you’ll find that the efforts will be well-rewarded.


It’s 2015 – welcome to a marketing world driven by content and data!



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