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Liza Perstneva

Data-Driven Content Marketing #semrushchat

Liza Perstneva
Data-Driven Content Marketing #semrushchat

One of the biggest challenges writers face is creating content that resonates with their readers. Data analytics can be the solution to this challenge. If you collect the right data, you can find out what content your audience likes.

According to a trend survey conducted by Econsultancy and Adobe, more than half (53 percent) of organizations choose data-driven marketing as one of their top digital priorities. By developing a consistent and integrated data-driven content strategy, you can ensure that your content is relevant to your readers.

If you want to know how to use data to shape your content strategy and improve your customer experience, check out the following recap of our latest SEMrush Chat. During our chat, we discussed a data-driven approach to content marketing with our participants and our special guest James Ellis, Vice President of Inbound Marketing at TMP Worldwide and Content Jam speaker.

Let’s dive into the topic!


Once you’ve created and posted your content, it’s time to start measuring its effectiveness. The only question is how you’re going to do this. We asked our chat participants what content metrics marketers should use and how they can prove to their CEOs that their content marketing campaign was successful.

First of all, your content must be aligned with your business goals. The key questions marketers should ask themselves are: Why am I creating this content? and What am I trying to achieve with this content?

James Ellis pointed out that if you know what you’re trying to achieve with your content, you can determine the correct metrics to evaluate it. So defining your problems and your goals will help you fine-tune those metrics. Ellis also suggested that marketers should focus on a clear, predetermined goal, instead of simply chasing numbers.

Also, our guests mentioned various metrics you can use to measure your content.

  • Traffic

One of the most fundamental content metrics is traffic, or a site’s total number of visits. Marketers typically measure visits per day, along with frequency of visits and return visits. But, you can also dig deeper and look at your traffic sources. For example, you can check where your traffic is coming and which sources deliver the right visitors to your website. Dani Fankhauser explains why traffic is digital marketing’s foundational metric in his article posted on Mashable. She says that visit rate continues to be highly relevant metric for every kind of businesses. By keeping track of your visit rate you can figure out what is working and what is not.

  • Engagement

If people take time to read or watch your content, it means they find it interesting and useful. Andy Drinkwater ‏@iqseo suggested keeping track of time on page: “Time on page. Did the visitor spend enough time on the page to even reach the goal? If CTR is down, it’s always worth checking.”

Your bounce rate will show you the percentage of people that left a certain page on your website without visiting any other pages. Another engagement metrics are pageviews and sessions. By tracking your pageviews you can find out how many views your content (your articles, infographics, videos, etc.) attracted. Your metric Pages/Sessions tells you the total number of webpages a particular user visited, when browsing your website.

By using Google Analytics’ Content Grouping feature, you can segment your content based on its type (e.g., content topics and formats).

  • Social metrics

Understanding social metrics, like your number of social shares, helps you measure how successful your content is at getting your audience to share it with others. This metric encompasses reshares, retweets, repins and other specific social actions that indicates that people find your content interesting.

Marketers should also take into consideration their follower growth. Pay attention to how many people have decided to keep up with the content that you post on a regular basis.

  • Leads

Some of our chat participants suggested focusing more on metrics such as your number of leads. Matt LaCasse ‏@MattLaCasse offered the following advice: “Focus on metrics that show how your content moves your audience down your sales funnel.”

It’s no secret that CEOs want to know how often your content turns consumers into leads. If you have an online lead form, you can track how many visitors went to this lead form immediately after reading or watching your content.

Of course, the metrics listed above are by no means an exhaustive list. You can find a few other ones that our guests mentioned in the following recap.


Content metrics depend on your business goals. To choose the right ones, first determine the purpose of your content, then set your goals.


Now that we’ve figured out some key content metrics, let’s look at some content marketing use cases and determine how to measure them.

James Ellis mentioned three use cases for content and the appropriate metrics to use for each.

  • Content designed to attract people. Measure how much traffic you get from different sources.

