4 Steps to Create a Data-Driven Content Strategy


For years, studies have proven that content marketers who have a documented content strategy are more effective, yet many marketers still don’t have a documented content strategy and they don’t have a workflow to evaluate that strategy and produce content.

This is likely because marketers say that time is now their biggest challenge. However, having a workflow for creating and evaluating content actually makes a marketer more efficient and effective by uncovering in real time what the areas are for opportunity.

Regularly checking in on content performance can help marketers avoid wasting time and resources, yet when surveyed, two-thirds of marketers say they evaluate the effectiveness of their content marketing monthly or less than monthly. If you’re in the two-thirds of marketers that are checking in on content marketing strategy monthly (or less), what opportunities are you missing to improve your strategy?

Part of my role with TrackMaven is advising marketers on building their content strategies and establishing a schedule for evaluating their effectiveness. Here are four steps to creating a data-driven workflow and content strategy:

1. Benchmarking and setting goals for your content strategy.

Monthly, you should establish content marketing goals and determine what key metrics you’ll use to measure success for your organization. This is the foundation of your content strategy.

Set up a monthly meeting to determine which metrics will most effectively demonstrate the success of your content. This will likely be different for each company depending on their overall goals. A study by the Content Marketing Institute showed that marketers who meet daily or weekly are 70 percent more likely to consider meetings valuable than those who meet biweekly or monthly.

Here are some example metrics by channel:

Channel:Example Metrics:
WebsiteReferral traffic; organic traffic
EmailOpen rates; click throughs
Social mediaAudience growth; engagement; conversions

2. Content planning.

Monthly, you should research engaging topics that resonate with your target audience and create an editorial calendar that schedules out these themes.

In TrackMaven, you can use the content feed to do this research. For others, look at your SEO keywords, the performance of your past content, and popular posts on industry websites in your space.

Set up a monthly content planning meeting to talk through the results of your research and how they tie into the business objectives you’re supporting to produce and finalize an editorial calendar.

3. Review goal progress.

Now that you have set your marketing goals, it’s important to check in on your progress. As mentioned previously, the most effective marketers check in on how their content is performing at least once a week. While it’s easy to decide on an idea, produce it, send it out the door, and move on to the next thing, without a true knowledge of what works and doesn’t, you’ll be less equipped to make smart, strategic decisions about future content.

As part of your weekly content planning meeting, provide an update on how you’re progressing toward your goals. Do a quarterly deep-dive of content performance to review your progress using the same process.

4. Content review.

Daily, take time to pause and evaluate your individual pieces of content to identify areas for improvement.

Incorporate the information from this review into your weekly meetings. Spend half of the meeting reviewing the previous week and the other half planning for the upcoming week.

Here, you should examine the work published over the day or week and ask yourself, did it do as well as you hoped? Did it perform even better? If it performed better, plan to work this theme into more content and recycling the information into different formats. For example, if you have a report filled with statistics, create text-over-image graphics with the statistics to share on social media. If the piece didn’t perform as well, test out a new title or try adjusting the distribution methods. Do this on a larger scale quarterly and annually using the same process.

Sample weekly meeting agenda:

00:00-00:15Review goal progress
00:15-00:50Content planning/review
00:50-1:00Assign content topics for the week

Each year, the Content Marketing Institute has reported that marketers with a documented content strategy rate themselves as more effective than marketers who don’t. Marketing teams who meet more often find their meetings more productive.

Start off with a monthly content creation cycle to create benchmarks, set goals, and plan your content. Then, review progress against your marketing goals and review content weekly as a team. Use this monthly cycle and tailor it to your needs. The key is to be consistent and measure content performance regularly.

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