The age of big data won’t be easy for marketers

Technology’s effect on people is creating headaches for marketers.

These new technologies have turned the data spigot all the way on, and the torrent of 1’s and 0’s – and the analysis! – often misleads marketing strategies more than it inspires them. It doesn’t have to be that way, especially when looking at content marketing.

Big data allows content marketers to go beyond traditional metrics like pageviews and time on site, and understand the context that led to a click, to an extra couple minutes on the site, and ultimately to a conversion.

Davis Brand Capital CEO and Founder Patrick Davis said it best: “Analyzing data is about getting closer to human beings; it’s about knowing what people are going to want.”

With that in mind, here are five ways to use big data to inspire your content marketing strategy:

(Download Skyword’s “Rising Above Big Data: How Marketers Can Turn Insight into Action” )

People are different, but there are patterns in their behavior.
Whether you have dozens of buyer personas or none at all, customer behavior is the only clear place to start with content marketing. Certain content analytics platforms allow you to target specific assets at different personas. By tracking the results, you’re able to learn how groups of consumers behave toward messaging and format. When you document the results, you can compare the data and draw correlations between how audience A reacted to how audience B did.

It’s a digital world, with an offline twist.
It’s important to never forget that offline shopping and engagement still happens. Use not only the buyer personas you’ve created and the consumer insight you’ve gathered online, but also the information you received from in-store visits and location information to drive regional content strategies. What can local check-ins on Foursquare or transactions via a branded mobile app tell you about buyer behavior?

Yoga clothing and lifestyle brand Lululemon, for example, created a mobile application (Om Finder) that uses location technology to help customers find local yoga studios and classes. It also publishes tips and tricks from local yogis to draw audiences back to the app time and time again. By offering all of this advice, Lululemon solidifies its name as the go-to retailer for all things Yoga.

It takes a community to understand an audience.
Even with the right data analysis framework in place, it takes a community of content creators to translate that information into conversations. When enlisting a team of writers, track the results of each individual author to see who understands the brand’s voice and mission. Who is doing a better job at connecting with readers? Empower them to communicate more with your audience, and interview them regularly for feedback. If you can tie ROI to an article, you can also tie it to a content creator, which then can justify giving more work to him or her.

Multiple devices create a multitude of data.
Your audience will be consuming content across platforms. Therefore, you will need a framework to measure how mobile and social media campaigns combine to influence offline transactions. A central data repository allows you to compare social content analytics to web-based interactions, showing how behavior stays the same and how it changes based on device.

Teen retailer Wet Seal recently partnered with a 16-year-old teen beauty blogger to run the company’s Snapchat. The company recognized it wasn’t creating content for the right platforms, so it brought in an influencer and certainly learned from her success (9,000 new followers). The moral: Make sure you create the right content for the right channels.

It’s more than pageviews, it’s share of time.
As marketers create content for new channels, and as consumers adopt new platforms for entertainment, brands will care more about how much time their audience is engaging across the board rather than on a single piece of content. Traditional metrics will keep you grounded, while big data shows you the bigger picture.

Forward-thinking marketers aren’t getting lost in the data. They’re not letting big data stunt their creativity, but instead allowing it to help reshape how they create, optimize, and measure their programs’ success.

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