By Jessica Ann published June 21, 2015

How to Translate Audience Data to Improve Your Content Marketing Strategy

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Let’s face it: You’re either a right-brained or left-brained content marketer. If you’re a right-brained marketer, then the term “audience data” probably makes you squirm uncomfortably. But if you’re a left-brained content marketer, you eat things like audience data for breakfast. Mmmm … data.

Here’s why: Right-brained marketers generally depend upon intuition to solve problems and process information, while left-brained marketers process information in a data-driven way.

It’s important to know your brain’s direction because, for better or worse, your brain decides without you. If you become more aware of how your brain naturally wants to work, you more easily connect audience data to content marketing strategy. (If you’re not sure which brain you have, here’s a helpful infographic from Marketo.)

The Right Brain vs. Left Brain of Marketers Infographic by Marketo

Right-brained marketers: I feel you. I am you. But we must understand how to land our flying-unicorn perspective on earth to find practical ways to translate audience data. It may not be as fun as flying that unicorn, but when you see how easy and seamless the data can come together you’ll realize why logic is sometimes the only way to get creative.

Left-brained marketers: You’re grounded in solid footing. You love analyzing the applicability of ideas. But don’t let all of your logic go to your head. It’s important to let your heart and intuition do a little work, too – even when it comes to data analysis.

Regardless of your brain orientation, incorporating audience data into your content marketing strategy is crucial. For example, if I was only writing for fellow right-brained marketers, I would simply post an emotionally impactful photo with a link to a Craigslist ad, not bothering with all of the important facts.

But since I know that you’re all super-smart, logical marketers who thrive on research and facts, I better make sure you know how to find the right audience data by the end of this article. This, in turn, will help you build a better content marketing strategy and get more customers.

Step 1 (left brain): Set up Google Analytics to grow your blog

As I said, you’re a smart marketer, so I feel silly even telling you this. But if you don’t have Google Analytics, head over there pronto.

Because, hear this: Once you get Google Analytics going, you won’t be able to stop. It may become a minor obsession to get nerdy with the new vs returning behaviors of your readers. By studying these patterns, you can learn more about audience behavior, how to acquire new readers, and what makes your current ones tick. (Full disclosure: You may go down a few rabbit holes, such as, “Why are 611 people from Malaysia currently reading my website?”)

Here are a few other ways to measure success with Google Analytics: time spent on your page, referral traffic, and conversions. Referral traffic can inform your content marketing strategy by showing you where you’re winning on social.

You may think you’re doing awesome on social media. But you don’t know for sure. (That’s OK. We won’t tell.) It’s often hard to know what filtering photos on Instagram does for your business (other than provide some fun). To get a solid sense of how to measure success on social media through Google Analytics, click the Acquisition tab. You’ll know if your promotional efforts or social media marketing is working if you see a lot of social media sites under Source. If you see that you have a ton of referral traffic from Facebook, but barely any from Google Plus, you’ll know where to focus your future efforts. You also can use other analytics from social media sites, such as this robust analytics tool from Pinterest.

Soak in the knowledge of your “acquisitions,” absorb the information, and then slowly step away so that you can simultaneously execute Step 2.

Step 2 (right brain): Listen on social networks

Successful content marketing requires intention and purpose behind everything you post. The best ways to hone these things? Listening and feeling the vibes of your favorite people on social networks – it’s not as creepy as it sounds.

Here are some ideas for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram:

Facebook: Folks from all over the world come together in Facebook Groups to discuss the various aspects of running a business. If you listen to what these business owners are saying, you can get some qualitative insights into their needs – you can use this information to build a solid (yet intuitive) data-based strategy.

LinkedIn: The Interests page on LinkedIn makes it easy for you to see what your favorite people are posting. For example, if you go to the Pulse tab under Interests you can follow your particular interests and receive personalized insights from within LinkedIn. If you come across an article, company, or a person that piques your interest, just hit the Follow button so that you can keep listening to their updates. LinkedIn also uses its own algorithm to share a Recommended for You feature.

Twitter: Create a Private List on Twitter for potential customers. The people on this list won’t know that you added them, but you can see what they’re tweeting. It’s a solid way to learn more about prospects, while preventing information overload. Here are some things to look for in potential customers’ tweets:

  • What are they saying?
  • What are they feeling? (i.e., overwhelmed, confident)
  • How are they acting? (i.e., silly, happy, confused)
  • What are they eating? (No, seriously. What people eat says a lot about them.)

Mining this data can help you use those same words and emotions to create content that speaks to these potential customers.

Instagram: Use hashtags to make you and your business more human. If you’re selling a product or service, you can take it a step further by doing keyword research to find the most popular Instagram hashtags around your product or service categories.

Despite their seeming overuse, hashtags are a powerful audience data point that can inform your Instagram strategy. If you think of a hashtag as a simple search tool, your strategy can be a success.

For example, if you run a creative digital agency, regularly follow the hashtag “creative” or “creativity” to find other businesses that are in the creative field or business owners who are “trying to be creative” (and may need your help). The hashtag is the entry point for the communication to happen. After you find Instagram pages for businesses that are into creativity, you can “like” their photos or leave a comment. This starts the conversation with potential customers in a fun (and #creative) way.

Just make sure to use a targeted approach. You can take a look at the optimization section of the “Google Analytics of Instagram” – Iconosquare – to get an analysis of your posting history vs. engagement. This will tell you the best times to post so that you maximize engagement.

Step 3 (right and left brain): Focus on a holistic experience

Now it’s time to get creative on both sides of your brain. Combine what you learned in the first two steps to create a holistic experience driven by data.

For example, let’s say Google Analytics shows you that the article that gets the most reads on your blog is about visual content. You also see your customers tweeting about visual content regularly.

You can now turn these insights into components of your content marketing strategy. For example, post more (or start an account) on a visual platform like Instagram where you strategically use hashtags. Consider publishing blog posts on visual content. Maybe commission some gated visual content while you’re at it.

Once you’ve got a list of possible content types, make sure that your objectives are aligned with meaningful experiences and outcomes correlated with your company brand voice.

Whether you’re right- or left-brained, you can translate your audience data into something that makes sense. When you entertain and inform your customers with content that has intent and purpose, you can then sharpen your strategy with data-backed insights.

A subscribed audience is one of the five core elements for running successful, scalable content marketing operations. Read our 2016 Content Marketing Framework: 5 Building Blocks for Profitable, Scalable Operations for an overview of the full strategic blueprint. 

Cover image by Viktor Hanacek, picjumbo, via pixabay.com

Author: Jessica Ann

Jessica Ann is the CEO and Creative Director of Jessica Ann Media. She writes for studioD (a CMI benefactor), a content studio that connects brands to audiences using original content. Through data-driven content strategy and innovative content creation, studioD is changing the way brands communicate with digital audiences. Find out more about studioD by visiting our content marketing blog or Twitter. You can reach Jessica Ann on her blog.

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  • http://linkboosterz.com Guiry Josh

    Awesome write-up, really love it

    • http://www.jessicaannmedia.com/ Jessica

      thank you, Josh! @GuiryJosh:disqus

  • Emily van Hest

    A brilliant outline for tackling the vital challenge of right and left brain collaboration in content marketing – damn those distractingly sparkly unicorns!

    • http://www.jessicaannmedia.com/ Jessica

      thank you for reading, Emily!

  • http://www.jessicaannmedia.com/ Jessica

    absolutely! totally agree with you, Becky! at the same time, it’s hard to get in the “end-users shoes” when you’re not clear what’s the right shoe and what’s the left. it’s important to understand how your brain works first before you get in someone else’s. thank you for your thoughtful comment!