You are a content marketer. You care about people, about making real content for real humans that adds value and solves problems. After all, that’s the heart of content marketing.
Unfortunately, all that care and human connection often comes at a cost.
Even in the B2B realm, a mere 6% of respondents in CMI’s 2017 research rated their organization’s content marketing maturity level as “sophisticated” — providing accurate measurement to the business and scaling across the organization. The previous survey looked at challenges and found “measuring content effectiveness” was the No. 2 challenge faced by marketers, second only to creating content itself.Only 6% of B2B marketers rated their org’s #contentmarketing maturity as sophisticated. @cmicontent #research Click To Tweet
In both those uncomfortable admissions, the keyword is “measure.”
Why do we struggle?
Because most content marketers are technophobic.Most #content marketers are technophobic says @iconicontent. Click To Tweet
Certainly, we muscle our way through tools like Google Analytics. But stepping beyond its familiar dashboards to a business intelligence tool that combines data from multiple sources critical to success fills our souls with dread.
Even worse, many of us work with clients or teams who are just as data-averse as we are. (And yes, that’s true of enterprise-level organizations.)
Cumulative data presented by Forbes makes it clear that marketers who put data at the heart of their efforts outperform their counterparts on just about every front: lead generation, customer acquisition and retention, pricing strategies, product improvement, and even customer relationships that extend “beyond campaign execution.”Marketers who put data at the heart of efforts outperform counterparts. @Forbes via @iconicontent Click To Tweet
To help you cross the divide, I’ve collected and vetted eight business intelligence tools for technophobic content marketers (like me). The first four are designed for enterprise-level organizations ready to take the full plunge, and the last four are specifically chosen for agencies and entrepreneurs looking to get their feet wet.
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Two must-have ingredients to integrate data — especially big data — into your content marketing strategy are (1) custom dashboards to monitor what matters and (2) baked-in visualizations to bring data to life. Both ingredients make bridging the gap between numbers and decisions far easier than you’d imagine.
Sisense is one of the few data analytics platforms that excels at both. Designed to be used by people with any degree of technical expertise, Sisense walks new users through the setup process and brings together all your data sources into one interface. It also creates personalized dashboards — or lets you build your own — for executives, marketers, e-commerce managers, and more.
Having one central performance data hub coupled with a personalized, role-specific dashboard means you’ll never overlook important findings. And it means you won’t get overwhelmed.
For content marketers in particular, Sisense can map your customer journey — from off-site audience member, to visitor, to lead, to customer — and isolate the content that moved someone from one stage to the next.
Second, Sisense also includes visualizations within the tool itself. Instead of creating your own reports, charts, and graphs from diverse data sets, you can generate them automatically based on the type of insights you’re looking for. It even published a handy, non-gated data visualization wizard to help you choose the best type of data visualization for your project before going all in.
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Compared to Sisense, Cyfe is a far simpler, more DIY solution for large and small companies alike. However, this dual focus — and its modest price tag — doesn’t mean it isn’t powerful. With Cyfe, you create your own all-in-one dashboards by adding pre-built widgets that natively integrate with all major data-gathering applications. Plus, with its new Zapier integration, Cyfe offers the largest selection of integrations.
No matter how spread out your data is — online or off — everything is collected in one place. Cyfe doesn’t support unstructured data sources or complex analyses based on blended views, but it’s great for keeping track of what’s happening across the board. No more toggling between platforms like Google Analytics, your CRM, email marketing provider, social networks, keyword campaigns, optimization software, and your internal projects. Cyfe is for people who know what they need to track and want to keep those metrics front-and-center.
Not only does Cyfe save you time, but it also eliminates holes in your data that silos create. Individual platform analytics hide the often widely different performance of traffic versus social shares versus lead generation versus sales. Instead, Cyfe lets you see all that interconnected data at a glance.
Segment is an all-in-one data connector that goes beyond dashboards and focuses on compiling, integrating, and even helping you optimize over 200 customer-data integrations. Segment sits a layer underneath vital tools for content marketing like Google Analytics (content performance), HubSpot (content creation and promotion), Facebook Ads (content exposure), and Autopilot (email campaigns).
Because Segment relies on its own in-house developers during onboarding, it offers a more full-service product. Once an engineer hooks up Segment to your data providers, you get a full-picture sense of your content’s performance. For a more granular examination, you can build cohorts of users — segments — who’ve taken particular actions and then automate multichannel efforts for better reach and ROI.
