Many companies make mistakes when running marketing campaigns. Even companies like Coca Cola, Pepsi, Ford or Fiat had marketing disasters. If such large brands can fail with their marketing, despite their high budget, you can too.
Lots of people say that their content marketing is data-driven. And in some ways, they’re probably right.
But it’s easy to make mistakes when you combine the seemingly concrete facts of analytics with the more intuitive side of marketing. And that can cripple your efforts.
Finding the right balance between your creativity as a marketer and the data given to you by analytics isn’t something you learn overnight. You’ll need to develop experience in both fields to make it work.
But you can get a jump on the process by learning from people who have done already.
If you’re a data-driven content marketer, make sure you watch out for these five mistakes.
(Interested in data-driven email marketing? We have you covered on that front, too. Check out “Getting Started with Data-Driven Email Marketing.”)
#1 Not Collecting Enough Analytics Data
Most content marketers collect at least some data—it’s part of the job. But there’s a world of useful data out there, and it can be a powerful tool in your marketing.
Let’s look at Google Analytics as an example.
If you’ve used GA before, you’ve probably seen some of the basic stats: how much traffic you’re getting, the bounce rate, average time on page, and so on.
And all of that is great. Those metrics let you see which content is performing.
But you can go a lot further.
Conversion tracking, for example, lets you set up goals for conversions. That could be a newsletter signup, adding a product to a cart, getting in touch for a quote, or any other goal that you consider to be a conversion.
By assigning monetary value to these conversions, you can see which pieces of content are driving the most revenue for your business. That’s incredibly valuable.
Similarly, your shares and likes aren’t the only things you should be looking at in your social media analytics. You can get a good idea of your brand reach by measuring impressions and brand mentions.
And seeing how effective social media is in your lead gen process is also valuable.
Even simple analytics apps have a wealth of information that can be valuable for your content marketing. Take some time to dig into your platforms and see what they can tell you.
If you want to expand to more complex analytics platforms, great. You’ll get more functionality in seeing how your website visitors and social followers interact with your content.
Don’t feel pressured to shell out for a complicated solution, though. You can run your data-driven content marketing campaign with just the basics.
#2 Only Using Analytics Data
If your content is failing, you want to use your analytics data to understand what you're doing wrong. Once your analytics are telling you useful things (and, hopefully, delivering automated reports), it’s time to branch out. Data-driven content marketing isn’t only about analytics.
Other kinds of data might be harder to analyze, but they’re just as insightful—if not more. User surveys, for example, let you collect data to fine-tune your buyer personas, see which types of content they want, and find out how you can improve your marketing and business.
Those surveys can also be useful for other parts of your business, like sales and product development.
Some data that helps drive content strategy doesn’t even come from your company. Industry trends tell you a lot about the people you’re marketing to, what works, and what hasn’t yet been tried (we’ll talk about that in a moment).
Data from other points of contact, like email, sales calls, and customer support tickets, should also inform the types of content you create.
There’s no limit to the type of information that you can use in data-driven content marketing. It pays to have a central location where data like this is stored so you can access information collected by different departments.
Great content marketers can turn data from many sources into a cohesive strategy. And if you’re limiting your data collection to analytics, you’re missing out on a vast source of valuable information.
#3 Not Being Patient
We once worked with an executive who said that he practiced data-driven marketing. He said that the company placed an emphasis on analytics and using them to focus on what works.
Great, we said. That’s awesome. And we got to work. We used data on what had worked in the past to discover topics and formats that worked.
But we also tried to branch out and try new things. Unfortunately, if we tried something new and it didn’t seem to work, that executive would bring the hammer down and say that we wouldn’t be using that content or format in the future.
He thought he was doing data-driven content marketing. But he was using data to stifle innovation in the marketing program. That’s not what data-driven content marketing is about.
Being data-driven means looking for trends in your marketing data. And those trends take a while to show up.
Content marketing requires a long view. You might not see good engagement on a post for several months after it’s published. Which means jumping to conclusions will only hurt you in the long run.
Be patient. Let new content efforts play out to see what happens.
There’s no set time period to see whether something works. You’ll have to develop a feel for your audience and distribution channels. But don’t pull the plug on new content efforts too soon.
#4 Not Experimenting
Some people find a type of content that works and stick with it—often until it stops working. Data shouldn't limit you. It should empower you to try new things. Data can't replace marketing intuition. You’ll still need to branch out to see what resonates.
When you’re patient and you draw on available data to identify an effective content type, it’s tempting to stick with it. If you see that case studies are effective, you may want to write as many case studies as possible.
And that’s fine—but don’t fall into a rut.
Some marketers find a type of content that works and focus on it to the detriment of the rest of their marketing. Then, when the effectiveness of that content type starts falling off, they need to start over.
That’s one of the reasons you should be experimenting with new content types and topic approaches.
Data-driven content marketing shouldn’t limit you. It should help you identify a strong core of a content and guide you in trying new things to branch out.
Maybe a new approach will engage readers more than you expected. Or draw in a new reader group. You might gain insights into your product or marketing that surprise you.
Data will never replace a marketer’s creative intuition. It supports that intuition and guides forays into new content territory. But outsourcing your creativity to analytics is a sure way to get stale content sooner rather than later.
#5 Replacing Strategy With Analytics
Before you start content marketing, you need a solid strategy. It takes time to craft that strategy, and when you’re done, you’ll have a solid roadmap of the content you need to create and how you’ll promote it.
(At the very least, you should have a content marketing plan that gives you some direction.)
Don’t let analytics derail that strategy.
Analytics informs your content strategy. If you went through the necessary steps to strategize well, reacting too quickly to traffic spikes and dips can throw you off.
It takes more than just patience to maintain balance between analytics and long-term, data-driven content marketing strategy. Both should be driving what you do. But neither should totally dilute the influence of the other.
Analytics reports should help you understand whether your strategy’s working and if it needs to be updated. Keep that in mind when designing and delivering your reports. It’s easy to get caught up in the immediate feedback of analytics.
But you built your strategy for a reason, and it’s worth sticking with it—at least for a while.
Sometimes the results will tell you that it’s time to bail on your strategy. That’s okay. But don’t be too quick to do it.
(Pro tip: keep a one-line description of your content strategy on a Post-It note on your monitor or desk. It will stay top-of-mind and you’ll find it easier to interpret your results in terms of your strategic goals.)
Be Data-Driven (Do Data-Driven Content Marketing The Right Way)
It’s easy to say that your content marketing is data-driven. But it’s easy to make mistakes, too. And those mistakes can derail your content marketing.
If you keep these five points in mind, your data analysis and content marketing will work together. That means you’ll reach more people with the right message at the right time.
You still need to craft that message. And that’s where the creative side of marketing comes in. Analytics will never tell you what you should be telling your customers. They only tell you how certain actions result in specific behaviors.
And that’s very useful. But data-driven content marketing needs more than that. It needs a careful balance between ideas and data. Intuition and evidence.
To truly succeed in content marketing, you’ll need to find that balance.
Subscribe to our newsletter! Join us on social networks!