The data-driven approach is becoming more standard for marketers and business owners who want to run successful online businesses.
With the advent of technology, marketers have more ways to understand their customers via collecting and analyzing data about their behaviors on the web. Therefore, marketers can provide relevant and helpful content to attract, engage, and convert their customers.
In this article, Simon Bullmore, co-founder of Mission Drive, shares his insights and best practices on data-driven content creation.
Guide to Article
- Guide to Article
- Q: Can You Introduce Yourself and Share With The Audience Your Inspiration? How Did You Get Into Content Marketing?
- Q: Can You Also Share With The Audience Your Process For Bringing The Most Value To Your Clients?
- Q: What Kind Of Data Is Important To A Content Manager She Should Pay Attention To And How To Use That Kind Of Content To Develop Persona Or Content Planning?
- Q: How Can Marketing Department Or The Content Manager Utilize Data To Create Content That Enables Sales? Do You Have Any Scenarios Where You Help Your Clients?
- Q: Since You Work With Many Writers And Marketers Already, What Do You See That Some Writers Miss In Their Process That Would Make Their Content More Effective?
Q: Can You Introduce Yourself and Share With The Audience Your Inspiration? How Did You Get Into Content Marketing?
I am a business psychologist by background, so I’ve always been interested in how people change and inspire people and make the world a better place. But particularly for individuals, about six years ago, I set up Mission Drive, but before that, I was working for Tim Berners-Lee, who’s the person that founded the web back in 1993 and gave it away for free.
So if we can speak now, it’s because of Tim’s invention, and when I was working for Tim, my job was to try and communicate with the world. Why the web and particularly the web of data was such a powerful thing for people and how we can each contribute to making that a much more accessible, open, and equitable place for people to work together.
We were trying to put across quite complicated concepts like open data and that kind of thing, which drew me into the world of content and content marketing. Because I was inspired by someone who’d created something extraordinary for the world, and I shared in his vision of a web and an internet that helps everybody thrive.
But to make that happen, we needed to convince people to do things a little bit differently. In the world of data, at that time, everyone was taught you’ve got to protect your data, you’ve got to hold on to it, you’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do that, and actually what we were saying is set it free.
Because when you can set data free and so, making that argument to as many people as possible meant that we had to use the web and use content and use content marketing strategy to do that.
So that inspired me when I left work to set up Mission Drive, and at Mission Drive, our purpose is to help people do exciting things with data. They’re doing innovative things to tell their story and engage creatively. What we think is a lot of value.
So that’s kind of my inspiration that I see the web and data as something that can help us all thrive as humans, and what we want to stop is for all of that power and potential to be kind of just in the hands of a few tech companies.
It should be available to all of us, and so that’s the mission that we have at Mission Drive is to help people that share in that vision use content to bring other people along. Some of those are companies, but some are also non-profit organizations trying to make the web a more ethical and safe place for everybody.
Q: Can You Also Share With The Audience Your Process For Bringing The Most Value To Your Clients?
I take inspiration from Jeremy Bulmer, a well-respected grandfather of advertising in the UK. He always said that content creation and content marketing was creative act for commerce. So it’s not content creation and content marketing, which I believe is creative, but it’s always to help someone share a story and build a business.
So our content creation process and content creation strategy try to capture both of those things. It tries to capture the creative inspiration that is sparking and connects them to our emotional truth and thinks; how do I do that in ways that move the audience on? So that’s the tension that we’re very clear about in our work.
That tension between being data-driven by the action we want someone to take with the need for content to stand out. Because it’s beautifully written, or it’s inspiring, or it sparks emotion. So our process is all about bringing those two things together; creativity and commerce, and that things work.
We need to know that they are making an impact and that people are taking the action we want to take. Many people say those very early conversations and ask those annoying questions to clients. Like, a client will say we use blockchain, it will help us revolutionize how supply chains work, and it’s about asking those why and content marketing questions.
Often, to gain more data, we ask many questions like why is this important? Who is it important for? Why do they care? What is their content marketing strategy?. Fundamentally, what we’re trying to drill down to is that emotional truth for an individual. What is it that is going to make me care so that I take the action that our customer wants us to take?
That’s how I would describe our processes, especially at the beginning, ensuring that all of those things have been answered, like why people care? What is it you’re trying to do? Why does it matter to you? Why does this matter to you as a founder of your company? All those data you need to bring out.
There is a lot of value in that process, and then as we’re producing content and thinking about how to reach people with data. Do we need to start to use data to see how people are engaging with this? What is useful? What kind of action are they taking? What insights can we get from data? What content marketing strategy were they following?
There is also a whole emerging sector to do that. Still, the most value that we bring is resolving what can be perceived as a tension between developing something creative and therefore sparking emotion and trying to do things that make a difference and have a business impact.
Because I think if you don’t get either of those things, you’re lost. There is a whole world out there of data content, and if you don’t get creative, you don’t get an emotion, then you don’t get results.
