When you think of marketing success, what comes to mind first? Sales numbers? New customers? Great social traction? All of the above and more?

Each of these aspects influences marketing success, but there’s another element people don’t often consider—and it’s the most important: the power of building consistent, long-term data analytics management skills. In other words, taking the time to create a strategic content operation that consistently generates a unified customer experience.

There are a variety of tools capable of tracking data, and organizations have a choice. But is there a point person or team tapping into the data then using it to influence current and future marketing efforts? Is data analysis a priority, or do the stats get shoved into a folder, never to see the light of day? Do teams—or the organization—know how data analytics plays into the brand’s version of marketing success?

What sets profitable businesses apart is their ability to carve out time to dive into data, find a success story to develop, and move beyond the data-collection phase.

Are you?

Underlying Tension around Data and Content

When time is short—and it often is—reviewing content performance is usually relegated to the end of the to-do list. Getting current content out the door and circulating is often the best that brands can manage, especially when teams operate in reactive mode or face a busy production schedule.

The tension created by this battle for attention is especially acute for high-performing brands. They can get caught up in a never-ending content creation and distribution cycle to stay relevant. Focus stays on the next deliverable rather than reviewing the effectiveness of content already in circulation.

On the flip side, brands sometimes start messing with messaging that’s already workin—just for the sake of change. They see competing brands coming up with something fresh and want to follow suit. Yet, tweaking content that’s already working, even in small ways, can turn off loyal customers or confuse new ones. Changing what already works needs to be strategic and requires a peek into data analytics for guidance.

So, while brands may feel pressure to focus on what’s next, it’s essential to go beyond vanity metrics and connect with the full lifecycle of content management: planning, creation, execution, and performance.

To Succeed, You Have to Look Backward

The data behind creative content is key to marketing success for any brand, hands down. It reveals customer impressions, the effectiveness of the digital tools, and the quality of content. And it confirms if a brand’s message is creating a clear path to conversions.

But first, brands need to zero in on collecting data that matters. What are you trying to measure? What’s important to your vision of marketing success? What stats help build the content operation picture that’s the most impactful to the brand’s vision and sales goals?

Knowing what content resonates on the website and specific social networks should drive the next marketing move. It’s the glue that helps organizations improve marketing in a targeted, informed way and enables them to advance success using a strategic, well-timed approach.

Remember, data will tell you the truth, so be willing to take a look backward to see where it can lead next.

Improving the caliber of data collection and how you inspire the customer to share personal information is also important for pulling in quality data. This can be as simple as tweaking the field input of online forms with a more customer-friendly call to action and then following up with A/B testing.

Once the relevant data collection details are monitored, marketers can see if they are meeting—or exceeding—content expectations. If so, great! If not, it’s easier to see where content operations need to improve at the core level.

Any content created should be strategically planned around relevant data and do tha following:

  • Align content focus with brand priorities
  • Be creative through collaboration across departments to ensure it hits all key pain points of the buyer’s journey
  • Follow a creative process that’s a transparent, organization-wide effort
  • Use data analytics to drive new content development

With this mindset, teams can take actions that generate real change and improve marketing success.

Rely on Data as a Workhorse

The data you collect is the silent workhorse already doing the heavy lifting, so maximize what it can do for your content operation.

Power Up

Use effective data as a guide in the process of maintaining content clarity and consistency.

Let’s face the truth: marketers constantly deal with resource constraints including limited time, budget, and creative resources. Making the most of what they do have requires looking at data analytics with one end goal in mind: crafting an effective buyer’s journey, start to finish.

This can include reviewing which pages or downloads are the most popular and defining the online path used to access those resources. Data details also shed light on which content pieces were the best at converting new or existing customers and what pieces underperformed.

With specific insights in hand, brands clearly see how certain areas of the buyer’s journey can be supported through better content and how to modify time, budget, and existing content resources accordingly.

Dive In

Follow up on a data dive, even if current results and feedback from sales stakeholders are positive.

Who doesn’t like to hear “Good job” or “Keep it up,” especially when that feedback is from within the organization? It’s great for morale and motivation, but not necessarily helpful if the feedback is based on surface level success. To move forward strategically requires a deep dive into past data. Then marketing teams can create a plan with a purpose that keeps brand content in alignment while making content more effective overall.

Create a schedule to review and integrate data analytics into content planning meetings. Share what you find with key team leads before developing any new content pieces. Taking the time for this review reveals the truth behind what efforts are making traction and where to expand efforts.

In short, follow up is the most important part of leveraging the data you’ve collected. With the content wheel forever moving forward, it’s easy to overlook the importance of historical data about marketing success.

Stay Sharp

Organizational best practices help brands stay competitive.

The tides, they are a-changing, especially when it comes to organizational marketing. Instead of only focusing on ways to personalize a content management solution to work for a specific team or brand, marketers realize they must also tap into best practices for data management. Best practices are the guide to understanding how to use the collected data and how it reflects the quality of the connection marketers build with customers through content.

Actively taking control of digging into data sets—and how they apply to the content an organization uses to sustain and grow—keeps a brand competitive and successful. Regular assessment of content performance shapes strategy moving forward, too and keeps brands on the pulse of new customer pain points and desires impacted by industry trends.

Work Together

Act as a team to build an effective content operation.

Building a content operation is a team and organization-wide effort, hands down. Brands need to have regular, honest conversations across all marketing teams to build a content operation that works for their industry and vision of marketing success.

Putting pressure on one person or only a few to carry this load is unrealistic and leaves out the expertise and insight available within the minds of team members. To build a content operation that lasts and makes the best use of data collection, actually use the data you gather as a marketing team. Have it act as the starting point of a content conversation. It shapes an effective workflow and reduces the content development needs while scoring better conversions.

Key Takeaways

The ultimate solution for marketing success is acknowledging and using the data behind the content and understanding how to apply what you learn in more powerful ways.

What can you change about the way data analytics impact your content operation process today?

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Katrina Pfannkuch

About Katrina Pfannkuch

Katrina Pfannkuch is a creativity consultant specializing in writing, editing, strategy & coaching. She's a bit of a data nerd & loves seeing how pieces of the informational puzzle come together to paint a creative picture. Catch Katrina & her insights on kick-starting creativity at @creativekatrina on Twitter.