How your typical content marketing evolves

How your content marketing evolves

How your content marketing evolves

Content marketing comes with very esoteric expressions these days, but every content marketing strategy begins from the basics.

Why does your business need a content marketing strategy?

Established content marketers tell you that your business needs content marketing so that you can build a platform for yourself that you can someday use for promoting your business.

Michael Hyatt, in his book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, says “Without a platform – something that enables you to get seen and heard – you don’t have a chance. Having an awesome product, an outstanding service, or a compelling cause it is no longer enough.”

bigger goal of content marketing

The bigger goal of content marketing is to attract, convert and retain customers.

Of course, they are right. Every business needs its own platform, whether micro and macro. You need your audience if you want to do business. People should be eager to listen to you. Not just listen to you, they should pay attention to what you are saying, and the best would be that they also react to what you are saying.

What is the initial goal of your content marketing strategy?

That’s a bigger goal – building a broadcasting platform. Your broadcasting platform takes shape when you have done content marketing for your business for at least a year (assuming you don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on promotion and marketing).

What happens in the beginning? When you have just started content marketing?

In the beginning, you work at the basics.

All the basics boil down to one thing: you need targeted traffic.

no traffic no platform no business

No traffic – no platform – no business.

There are rivers of traffic. There are lakes of traffic. There are seas of traffic, oceans of traffic.

You have to dig channels towards your business and these channels will bring traffic to your website either in small streams or flash floods depending on the tectonics of the Internet world.

Although throughout your content marketing you may try to get as much targeted traffic from the search engines as possible, in the beginning you primarily focus on your main keywords.

I’m not suggesting that you focus on your keywords so much that you don’t pay any attention to your quality and relevance, but you have to strike a balance between writing and publishing keyword-rich content and providing value to your visitors.

If you have lots of time and resources at hand, you can focus on multiple sources of traffic like your own blog and website, other blogs and websites and various social media channels, but if you have limited resources and no extra help, I suggest you first focus on your own website and blog.

Make sure that all the necessary pages on your website are there. All the information that a prospective customer or client may need to make a decision in your favour, should be there. All the concepts should be explained. All the doubts should be cleared. All the apprehensions should be laid to rest.

Then focus on your blog. Publish lots of useful content that is keyword-rich. Don’t get carried away. Initially stick to 1-2 blog posts every day and follow this pattern until you have 50+ blog posts.

According to the latest patterns emerging through various SEO and content marketing conversations, longer pieces contents are better than shorter pieces.

By shorter pieces I don’t mean “thin content”, that is totally useless, and even harmful; shorter pieces mean blog posts of 500 to 700 words. These are no longer sufficient.

Publish fewer blog posts, but publish longer blog posts – 1200-1500-2000 words if possible.

Seems daunting?

Look at it this way: publishing in 2000-word comprehensive blog post that covers your central topic from all the angles gives you far better returns than publishing 4 blog posts of 500-700 words. These 500-700-word blog posts – considering you publish quality content – may take more time than the 2000-word blog post, and in many instances, may even cost you more.

Longer blog posts obviously take time and effort, and this is the reason why search engines like Google take longer blog posts more seriously compared to shorter blog posts – anyone with little effort can write shorter blog posts, but it takes lots of effort and dedication to write longer blog post.

So, just starting your content marketing? Don’t go overboard with the number of blog posts. From the beginning itself, start posting bigger, more comprehensive blog posts even if you have to publish fewer blog posts.

Once you feel that you have covered all the topics that you could have possibly covered in these 50+ blog post, start focusing on other publishing platforms also. Occasionally publish on Medium. Publish on LinkedIn. Answer to people’s questions on Quora. Start networking with other publishers so that they publish your content on their websites and blogs.

This is your initial stage of content marketing and it can easily take up 4-5 months.

What is the advanced stage of content marketing for your business?

For continued content marketing success, you will need to maintain the pace.

