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How data should drive your marketing strategy

It can be all quite dizzying.

Visits, shares, backlinks, comments, pageviews, time on site, bounce rate, time on site, keyword volumes, cost per visit, conversion rates, event clicks etc ad infinitum. Now split this up by time of day, audience segment, channel or geography. Now split this up by browser. And device type.

How is your spreadsheet looking so far?

We can dig deeper if need be. And deeper still. And deeper…Hold your breath now.

The sheer scale and possibilities for subdivision and segmentation within digital data sources can become genuinely vertiginous. It spirals.

That said, how you manage data sources to your advantage should permeate every facet of your content marketing strategy.

If you don’t want to end up with the same bewildered grasp on reality as, say, Scottie, then some lucid thinking with regard to data is required.

Start with the basics but be precise

“Big data” refers to the constant and colossal volumes of data being created, mined, manipulated and re-carved across the digital world. And the non-digital world too. In fact, the term “big data” is arguably misleading. We’d argue it’s better to focus on the data sets which refer more specifically to what is going in within your specific part of the wider digital ecosystem.

It can be easy to get lost in the mining process, become too attracted to what lies beneath, and quickly find yourself lost down a long, dark tunnel with no gaslight to lead the way back to the surface. Don’t give yourself the big data blues.

Instead, be precise, strategic and fastidiously objective when it comes to the data laid out in front of you. A data scientist or analyst is crucial to this; in fact, they are one of the key positions comprising the arsenal of any contemporary marketing team.

The most valuable attribute that a data analyst will possess for the purposes of digital marketing is the laser-like ability to parse through reams of data and quickly extract the most salient insights. This will give digital strategists justifiable grounds to form an effective strategy and/or a creative execution, implement that strategy and then iterate and optimise as the implementation phase progresses.

Develop a clear picture of your audience

To lay the foundations for a truly effective digital marketing strategy you first need to get a clear, rounded picture of your audience, their habits, problems they would like solved, and activities they would like to undertake.

Using Google analytics, you can get a clearer picture of the problematic areas of your site: which pages are not functioning as they should; where your users spend most of the time (or not); and also how those users are travelling through the various touchpoints on their way through to conversion or goal completion – in whatever form that may take.

Using social analytics data and search visibility tools, you can get a clearer idea of how your audience likes to consume content, how they search for it, how they share it and through which specific channels they are most likely to do this. You can undertake a similar exercise to analyse how the competitive set or analogous categories carry out their content marketing plans.

Once you have this rounded picture of the landscape in which you are operating, you can begin to put your creative nous to the fore. What solutions can you create? How do you frame those correctly to facilitate sharing and engagement? How do you then deploy those at the right intersections within the wider trajectory of the user journey?

Your data analysis should light the way.

If you think inside-out, data can have other uses too. Within the data forests lie the kernels of great stories. Treating data forensically can also help you pull out unique viewpoints,  narratives, or behavioural patterns which are actually newsworthy in themselves. If you can then translate these visually, interactively, or into well thought-through editorial, you have something which does not exist elsewhere: unique content. Again, a data analyst can help you do this. Once paired up with a strategically-minded content producer and a campaign manager, and you can start to deploy these pieces to the benefit of your ongoing campaign.

The cycle then self-completes and data feeds both into the conception, the implementation and the creative ideas behind the campaign. This feels like a far more robust and well founded way to run a digital marketing campaign which will help you scale those lofty heights.

Just don’t look down.

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