  • Content designed to keep users’ interest. Keep track of the amount of time visitors spend on your website. Did anyone click to read more?

  • Content designed to validate users’ interest and intent. Measure conversion rates.

The customer buying cycle, in a nutshell, is the process that customers go through to make a purchase:

  • Awareness stage. The customer becomes aware of your product or becomes aware of a need they want to fulfill.

  • Consideration stage. The customer starts evaluating solutions and options to fulfill their needs.

  • Purchase stage. The customer narrows down their options and makes a decision in favor of the best one.

You can leverage this buying cycle by creating targeted content users can interact with during each stage. Describe the problem your business can solve and make your potential customers realize that they have the same problem. Introduce your solution and then describe it in detail by explaining the benefits of your product or service. Prove that your product is the best by including customer testimonials, reviews, etc. You can offer a free trial. When your customer is close to the final stage of the buying cycle, provide them with highly responsive help to convince them to make a purchase.

Bill Slawski shared a whole list of use cases for content marketing: creating awareness of your products, acquiring new customers, and attracting brand evangelists and industry influencers.

Instead of simply following current trends, you should focus on creating content that your potential clients truly want and need. However, that doesn’t mean that you should totally ignore what’s happening in your industry, but it’s your customers who will determine your company’s future. So, the true measure of your success lies with them.

Will Polliard also mentioned some other content use cases: you can design your content to teach your audience, entertain them, sell your products/services or build long-term relationships with your customers. Creating great content will provide you with opportunities to create these relationships, but it requires time and it won’t happen automatically.

Finally, Chris Desadoy made the important point that you should never create content simply because you are short on content. Every piece of content must have a clear purpose.

Our other chat participants agreed that you shouldn’t create content simply for the sake of having it. Sarah Wilkes ‏@TrafficJamSarah commented: “Content should be engaging and not created just for the sake of it. Why is the user reading it? What do they want from it?”


Our guests shared some examples of use cases for content marketing. Different types and formats of content can be used for different purposes. Define your customers’ needs, fulfill them with your content, then test and measure your results.


User segmentation is not a new thing in content marketing. Some marketers research their audiences and buyer personas to better understand their customers’ needs and make sure their content is seen by people who are truly interested in what their company offers. We asked our chat participants whether or not user segmentation can make content marketing more effective and how marketers can utilize it to strengthen their content marketing efforts.

James Ellis believes that by segmenting users according to demographic, geographic location and other criteria, you might create groups that are too small and, therefore, end up having to write hundreds of pieces of content for all of your various audience segments. Instead, you can focus on the customer’s mindset at given stages of your sales funnel.

Our special guest suggested that, in general, entry-level workers are looking for the same opportunities to grow and learn, regardless of their roles. For example, he believes that an entry-level nurse and an entry-level IT specialist have a lot in common, despite the completely different nature of their roles. At the same time, experienced workers are most likely looking for a better work-life balance as well as benefits.

James Ellis and his team built a recruiting content framework to help establish audience and message intersection.

Dawn Anderson pointed out that there are several important rules to follow when utilizing user segmentation. For example, your segments must be large enough to be useful.

Bill Slawski recommended creating content that is aligned with specific users’ interests. Create articles and blog posts that address your audience’s pain points.

Your content should speak to buyer personas. You need to understand your audience’s top concerns in order to ensure that your content is engaging your potential customers and converting them into leads. Creating buyer personas will help you find out what kind of content you need to produce. Chris Bell recommended matching your audience segments to your buyer personas.

By segmenting your audience, you can create personalized content that is more relevant and specifically tailored to your customers’ needs. To do this, you must have a deep understanding of your audience. It’s important to listen objectively to your clients, so you can create content that helps them solve their problems and accomplish their goals.

Let’s sum up!


As you can see, our guest experts believe that user segmentation enables marketers to effectively plan and produce better and more laser-focused content. When creating content, focus on specific people’s interests and mindsets.


Finally, we asked our guests to share their experience and mention types of content that have proven to be the most efficient for them or their clients in 2016.

