Why You Need Data to Improve Your Content Strategy Jennifer Taylor January 14th, 2016 You’re sitting in front of a blank Word document, the steady blinking of the cursor only increasing the overwhelming pressure to put something on the page. Though many might consider this to be a bad case of writer’s block or a simple lack of inspiration, this problem might be symptomatic of a much bigger issue - a lack of data. Perhaps the real reason you don’t know where to start is because you don’t know what content your audience is looking for in the first place! What are people talking about in the industry? Who’s driving the conversation? What topics are people discussing on social media? It’s important to know the answers to these questions before you even sit down at the computer to start the writing process.Why leave this all to guesswork when there are so many opportunities to fine-tune your strategy with data science? The growing availability of analytic tools leaves marketers no excuse for failing to leverage data and improve their content marketing strategies. Data can give you insight into what topics are popular, what’s being shared on social, and who’s influential in your industry. Data can also help you personalize your content, tell compelling stories, and offer brands the opportunity to uncover new insights!Below we’ve outlined a few ways data can help you get past the blank page, and start producing intelligent, meaningful, and compelling content across the most relevant social networks. by Jen Taylor 1. Who? Use data to determine who is at the forefront of your industry and which influencers you should connect with.Here at ScribbleLive we use data to help us better understand who is driving the conversation and which influencers we should be connecting with in the content marketing world. Our Insights app analyzes news items, blog posts, and social updates to identify the most influential opinions and see who’s having the greatest impact in those conversations. We recently used the product to identify the top influencers in content marketing at the end of 2015, and also produced a report on the top brand and product influencers at the 2016 CES Consumer Tech conference in Las Vegas.ScribbleLive's CES 2016 Influence Reportby Jen Taylor Once you know who’s driving the conversation, you can identify what topics they’re talking about, which industry influencers they’re referencing and connecting with, and what type of content they’re producing (Are they writing blog posts? Releasing podcasts? Hosting webinars?).This type of social listening is useful for filling your content calendar with relevant or trending topics, and ensuring that the most influential people are guest posting on your blog.by Jen Taylor 2. What? Use data to determine what kind of content you should be creating, and to better understand which content formats are gaining the most traction with your audience.You can also use data as a guide to ensure that you’re developing the right kind of content. Track metrics that give you insight into which articles are performing well with your audience. Which blog articles are getting the most visits and how long are your visitors spending on these pages? Do images or integrated video content keeping them on the page longer? What topics generate the most shares on social? Are your vlogs and podcasts performing better than standard blog articles? Use this data to evaluate the impact of your content and continually optimize until you find the right formula. The Content Marketing Institute also reminds us that customers leave behind a “data trail” during online browsing. Companies can use this data to understand the context and intent of the audience’s interactions with your content. According to Think With Google, understanding intent and context can often be more valuable than demographic data when determining what kind of content to create and who to target.by Jen Taylor 3. When and Where? Use data to learn the optimal time to publish your content and on which social channels.Data is an important component in learning what kind of content will meet the needs of your audience. Is your audience mobile-centric and responding to visuals? Get on Instagram. Are they people commuting to work in the morning? Create a podcast they can listen to while they drive or take the subway.Once you’ve created your content you need to promote it. Data can help you find the optimal time and place to get the message out there. Use data to figure out which social channels your audience is most active on. Collect metrics on your post’s performance on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and any other social channels you’re sharing content on.Once you know where your audience is most likely to interact with your content, find out what day of the week and what time of day they are most likely to see your Tweet, Facebook Message, or Snapchat. There are already so many voices competing to be heard on social media. By optimizing the time and place you increase the odds that the right people see your content. by Jen Taylor 4. How? Use data to create personalized interactions, omnichannel experiences, and rich storytelling opportunities.Why is a customer seeing the information they’re seeing? Make sure that you use data to personalize interactions and ensure that the content is catered to each individual. Users are more willing to share cookies and historical data in exchange for better user experiences and personalized content (as long as it’s not too invasive or creepy).According to Forbes, the line between in-store and online shopping is blurring. Marketers need to start using data to create seamless omnichannel experiences and facilitate the transition from online to offline shopping. If a consumer is looking at a specific product online, use location data to let them know which stores nearby have that product in stock. If it’s close to the holidays, let a customer know the last possible day they can order online and still have the item delivered to their home before December 25th.Data can also be used to craft interesting stories. According to the Harvard Business Review, “fresh data and infographics spread across Twitter, Facebook, and other social channels precisely because they are able to tell a story in a concise, compelling, and visually appealing way.” Use data visualizations to tell a story or to create captivating and easily shareable infographics that give your audience greater insight into a relevant topic. Giving your audience valuable and compelling content will help you establish your brand as an authority on the topic and help you stand out from your competition. It’s a no-brainer.Do you use data in your content strategy? Share your insights with us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.