data informed content marketing

Using Data to Drive Your Content Marketing Strategy

When most people think “content,” they think “creative.” I know I did. Coming from a creative writing background, I was a firm believer that the best content was driven by out-of-the-box thinking and a convincing storyline. I knew that to be the best, to stand out, organizations needed to consistently put out engaging, memorable, and good-quality blogs, eBooks, whitepapers, what-have-you. But an overarching strategy holding all that content together? And numbers and data being a driving force behind that content strategy? Years ago, I would have told you that wasn’t my expertise; writing was.

I’ve always known that writing and marketing go hand in hand, but never did I realize the extent in which data – more specifically, user data – could inform the type of content that business’ develop. And even more, how that data-driven content, combined with writing quality, could impact a company’s bottom line.

To put it into perspective, consider one of our B2C clients. For two-and-a-half years, Synapse has been working with them to develop an SEO-optimized, data-driven content marketing strategy – and over that 30-or-so months, we have seen their online visibility skyrocket: First-page organic Google rankings for their blog have increased more than 15x since our content marketing scope began. Organic traffic to their website has increased 470 percent. And that’s primarily because of content – informed, intended, impactful content.



June 2017

% Change vs. Benchmark

# of Organic Unique Visitors




# of Blog Keyword Rankings (Google)




# of 1st Page Blog Rankings (Google)




Every piece of content created for your organization should have a purpose. It should have intent. It should be relevant – not only to your product or services, but also to what your customers are looking to read: What are they actively searching for? How often are they searching for it? How are they engaging with your website today? What is working with your current online strategy, and what is not?

These are all questions you should ask before building out a content development and content marketing plan. By understanding your customers’ interests and needs, and creating content around that information, you can seamlessly integrate your brand with your audience’s online experiences – their newsfeeds, their organic searches, their overall online journey – and become relevant without disrupting their paths.

The question is, how do you do it? Data.

To me, one of the most intriguing facets of marketing is consumer intent, and the fact that digital marketers can actually discover, decipher, and track that intent through the use of online data. Fact is, consumers leave a data trail behind each time they take an online journey. This data trail consists of how they found your site, their exact search queries, digital interactions, social media activity, online purchasing history, time on your website, and more. Combined with SEO data like keyword volume and rankings, an organization can use this information to build a data-driven content marketing strategy with their target market in mind – a content strategy that will not only reach their target audience, but also appeal to that audience’s demand.

Despite the benefits of a data-driven content marketing strategy, research shows that 38 percent of content marketers rarely use data to guide their initiatives. And, according to a study by Forrester, companies typically analyze only 12 percent of the data they have available.

Part of the problem circles back to the art vs. science conversation around content – many organizations have creators to produce content, but lack a team of analysts to interpret and communicate data in a meaningful way, so that it can be used to inform a content development strategy. Another common issue is that the creation of data-driven content just gets overlooked. Marketing teams are busy – already juggling the brainstorming, the production, and the outreach that comes alongside content marketing. Thus, the inherent connection between data and editorial planning gets lost. Sometimes, businesses both big and small just don’t know where to start in terms of making that connection. That may be what has brought you here.

If you are looking to build an audience-first, data-driven content marketing strategy, the best place to start is knowing the types of data that are already available online:

  • First and foremost, you can look at your existing content. Which pages on your website drive the most organic traffic? Which pages or blog posts drive the most engagement, whether through back links, comments, or on social media? How much time do users typically spend on a given blog post?
  • If you’re running on Paid Search, take a look at which keywords in your account drive the most activity – the most impressions can indicate more volume, the most clicks can indicate more relevance, the most conversions can indicate which themes actually resonate with your audience most. Use those top-performing keywords to drive your future, organic content.
  • If you use tools like Google AdWords or Search Console, you can also look at search queries – the exact phrases people are searching for and using to arrive at your website. A Search Query Report (SQR) can reveal how consumers thinking, what they are looking for, and where the demand is in terms of keyword phrases. Popular themes in your SQR can then guide content that parallels user intent.
  • Organic rankings can also provide actionable insights when it comes to content planning. Marketing tools like MOZ or Aherfs will show you where you are successful in your current content strategy (which keywords you have covered), and where you need to close the gap. For example, if you are ranking at the top of page 2 in Google for a given keyword, you can really push that to page 1 with the addition of relevant content. You can also use SEO rankings data to see where you stand against competitors.
  • It’s important to not underscore the value of competitor content – their websites, their blogs, their resource library, are all right at your fingertips. Take a look at what type of content competitors are developing, how often they are churning it out, what types of themes they are going after, as well as their content’s presence in the organic SERP. Are there certain topics that are not currently covered on your website? Are there certain keywords you can outrank them on in the search results? Competitor content can provide insight into spaces you have not yet explored, as well as popular areas in which you can compete – yet only 47 percent of B2B marketers today use this data to guide their content marketing plans.

These are just some of the many sources you can use to inform a data-driven content marketing strategy. Further website analysis, keyword research, customer feedback, and A/B testing can also prove beneficial in building a content plan. No matter what sources you use, it is important to remember that data and content marketing go hand-in-hand. And to be successful in today’s marketing arena, content must have a strategy to support it.

A data-driven content marketing plan, according to the Content Marketing Institute, helps “to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” Content is the future of marketing, and it is data that tells the story behind it. It’s time we start listening.

To learn how Synapse SEM can help improve your content marketing strategy, you may complete our contact form or call us at 781-591-0752.