There’s little doubt among seasoned B2B content marketers that strategy is the key to success. In fact, according to the 2019 B2B Content Marketing Report produced by Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs, the most successful content marketers (65%) are far more likely to have a documented strategy than their less successful peers (14%).

The kicker? That same report revealed that just 27% of B2B marketers say their content marketing efforts are very or extremely successful in achieving their organization’s desired results. The next largest chunk, 51%, say their content marketing is only “moderately effective.”

What’s causing the disconnect? The report points to content marketing maturity: The more sophisticated your content marketing efforts become, the more success you’re likely to have.

From our perspective, one of the key things that’s holding marketers back from evolving and growing their level of sophistication is likely in the data—both figuratively and literally.

Every marketer has access to data, but many are often overwhelmed by it all and struggle to uncover meaningful insights to act on. Not too long ago, Forrester reported that companies only use 12% of the data they have at their disposal. Imagine what opportunities you could find hiding in that 82%. Furthermore, only 49% of marketers say they use data to enhance the customer experience.

So, we say that in order for you to level up your content marketing strategy, you need to let data and your analysis of said data lead the way. Here are our suggestions on how you can walk the talk and turn your data-informed content dreams into a reality.

#1 – Data-Informed Benchmarks and Goals

Simply put, there can be no strategy if there’s no end goal. Your objectives are the foundation of your strategy, guiding your decisions and tactical mix so you can drive results.

Your goals might be to increase organic traffic, audience engagement, or website conversions. However, to achieve success, these goals need to be measurable. And that’s where data and the insights you derive from it can help.

To set goals that are reality-based and measurable, analyze your current performance for each of the goals you want to set (e.g. MQLs, organic traffic, etc.). Take a look at the month-over-month and year-over-year results in each area to determine your current monthly and annual growth rates to establish a benchmark. Then make sure your goals and benchmarks are included in your documented content marketing strategy. Ultimately, this will allow you to make more informed, specific goals that are easy to track and, hopefully, achieve.

#2 – Data-Informed Audience and Buyer Personas

The success of your content marketing efforts hinges on your ability to empathize and connect with your target audiences. To do that, the content you create needs to resonate. It needs to help your audience solve their problems or get their questions answered.

As a result, you absolutely want to use data insights to develop a more holistic picture of your target buyers—their interests, problems, behaviors, and preferences. Taking the time to do this can help you ensure your strategy…