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3 Ways Your Content Marketing Strategy Can Use Big Data

big data-marketing strategyTo date, the term “Big Data” garners about 1.64 billion search results, and counting. The data scientist has been called the sexiest job of the 21st century. Big Data has been described by McKinsey and Company as the next $100 billion dollar opportunity. So, what is it, exactly?

Big Data is the massive amounts of data that are being created every minute. 

Let’s think about the amount of data that is created on social media channels alone. According to an infographic from Domo, every minute 100,000 tweets are sent, 347 new blogs are posted on WordPress, 48 hours of video are loaded to YouTube, and more than 680,000 pieces of content are shared on Facebook. In addition, data from your website analytics, CRM, and marketing automation tools also add up to Big Data. In fact, according to IBM, we are creating an astounding 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day.

Indeed, data are coming from your customers and prospects at an incredible rate. But what does this mean for your content marketing strategy?

All of this raw data could lead to valuable insight about what types of content and topics are most engaging to your target audience.

Doing your research 

Before considering how Big Data can help your content marketing strategy, it is important to first understand what problems you are trying to solve. To get to the answers, start by asking yourself some key questions, like:

  • What are your overall goals for your content marketing program?
  • What drives your customers and prospects when it comes to consuming and engaging with your content?
  • What topics and pain points are most critical to your personas?
  • What content has garnered the highest conversions?
  • What about which content is driving the most awareness?

By taking a step back and figuring out what problem you are looking to solve with Big Data, you’ll be in a better position to orchestrate your content marketing strategy with a Big Data approach in mind.

Knowing what’s important 

Once you have an understanding of the possibilities with data, it is easy to get caught up with everything that you can do. Instead of thinking about mining every single tweet your customers and prospects send, think about what data could help to inform your content strategy. In addition, for smaller teams or those with fewer content resources on hand, it is also important to consider what types of data sources you’ll easily have access to. Remember, Big Data doesn’t have to mean analyzing every single byte of data to derive value.

Let’s take a look at three common content marketing goals and discuss how to incorporate a slice of Big Data into your program.

1. Building awareness: Many small- to medium-sized companies employ various content marketing tactics to build a thought leadership strategy aimed at getting more people to talk about their offerings. If you have a goal to increase awareness through content marketing, important metrics for you to track include:

  • Website traffic
  • Branded search
  • Your social media following
  • Social media shares
  • Your number of social media mentions
  • Your number of influencer mentions
  • The number of back-links you are receiving from your content efforts
  • Where your traffic is coming from
  • Your overall visibility

There are several free tools available to help you track and monitor your progress against these metrics, including Google Analytics, Google Alerts, HootSuite, and others. It is easy to get caught up in the numbers and reporting, so consider tasking an intern to build and create these reports for you on a monthly or quarterly basis.

2. Driving conversions: Content marketing is also used to help drive conversions and speed along your buyer’s journey. If one of your goals is to drive conversions, you’ll want to map out and measure how long your prospects are staying in a given stage, as well as track what content they are downloading, consuming, and abandoning. You’ll also want to focus on identifying your best performing content by tracking downloads, views, and open and click-through rates, so you can determine what types and formats of content you should be creating more of.

Most of this data can be uncovered using your website analytics tools and marketing automation or email marketing platforms. Recently at the SiriusDecisions Summit, Tom Berger Director of Internet Marketing at Iron Mountain, and Mary D’Altari, Director of Account Services at Ion Interactive recommended breaking down your conversions into two buckets: Macro (chat, sales, premium content downloads) and Micro (click a link, click a CTA, social shares, view additional content) during a session on big testing.

3. Retaining customers: Building a loyal following of brand subscribers is something that many content marketers strive for. If you have a goal to retain customers and create evangelists, you’ll want to measure your subscriber base and consumption metrics, like click-through rates, time on site, and overall satisfaction.

Have you taken a Big Data approach to content marketing? I’d love to hear your story.

For more insights on how a data-driven approach can help you take your content marketing to the next level, attend our Big Data session at Content Marketing World 2013.

Cover image by JD Hancock, via Flickr Creative Commons.