Published On: Sat, May 26th, 2012

Why You Must Adopt a Data Driven Approach to Content

Data Driven Approach to Content

During the course of this week I’ve been thinking about content. A lot. We all know when optimized for search, content is the currency of the web and in the digital age, every company now has the opportunity to become a media company.

Text, infographics, video, images, slides and documents are the tools which bring this concept to life; driving awareness, engagement, and traffic – and if executed flawlessly, results in people talking, thinking and enthusing about a brand.

But, standing out amongst all the content in the age of ‘information obesity’ is difficult. Content, just like real currency  is everywhere and ensuring it grabs people’s attention is tough. These challenges are juxtaposed by the fact social media has low barriers to entry; making it easy to create content, but difficult to make content that cuts through the noise.

Successful content is overwhelmingly the result of strong collaboration between analytical and creative teams. It is easy to overlook this. Occasionally, you will see wonderfully designed content make an impact due its beauty, but to increase the chances of resonance and success, content needs to be underpinned by a strategic and data driven approach, not guesswork.

I respect, enjoy and admire the creative process, but believe this stage has to be guided by insights gleaned from quantitative and qualitative data, as a result of primary and secondary research. I recognise an exceptional idea can come from anywhere, but the creative process deserves to be based upon principles unearthed in data, not grounded in Groupthink.  A data driven approach ensures brainstorms and the subsequent content strategy retains the correct foundation, parameters and focus. Again, it is all too easy to overlook this and opt for the most ‘creative’ idea, rather than the most appropriate one.

In my role we frequently help organisations understand the topics and context in which they are discussed and appear online. This gives us the basis to develop topics they should design content around. Once we are equipped with this insight we then try and hit the content sweetspot. By this I mean identify topics that are ‘ownable’, resonate with the audience, have a sufficient number of participants and are aligned with the brand. Organisations may have some existing ideas around content pillars, but these should be tested against social data to ensure relevance.

For instance, a B2B focused company may try to reach a large number of people to raise awareness of a CSR initiative. In oversimplified terms, it could achieve this by identifying broad, popular topics that are ‘ownable’, resonate, sizable and aligned and begin creating appropriate content around them.

The opposite may be true if the organisation is trying engage with a small-number of B2B product users. In fact, it may need to discover what we consider ‘hyper-niche’ topics; those with a small number of often high value participants and create appropriate content just for them.

The content sweetspot is different for each organisation and dependent upon communications objectives, but can be found by conducting research to understand the online landscape.

I’ll be sharing some thoughts and tips on taking a data driven approach to content in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, I would be interested to hear what process you go through to create content.

About the Author

- Marketing Manager with a passion for inbound at HubSpot, Founder of Growth Hack Talks, Blogger at and Chief Quaffer at .

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  1. […] A version of this post was originally published on Ben Cotton’s blog Social Web Thing. […]

  2. […] I’m a firm believer that content must be guided by insights gleaned from data and research. There’s lots of rich data ready to be mined that can shape […]

  3. […] weeks back, I wrote about (and hopefully made the case) why you must take a data driven approach to content. As a follow-up, I’ve penned some actionable steps to ensure your content has the greatest chance […]

  4. […] and need to develop some exciting new streams of content. I’ve previously written about how and why you must take a data driven approach to content, so here’s some very practical ideas to give your content some fresh […]

  5. […] out in the graphic, which may act as a starting point. However, I’m a keen advocate of taking a data driven approach to content, so I’d love to see another infographic with more tips supported by numbers in much the same […]

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