Q: What Kind Of Data Is Important To A Content Manager She Should Pay Attention To And How To Use That Kind Of Content To Develop Persona Or Content Planning?
Some of the most useful data is the data that allows you to understand your audience, but from an agency perspective, we’re always keen to show that we’ve got results, we’ve got leads, and set content marketing goals, and it’s doing the purpose.
I think CRM systems are pretty good at that. They can show the flow of when someone arrives on a landing page and what their journey looks like. So if you’ve done a good job as a content marketer, that’s because you’re generating leads, and I’m hoping that people now have that infrastructure because that infrastructure is accessible to all of us.
So assuming that someone has done that and if you haven’t done that, I think that’s something to look at first. What’s the impact? Am I generating ROI as either an external agency or an internal content marketer?
Whether it’s HubSpot or whatever system you’re using, you can do that. Now you can attribute leads to specific types of content. For example, the content that we helped them create for recent clients was aimed at very senior people, chief data officer types of people in the businesses.
We found that that piece of content was being used by third-party organizations so effectively. It made us realize that there’s a whole group of people who are very influential in providing services to CEOs, and that was a segment that we should go after and shoot with a content marketing strategy.
So what I am saying is that sometimes you might discover a new audience that can create value for you quite quickly. So those sorts of insights about who’s using and reading our content. I think sometimes we can be a bit surprised.
We build a persona going to focus on this content. It’s going to be Janet; she’s a CDO, she works on the east coast of the US, and we realized that 25 % of our users are like Janet. Still, there’s a significant population.
I think that insight is very good for us to consider if it’s hitting the content marketing goals and identifying perhaps new segments to go after so or ways to repurpose our content to make it more relevant. Any insight tells you who is reading your web content (blog post, social media content); if they’re sharing it.
The other sort of data that we use in our content is search data. Using content analytics tools like Semrush or whatever it might be, we’re creating data to understand to almost build a mind map of a topic and generate content ideas. I know that many people do this. But, to validate our thinking about what people are asking and what would be helpful is data on our target audience.
For example, for the marketing manager or any content marketing campaign, the insight of the data is an element that can help them understand their audience. If you can measure that and then also have that insight to see are reading it, scheming it, or are they taking any action? Are they sharing it on social media, saving it, or downloading it?
We do a lot of work around content strategy, and my view is that content strategy should always allow you to do less work, not more work. A good content strategy reduces output and effort because if you’re focused on what you want to do, those data insights should allow you to serve this particular segment better with the content.
Q: How Can Marketing Department Or The Content Manager Utilize Data To Create Content That Enables Sales? Do You Have Any Scenarios Where You Help Your Clients?
I think I just gave you that scenario where you understand who is using your content. Insights help you identify new segments and then repurpose content for that segment. I think that sort of thing is essential. Before we even start creating content, we need to have a strategic intent in mind, and to have a strategic intent; you do need data.
When you’re having those sorts of conversations in your strategy for the year, like having data and knowing the types of questions that you perhaps come to those meetings and using those meetings to shape the sorts of questions you want to answer, then think about how might data help us answer those? I think that’s important.
Again coming back to where the business is trying to go and what you are trying to achieve is different. You’re trying to go after higher value, lower volume sales this year. Therefore in terms of creating content, once you assume that has that strategic stuff being done and using data on existing property that’s similar to see what is helpful for the user, I think that’s important.
Because there’s lots of content out there, honing in on the bit of your content is the most helpful thing. Then trying to expand on that, I think that’s probably the most important thing you can do.
Q: Since You Work With Many Writers And Marketers Already, What Do You See That Some Writers Miss In Their Process That Would Make Their Content More Effective?
I’m going to ask this differently. It’s like it’s tough to define art right, but you always know it when you see it. When I do art, you won’t find it as hard because we all appreciate it as a human. We have a bunch of writers, in-house and agency writers that we work with, and the way we select who we work on is the degree to which someone has an empathy with the topic or the users.
I think it’s because of that connection you have to have genuine empathy with that. So if you are writing and sometimes when we struggle to write in a good and compelling way, I think we have to ask ourselves why that is. If it’s because you really don’t care or don’t find it interesting, then maybe you’re not right, and that’s fine.
Not everyone’s going to care about blockchain; not everyone’s going to care about well-being; not everyone’s going to care about food or cars. It’s always easier to be compelling about something the way that you feel passionate about it.
So I think if you’re not finding that passion or purpose in the thing that you’re trying to create, you maybe need to find a way of reconnecting with that. There’s been a bit of content that I’ve had to do.
I’m writing now, I’ve got to deliver it today, and I had to get up this morning because all of yesterday I was pacing around the office, annoying people and strategy because I just couldn’t connect with this topic.
Still, I have to do it \and there’s no one else available to do it. Whereas someone else on the team who’s writing about precisely the same topic has been able to knock out 700 unique words is a compelling blog because she’s connecting with the case in mind. So that’s why I think passion and purpose with all things in life make things a lot easier, and I think that comes across in writing.