Why Data is Key to Cutting Through the Content Noise

If you’ve ever published a blog, whitepaper or infographic for your brand and wondered why it’s not delivered the downloads or social media attention you’d hoped for, it’s safe to say you’re not alone.

Research from SiriusDecisions finds that 65% of content created by B2B organisations goes to waste as it’s either unfindable or unusable. Furthermore, 5% of all content created gets 90% of the attention from the world’s readership. On top of the blood, sweat and tears that content creators put into trying to engage and excite audiences only for it never to see the light of day, this unproductive content is costing businesses millions of pounds a year in lost revenue.

How to join that elite 5% club formed the topic of a webinar I attended earlier this month. Lindsay Lyons, director of brand content at Dell Technologies — the merger of EMC and Dell — in partnership with Contently, discussed how Dell is using storytelling to drive conversions and foster engagement.

Breaking through the noise

The alarming stat above proves it’s harder than ever to break through the noise. To address this, businesses need to take a step back and consider which content is necessary and useful to their audience. Dell Technologies realised this and, while the recognisable brand name undoubtedly helps, put a focus on creating quality content that would engage audiences and drive conversions.

Lindsay began with three ‘stars’ of stories that Dell have told via their corporate blog and marketing: a werewolf, a robot and Barbie. In her words: “Yes, we’re a tech company and want to sell servers and computers, but you’ve got to grab peoples’ attention and tell them stories.”

The answer is in the data

In addition to the engaging content themes, Dell also realised the importance of data in any content programme. It’s fundamentally crucial to understand your audience, remembering that customers are human and want to be entertained — even if they are IT managers — while offering the right level of technological insight they require. So, what’s the best way to do that? Well, gain the insight from your audience directly.

Dell took the questions, terminologies and jargon that its customers actually use and search for on social media and made them the navigation titles on its brand publishing site. They’ve even launched a podcast (Trailblazers) based on insight from customers that’s passed two million downloads in 18 months. Importantly, if Dell’s content team is struggling to tag an article within one of those navigation buckets then they know it’s not worth publishing.

Measurement delivers engagement

As Lindsay explains, no brand should launch a content programme without being able to track its performance and understand whether the stories they tell are resonating with their audience. Put simply, if you can’t measure it then you can’t manage it.

In Dell’s case they’ve built brand affinity levels that see visitors stay on their site 45% longer than the industry average (90 seconds), with 704,000 monthly visitors. The success of its campaign is demonstrated by the fact that 75% of the world’s top 100 companies have visited the Dell Technologies website. But they’re not simply looking at who Dell is, they’re exploring the company’s industry perspectives.

The data behind all this is crucial. Dell uses the Contently dashboard on a daily basis to assess whether content is working or not and eliminate the stories it wants to tell but aren’t performing. But perhaps even more interestingly, Dell’s sales team has taken notice of the results and proactively requested closer integration with the content programme to re-engage its contacts.

Dell of course has a strong brand identity to begin with, but its use of data to understand content performance and drive its strategy provides a lesson for any and every brand. It’s vital to establish a brand identity that differentiates you then tell unique stories that reflect it and use customer insight and engagement levels to shape your approach.

Originally published at www.firstbaseunlimited.com on July 26, 2018.

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