5 Steps to Creating Successful Data-Driven Content 

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Every month, more than 70,000 blog posts are published on WordPress. Content has remained king, with the algorithms for SEO changing to include more complex ways to rank and search text, images, and videos. Marketers are always looking for ways to be creative with content, push searching rankings higher, and drive traffic. Data-driven content has proven to be one of the most successful ways to achieve these goals.

Data-driven content can improve the efficiency of your marketing strategy and increase the return on your investment. According to Forbes, businesses that create data-driven content are six times more likely to gain a competitive advantage in increasing profitability (45% vs. 7%).

Data-driven content simply means using customer analytics as a targeted marking tool. Such content takes specific user information to effectively market a product or service directly to your target demographic. This big data includes information like trending fashion colors, food fads, popular internet searches, and other trending information that can reveal patterns and better inform your business on subjects from product development to marketing strategy.

Leveraging segmented data to inform your decisions about how to target your desired audience allows you to create something valuable for your customers. People will respond by following your brand, purchasing your products or services, and engaging with your brand overall.

Let’s take a look at the top five tips for creating a successful data-driven content piece.

Why Use Data-Driven Content

Timely, accurate data should inform your content strategy for many reasons.

It increases your brand’s:

  • Expertise
  • Authority
  • Trust

or, Google’s E.A.T. factors. Google uses these three factors when ranking for certain keywords. The strategy works best in industries focused on money or health. Being a leader in these industries is vital, as your business depends on brand loyalty and trust to attract customers.

Data-driven content also allows you to gain deeper insights into your customers or users, meaning you can target your content and improve your ROI. You can stay ahead with current conversations, or news headlines, which is important for managing any PR issues, and you are able to assess your competition more easily and respond fast to any threats or changes.

What is Data?

What types of data are best for informing your digital marketing strategy?

Data is simply factual, verifiable information generated from testing, research, experiments, and surveys, conducted by reliable sources. There are two primary categories of data; qualitative and quantitative.

  • Qualitative data is non-numerical. It is observable information often gathered using surveys, polls, questionnaires, and other first-hand information gatherings.
    • Example: People prefer websites that have lots of whitespaces when shopping because they find minimalist styles easy to see on screen.
  • Quantitative data is entirely numerical. It can be precisely measured, verified, and used in statistical analyses. Quantitative data is often collected automatically by CMS.
    • Example: 88% of traffic that clicked on the green CTA also made a purchase. 78% of people who clicked on the red CTA did not make a purchase.

Data that is reliable data can be verified, retested, and is transparent about the conditions under which the data was extrapolated.

5 Steps to Creating a Data-Driven Piece

A data-driven strategy can take many forms. It can be as complex or simplified as you desire, however, there are 5 core steps that will help inform your choices about how to approach a data-driven digital marketing strategy for the first time.

1. Determine Your Topic and Its Purpose

Any good writer knows that there are five key questions you need to ask in any investigative piece, and one of them is ‘why?’

You need to ask the ‘why’ of every aspect of your campaign, from the first question to the last; why do our customers need this? why is our brand successful?

You need to be honest when investigating and creating, and answering ‘why’ at every junction will help you to understand your path and deliver a message that is honest. Businesses competing for space online need to be honest, communicate directly and with integrity because disingenuous messaging or feigned connection will not improve traffic flow or increase brand awareness.

Using your basic demographics, understanding customer pain points and motivations means that you can better determine the appropriate language and imagery to use to develop a loyal brand following.

2. Develop a Research Strategy

Research is key to creating a campaign that will be long-lasting. Performing a comprehensive competitor analysis will help you understand more about your industry and competitors, and should give you an insight into what is appealing to your customer base.

A content gap analysis will highlight topics trending in your industry or those closely related, giving you the opportunity to contribute to the discussion. Using your data, it’s easier to find what content is getting attention and understand what is connecting audiences.

Data does evolve. It should reveal to you changes in the mood if you are doing content-based research, or the buying climate if you are researching purchasing patterns. When you examine data, you need to always go back to step 1 – ask why. Present a hypothesis and move forward from that point.

3. Select the Right Data Type

After determining your research question, you need to select the right data sets on which to base your research.

Primary Source Data

Primary source data is qualitative and quantitative information that you’ve gathered independently. This data comes from your reports and test results, surveys, and polls, interviews or focus groups, and other internal investigations.

While gathering this data is a bigger investment than acquiring secondary source data, it often results in higher returns. Such data is invaluable in the areas of trustworthiness and thought leadership. Businesses that publish their research findings, with peer-reviewed support, are positioning themselves at the head of their industry.

Secondary Source Data

Secondary sources or existing data can be very valuable if you know how to use it well. Secondary source data is used to support your own arguments or your primary source data, however, it is vital to use reputable sources and publications to support your data. Journals, industry magazines, and newsletters are somewhat reliable resources, as their data typically goes through stringent fact-checking or peer-review processes.

If you use secondary source materials, you need to correctly credit the original data source. Open-source statistics provide verified information that is available for anyone to use:

  • Data.gov
  • Dataset Search
  • Data.World

4. Make Your Data Easy to Access

Visual data is a great way to get people to engage with your content. Charts and graphs are memorable and many people absorb more information in visual form. One learning-styles study showed that 73% of students preferred a specific learning style of the visual, kinesthetic, and auditory learning styles, and 45% of those preferred visual learning. Using infographics, charts, and graphs is considered a way to engage with your audience in a fast and memorable way with the information that is pertinent to their experience with your brand.

Your data-driven graphics should be bold and communicate a message. Make your images shareable so users will repost your content and expand your reach. If your data-based information is not quantifiable, consider making short videos with interviews and stories to communicate your research.

5. Amplify Your Data-Driven Content

The final step of your data-driven campaign is delivery. Your research and planning are nothing if you don’t consider how to distribute your message. There are three critical elements to an effective data-driven content campaign:


Knowing who your audience is and how to reach them will help you save time and money. Rather than a blanket approach, you can tailor your content campaign towards those you have identified as your target audience. While diversification is important, social media has made it easy to see those on the periphery of your Venn diagram, so targeting even those on your fringes is easy.


If you want the attention of your peers, industry leaders, and those who will take your brand seriously, you need to leverage your highest-quality data. By publishing your primary source data in ways that get the attention of your peers, you are more likely to get the attention you want for your brand. Your PR manager should be the person to make contact with media organizations to pitch your press release and generate interest in your content release. Brands like Apple, Samsung, Nike, and other international brands leverage this type of content when they release new products backed by their in-house research, often claiming to have made significant strides in their industries.

Social Promotion

Your social media strategy needs to form an integral part of your campaign. Promoting your piece on social channels helps you reach not only your target audience, but others who are on the fringes of your circle of influence, through shares, likes, and paid ads. Social promotion is one of the best ways to increase brand trust and loyalty. Personal interactions make it easier to connect with customers, resolve issues fast and give your brand a real personality. You’re more likely to capture the attention of an online audience through social media. The average time you have to reach people on social media is just 8 seconds, so it’s important to use impactful images and shareable content.


Data-driven content enhances your brand image and following, and it helps to establish you as an authority in your space. When you produce high-quality content you develop a reputation for interesting, timely, and shareable information. When you use data to inform your strategy and content it becomes not only easier to connect with your audience but to provide them the materials they need to better connect with your brand.


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