3 Data-Driven Content Solutions for the Next Era of Content Marketing

In 2017, I shared a stage at Collision Conference with Alicia Hatch, the CMO of Deloitte Digital, when she captured the biggest problem plaguing most marketing teams.

“They’ve got all this data at their fingertips,” Hatch said. “And yet, the organization doesn’t know how to use it effectively.”

Over the past few years, I’ve found that this problem plagues most organizations when it comes to content strategy. Everyone says they want to create data-driven content based on their audience’s interests, but many marketers have no idea what data matters or how to use it.

Wouldn’t it be much easier if someone told them what content their audience craves, and how to stand out from their competition?

We’ve spent the last three years working to make that a reality.

What brands get wrong about data-driven content

As marketers, we tend to view data as a magic wand that’ll solve everything. Why? Well, at the start of the 2010s, just about every marketing automation and analytics platform claimed to have the intel that would make our jobs easy and our results foolproof.

These platforms promised that Step 1 was data, and Step 2 was SUCCESS—business success, content success, marketing success, sales success. Whatever kind of success would get you to sign on the dotted line.

By 2016, there were nearly 4,000 offerings in Scott Brinker’s terrifying martech supergraphic, each promising that they would lead marketers to the promised land. Brinker’s supergraphic is at 8,000 companies now. Many of them have added bells and whistles to their software, hoping to differentiate their way into the “Leader” section of the next analyst report, but few have delivered on that initial promise.

That promise was flawed. There’s no magic wand. Data-driven content marketing isn’t a two-step process.

To create quality content that performs, you need five steps, sound data, and smart people. Most importantly, you need raw data to become helpful insights that humans can understand.

Step 1: Analyze data through tools that offer timely insights and recommendations .

Step 2: Come up with specific story ideas based on those insights.

Step 3: Create content, assigning the story to a specialized content creator. (For our customers, this is where our Global Talent Network plays a huge role.)

Step 4: Distribute channel-specific content in the places where your audience spends their time.

Step 5: Measure what works and optimize for the next round of content creation.


Those insights in the first step are the key. So three years ago, we started building a content strategy tool called StoryBook™ to help us make better decisions.

StoryBook tell us things like the formats, topics, and channels an audience craves. The voice and tone traits that’ll resonate. The headline and image types that’ll drive the best click rate. And which types of stories will help them stand out from their competition and drive the better results, faster.

StoryBook’s insights, however, are only step 1. Veteran content teams can take those insights and create high-performing content, but many organizations need more hands-on help along the way.

So we decided to develop three new content strategy offerings, powered by StoryBook, to help brands at all levels of content maturity.

Content Intelligence: Pure content strategy insights and recommendations from StoryBook for mature content marketing programs to execute on, with the help of Contently’s content marketing platform and talent network.

Contently Accelerator: An elite content strategy program designed for teams who need a dedicated partner every step of the way and want to level up their content maturity.

Contently Studio: Our new program that offers the total management of your content marketing, for brands that want to give strategic direction and then have our team execute.

You can check them out in the video below.

We developed these new solutions because it’s never been more important to create content that builds trust and helps people. With in-person events paused for the foreseeable future, all marketing is now digital. And digital marketing simply doesn’t work without great content.

Great content makes your organic and paid social campaigns more effective. Your landing pages convert better. It nurtures leads, proves your brand’s worth, and makes your sales team’s job a hell of a lot easier.

Simply put, the best way to do marketing is to create content that people love. And the easiest way to create great content is to arm smart creatives with the audience insights they need.

If you’re interested in learning more about our offerings, shoot us an email at [email protected], or request a free content consultation here.

Image by

Romeo Cane


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