There are many reasons:

  • Just like you, many businesses, your direct and indirect competitors, are using content marketing to promote themselves.
  • Your current and prospective customers and clients need to be kept engaged constantly otherwise they lose interest in your business and even when need to avail your product or service they may not recall you and do business somewhere else.
  • Search engine rankings are being shuffled every second. Millions of blog posts, webpages, images, videos and social media updates are being indexed by Google every hour and all these pieces of content are competing with your content. You constantly need to feed Google and other search engines with new content.
  • People’s attention span, especially on the Internet, is quite fickle. You constantly need to remind them of your capability. If you are simply promoting others’ content, you don’t make much impact. But if you share your own content, if you engage people through your own content, they remember you better and the respect you for your knowledge and experience.
  • When you publish content continuously some of your content begins to appear on other websites and blogs. Remember that for the effective back linking, people need to link to your content voluntarily. The more content you publish, the better are your chances of being linked to by other Webmasters and bloggers.

From simple SEO, your content marketing evolves into a complete content publishing and promotion routine

This is how your content marketing evolves. In the beginning you simply focus on improving your search engine rankings, but eventually, you begin to build a platform for your business and for your brand.

There is no use hurrying. A few months ago, I created a video titled “Content marketing is like growing a tree”, in which I have explained that just like you cannot hurry when you want to grow a tree and enjoy its fruits, you cannot hurry with content marketing. It evolves at its own pace unless you are ready to pump in lots of money and effort. Here is the video:

Behind every successful content marketing there is unique content and a very remarkable quality of unique content is, it can sustain itself even in the face of competition.

After you have attained a traction with unique and quality content, you can slow down your pace. Instead of publishing 1-2 blog posts every day, maybe you can publish 1-2 blog posts every week, or even a couple of weeks if you want to focus on detailed, longer blog posts.

By the time you have published 50+ blog posts you become known for your content quality and people begin to seek you out when they are looking for quality advice and insight. This is an indication that you have built your platform.

A platform means people converge at a particular point associated with you to achieve something, and in terms of content marketing, they want to be informed, so they pay close attention to what you publish on your website, blog and even on your social media timeline. You have got an audience. People carefully listen to you.

After this, you just need to sustain your platform. At this stage, your content marketing has evolved and unless you do something really disastrous, the only way from here is forward.

What is the future of content marketing?

Future of content marketing

Future of content marketing

Quick note: Of late I have been very busy with work (which is a good thing, right?) and I haven’t been able to publish my regular blog posts. For the time being, I will be publishing smaller, quicker blog posts, that I will be mostly referencing from other content marketing websites and blogs.

So, what is the future of content marketing?

I came across this quandary on this blog post.

In the past, content marketing simply meant publishing lots of articles and blog posts on your website and it would get you good traffic.

Back in 2002 when blogging hadn’t yet been invented (or maybe it was, I’m forgetting) I used to publish .asp web pages on my website and then I would manually update the index file to include the latest web page.

I knew it generated traffic (although, it didn’t help me grow my business much but that’s a different story).

I also published lots of web design related articles on other websites because I knew that would to get me traffic, and it did.

Since then, content marketing has turned into an industry, and, “content marketer” is a profession.

There are two trends that have mostly affected content marketing over all these years:

  1. Advertisements are no longer effective; in fact, people devise ways to avoid them.
  2. Google has been continuously changing its ranking algorithm, increasingly giving prominence to content that is high-quality, relevant and useful.

Social media has also impacted the way people consume content and hence, content marketers are constantly brainstorming on how to format their content and how to steer their content marketing strategy to get more attention from their social media followers.

The continuous effort is to get more eyeballs and, through more eyeballs, more targeted traffic to the website or the blog.

What has changed in the past and what is going to change in the future for content marketing?

In the past content marketing has become, from just a form of increasing your search engine rankings, to a full-fledged form of marketing.

Just as content marketers paid close attention to what the search engines did to their content, the search engines now pay close attention to what the content marketers are doing to their content.

Aside from that, there are different forms of content that are continuously gaining prominence over the written content.

Yes, written content still matters, but you can get traffic to your website through all types of content including images, sound files (audio files like podcasts), GIFs, PDFs, and of course, videos.

According to a Cisco study that came back in 2016, by 2020 75% of mobile traffic will be video (source).

It means video may dominate content marketing – more of your content may exist as video rather than text and images.

But if you are a big fan of content writing – text – focus on content clusters. I have written about content clusters in the blog post titled What are topic clusters and pillar pages and how they improve your SEO?

