How to Use Data to Get More ROI from Your Content

Contributed content / By Adriana Tica / 2 July 2019

There is no single “hack” that can turn your content strategy into a success. But there is one essential ingredient: data. If you collect the right data and interpret it the right way, you will significantly improve your ROI.

Tired of the “one technique to boost content return-on-investment (ROI)” or “the only strategy you’ll ever need” promises? You’ve probably tried some of these “easy” techniques. I admit that I have, too.

If they worked as poorly for you as they did for me, I have good news: there is one thing that can boost your content marketing ROI: data. 

Here’s how you can use data to boost your content marketing ROI.

Eliminate Unhelpful Data Sources

Everyone has seen articles go viral.

It is tempting to follow in their footsteps and approach the same topics in hopes that your content will also go viral.

But, re-hashing and re-writing popular posts is a big no-no if you want a unique brand voice.

Tools like BuzzSumo can tell you the types of content that are most popular in your industry. But don’t use these tools to simply replicate old content.

Think about it this way: your audience has likely already read that popular influencer’s post.

You will provide your readers with no value by re-writing it.

Keyword search volume is another enemy of content marketers.

In the “old days” of SEO, we used to believe that the higher the search volume, the better.

After all, we would reach more people and, therefore, more potential customers. That’s a good thing, right?

In theory, yes. In practice, however, this reasoning is flawed.

For example, if I choose “SEO” as a keyword for a post on my agency’s blog, it’s going to be difficult to rise far in the search engine result pages (SERPs). I would be forced to compete with some of the biggest companies and media outlets in this field, and I don’t have their resources.

But, more importantly, I don’t need to attract the people who search for “SEO.” They often want a definition of the term or an article on the basics of SEO and it will be difficult for me to convert them into clients.

On the other hand, “SEO copywriting agency” or “SEO writers for hire” are keywords clients searching for a service provider are likely to search for. It is also much easier to optimize long-tail keywords such as these.

The goal should not be to attract everyone on the web to your content. Instead, focus on attracting visitors who have real potential to become paying customers.

Remember: If your content is for everyone, it’s really for no one.

Create a Buyer Persona

Any marketing strategy should start with the development of a buyer persona.

Get to know your audience. Go beyond simple demographic traits and discover their motivations and struggles. You will have much more to write about if you have created a strong and informative buyer persona.

Here’s a great buyer persona example from Alexa

A buyer persona is an example of who a business's target audience is, including demographical information such as age, profession, education, gender, and interests.
 
When you examine Tobi’s profile, particularly her frustrations, you can see what kind of content will reassure customers like her. Also, knowing which brands inspire Tobi can help you write content that resonates with people like her.

A buyer persona is an important part of any effective data-based marketing strategy.

Use the Best Content Marketing Tools

There are hundreds of tools that promise you unparalleled insights. Most charge a steep fee, of course. I’ve tried dozens of them, and I can tell you this: You don’t need to pay a fortune for the right insights.

Here are the content marketing strategy tips and tools you should consider implementing:

1. Google Searches

The classic Google search might seem like a simple tool to deploy, but think of it this way:

Whenever you’re looking for blog topics, are vetting an idea, or finding any general information, you are likely to start with a Google search.

So, it’s’ important to place your content well on Google. 

Google is often used to see what others have written on a given topic. But, more importantly, Google can also provide ideas for possible subtitles and language based on what people are searching for.

You can use the suggestions in “related searches” as subtitles in your content. This will provide your visitors with more information about your content and should prevent them from bouncing back to the results page to find a better article.

An example of Google's suggestions in the related searches section.

If this had been your search, you would now know that “cheap,” “free,” and “affordable” are all commonly-searched phrases related to New York divorce lawyers. If you were creating a subtitle, including one of these words would help your content place better.

Through simple Google searches, you can find your perfect topics, titles, and keywords.

2. Google Ads Keyword Planner

Google Ads Keyword Planner isn’t just for those who intend to run ads. It’s also ideal for complementing the basic Google search, as it helps you dig deeper into your topic and keyword research.

You will have a complete overview of each keyword’s potential, from search volume to related keywords.

3. Google Analytics

Every marketer’s first data source, right? But if you want more ROI from your content, you should dig deeper than the “Overview” tab. Sure, traffic is nice, but it’s not the only metric worth paying attention to.

As well, your business should pay attention to:

  • Conversion goals in Google Analytics that will help you learn exactly what drives visitors to convert into customers 
  • Top-performing pages and articles on your website (in terms of conversion goals), which are your blueprint to more conversions on other pages and articles.
  • Traffic sources that tell you where your best-performing pages’ traffic is coming from. Identify these pages and use them to invest and promote your content.

4. Google Search Console

Google Search Console gives you a great way to improve existing content. This can be done in three easy steps:

Step 1: Find the pages that rank on positions 11 to 20. You can usually boost these in the rankings fairly easily.

Step 2: Use the tools listed here to learn how you can improve these pages’ rankings.

Step 3: Flesh out the existing content, add to it, add more photos/videos and so on. Rinse and repeat.

Similarly, you can use Search Console to look for content that has a high number of impressions but a low number of clicks. This is another type of content that needs improvement, and you should usually start by attempting to improve the headline.

5. Online Surveys

Gathering data from various sources to find out what to write about is great. But directly asking your audience can be even better.

For example, you can survey your audience on social media or via email.

One of the best content marketing ideas I’ve ever had was to email my list of subscribers and ask them to choose between two topics I was thinking about exploring.

6. Social Listening Tools

Tools like Sysomos help you find out what your industry’s hot topics are. Ideally, you should focus on the negative ones.

Let’s continue to use the divorce lawyer example. A social listening tool might take a search for divorce lawyers to Yelp. Scroll past the ads and check out the 1-star reviews.

You can find gems like the one below:

A bad review of a divorce lawyers - The reviewer described her as a manipulative, deceitful liar and nightmare.
 
This client had specific complaints about the lawyer they hired. They were misled to believe they could win more than they were actually entitled to.

If I were a New York divorce lawyer, I would use this as an inspiration to write a blog post about divorce settlement expectations and how to manage them, and whether you represent yourself or not.

Social listening tools help you craft articles that address specific, real concerns and outline the best way to approach them.

7. Proprietary Analytics and Digital Toolkits

SEMrush, Ahrefs, Moz and other digital tools will provide you with a wealth of data on how visitors interact with your website and can even give you insights on how to get more out of your content marketing.

Each marketer has a clear preference when it comes to these tools. But remember that there is no one-size-fits-all in this industry.

Content marketing agencies and experts recommend businesses read reviews and case studies. But, they should also test tools and make their own choice.

Once you’ve made that choice, stick to it. It’s fine to compare data provided by various tools. However, too many of these comparisons will only waste your time and leave you with choice paralysis. 

Use Data Well to Promote Your Content

Data can be very helpful. But, data can also throw you off balance if you don’t choose your sources properly and if you’re unaccustomed to deriving insights from it.

Whatever your data tells you, analyze it with one thing in mind: customer intent. At the intersection between customer intent and your business goals lies the key to the perfect, ROI-generating content marketing strategy.

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