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Should Businesses Take A More Data-Driven Approach To Content Marketing?

How can content become a serious, measurable addition to the marketing war chest?

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How can content become a serious, measurable addition to the marketing war chest?

Opinions

Should Businesses Take A More Data-Driven Approach To Content Marketing?

How can content become a serious, measurable addition to the marketing war chest?

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There’s something paradoxical about content marketing. The idea that, through broad ideas and ‘thought leadership’, businesses must promote their brand without actually talking about it.

Done badly, content marketing can confuse audiences and end up benefiting competitors just as much as it benefits your brand. Done well, it provides the opportunity to connect with your audience in a powerful and personable way.

If an author is able to emotively communicate with a target audience without naming their employer, they can drive home both their message and their brand without seeming clichéd and commercial.

This is as valuable as it is difficult, but a strong brand with the right content marketing strategy can provide a powerful voice for any organisation.

For larger businesses, developing such a voice can be a lot easier, with consumers already having faith in their ability to perform. Everyone knows that Google does a good job when it comes to data, or that Amazon knows a little bit about online retail, and not even monumental PR gaffs are going to change that.

If companies of this size begin an entirely new business venture, their reputation and financial power provides an air of legitimacy before they even start regardless of whether or not they’re a known entity in that particular field.

Smaller businesses trying to make a name for themselves among similarly sized competitors don’t have this safety net; a human-led content marketing is a high-risk, high-reward strategy. Hitting the nail on the head when it comes to quality content can be a massive boost to any business, but with so many possible pitfalls, it’s easy to see how a business’s differentiating message could get lost in the noise.

To avoid such pitfalls, content marketers need to take advantage of as many tools as possible to mitigate risk and understand which content is benefiting the bottom line.

Research from the Technology Marketing Group has shown that just 8% of marketers consider themselves effective at measuring the ROI of their content, while 58% admit that they have no way of monitoring the effectiveness of their content marketing efforts. Fortunately this is where data-driven analysis can make a seismic impact on the content marketing world, in the form of artificial intelligence.

An AI-driven approach

For all the astonishing-meets-sinister, HAL 9000 clichés of AI, in reality it’s often best used to sift through immense volumes of data. It’s no coincidence that in CMI’s 2019 B2B Content Marketing Report, 86% of the most successful brands were using technology to glean better insight into how their content has been performing, while 73% did the same for audience behaviour and preferences.

By using AI to inform their content strategy, marketers and business leaders can paint a content roadmap, contextualising the effectiveness of individual content pieces and how they are received. The success of all content produced becomes tangible through the analysis of everything from length/duration to the effectiveness of themes and keywords.

It will also take into account the response of a target audience, analysing social media engagement and readership to clarify exactly how and why content succeeds or fails. In short, the volume of data that previously overwhelmed us is suddenly an asset.

This not only speeds up the ability of marketers to research, launch and measure content, but also eliminates some of the major stresses of the traditional ‘human’ approach to developing content marketing. The impact of personal bias is greatly reduced, as the statistics provided by an AI can be an irrefutable basis for deciding the strategy and direction of future content. This makes content more targeted and, ultimately, more effective.

To demonstrate the impact of such insights, I used CONCURED’s AI platform to analyse the content marketing of 15 of the world’s most popular brands, identifying key differentiators between over 6,000 pieces of brand content and the insights behind them.

As an example, the Walt Disney Company produced 1,600 pieces of content last year, compared to Amazon’s 1,200. Despite this fact, Disney received almost ten times the number of engagements; 5.7m in comparison to Amazon’s 641,000. On the surface, it would be easy to assume that Amazon’s content strategy is less effective than Disney’s but by using AI to dig deeper into the style and content of their work, the intended purpose starts to emerge.

Disney’s content is tailored to a young audience with a short attention span and a lot of energy. The structure of the content is mass-produced for the younger market, with an average wordcount of only 280 words. By contrast, Amazon’s content is typically closer to 800 words, focusing on innovative business topics like cloud computing and machine learning.

Interestingly, Amazon doesn’t talk about retail - the brand is so well established in the retail space that it almost doesn’t have to. Instead, its content marketing efforts are heavily focused on expanding and proving its expertise in newer markets, writing primarily to inform rather than to entertain.

With more businesses than ever before now using content as the basis of their marketing efforts, being able to foresee what to write about (and when) will revolutionise the way that businesses of all sizes approach and attract their customers.

As artificial intelligence evolves, being able to draw this sort of insight at the touch of a button will soon provide an undeniable business case for content marketing, driving demand and helping to secure marketing’s place as a serious, measurable contributor to a business’s bottom line.

Tom Salvat is CEO of Concured.

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Should Businesses Take A More Data-Driven Approach To Content Marketing?

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