A good marketer is intuitive. She understands the needs of her customers, and she communicates with them in ways they understand and relate to. Creating the kind of content that speaks to customers on a human level and tells an engaging story is truly an art.
But marketing is more than an art — it’s also a science. Intuition and creativity can only take us so far; we need data to take us even further.
Data is to a marketer what the Iron Man suit is to Tony Stark: It takes a good marketer from smart to unstoppable. It opens your eyes to new information, removes bias, and improves decision-making. It promotes the testing of innovative new ideas. And it's often the piece of the puzzle that content marketers are missing. Essentially, it can be what marketers need to dominate content marketing.
When we started our agency in 2011, our team quickly found success helping our clients create thought leadership content and get published in sites that are synonymous with great content, like the Washington Post, WIRED, and Fast Company.
We understood what made a compelling story and would engage an audience. Our content was driven by insights from real industry experts and crafted and polished by a team of editors to ensure every piece was pristine. While we were naturally skilled at creating high-quality content, we didn’t focus as much on bringing data or a data-driven editorial workflow into our content creation process.
Then, in 2015, we launched our proprietary content marketing software, ICo Core. Not only has Core streamlined our internal content processes, strengthened client relationships, and improved project management, but it has also brought powerful data straight to our fingertips that allows us to create content that's even better at meeting clients' goals.
Want to see even more data-driven insights from our proprietary software? Check out "The State of Digital Media."
Here’s a look at a few key features within ICo Core that empower our team to use data to foster better content creation:
Our trending content tool constantly updates with fresh content that's trending in our clients' industries, which gives us a flood of examples to use in future articles, inspires content ideation, and offers insights into what makes viral content. Clients also have access to this feature, which curates customized content just for them.
Our team maintains relationships with more than 1,200 online publications in pretty much every industry vertical, from business to engineering to parenting and everything between. With so many possibilities, we want to be sure we're helping clients craft the right messages that speak to the right audiences in the right publications.
Every publication has nuances, but beyond high-level details like audience, type of content, etc., there are deeper details that really matter. We collect data about nearly every aspect of a publication, from global rank to monthly sessions to time on site, which allows us to develop a content strategy that targets the perfect publication for our clients' content goals.
Why does this data matter?
Let's say a client wants to speak to a business audience and one of her goals is to boost SEO using high-quality backlinks. ICo Core gives us the power to examine details like a site's domain authority, which has an effect on her SEO goals.
And what about after that content is published? If this client also wants to generate engagement via social, we’d look at the average social shares per article on each prospective publication and take that into consideration when helping set our clients' strategies.
One of the biggest challenges content marketers face is proving the ROI of their content efforts. While there are many qualitative and quantitative benefits to content marketing, seeing the real numbers behind your efforts is critical — both to communicate success and to continuously optimize your strategy.
That's why we created content analytics within our platform. Core's analytics features give clients and Influence & Co. team members direct access to transparent details about how content is performing on an aggregate and individual level.
Core provides information like total social shares, which is especially valuable because not every publication shares that information for each article, especially after Twitter changed its API to limit share data.
It also provides data on social reach, insight into how content is performing in comparison to other articles on the same publication, and more. ICo Core drills down even deeper when it comes to on-site content, delivering information about time on site, finish rate, and social engagement.
Putting all the data about content performance at our employees' and clients' fingertips allows us to streamline our processes, and it gives our teams access to important data that can improve our chances of creating a successful piece of content and driving real business results for our clients.