How data journalism can help content marketing

With the topic of big data fresh on the agenda of most marketers, marketing has becomes less about traditional Mad Men advertising and more about carrying the voice of the consumer to the business and aligning business' objective with it.

Speaking at A+M’s Content 360 conference, Bjorn Sprengers, chief marketing officer of PropertyGuru Malaysia, said the diminishing effectiveness of traditional media has catapulted the popularity of content marketing where big and small brands alike compete to drive the most effective campaigns.

According to Sprengers, because content marketing is scalable, the cost per reach of an excellent content usually benefits the brand when its CPR goes down for each and every shared content online.

“Excellent content allows you to play ‘always-on’, this gives you a better return on investment of your marketing spend,” Sprengers explained.

When curating and creating content for a brand or product, a marketer should always note the various “moments of truth” in the consumer’s purchasing path. To ensure that your content makes a tangible return on investment (ROI), brands should focus on creating content that converts the consumer. “The content should be part of the conversion funnel if it’s to contribute to ROI,” Sprengers added.

Because creative copies are mostly being written by agencies or people who may have very little passion or understanding of the industry, the content may not accurately convey a brand's purpose.  For this reason, Sprengers advised that companies in-source their content marketing or handpick the people in the contracted agency that want to work for the brand.

“They may not necessarily be the best people in the agency, but they have passion for your brand - that’s the most important thing,” Sprengers said.  

The selective nature of this hiring process ensures that the content is more likely to be targeted and relevant to audience while delivering entertainment and informative value to the consumers.

What makes good content marketing?

Good content needs to be built around brand vision, a distinct point of view and data journalism, according to Sprengers.

For one, an aspirational content marketing execution is one that promotes high brand-linkage for the company, serving as a call to action for consumers, thereby increasing shareability.

Content marketing should also act as a valuable point of differentiation from other brands. In advertising, brands must position themselves in a place of authority in order to ensure customer retention.

Sprengers said, “It must to be something that is difficult for your competitors to compete with. Excellent content should drive acquisition of leads.”

In making shareable content, Sprengers cited that length of the content correlates to its shareability: “There has been a lot of science about what makes content shareable. While most competition aim for volume to value, the length of content is actually more important when it comes to its shareability.”

Aside from the stopping power of visuals, Sprengers advised the use of 3,000 to 10,000-word content to boost its shareability. Long-form ads, according to him, are more likely to be shared on social media, than do short-form ones.

To create a brand’s own niche content, Sprengers advocates the use of data journalism which makes use of small data to design scalable and shareable content while retaining brand authority.

For PropertyGuru, it collaborated and combined data with the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to predict property market transactions in Singapore. It also launched an agent performance insights tool for real estate agents to access their lead generation performance on PropertyGuru, by comparing with other PropertyGuru agent members who are dealing in the same property type and region.

This enabled the agents to identify areas of strength and spot areas for improvement; such a tool and service were made possible by exploring data journalism.

Given the crowded nature of the media environment, the content space is being increasingly cluttered and homogenised. Hence, Sprengers argued, data journalism could very well be the key differentiator for a brand when strategising its next content marketing execution.