As marketers, we are absolutely swimming in data these days. The rise of marketing automation tools and analytics technology means that we all have access to more information than ever before.
John Gogh, principal at Skyhook Interactive, suggests getting creative in how you look at the data.
“Get past the generic reports that everyone sees by default. Ask your data hard questions, and then spend the time to find the answers.”
Those insights can have immediate impact on the quality and effectiveness of your marketing creative. Here’s how to find your inspiration.
Look for one opportunity at a time.
Emily Cretella, owner of Cursive Content Marketing, says the secret to using data to improve your creative is to focus on one issue at a time.
“Focus on strengthening one important component,” she says. That component might be a single landing page that isn’t converting, or a call-to-action that’s being ignored.
“Work until you get the results you’re after. Then, move to the next. Just because you have access to all the things at once doesn’t mean you have to DO all the things at once,” Cretella says.
Remember the people behind the clicks.
When you’re staring at screen after screen of numbers, it can be all too easy to forget what those numbers represent: Actual behaviors by real people.
Gogh suggests looking for big-picture trends in behavior (like people who land on this page don’t click through), then using smaller-scale evaluations like user testing to explore reasons that behavior might be happening.
Once you have a hypothesis for what’s making people behave in a certain way, you can test new creative (like a new headline, different copy or a more compelling offer) and study the effect on behavior.
Gogh recommends using big-picture data (like Google Analytics trends) as a general guide, and to use interactions with real people (through user testing, one-on-one surveys or direct feedback tools) to make the behavior data personal.
Test your assumptions about your customers.
Most marketers have spent a lot of time (and studied a lot of data) to build a picture of their ideal customer. But while data can help us build sophisticated models and customer personas, it can also help us rethink our most basic preconceptions about what our buyers want.
Beth Carter, chief strategist at Clariant Creative Agency, shares an example from a recent copywriting project. Her client sells technology that helps optimize paid search marketing campaigns. The company always referred to itself as a CPC (cost-per-click) technology firm.
Before starting to write the copy, Carter did some basic keyword research, and found that most people use the term PPC (pay-per-click) instead of CPC — by about a six to one margin.
“The difference was truly astonishing,” she says. “From the company’s point of view, it was a real eye-opener. They had never really questioned the way they referred to themselves, since after all, they understood what they were talking about! But the data made it crystal clear that their customers referred to their product quite differently than they did. As a result of this data, we got the company to change the nature of their entire vocabulary.”
The lesson, Carter says: “It’s always important to use the same language your customers do, and the best way to do this is to use data to research and validate.”
Find your marketing gold, and polish it.
Sometimes, inspiration comes from rediscovering the value in what you already have. “Take a look at the pieces that are performing well,” Cretella says. Then, consider how you can get creative and make a popular piece work even harder for you.
“Perhaps you choose to explore the same topic from different angles, or enhance it with a content upgrade, or create an informational product around it. The data lets you know what your audience is interested in, and your creativity lets you take it to the next level,” she says.
“Content repurposing is a huge opportunity – simply making the most of the content we already have,” she says.
On her own agency blog, she looked at data from Google Analytics, social shares, email engagement and one-on-one conversations and realized that the most popular posts all had to do with writing for the web.
She used that information to package posts for a new email course to help clients review and refresh their web content. She calls the move a “content upgrade” and says the course has been extremely popular.
“We tend to feel like we need to keep creating new content all the time, but a look at the data can show you that it may be smarter to reuse and repurpose what you already have.”
In other words, use data to find the marketing gold you’ve already created. That might mean packaging your most popular posts on a topic into one longer guide. Or, turning your most-read research into a buzzy infographic. Or, just writing more about topics you already know resonate with your audience.