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7 Data-Driven Content Strategy Tips For Improving Conversions

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7 Data-Driven Content Strategy Tips For Improving Conversions

There’s an old maxim in the marketing world, “content is king.” This has been true as long as search engine optimization has been around, and probably dates back even further in the world of general marketing.

But as simple as that adage is, it leaves a lot of room for interpretation, namely what kind of content?

In those early SEO days, it meant identifying your keywords and jamming them into pages anywhere they would fit.

But modern digital marketers are smarter (not to mention that strategy doesn’t work anymore).

These days, successful content starts with a plan that’s backed up by numbers, a data-driven content strategy, if you will.

But what exactly does that mean?

In simple terms, it means developing content using an approach built on user information. This can include information like demographics, survey answers, consumer preferences, etc.

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You probably don’t need to be told why this is important, but just to make sure there’s no doubt, let’s be clear: Using a data-driven content strategy helps you decide where to spend your time, effort, and money.

In other words, you have finite resources. You don’t want to waste them on people who aren’t likely to convert.

A data-driven content strategy allows you to tailor your marketing campaigns to generate the best ROI.

For the purposes of search engine and PPC specialists, it can help you decide which keywords to go after, ensuring you’re targeting the right audience.

Sounds simple enough, right? All you need to do is pop open your content research tool and look for commonalities, right? Sorry to burst your bubble, but there’s a bit more to it than that.

But never fear, that’s why you’re here.

In this helpful guide, we’ll give you a step-by-step approach to developing, implementing, and optimizing your very own data-driven content strategy.

Ready to get started?

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1. Set Your Content Goals

The very first thing you need to decide is what you’re hoping to accomplish. You can’t be all things to all people, so you need to make some choices.

Do you want to increase traffic? Are you looking to make sales? Do you want more leads?

Determine what your content goals are and identify the channels best suited to meet them. Once you’ve done this, you can establish your key performance indicators (KPIs).

Be sure to keep this in mind while you’re creating content.

Everything you add to your website or campaign should serve a purpose. If you’re not sure what it’s doing, your audience won’t know either.

2. Define Your Target Audience

Now that you know what you’re trying to achieve, it’s time to figure out who to go after to make it happen.

Comb through the demographic data and other information you have access to. Spot commonalities that occur across many or some of your targets.

Many marketers find it helpful to create customer personas. Using your data, imagine a typical person for each of the various roles you’re targeting.

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For example, you may have a prospect persona, a lead persona, a buyer persona and a repeat persona.

Put yourself in the shoes of these imaginary people.

What type of language resonates with them? What is their highest level of education? Do they want professionalism or personability? Why are they on your website? What do they hope to accomplish with your help? Be as detailed as you can.

Many marketers even give them a name. For example, if you were creating personas for your plumbing supply company, you may have:

Lead Larry – 45 years old

A mid-career plumber, Lead Larry owns his own one-man business. He makes $75,000 a year. He went to a trade school and his work van is 6 years old. He’s looking for a way to reduce overhead and find cheaper parts than his local supply company. He values hard work, honesty, and professionalism.

Be as creative and detailed as you like, just remember this isn’t a fiction-writing exercise. You’re creating personas based on your typical target, so keep your persona in line with who they actually are.

3. Review Your Competitor’s Content And Do Topical Research

Now it’s time to take a look at what the competition is doing. Maybe they’re just flying by the seat of their pants, but they’re probably putting some effort into their campaigns, too.

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Review what they’re doing and look for what appears to be working.

For example, if they’re blogging, they may have a view counter on the page. If so, what type of blogs are getting the best results?

Look for trends in your industry. What’s everyone talking about? Is there a big trade show coming up? Or a new technology about to be released?

Figure out who you’re competing with for clicks, not just to see what’s working for them, but also to gain ideas for content of your own. Start making a list of things you want to cover.

If there are influencers in your niche, this is also a good time to check and see what they’re posting about.

4. Conduct Keyword Research

Once you’ve settled on what your content should be, it’s time to perform that old SEO staple: keyword research.

Using a tool like Google Analytics, Semrush, or something platform-specific like YouTube’s Search Insights, figure out the type of language your content needs to use.

This will help you in more than just the SEO aspect, too.

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Using keywords in your content demonstrates to your audience that you speak the same language they do. And that doesn’t mean English, it means using the nomenclature everyone in the niche will understand.

Going back to our plumbing supply example, that means referring to a product as a “three-fourths full port threaded ball valve,” rather than a “metal connection thingy.”

Okay, that’s a ridiculous example, but you get the point.

The good thing is that you probably already have a working, if not expert knowledge of this.

5. Create Content That Aligns With Your Goals

If you remember, the very first step to creating a data-driven content plan was to determine your goals.

Now, equipped with everything you’ve done since then, it’s time to create the content that addresses them.

Don’t be intimidated. You don’t have to be F. Scott Fitzgerald to write the kind of content your audience wants. And you’ve already done a lot of the foundational work – now it’s just time to put everything together.

Your content could take nearly any form, videos, blog posts, infographics, case studies, or white papers.