It means you create very long web pages and blog posts – 3000-400 words – and cover your topic from every possible angle.

Writing individual blog posts and web pages for your keywords and key phrases is frowned upon by Google these days.

Comprehensive blog posts and web pages also help you bring down your bounce rate because people get lots of valuable information on a single page and they don’t have to come back to Google to look for additional information.

Talking about creating topic clusters, one thing that I must point out is that to create very long blog posts and web pages, your writing needs to be very engaging and conversational.

Long streams of boring text are going to send people away.

I’m already observing this trend among my clients – they are coming to me for the need to publish very long pieces of content and they know that I can keep their readers interested.

So, this is a new door of opportunity for writers who can write well.

Anyway, the purpose of this particular blog post is not to publish something very structured and informative. Due to my ongoing workload, I haven’t been able to publish much. I’m trying to figure out how to regularly publish on my blog while writing for my clients.

How I generate content writing ideas for different clients

Getting content writing ideas for clients

Getting content writing ideas for clients

It is difficult to come up with content writing ideas, especially on an ongoing basis. This is why when sometimes clients ask me to come up with my own content writing ideas, I charge them extra. Often, writing is easier, but coming up with writing ideas is very difficult and time-consuming.

I normally help my clients with writing topics when I’m working on their content marketing strategy rather than simply providing content.

A successful content marketing strategy cannot be implemented without a comprehensive list of content writing ideas surrounding a particular niche. Before you start writing content you need to know

  • Why you are writing that content?
  • Whom are you targeting (your customer or client persona)?
  • What reaction do you want to elicit from your target audience?
  • What is your long-term content marketing goal?

It is very important to know these points because otherwise, though content marketing is very promising, you will be simply wasting money and effort if you randomly publish web pages, blog posts, articles and email updates.

What is your purpose of writing content?

Different reasons for writing content

Different reasons for writing content

Different content marketing needs may have different reasons for writing/publishing content, and these may include:

  • Attract more people to your website or blog
    • You aim at making your content go viral
    • You aim for increasing brand awareness on other websites, blogs and social media platforms
  • Educate people
    • You want to establish yourself as an authority and an expert in your field or industry
    • You want to help your customers and clients by providing them information they can use to improve the way they work
    • You want to educate your prospective customers and clients so that they are in a better position to use your product or service
  • Encourage call-to-action
    • You want people to click on advertisements published on your website
    • You want to build your mailing list and hence want to encourage people to subscribe
    • You want people to buy your product or use your service
  • Increase your general visibility
    • You want more people to link to you
    • You want people to share your content on their social media profiles
    • You want to attract large number of people to your own website or blog
    • You want to increase your search engine rankings

Every business can use a strategic mix of all these reasons to publish and write content. If you have a clear idea of these reasons, you can easily come up with lots of topics that can see you through over many weeks and months.

Aside from these, you can also decide whether your content should fulfil a need, should cater to a desire or a want, or simply provide enjoyment.

What keywords do you want to target?

Importance of keywords in SEO content writing

Importance of keywords in SEO content writing

Your keywords – both your primary keywords and related keywords – have a significant bearing on your content writing ideas.

If you have a list of your keywords, then you naturally want to cover them through your content. Only when you write on these keywords search engines like Google will be able to make out what core topic you are trying to cover.

Taking my own example, for my business I have two primary keywords: content writing services and content marketing services.

One way or the other, all my content – web pages, blog posts, graphics, videos – hover around these two primary keywords.

What sort of content can be published on a business website or blog?

On a typical website you can publish

  • Educational and informative blog posts and articles
  • Web pages describing your products and services and encouraging people to buy your products and services
  • Case studies and white papers
  • Email marketing content
  • Curated content – useful, helpful, and relevant content gathered from other websites
  • Testimonials from your customers and clients
  • Straightforward promotional content
  • Landing pages
  • Industry News updates
  • Your internal corporate updates (hired a new CEO, installed a new enterprise solution, started a new department, released an updated version of your software)

Using the information gathered to generate content writing ideas for a long time

Frankly, you cannot ensure an ever-lasting supply of content writing ideas.