Let’s see what they said.

  • Live-streaming videos

Live-streaming videos are becoming increasingly popular. But what’s so special about this technology? Unlike traditional video content, which is scripted and produced beforehand, apps like Periscope and Blab invite viewers to participate in real time. Content creators can reach out to a live audience that has opted to watch their video.

Some experts also have also found Facebook Live to be effective. Facebook launched this feature in 2015, and it was first only available to celebrities. But this functionality has since been rolled out globally. Facebook Live enables users to share what they’re doing while they’re doing it.

James Ellis confessed that he is not a big Facebook fan. Nevertheless, his company has gotten get great engagement and solid replays with live videos.

Also, to create content that is designed to attract an audience, his team employs the so-called “dandelion strategy.” To maximize the distribution of your content, post it to as many places where you audience spends time as possible. “Push that content to as many platforms as possible – Medium, Tumblr, Buzzed, Visually, Facebook, Canva, etc. It’s less about metrics, and more about searching for new audiences,” James Ellis explained.

  • Guest posting

Guest posting provides you with various opportunities. By accepting guest posts on your company blog, you can earn new readers and establish relationships with serious web marketers in your niche. But guest posting will only be beneficial for your business if you accept high-quality, trusted posts for your blog. Neil Patel described seven rules you should follow if you plan on accepting guest posts.

  • YouTube

Some experts believe that YouTube is still one of the greatest platforms for content marketers, and it’s by far the largest video sharing website. It has over a billion users who watch hundreds of millions of hours worth of videos on YouTube every day. You can find any type of audience members among YouTube users.

Creating videos costs more, but if you create video content for a specific audience you want to reach and thoroughly plan your content strategy, the benefits can be fantastic.

  • Podcasts

Some businesses underestimate the benefits of podcasts, but there are several reasons why companies should start creating them. Besides the fact that they can educate, inform, entertain, and inspire your audience, podcasts involve real people with real human emotions. They can help you better connect with your audience, because they’re more personal and they show the real people behind your brand.

Podcasts can also help you generate guest content more easily. It can be very difficult to build relationships with target influencers and obtain guest posts from them, because they are often too busy to write a unique piece of content. However, it would be much easier for them to get in touch with you by phone and answer a couple of questions.

Also, podcasts can easily be repurposed into other types of content, such as articles. By transcribing your podcast and rewriting it, you can produce a fresh post.

  • Social media

Today, many social networks are offering new publishing options. Last year Facebook introduced its Instant Articles feature, a mobile publishing format that enables publishers to display and distribute their articles much faster than the standard mobile web. LinkedIn also launched their own publishing platform -- Pulse. ‏”I do love LinkedIn Pulse – I find it great for getting quick exposure to articles,” said Andy Drinkwater. These websites have provided users with new publishing opportunities and encouraged them to publish their content on these platforms.

What’s more, some social platforms allow users to publish visual content, which is becoming increasingly important. Modern technologies provide users with opportunities to quickly and easily access images and videos – even while on the go. Some marketers find platforms like Instagram and Snapchat a better source of exposure for their content. Andy Drinkwater tweeted an example of how his clients have effectively used the platform: “Instagram for a couple of photographer clients – amazing interaction through good use of hashtags.”

Finally, Anastasia Sidko offered a great piece of advice: to use Google Analytics to find out important information about your website’s content and conversions. The Landing Pages report in Google Analytics will show you your conversion rates. You can review the conversion rates of different landing pages and the traffic sources that led to those conversions.


In the challenging and competitive world of content marketing, it can be difficult to stay ahead of your rivals. But with smart content planning and testing, and by analyzing your results, your chances of success are much higher.

The tips from this post will help you improve your content marketing strategy. Thanks to James Ellis and our other chat participants who were kind enough to share their knowledge and expertise!

Liza Perstneva is a Social Media Manager at SEMrush and a #SEMrushchat host. Follow Liza on Twitter.

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