Make your organization’s blog posts data-driven in five easy steps

All organizations, these days, are content creators.

Whether it’s posting on social media or putting together 1,800-word blog posts, all organizations – in one form or another – write content.

So what separates the wannabe organizations from the content marketing elite?

If your answer is “great writing” guess again. A ton of organizations out there couldn’t care less about writing like Hemingway yet still attract large audiences to their websites and social media channels.

No, what really helps organizations develop killer blog content is a reliance on data.

It’s the best way to learn more about your audience and design content that is most likely to reach them.

Why data matters in blogging

There is something about the written word that seems to defy our attempts to quantify it.

Sure, we can do word counts and run our writing through text readability tools. But there’s no metric – at least as far as I can tell – for measuring the quality of impact of something like a novel.

(If there were, it would probably be a percentage score comparing it to Moby Dick. But I digress…)

Not so with blogging.

We may not be able to quantify how “good” or “bad” a piece of writing is. But we can examine the metrics that surround the posts that we create.

Which posts are the most popular?

What channels are best for driving traffic?

What sorts of content are most likely to drive conversion actions?

These are the sorts of questions you can answer by taking a data-driven approach to blogging.

How your organization can take a data-driven approach to blogging

Define your goals

Adopting a data-driven approach to blogging starts with defining your goals.

What do you want out of your blog – traffic? Engagement? Time spent on page?

Not everyone is going to take the same approach to their blog, mostly because their goals are different.

An inbound marketing strategy, for example, is all about volume. Therefore goals will likely focus on driving traffic to a blog so audiences can be gradually nurtured down the funnel.

With account-based marketing, by contrast, quality rules. Total volume matters less than ensuring you get the right people looking at your content.

From there you can start designing metrics and KPIs that measure your progress towards those goals.

For example: If traffic is your goal, average monthly website users in Google Analytics would be a good metric to keep on top of.

Then you can begin optimizing your content based on the results.

Write a data-driven headline

The importance of the headline in blogging can’t be overstated.

Only 20 per cent of those who read your headline will click through to read your article, according to HubSpot. By contrast a great headline can increase traffic to your content by as much as 500 per cent,

Whether your goal is to rank in Google search results or drive more clicks from social media, a headline will do more to help your content than any other item on the page.

But frequently writers take next to no time crafting an attractive headline.

Instead they spend hours working over their content only to tack on a vague and ineffective headline at the end.

The result? A post that gets next to no readers.

Instead you should be devoting a significant amount of the time you spend writing content on crafting a headline that will attract and delight readers.

There are lots of great ways to write data-driven headlines.

But a good starting point is looking at what’s worked for others.

The following guides are a great resource:

Of course, just because they’ve worked elsewhere doesn’t mean they will be the best choice for your organization.

You’ll want to monitor the results of your own headlines and edit new and existing content accordingly.

Learn about your audience

Blogging is all about connecting with your audience.

But it’s difficult to reach people if you know next to nothing about who is currently interested in reading your content.

By looking at your audience data, you can begin to get a sense for who you’re reaching. This helps to identify opportunities for creating content that’s optimized for reaching your intended audience.

Are users primarily accessing your blog posts through Google? What about social media? Or is your email newsletter the principal tool?

In an ideal world we’d be able to craft content that appeals to audiences on all channels.

But that’s not just the case.

Headlines crafted for SEO frequently sound boring and uninteresting on social media. Content designed for Facebook probably won’t yield the type of keyword optimization you need to appear in search results.

By looking at the channels your audience uses most, you can begin optimizing your content so it performs best on them.

It’s just one example of how data about your audience can help you to craft blog posts that are more likely to draw audiences. You can also get data on location, gender and age that are invaluable for putting together posts that will resonate.

So whenever you can use tools like Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics to learn about who your audience is and what it wants.

Do your research

Data about your audience is just one area where you can optimize your content.

Another?

External research.

Example: Keyword research.

By analyzing the sorts of topics – and keywords for those topics – your audience is searching for on Google, you can begin crafting content that will be likely to rank for those keywords.

As a bonus, conducting keyword research is a great way to figure out topics for blog posts in which your audience might be interested.

Let’s say this post on data-driven blogging turns out to be a huge success.

Then we might want to look at publishing related blog posts on topics such as data-driven content and how to research blog topics.

An example of a search engine results page featured known as "searches related to". This can be a key feature of data-driven blogging.

The “Searches related to…” feature on Google pages is a gold mine for keyword research suggestions. Here’s what I got when I searched for “data-driven blogging.”

Analyze your results, then revise

Your job doesn’t end when you hit the publish button.

Being a data-driven blogger means you are continually monitoring your results and revising your content based on those results.

Let’s say you wrote a post about trends in digital marketing back in 2015. It’s received a lot of views, but the content is now a little out-of-date.

It’s a perfect opportunity to update some old content, taking advantage of the fact that it’s a popular URL which has received a lot of hits. This could be anywhere from making some minor edits to incorporate some more up-to-date keywords to more substantive revisions.

Monitor and optimize. Monitor and optimize. Monitor and optimize.

It’s the rallying call for any organization devoted to a data-driven content marketing strategy.

Mark Brownlee is a Digital Marketing Strategist with Banfield.

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