Publishing content for content marketing is a journey and many unpredictable events can happen during your journey, and these events will generate further writing ideas.

But the information presented above can easily give you 40-50 writing ideas for your website.

When I start on a new content writing or content marketing project I try to get as much information as possible from the new client.

The basic purpose is, understanding what the client wants to achieve.

He or she must have a clear idea because if he or she doesn’t have an idea, it will be very difficult for him or her to make it clear to me what sort of content I should write and what sort of audience I should target.

Initially I begin with trying to understand what sort of questions and apprehensions people may have regarding my client.

What would stop them from doing business with my client and what information should be provided to them to allay their fears.

Together with the client, I prepare a long list of topics (preferably using the exact language used by the client’s target customers and clients) that should be of interest to my client’s prospective customers and clients.

If the client already has some existing content I go through it and make a list of strengths and weaknesses of that existing content. Sometimes new content writing ideas can come from existing content.

Also, existing content can be repurposed, and new content can be generated out of it.

Sometimes, same content can be regenerated using different formats, for example, an old blog post can be easily turned into a slide or an animated GIF, or even a YouTube video.

You may also like to read 15 ways you never run out of blogging ideas.

For an ongoing content marketing assignment, I also use Google alerts to get alerts on the latest content being written on my client’s profession. I also use content curation tools like Flipboard, Twitter feeds and Feedly.

Google search too is a great way of finding new content topics. When you search on Google, it gives you some suggestions that people have used to find similar information. When I searched for “content writing tips”, in addition to bringing up the results for my search string, it also gave me the following suggestions:

  • How to write content writing samples
  • Content writing samples PDF
  • Content writing tips for beginners
  • Content writing tips examples
  • How to write content for project

There are more examples. Even when you click one of these suggestions Google gives you more suggestions.

You don’t need to generate topics out of every Google search suggestion, but they give you a very good idea of what people are looking for.

Checking Google trends is also a good way of knowing whether a particular content writing idea is worth trying for or not.

Google Trends for content marketing and content writing

Google Trends for content marketing and content writing

Closely observing Google Trends will also let you know that the topics that you want to cover are used mostly in which region. For example, if you compare “content marketing” with “content writing” in Google Trends, you will notice that not many people are looking for content writing outside of India. Very few people are looking for content marketing in India.

For every client I have an “Ideas” file where I keep collecting all the good ideas I come across on my own and from different sources. The list in this ideas file is not definite; it keeps changing. I keep modifying existing ideas and adding new ideas as long as they conform to

  • The keywords that need to be used
  • The messaging that needs to be conveyed
  • The end result

I also arrange content writing ideas in an Excel sheet in different columns: Long blog posts, short blog posts, long web pages, short web pages and social media updates.

Sometimes my clients help too. For example, if they have multiple employees some of their employees come up with great content writing ideas because they directly dealing with their customers and clients, constantly.

Is it easier to come up with content writing ideas for one’s clients?

Compared to those who don’t write content regularly, and professionally?

Obviously. When your write content for a living you get into the habit of finding content writing opportunities everywhere.

If you hire me and I know you are going to pay me $35 for every piece of content I give you, my brain is constantly on an alert, even when I’m not aware of it.

How to write content for the Google RankBrain System

Content writing for Google RankBrain

Content writing for Google RankBrain

For a couple of years now Google has been using its RankBrain system to rank your content.

RankBrain is a machine-learning artificial intelligence system that helps the Google algorithm in ranking various links and websites.

Although it hasn’t totally taken over the Hummingbird algorithm (the current ranking algorithm that Google uses) many SEO experts are claiming that the Google ranking algorithm derives almost 30% of its influence from RankBrain.

What exactly is Google RankBrain?

What is Google RankBrain?

What is Google RankBrain?

It’s an artificial intelligence system, and just like any contemporary artificial intelligence, it learns itself. It sometimes writes and modifies the ranking algorithm on its own.

The overall ranking process at Google is handled by the Hummingbird algorithm. RankBrain is a component of that algorithm that contributes towards assigning ranks to different links according to their relevance to the searcher’s intent.

Just like RankBrain, there are multiple components in the Hummingbird algorithm that analyze content.

Panda, Penguin and Payday components are used to fight spam. Pigeon is used to improve local search results.