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If you’re not comfortable doing these on your own, it should be reasonably easy to find a writer or videographer in your area or extended network. Just ask your connections for recommendations.

If you’re still not confident in your ability to deliver or you can’t afford to hire someone, don’t worry. We have an excellent piece that will walk you through everything you need to know about content creation.

6. Promote Your Content On The Right Channels

You’ve created your masterpiece of relevant content. Now it’s time to share it with the world. But how do you do that? Do you just post it on your corporate blog and wait for Google to index it?

You could take that kind of passive approach, but this is great stuff you’ve just made. Everyone in your niche will want to consume it. And to make sure you get the eyes you want on it, it’s time to promote it.

But before you go linking to it on Facebook, Digg, LinkedIn, and every other social media platform and aggregator site you can think of, pause for a minute.

When you were developing your user personas, you hopefully received some data about where your targets live online.

Are they regular Twitter users? Do they haunt industry-specific forums? Are you connected to them via Slack or other instant messenger apps?

Find out where they hang out and post away. In most cases, if you’re not sure if your targets use a platform or not, you should just go ahead and post anyway.

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There are some sites where you can be dinged for unpopular content (Reddit, for example), but most of the time, there’s no harm.

This is also a time to start thinking about how you can repurpose your new content.

Do you have an opportunity for a guest blog post on another site? Or, would your new infographic fit perfectly in your next investor report?

If your data-driven content is built on the solid principles we’ve discussed, it will get engagements.

7. Use Analytics To Measure Results

After your content goes live, you can begin measuring your ROI to see what you did well, where you missed the mark, and what could be optimized to perform better.

This is where the KPIs discussed back in step one come back into play.

Some of these are easier to track than others.

If increasing sales or conversions was your goal, you should have data that backs up performance. Likewise, if you set out to improve traffic to your website, you should have the analytics to track that.

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Things like brand visibility can be a bit trickier.

Regardless of what it is you’re using to determine success, you should find the data you need to track performance in Google Analytics.

For a detailed walkthrough of this process, we’ve provided information on exactly how you can measure content marketing success.

A Data-Driven Content Strategy Is A Winning One

Data is a marketer’s best friend. It tells you exactly what works, what doesn’t, and often, why that’s the case.

And a data-driven content strategy is vital for success in today’s hyper-competitive business and SEO environment.

Use the tools available to you to gather data – that’s why they’re there.

Learn to identify what the numbers are telling you and use them to help you craft the kind of content that not only attracts views but gets shares and achieves your goals.

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Featured Image: metamorworks/Shutterstock



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How Do Retargeting Ads Work, Anyway?

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How Do Retargeting Ads Work, Anyway?

Since Google Ads first launched retargeting in 2010, the evolution of this tactic has shifted tenfold.

It’s no longer a question of whether you should use retargeting; it’s how you should use it.

Whether you’re new to the marketing industry or a seasoned pro looking to polish your retargeting skillset, this post will cover the recent ins and outs of creating retargeting campaigns.

The Value Of Retargeting Ads

Ecommerce conversion rates range from 0.7% to 4% globally.

Since consumers have a low attention span and are used to endless scrolling, retargeting ads should be an essential part of your marketing strategy.

If you’re struggling to understand why only a small percent of website visitors purchase from you, don’t fret (yet). In reality, most people aren’t in the buying stage when they first visit your site.

If, for example, only 3% of users are ready to buy, the other 97% are likely not prepared to convert.

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Therefore, if your retargeting goal is simply to get people to buy or convert now, you may be setting yourself up for failure.

Why is that? Well, telling people to “Buy Now” when they’re not ready means your messaging is wrong for 96% of your audience.

Where does the value of retargeting come in here? Multiple factors make a successful retargeting ad:

  • Segmented audience by behavior.
  • Identifying the right platform for ads.
  • Serving the right message to the right audience.

Take this retargeting ad I got, for example.

I had been researching places to take a solo health and wellness vacation in Arizona. After landing on this website, I received this retargeting ad within 24 hours of visiting.

The ad itself captured the most important aspects I was looking for in a vacation:

  • Wellness activities.
  • Healthy food.
  • Hiking.
Screenshot from author’s Facebook Feed, July 2022

What Do Retargeting Ads Do?

Simply put, retargeting ads help lead users to the next step in their buyer journey. It’s not just an ad that gets users to “buy now.”

Your retargeting message should not be a rehash of your original marketing message.

Smart retargeting, however, focuses on understanding where your customers are at in their buyer journey and helping them take that next step.

For example, say you are a SaaS company where your goal is to get users to sign up for a free trial.

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Your initial strategy is to bid on the terms such as “cloud software,” where you land users on a page that talks about your software and encourages them to create an account.

Unfortunately, only a small percentage of users will take that action. You may be tempted to retarget all non-converting web traffic with more information on your software.

Do you see the problem here? That message didn’t work the first time, so why would it now?

It is where you’ll need to switch up your remarketing strategy.

First Things First: Start With Tagging

The key to running retargeting ads starts with proper tagging. If you’re looking to target web or app users of any kind, pixels, and tags are necessary.

