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For content marketing to be sustainably successful you constantly need to create fresh and engaging content. Data can play a powerful part in the content mix if it is used in a creative and engaging way but it still is very much underutilised in the content development process.

Left or right-brained?
Some people find comfort in numbers and others may prefer a visual representation of figures. Left-brained people tend to better grasp statistics when it’s visually presented (such as an infographic) whereas right-brained people tend to find it easy to interpret statistics in written format where they can use their natural thinking capabilities.
Presenting data in a visual format has the added benefit of offering another dimension to a brand story as it can quantify information in a display format or for comparative value.

How to use data
A lot of brands shy away from using their data, perhaps because of a lack of resources or they don’t know how to use their data in their branded content. Simple statistics such as monthly sales figures by region can be represented as really interesting statistics combined with additional consumer behaviour insight and creative expression.
Data makes written content more complex and far richer by adding depth and dimension to the information while lending credibility and authority to the brand. If your brand can harness your available data in a compelling way, it will result in more interesting content which, in turn, will lead to increased engagement and heightened brand credibility in the minds of your consumers.

Why visual?
The reason visual content has become so popular is because it is far easier to digest a well-designed infographic than to read a lengthy page of content. In addition, in the internet age we are flooded with new information every second of every day which has resulted in us becoming expert content scanners, to such a degree that fewer and fewer articles are being read to the end.

Data in your brand story
As much as we can sing the praises of including data in your content marketing strategy, it cannot and should not be used on its own – it needs to be part of the brand story.
Depending on how evolved your brand story is, you may want to start by identifying the most unknown, low-profile parts of your brand story and then finding facts that will enrich and amplify it. Create a compelling story by using any business intelligence or external research you may already have to extend your digital marketing efforts. Increased awareness and insight into your brand will inevitably lead to a closer relationship and brand advocacy.
If you have no sales data or consumer research, you will need to consider conducting your own research to enrich your content marketing strategy. At this stage, you may also want to consider installing data gathering mechanisms into the sales process, for example, by asking each customer to complete short survey upon their purchase or to sign up for a newsletter which will present a further opportunity for you to contact the customer with a questionnaire.

Get help!
Your data set needs to be told as a story that fits into the existing narrative. Analyse your data and consider the possible angles. Is this a did-you-know fact or a number of facts that can be listed? Is it a purchasing pattern with interesting propensities relating to a certain age group, gender or income group? If you are not sure what data to use or how to use it, it may be time to enlist an expert in the area of data usage within content marketing. The investment will be well worth it as your consumer is becoming more demanding and sophisticated every day, and you want to keep talking to them in a way that engages them sustainably.


Author: Lize Sadie

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