Then, there is a Top Heavy component of the Hummingbird algorithm that assigns negative marking to ad-heavy pages.

To reward you for your mobile-friendly pages, the ranking algorithm uses the Mobile Friendly component.

Copyright infringement is taken care of by the Pirate component (source).

Whereas conventional SEO is based on the type of keywords you have used when writing your content and the quality of backlinks, RankBrain calculates the relevance of your content according to its own interpretation, according to what it thinks should be ranked rather than according to how the web page of the blog post has been “optimized”.

You must have read it at multiple places – even I have mentioned it multiple times on my blog – that when you are writing content, focus on the “intent” of the searcher instead of simply creating content based on your keywords.

The intent is what matters to RankBrain.

Unlike conventional ranking methods, RankBrain doesn’t rank web pages according to predefined formula.

It modifies the rank according to the interpretive need of the user.

It practically thinks like the human brain. It interprets meaning and gives you the best search result according to your particular need.

For example, if someone searches for “what are the best shows this week on Amazon Prime?” RankBrain will show the latest results no matter how well an article or blog post you wrote on the topic last month and how many people have linked to it.

Even if in terms of SEO practices your link should show up on page 10 or page 20 of the search results, if it is fresh and fresh content needs to be shown, your link will appear on the first page, even at the top.

So, how do you write content according to the Google RankBrain system?

How to write content for Google RankBrain

How to write content for Google RankBrain

To be frank, there is no particular way you can optimize your content for the RankBrain system.

As mentioned above, RankBrain doesn’t rank your content according to some predetermined parameters.

But it doesn’t mean you cannot benefit from RankBrain.

Content writing for RankBrain is very matter of fact: does your content solve a purpose? If it does, it will enjoy good search engine rankings.

The age-old wisdom that your content should provide the needed information to your human visitors still stands as in fact, such systems are developed by Google and other search engines to make sure that content creators create content that is relevant to people rather than machines.

When content is specifically created for machines it is open to manipulation. This is why Google has incorporated multiple algorithmic components to make sure that people don’t try to game the system.

How to make sure you enjoy good rankings in the times of artificial intelligence?

Search engine companies like Google aren’t creating sophisticated algorithms to stop your content from ranking well. They’re creating the sophisticated algorithms to make sure that content that deserves to rank well, does rank well.

So, instead of worrying about getting good ranks, focus on the quality, the relevance and the purposefulness of your content.

Do keywords matter when you are trying to optimize your content for the Google RankBrain system?

Not necessarily, but it doesn’t mean you stop neglecting them.

What are keywords after all? They are part of the language that you use to write your content.

Take for example this blog post. I’m writing about RankBrain, so I’m referring to it repeatedly, not purposely, but contextually. I’m not trying hard to use it repeatedly. It’s just happening.

Another focus of this post is content writing. I’m trying to explain to you how to write content that can convince the RankBrain ranking system.

Obviously these two terms are going to occur in my writing more than once, even multiple times. This tells Google that the foci of my blog post are RankBrain and content writing. There is nothing wrong in that.

But don’t just focus on your primary keywords. Use LSI keywords. Use semantic keywords. Even use the trending keywords if they are related to your topic.

Keywords matter when you’re writing content, but just make sure that they are there naturally and not stuffed. Quality, is what matters the most.

Focus on a better user behavior vis-à-vis your content writing if you want to make RankBrain happy

Since RankBrain avoids depending on conventional SEO benchmarks, it depends more on user behavior vis-à-vis your content. It observes the following while ranking your content:

What is your bounce rate?:

How many people stick to your website after finding your links on Google?

Do they immediately leave your link and come back to Google or do they linger on your website because they find useful information on it?

If your bounce rate is low RankBrain likes your content and improves its rankings.

How many people interact with your content?:

If your content is useful people engage with it.

They link to your content. They share your content with their followers and friends on social media and social networking websites. They even sometimes re-purpose your content.

The more people interact with your con tent, the better rankings it gets through RankBrain.

How in-depth is your content?:

The days of highly narrow content pieces are gone.

Remember when people used to create dedicated web pages and blog posts for every keyword combination for the same phrase? It is no longer acceptable.

