Creative content marketing and data and strategy sound like diametrically opposed ideas. Content creators are, well, creators: journalists, influencers, writers, video editors, visual artists, you name it—not analysts, statistics experts or mathematicians. But the two fields don’t necessarily have to be separate. When it comes to creative content marketing, you can take the fuddy-duddy data and stiff strategy and use the two to hone a clear message that connects with an audience.  

“But isn’t that limiting?” a very creative content creator might ask.  

Not so much. The movie Jaws was stuck with a broken shark prop, but because Steven Spielberg expertly navigated around limitations it changed movies forever. There are loads of examples of freedom within constraint. The low-budget BBC show The Prisoner took cheesy sets and a big rubber ball and created a psychedelic masterpiece. The ancient hardware of the 8-bit generation of video game systems produced classic after colorful classic. Theater is restricted to a stage. Literature is stuck on a page. Point is, you can take what may be perceived as restrictions and find freedom within the margins. Similarly, creative content marketers can take data and strategy and weave it into compelling and effective campaigns.  

So what kind of data points and metrics are we talking about here? Demographic data is a big one. Who’s your biggest customer? What’s their budget or income? Overall spending habits? Where are they located? Once you narrow that information down to as specific a niche as possible you’ll have more freedom to figure out how to market to them, and what to market with. If a mid-sized business owner reacts more to ebooks or white papers than email or social media, then you should probably refocus your content creation on the right kinds of engaging material.

Keyword data is a major data point that creative content marketing relies upon. Knowing the right search terms, and the search intent—Why are customers searching with these specific words?—can make or break a content marketing plan. Creating content with key search terms takes time, too. During, while, and after a campaign it helps to keep an eye on the conversion rate of those keywords, so you can better plan how to continue the campaign, or readjust for the next one.

A big part of strategy is paying attention to ever-shifting industry changes and trends. Google and Facebook could flip a switch overnight and spell instant misery for a content marketing campaign. We’ve harped on it before but look at what the ill-fated “pivot to video” has done to the online publishing landscape. Video’s great, sure—especially for content marketing!—but it’s not a silver bullet and it can’t replace high-quality written content from valued, and valuable, writers. If any of the mighty content overlords (i.e., your Facebooks, Googles, and Twitters) reshuffle an algorithm on a whim then be prepared to act quickly and alter content marketing plans accordingly.

And of course, there’s the question of whether all that creative content is working in the first place.  That’s where post-campaign metrics come in. Metrics such as conversions, engagement, and traffic can inform content marketers on the effectiveness of their compelling storytelling. Who are you reaching? What size is that audience? How long did they engage with the content? What did they do after? If you can answer those questions, then you can assess how your content is performing and whether you’re providing value and building a relationship with your audience.

Data and strategy may look like a lot of unfriendly numbers and percentages, but it’s good to remember those figures and integers represent real people with wants and needs. Keep that in mind and your creative content marketing will be good to go.

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