Content marketing and big data analytics — the perfect match?

Big Data has been described as the next $100 billion dollar opportunity by McKinsey and Company.

Just take a look at the amount of data that is created on social media channels alone. According to Domo, every minute 100,000 tweets are sent, 48 hours of video are loaded to YouTube, 347 new blogs are posted on WordPress, and over 680,000 pieces of content are being shared on Facebook. On top of that, data from your CRM, website analytics, and marketing automation tools is all adding up to Big Data. Statistics from IBM showed that we create an astounding 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day. Data is coming from your customers and prospects at such incredible rate. So what does this mean for your content marketing strategy?

Marketing spoke with Stephen Dale, general manager at Digimind Asia Pacific to find out how Big Data can drive your content marketing strategy.

Marketing: At what stage and level of sophistication is digital content marketing in 2017?

Dale: Digital content marketing is in a state of constant evolution and growth. With the amount of content being created by both brands, influencers, and consumers, marketers have even more clutter to cut through and thus have become increasingly reliant on social data to help drive their content strategies. We’ve found that many of our clients are now using data from social and online channels to harvest industry insights, look at trends in target markets, and create content that is more engaging, relevant and customer-centric than ever before.

Marketing: Are enough marketers using data and insights to inform their content creation? How should this be improved?

Dale: With so much of our lives now taking place in the digital realm, there is more data than ever for us to draw insights from. These data and insights can redefine a company’s competitiveness. By capturing more and better data and continuously developing and implementing insights about what drives their business and industries, companies are able to keep ahead of the pack.

In addition to social media monitoring, we see our clients turn to industry magazines, websites, and key influencers to identify the latest trends and achieve a more focused and strategic view of content. It’s also important for companies to keep an eye on competitors to assess and learn from their successes and failures in order to refine their content strategy.

Marketing: What are the most common mistakes and traps marketers fall into when building a digital content strategy to engage their audiences consistently?

Dale: Focusing too much on themselves and missing the bigger picture. Marketers need to identify the convergence point between what they have to say and what customers want to hear to ensure that they are sharing content that is relevant to their audience.

Marketers should also look at more focused and clean sets of data so that it's easier to derive insights, while lending greater dexterity to creating and promoting content. This begins by scoping out work clearly to identify what data to collect and insights to monitor.

Marketing: When can analytics lead you down the wrong path? 

Dale: Following on with my earlier point, “data overload” is a common pitfall when it comes to analytics. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you don’t have a question or an end goal in mind. Know the questions you want to answer, and focus only on the data which matters.

Marketing: What if budget and access to sophisticated data is limited, what are some alternative key measures marketers can take to ensure their content is on the pulse?

Dale: With the emergence of big data, most companies understand the importance of obtaining data to formulate strategies based on data-driven insights. Budgets are very rarely an issue anymore, as companies know they need to be investing in this type of technology to propel their competitiveness. Of course, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter all come with insight tools, and there are some free tools you can subscribe to online, but these are rarely able to give you the level of customisation or all of the insights you need.

Marketing: How can brands both stand out with their content and at the same time be in line with the trends and most popular talking points?

Dale: Brand authenticity and active community management are good practices to incorporate into your content strategy to ensure you are in line with trends and talking points while creating outstanding content. Consumers are outgrowing brands that either promote only themselves and their products, or whose messaging is perceived to be “out of reach” and are instead opting to engage with brands that are more personable and relatable.

Influencer marketing can also help companies achieve this balance. Understanding who the influencers and key opinion leaders in your target market are, and nurturing them into brand ambassadors allows content about your brand to be churned out from multiple points-of-view.

With that said, however, it is important for brands to choose their influencers appropriately, based on their content and audience, and to give selected influencers the freedom to be who they are while communicating your brand’s message.

Marketing: Many current content marketers plan their content strategy well ahead of time. While this ensures manageable goal setting, how can marketers build agility and flexibility into their strategies?

Dale: With the help of social intelligence and listening tools, marketers can monitor audiences in real-time to identify trending topics as they happen. Certain tools even allow you to set up email alerts to inform the team of trending or viral topics so they can identify whether the trend is something they can talk about start planning their course of action for newsjacking before the ride is over.

Marketing: What brands in Southeast Asia are getting this balance right and creating impactful content online, informed by social listening and analytics?

Dale: Lazada Singapore had an interesting collaboration with local influencers Youtiao666 for Mother’s Day. The offbeat humour in the video coupled with the blatant call-to-action stood out from the usual sentimental messages that brands put out. This led to its massive success of over 34,000 interactions (likes, shares and comments) across Facebook and YouTube in the week leading up Mother’s Day!

Netflix is another brand that has created impactful content by “listening” closely to trending conversations time and time again, from using the recent happenings around Yishun to promote their series, Stranger Things, to the Woodleigh MRT powder incident for Narcos and Chef’s Table.

Marketing: What role will artificial intelligence (AI) play in social listening in the future?

Dale:  AI and Machine Learning are quickly becoming crucial features within listening tools. It’s ability to save time for companies and provide teams with predictive data has proved thus far to be impressive. If clients can use this technology to leverage insights, as well as identify upcoming trends from bigger sets of data, it can become an extremely powerful component of a marketer’s arsenal by allowing them to better plan for what’s to come within their industries.

Marketing: What would be your most important advice for brands starting out on building a solid analytics and social media listening strategy for their content? What should be the first steps?

Dale:  Scope out your project and have a clear idea of the activities you want to monitor, the goals you want to achieve, and the business questions you want to answer. Then, identify the KPIs you want to report on and set these as a benchmark for success. We help clients to define these KPIs all the time and it’s one of the most important aspects of any social intelligence project.

Lastly, it is important to understand the stakeholders you are reporting to, so as to deliver information that is relevant to them, in a format they’re able to easily digest to make the right strategic decisions to grow the business.

Marketing: What excites you the most in the next stages of the role of technology in content marketing?

Dale:  I think the unknowns are what’s really interesting. This industry is constantly changing and so are social media channels; think the addition of algorithms and Stories to Instagram, for example. With such developments, user generated content will continue to be a strong force for content marketing.

The constant learning curve that everybody’s on is quite fascinating, and the desire to understand tomorrow’s world is a massive motivator for me.  I believe machine learning and AI are both innovations that have huge potential to disrupt the industry given the utility of their outcome.

Digimind was the Content Cafe Sponsor at Content 360 2017.