Each platform you want to run retargeting ads on has its specific pixel. Right now, it seems the options are endless. You can retarget on major platforms, including (but not limited to):

  • Google Ads.
  • Microsoft Ads.
  • Meta (Facebook).
  • Instagram.
  • LinkedIn.
  • Twitter.
  • Snapchat.
  • TikTok.
  • Pinterest.

If you’re planning on testing out all these platforms, too many hard-coded pixels could slow down your website. Try using Google Tag Manager to simplify your tag/pixel management for a more straightforward implementation.

How Do These Tags Work?

These tags identify a user based on their website activity (anonymously), which are then collected into platforms where you can later target them.

Now, one major thing to consider is the deprecation of third-party cookies. It’s already been announced that Google is removing third-party cookies, and many others will likely follow.

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This change to the consumer landscape leads us to the next core item of retargeting ads: audiences.

Create Meaningful Audiences

As mentioned above, third-party cookie deprecation may affect retargeting in the future. But, in what way?

The most significant shift will come from securing first-party data on your users – at the beginning of their user journey.

First-party data means consumers give you their information directly, such as submitting an email address on your website.

Once you have first-party data, the possibilities are endless for segmentation. For example, you could segment your users based on:

  • How they first came to your website (organic, social media, referral, etc.).
  • How long do they stay on your site.
  • If a user completed (or didn’t complete) a particular action on your site.
  • What categories or products they viewed.
  • If a user is a previous buyer.
  • The length of time they watched one of your videos.
  • What type of offer do they claim on your site to give you their data.
  • How they’ve interacted with your social pages.

Again, these are just a few examples of how you can remarket. You can get as creative as you want!

Now, if consumers provide specific user data, you can upload this information to many platforms to retarget them. This data is uploaded in a secure, hashed way to keep the user anonymous.

You’re able to upload data points such as:

  • Email address.
  • First and last name.
  • Phone number.
  • Address.
  • Other data points are available by platform.

It works because if your user data matches the cross-reference data from the specific platform, you can retarget them.

Additionally, if you have pixels or tags set up, you can create specific behavior-like audiences and use them on those respective platforms.

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For example, if you linked your YouTube channel to your Google Ads account, you can create remarketing lists of users who viewed a certain video as an ad.

These types of remarketing audiences are powerful at retargeting someone likely at the awareness stage.

Choose The Right Messaging

Now that you’ve identified your audience to retarget, it’s imperative you get the messaging right.

If your company has an average sales cycle of six to 12 months, can you expect someone to convert to that sale immediately?

I wouldn’t bet on it.

This is why segmenting your audiences is so important. You should not be giving everyone the same retargeting message, nor should you use the exact same messaging you’ve initially reached them with.

Let’s go back to the cloud security example.

Selling cloud security software to a company is likely a long sales cycle with multiple decision makers.

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If this is the first page you see as a new user, would you want to take action immediately?

An example of a cloud security landing page.Screenshot from a cloud intelligence platform, July 2022

Probably not.

What if you landed on the same page from a retargeting ad the second time with no differentiation in ad copy?

Again, probably not.

The idea is so simple, yet so many companies get it wrong. Everyone is looking for that final sale without giving a user a reason why they should trust their brand.

Now, what would be an ideal scenario?

  1. Create awareness of your product to your ideal audience  → Lead them to an informative page about what it does.
  2. Create a retargeting audience based on qualifying factors of that page Encourage them to download an informative whitepaper.
  3. Segment that audience further if they completed that action Start introducing them to a stronger offer (such as a demo or trial, if it’s an easy user experience).

This very simplified scenario should likely include more steps to warm the user up to you. But hopefully, this gives you an understanding of why your messaging or offer should differ each time.

More importantly: Don’t expect them to go to the final desired action you want them to take!

Reach Your User On The Right Platform

We’ve discussed the tags, audiences, and messaging for retargeting ads. Now it’s time to pick the right platform.

We already touched on just a few platforms you could retarget on. So, because there are myriad options, does that mean you should use all retargeting options?

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Not necessarily!

The key to identifying your retargeting platforms is to do your audience research. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What are the key demographics of my audience?
  • Where does my audience spend time?
  • Am I collecting mainly business user information or personal information?
  • What message am I sending to my audience?

Dive deeper into your audience behavior to help influence your retargeting platform decision.

For example, if you’re trying to get ahold of business decision-makers and collecting work emails, you may want to try LinkedIn or Quora as a retargeting option.

Personal social platforms such as Facebook or Instagram may not be your best option.

The messaging should also influence which retargeting platform to use.

If you’re trying to get someone to sign up for a demo or start a free trial, you may not want to use platforms that are more used for awareness, such as YouTube.

Conclusion

While retargeting options have changed dramatically since their inception, the premise hasn’t necessarily changed.

Retargeting and users’ brand expectations have become more sophisticated.

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Keeping up to date on the industry changes and how they affect your retargeting strategy is a must in today’s age.

Use these tips above to help amplify your retargeting strategy for a better conversion rate and user experience.

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Featured Image: eamesBot/Shutterstock

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