Everyone’s creating swarms of content, but how effective is it? In a recent study, marketing intelligence SaaS Beckon found that only 5% of branded content garners 90% of all engagement. That means a very small fraction of your content is doing the lion’s share of the work.

So how do you ensure that your golden 5% has a chance of increasing to 10 or 15? Here are five characteristics of highly effective content strategies (indicators that you’re on the right track).

1. They’re ‘measurement-centric’ and highly iterative.

The Content Marketing Institute found that 33% of B2B marketers and 41% of B2C marketers cited the inability to measure as a significant challenge in their work. In this sense, the content game is still a bit of a mystery to most.

Effective content marketing strategies require continual measurement, iteration, and experimentation. Successful content producers are as excited about what does well and why as they are about seeing their names in (digital) print.

Use data to understand the content that has done well, along with tracking the success of new content topics or forms. Let your findings inform your evolving strategy and strive to complete this “iterative content loop” on a weekly or monthly basis.

Allow the data to inform the types of stories you publish, but leave room for creativity and personalisation—the two factors that keep brand-owned media from being stale and formulaic.

2. They leverage ideas and data in multiple places.

Recently, my company published an analysis about whether or not Trump’s prevalence in the news is justified by data. We created two follow-up posts about the topic and I wrote an article for my Forbes column using the data as well. There was a lot to dig into given the scope of the topic, and this allowed us to explore multiple angles without overwhelming readers in one place.

If you’ve invested the time and resources in analysing topical data, get the most out of it by pitching it to the press, writing about it on your blog, and using it in contributed content. Since each platform has its own audience, you can highlight different aspects of the work you’ve done.

3. Their content solves a problem, and is more of a resource than an opinion.

Sharing a unique point of view or opinion in brand-owned content can be impactful, especially if it inspires shifts in perspective or societal change, but today’s most effective content is often more resource-focused than it is opinion-based. Opinions are fleeting as new insights are revealed, but resource-rich content is long-lasting.

For instance, Home Depot’s blog provides homeowners with evergreen organisation ideas for tight spaces and Upwork’s blog provides freelancers with tips for budgeting. These types of “problem-solving” posts sometimes include curated lists of additional resources in their outros where readers can find more information on the topic at hand without further searching.

4. They don’t aim to sell.

Effective content is never about a quick sell; it’s about becoming a trusted source for information, whether that information is filling a specific niche or broad need. Instead of positioning content to answer customer needs in the form of products, effective content is positioned to answer customer needs in the form of information.

While consumers are bombarded with personalised ads that eerily echo their age, sex, and income level, content is an opportunity to demonstrate authenticity and build trust in a way ads can’t. For this reason, effective content strategies don’t include needless self-promotion or sell-speak.

5. They utilise a combo of owned data and sourced news or quotes.

With this much information at our fingertips, you can find perspectives on any topic extremely quickly. But “quoting quotes” takes us further from original sources (a journalism no-no). Effective content strategies have guidelines around appropriate sourcing and encourage balancing out externally gathered information with owned data or original insights.

And there are countless ways to gather reputable, original info quickly, in addition to citing your own data: reach out to an industry leader you admire for a quote, attend or host a webinar, or download studies from a market research firm. It’s okay to frame an article with an industry pundit’s quote, as long as the meat of the article is original and out-proportions the cited information.

We’ve already seen many companies launch entire media wings, but whether this is necessary for every brand or industry is still to be determined. When it comes down to it, the content needs of a business are highly personalised and content marketing efforts should be integrated into a comprehensive communications or marketing plan. It’s this connectivity that content can hook and build trust in the way you want it to.

Getting the right data for your stories by listening to your audience, benchmarking your competitors, and crafting original content will continue to be the foundation of data-driven content marketing. To make an impression with statistics, download our informative webinar, Statistics as a Superpower and the associated ebook, Make Powerful Impressions with Statistics.

Powerful Impressions with Statistics

 

This article was written by Sachin Kamdar from Forbes and legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.