An age-old idiom tells us that “seeing is believing,” suggesting we can believe something to be true only after being presented with physical evidence. This idiom remains true in the marketing industry today. Marketers must prove their expertise to skeptical audiences on the lookout for quality, trustworthy information. Content marketing is the platform where marketers demonstrate their knowledge, and data provides the proof audiences need to believe what marketers are saying. If a reader is new to your brand, they have no reason to trust your expertise, but once you back up your points with data, you start to build that trust.
While we can preach the importance of data over and over, we’d rather demonstrate it with a bit of supporting data: Leaders in data-driven marketing are three times more likely than those who haven’t fully embraced data to leap ahead of their competitors in the areas of customer engagement and loyalty. In addition, these leaders are three times more likely to see an increase in revenue. This research proves that data-powered content brings customers and revenue back to your brand.
Content marketing allows you to present data in a multitude of ways. Build an infographic when you want to visually explain how a wealth of data works together to prove a cohesive point. Encourage readers to delve into your blog post with a strong data point at the beginning. Use compelling data in a white paper to establish your brand as an expert on a hot industry topic. Keep in mind that you cannot simply add a data point to your content and trust that the reader will understand its value. Always explain what that data point means for your target audience and offer up strategies to act on that data.
Now that you know how to use data, you need to know where to find it. Citing data from a variety of other sources strengthens and supports your argument. Continuously using just one source loses authenticity over time, so you’ll need to mix it up. To get you started, here are a few places to find useful data:
Companies that specialize in collecting data are important to have in your resource arsenal. Online resources, such as MarketingSherpa, eMarketer, and KISSmetrics, provide timely, relevant information. Visit their website or subscribe to their email newsletter for brand new data presented simply and visually as charts and graphs. These sites also feature articles, reports, and case studies that interpret data and explain why it’s significant to marketers. Once you understand that significance within the framework of your content, you can then relay that knowledge to your audience. If you’re looking for data on a specific topic, use each site’s search function to find useful data to back up your points.
Research reports offer a wealth of information on a specific topic. They are often full of data, surveys, studies, charts, and graphs you can use to support your content on a given subject. These reports offer a holistic view of a topic, so not only will you find strong data points, but you will find explanations and takeaways around that data. These reports can be lengthy and you won’t always have time to read the entire piece in depth. There are a few tips you can follow to quickly find the information you need.
If you’re looking for numerical data, scan for charts and graphs. They display data succinctly and often have a short explanation above or below each visual that describes its meaning. Also, focus on key takeaways or summaries in the beginning and end of the report. These sections often feature the most impactful data from the report and explain how it’s influential to your industry. If you don’t have access to a report or time to scan it, search for report summaries from other reputable sources. These summaries often feature only the most important data and takeaways.
To find a quality research report or report summary, look to what your industry’s community suggests. Industry influencers and yearly conferences share and discuss the most relevant reports. Once you discover a quality report, keep tabs on when and how often it’s released. If you know it’ll be released every year, remind yourself to check back for fresh data.
Looking to your trusted sources for content marketing can lead you to data to use in your own content marketing. Look for blogs, email newsletters, and infographics on topics similar to what you’re writing about and scan for data that directly applies to your subject. Even if you can’t find the data you’re looking for within the body of the content, their citied sources can lead you down a path to data that pertains to your topic. If you already trust the content marketing you’re seeking out, odds are you will trust the sources that they link to. Infographics are ideal for this as they often have a long, linked list of sources at the end. The road to quality data doesn’t have to stop at any one piece of content, so keep clicking on cited sources and you’ll eventually find the type of data you’re looking for.
While there are plenty of sources to find quality data on virtually any topic, you don’t always have to go farther than your own organization to find data. It is more likely than not that your company collects data to drive its own strategies. Determine the overall message this data tells, repurpose that data, and relay the message in your content marketing. For example, does a successful social media strategy tell you something about how brands similar to yours can use social media? Do your own sales trends indicate a shift in successful industry strategies? There are multiple places within your own brand to find data that may prove interesting to your industry as a whole.
Not only should you look to market research companies to get current data, you should also look at your own internal market research. Most companies compile detailed research reports outlining industry trends, target consumers, and competitors. If this information supplements the topic you’re discussing, pull the relevant data and use it to support your content marketing. You don’t always need to pull from existing data. If you want to understand a topic enough to create content around it, perform your own market research. Conduct interviews, focus groups, or surveys to understand your topic better and use the results to support your content marketing.
Analytics undoubtedly guide your marketing strategy, but their relevance doesn’t necessarily end with your internal audience. Use your marketing analytics to inform your content marketing. You don’t need to divulge confidential information to your audience, but chances are you have plenty of data you can openly share. If you discover that one blogging strategy is more effective than the other, see a rise in click-rates based on a specific headline format, or find that a specific landing page layout drives to more leads, those are the types of findings that can help you formulate insights your audience will likely find useful.
Data is a necessary ingredient to content marketing. It validates and supports your message. Using data in a variety of content marketing deliverables, from infographics to blog posts to white papers, improves the quality of the piece. Combining other sources with your own research and analytics in your content marketing help you reach your audience and position you as a trusted advisor in your industry.
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