By Sandra Zoratti published April 22, 2011

5 Steps to Using Data to Maximize Content Marketing ROI

One of the biggest challenges for content marketers is tying their activities to return on investment (ROI). Numerous case studies show that content developed using insights from customers, also known as data-driven customer insights, produce increased customer engagement and generate significantly higher return on investment. Properly leveraging data analytics to deliver data-driven communications is the key to successful content marketing development.

For instance, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power recently used data analytics to help reduce their overall IT costs. The company evaluated its call center volume and found that 25 to 35% of the four million calls received a year were from customers who did not understand their monthly bills.  Using the rule of thumb that a call center inquiry costs $5 to $50 per call, you can easily calculate the costs associated with this issue.  Using enhanced data analytics, LADWP reorganized and revitalized their monthly statement to help decrease this percentage and drive down costs.  To follow their lead, here are five steps to achieving better ROI using data analytics and content marketing practices.

Step 1. Identify Your Problem

Before you launch your content marketing program, it’s imperative to pinpoint your objective:

  • Are you trying to re-engage loyal customers?
  • Do you want to increase response rates?
  • Do you want to target customers with a new service?

Your objective will help determine how the rest of these steps proceed, so be sure to accurately define what you are hoping to achieve. It’s crucial to knowing how data can help you get there.

Step 2. Evaluate Your Data

Once your objective is clear, it’s time to look at the data.  The type of data you have and will want to use can vary depending on your core business and objective. For instance:

  • Some marketers have transactional data, such as what customers have purchased from you in the past.  By paying attention to a customer’s transactional data, you can anticipate a customer’s next purchase and create relevant content to seal the sale, which is ideal if you want to re-engage customers.
  • Other marketers have demographic data, such as customer location.

Collecting and analyzing this data will enable you to identify what to market to which customers to achieve your intended result.  Evaluating your data will also help you match the right communication to the right customers and optimize your marketing budget by delivering relevant content to them based on what you already know.

For example, the marketing team for the national hotel chain Best Western wanted to re-engage its loyal customers.  To do this, they personalized content for each customer based on the level of their rewards program status.   This personalized information enabled Best Western to communicate directly to each customer through a monthly statement.  On the statement, customized content informed every customer how many points they accumulated and how many they needed to earn specific rewards. As a result, Best Western was able to generate a 278% ROI and incremental 30% revenue relative to the static messaging statements.

Step 3. Create Your Target Campaign

Once the objective has been defined and the appropriate data has been analyzed, you can use these two factors to create a target customer segment and develop a targeted campaign. Once you’ve identified your target customer segments based on your requirements – which are determined by your objective and the supporting data (such as location, age, gender or other characteristics), you’ll need to match the content marketing tactics to them. Customers will tune out if the content does not speak directly to them, so it is imperative that marketers speak to customers’ specific needs and select only highly relevant content.

Once you’ve targeted your customer segments and prepared your content, it’s time to develop the campaign. Also set up the metrics by which you can objectively measure the success of your campaign. Ask yourself, what percentage increase would be a success? Are you seeking a spike in sales?  Feedback to a question? These types of questions will help you determine what your metrics should be.

Step 4. Test & Measure

With your finely tuned, targeted campaign now properly planned, it’s time to launch it.  Once executed, measure the metrics set in Step 3 to determine what worked and what did not. From the metrics, you can design your next content marketing campaign to be even more precise in your customer target identification and be more effective in engaging your customers with relevant content.

Step 5. Refine & Repeat

Finally, refine and repeat the steps above to generate increasingly positive results. Leverage the knowledge gained in Step 4 to build more effective campaigns in the future.

The conversation you have with your customers determines the depth and duration of the relationship that you have with your customers, which in turn drives results. As savvy marketers, we need to continually make the right choices in content and channel that content to deliver results and maximize ROI.

From your experience, what would you add to this list?

Author: Sandra Zoratti

Sandra Zoratti is Author, Speaker and Vice President, Marketing, Executive Briefings and Education for Ricoh. She manages a business created from IBM and Ricoh companies in Colorado. Sandra built and launched the data-driven marketing practice, “Precision Marketing,” and has numerous proof points of its global success using insight-driven content and metrics. Sandra is a recognized thought leader in this area.

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