You need to cover all your keyword combinations through a single web page or blog post, and this means, writing in-depth content pieces.

When you’re writing on a topic, cover practically every aspect of the topic within a single blog post or web page.

Is your content writing conversational?:

Conversational content writing is important because a greater number of people are using voice search and when people use voice search, they normally use a conversational tone.

Write shorter sentences. Avoid writing very complicated paragraphs. Try to capture just one thought in a single paragraph.

All in all, the more human friendly content you write, the better it is suitable for Google RankBrain.

What is data driven content marketing and how to use it to grow your business

Data driven content marketing strategy

Data driven content marketing strategy

Content marketing in its current avatar is not considered very scientific. It works on perception, experience, sometimes even guesswork, and mostly estimation.

Data driven content marketing on the other hand, can be more precise and more scientific. Data, as they say, does not lie.

What is data driven content marketing?

What do you understand by data? Data is information in the form of numbers. If you say that out of every 100 visitors that come to your website 2 buy from you, that is data.

If you know that out of every 500 visitors to your website every day, 245 enter your website via your services web page and out of these 245, 10 do business with you, and then you try to create content to replicate the success of your services web page and then try to promote that content to the sort of people that enter through your services web page, that’s data driven content marketing.

When you depend on data to create content and distribute it, you are no longer guessing.

Data driven content marketing means knowing exactly what your audience is looking for using all the available web analytics tools, and then tailoring, formatting, and timing your content accordingly.

The easiest real-world example that comes to my mind is the way modern email marketing services allow you to create segments based on the behavior of your email recipients.

One day you send an email campaign to all your recipients.

Then you wait for a week. MailChimp (I use MailChimp, you might be using another service) tells you how many people opened your message from your entire mailing list.

You send a new message to only those people who opened your previous message, the new message completely tailored according to the previous message read by them.

This is data driven marketing.

Analyze data to improve content marketing strategy

Analyze data to improve content marketing strategy

How to use data driven content marketing to grow your business

Before we proceed, let me be clear: data in itself means nothing. Data in itself is just a collection of numbers.

It is when you analyze the data and draw intelligence out of fit, it begins to have some meaning for you.

So, basically, the actual form of content marketing that you should be focusing on is, intelligence-driven content marketing, but, since all this intelligence is derived from data, let’s just stick to data driven content marketing.

Data is everywhere. Google Search Console gives you a treasure trove of data. Twitter gives lots of data. You can get good data from LinkedIn. Facebook, sure. Most of the contemporary email marketing services. There are numerous third-party tools that can go through your existing content and tell you what sort of people are mostly consuming your content.

So, how does data driven content marketing help you grow your business better than the usual, haphazard content marketing?

Data driven content marketing helps you channelize your efforts and cost towards a more productive and meaningful exercise.

Creating and publishing quality content takes effort and money, right? Wouldn’t it be great if you knew exactly what content to publish rather than simply go on publishing whatever comes to your mind and then hoping that some of it will generate business for you?

You feel bad that you publish 50 blog posts and only 5 of them get you the results that you seek.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you become stingy when publishing content. You cannot start gathering data from the word go. It may take you many months before you have some decent data to analyze. And, this data cannot be gathered if you don’t have enough content to analyze.

Initially, you will have to depend on your intuition, on guesswork, on research that is not data-based, but, as you publish greater amount of content and as that content generates greater amount of user feedback, you will have plenty of data to play around with.

Data driven content marketing isn’t as “nerdy” as it may seem initially. In its simplest form, it means using the intelligence that you can derive out of the data that you have, to create, publish, and distribute your content.

Why publish content for people who are never going to appreciate it?

Why not publish lots of content for people who have a use for it, who are looking for it, or who may need it in the near future without even realizing it? And the good thing is, you have access to that needed intelligence.

Even if you are simply using Google analytics you can get lots of information about the people who search for your content on Google and social networking platforms.

The Google Search Console also tells you what sort of devices people use to access your content and where most of your visitors are situated.

Data driven content marketing primarily has two stages:

  1. Post-publishing-distribution content effectiveness metrics/data
  2. Publishing-distribution of new content based on the metrics/data gathered above

Gathering and analyzing data after you have published and distributed content

How do you know the effectiveness of your content?

