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From good to great: Why the key to success is in the data

All was well in the best of possible worlds...

July 2011. We were all excited: we had just launched phase one of our first major online content marketing campaign. We released on time and everything was all well in the world. So we continued preparing the content for phase two, and we released it as per the tactical schedule. Still with beaming smiles on our faces. Two months after the launch of the campaign, we thought: “I know this is a long-term campaign and we’ve got many more phases to come, but how is it performing so far?”

Oops!
We had everything in place: the content and the promotion, and the page views coming in. Except we’d forgotten to instrument some of the calls-to-action and hyperlinks on the landing pages to see how visitors were behaving on the site.

Oops!

We didn’t have all the data we needed to see how the landing pages were performing. Picture a big red ‘failure’ sign flashing as the smiles were wiped off faces.

But we don’t like to dither too long round here, so we quickly fixed the mistake, waited another three weeks to get enough data coming in, carried out our late performance check, and discovered that visitors weren’t going down the path we expected them to take. They weren’t finding out more about the product after they’d read the related content.

Why data is key
Now we had the data, we could do something about it. This meant optimizing our landing pages: removing unnecessary content which wasn’t helping or wasn’t being used, making the product a valuable part of the content, etc. So that’s what we did. And then we measured again. And then we re-optimised…and measured again…until we increased the conversion rate by almost three fold.

The data wasn’t important in itself. It was what we did with it and how it helped us re-adjust our tactics which was key.

It goes beyond being data-driven in our marketing. We started the campaign using a traditional waterfall model, being very precise in our planning and sticking to our structured and carefully crafted schedule. The campaign was meant to last six months in total with four phases. But when we started taking the incoming data into account, we began to use it as a feedback loop to continuously improve the performance of the campaign. As we did so, we found ourselves changing the way we were working. We moved towards operating in an agile way, learning from incoming data and using that as a trigger for rapid iterations in order to turn an average-performing campaign into a successful one, and smashing our targets along the way. The campaign turned into such a success, we had to extend it by additional five months.

What next?

More failures, more successes. We had many more ‘Oops!’ moments which I’ll be eager share with you on the day of the B2B Marketing Content Avalanche. I’ll use plenty of concrete examples from the same campaign to demonstrate how taking an analytical approach helped us turn an ‘ok’ content marketing campaign into a great one, and I’ll offer some actionable top tips for you to take away for your next content marketing campaign. Look forward to seeing you there!