Even better, because Segment does more than just aggregate data and gives you direct control over the tools you integrate, your marketing stack becomes just that … your marketing stack, eliminating bottlenecks between departments like marketing and engineering.
For content marketers in e-commerce, retail, manufacturing, or B2B organizations, ClearStory Data specializes in gathering data from traditional in-house sources and combines them with outward-facing marketing metrics. When it comes to analyzing both your own and third-party data, few of the other platforms on this list are up to the challenge.
Beyond its wide scope, one feature of ClearStory stands out. Rather than a static dashboard, ClearStory uses what it calls Interactive StoryBoards. For example, if your team publishes a case study, you can pull in live customer data on retention and sales and combine that with analytics on the best marketing channels — social, gated, email, or blog — to use when posting and promoting it.
If you need data-driven inspiration to help with content creation itself, you can add parameters — simply by editing the sources to draw from — and instantly collect the headlines and themes of your company’s most successful case studies to date. Those interactive dashboards also can be shared with other departments — most notably development and sales — to facilitate collaboration throughout the creation and optimization process.
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Unlike the previous tools, TapClicks is this list’s first business intelligence platform built especially for agencies and media companies. TapClicks offers a set of pre-built integrations (similar to Cyfe) but still runs the analytics gamut. Accordingly, the platform focuses on combining diverse data sets and sources into comprehensive dashboards.
However, because it’s made for agencies and media companies, TapClicks offers the ability to create white-labeled, client-facing dashboards in addition to internal ones. You can schedule regular client-customized reports to be automatically generated and sent. Proving your ROI to clients becomes a natural and regular part of your routine.
Maybe best of all, TapClicks lets you add margin and mark-up costs to your client’s campaigns that only appear on their end as final invoices. In other words, TapClicks combines the kind of business intelligence insights that drive powerful marketing while making it easy to report and bill.
In the same vein as TapClicks, DashThis is primarily a report-generating tool for agencies that ends manual work. As such, it offers a comparable stack of marketing-specific integrations and focuses not on content optimization but on building client-facing dashboards and reports that make highlighting KPIs straightforward. In addition to combining all your analytics in one location, the KPI emphasis makes aligning your agency’s output with your clients’ goals and timetables a breeze.
Naturally, how to optimize and obtain the results depends on how you choose to use the tools, but you won’t need to invest hours gathering information and compiling it.
For content marketers who suffer from serious technophobia but still find themselves using a host of measuring tools, DashThis may be the simplest platform that requires the very least IT expertise. It does one thing — collect and report KPIs — and it does it well.
Getting a bit more niched, SumAll is a social media business intelligence tool that enables you to connect unlimited Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Google Analytics accounts. By gathering comprehensive historical data across those mediums, you get a full picture of your social-media standing. This tool, however, does more than just report. It lets you know your wins and losses to help you plan upcoming content based on the networks you’re targeting.
What makes SumAll stand out is its automated “Insights” reports. By aligning your data with your followers’ and competitors’, SumAll offers proactive guidelines related to hashtags, scheduling, keywords, and influencer outreach. While those insights shouldn’t be treated as gospel, if you’re struggling to make your social media data actionable, this feature gives SumAll a unique advantage.
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While Qlik offers a suite of business intelligence tools, including products similar to those like Sisense and Segment, my favorite offering is Qlik Sense primarily because it was the first data visualization tool I used. Qlik Sense has nowhere near the exhaustive list of integrations that Cyfe boasts, but if all you’re looking to do is bring your data to life for a presentation or report, it doesn’t get easier.
By engaging your content audience, visual storytelling increases conversions. When coordinating with internal stakeholders, the same is true. Qlik lets you create visualizations, dashboards, and apps for internal or external audiences that answer their most important questions. Think of it as the lowest-hanging analytical fruit.
Its direct integration and drag-and-drop interface lets the most technophobic and even design-phobic marketers make their own representations without scripting, coding, complex SQL questions, or hand-inputting data through Excel. Instead, Qlik collects your data from those sources and guides you through the visualization process one step at a time.
Overcome your fear
The truth is that data-centric marketers, including content marketers, outperform their non-data equivalents on every front.Data-centric marketers outperform their non-data equivalents on every front says @iconicontent Click To Tweet
The trick is to find the business intelligence tool that fits your needs whether that’s a full-scale, enterprise-level platform or a simple data visualization tool.
You can overcome your fear.
And remember, the best use of data doesn’t disconnect you from your audience. It drives you deeper into the stories — the real human stories — waiting behind every click.
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute
Please note: All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team. No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used)