To know the effectiveness of your content you need to have a clear idea of what you are trying to achieve.

Suppose you have published a new case study on your website. You want people to download your case study. Since it contains valuable, useful information, you want people to first sign up for your newsletter and then download the case study.

Many people sign up for your newsletter and then download your case study.

What was the purpose of publishing the case study? Was it to encourage more people to sign up for your newsletter updates? Or was it to convince people into doing business with you?

Sometimes businesses publish e-books and case studies just to use them as an incentive for their email subscription.

If this is not the case and you have published the case study to reach out to more people and explain how you deliver your product or service, you can try something else.

After a couple of months, you allow people to download your case study directly without having to sign up for your newsletter.

What do you observe after two months?

Are lesser number of people subscribing to your email updates? Are more people downloading your case study? Are more people contacting you for work than previously?

The data will tell you and then accordingly you can publish your subsequent case studies and decide whether you want to offer your next case study as an incentive for email subscription or you directly want to allow people to download it.

A sidenote observation by the way: I discourage my clients from using an incentive for subscription. People should download your case study, e-book or white paper simply because they want to access the information. In the same vein, people should subscribe to your updates not because they want to download your case study, e-book or white paper but simply for the valuable information that you will be giving them.

Coming back to the topic, you can use a keyword research tool to know whether the keywords and search terms you are trying to target are actually used by your target audience or not.

Often my clients demand content for which there is no demand. They waste time, money and effort on chasing shadows.

Even if you don’t want to use a third-party tool, you can use the Google Search Console to know which keywords and search terms are driving traffic to your website or blog the most, and then tailor your content accordingly.

The study and data analytics of your existing content can tell you about:

  • How many people visit your blog or website?
  • What is your bounce rate?
  • How much time on an average your visitors spend on your individual blog posts and web pages?
  • How many comments do your blog posts attract?
  • How many times people share your content on their social networking profiles?
  • How many inbound links your content attracts?
  • How many leads content generates within a particular time frame?
  • What is its conversion rate?

Publishing and distributing content according to the data you have been able to gather and analyze so far

Remember the key to a successful content marketing strategy is providing the right content to the right audience at the right time using the right channel. Yes, lots of “right”.

Your data will be able to tell you what content your audience prefers.

It tells you what format is most suitable to the needs of your audience.

The data will tell you on which days of the week your content is accessed the most.

The data will also tell you through what channels (your blog, search engines, website, external websites, social networking platforms, mobile apps) people access your content the most.

For example, my content analytics tell me that most of my traffic comes from search engines with occasional spikes from LinkedIn. Almost zero traffic from Twitter and Facebook.

Does it mean I should try harder to improve my search engine rankings further and create more visibility on LinkedIn, or should I ignore these channels and focus more on Twitter and Facebook from where my traction is almost nil?

Depends on what I want to achieve, but this bit of information can certainly help me decide and carry on my content marketing accordingly.

What sort of data you should pay attention to for a successful data driven content marketing strategy?

Here are a few things you can look out for when trying to figure out what sort of content you should publish and how you should market it.

  • How do customers react to your existing content?
  • What format of content – blog posts, web pages, case studies, newsletter updates, images, videos, white papers, e-books, social media updates – is preferred by your target audience?
  • How do people mostly discover your content?
  • What keywords and search terms people use when they are able to find the content that you have? Or the content you are planning to publish?
  • What sort of content your competitors are publishing and what is the degree of success?
  • How does your content perform vis-à-vis generating leads and more business?
  • What changes do you notice when you alter the way you publish your content?
  • Does your audience prefer long content or short content?
  • Particularly for your business, does quantity work or quality?
  • Do people access your content mostly on desktop or mobile?
  • Should you focus more on paid media, owned media or earned media?

Frankly, these are just random questions that come to my mind when I’m writing this. Every business has its own unique data and user behavior patter.

It’s not that suddenly you have to change your content marketing strategy and start worrying about data. If you pay close attention to a few metrics and then try to create content accordingly, you are already using data driven content marketing for your business. If not, you should perhaps, from now onwards, start paying close attention to at least the Google Analytics data to know what sort of traffic your content is attracting.

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