As an agency, a lot of businesses approach us because their content marketing isn’t working. They’ll say they’ve thrown everything at it, allocated high budgets, and really got everyone involved in pushing out great content. So, why isn’t it working?

It’s often after a period of soul searching and questioning some fundamentals such as whether content marketing works at all, or whether they’re brand is actually of value that a company decides to ask for a little help.

In my experience, there’s often just one reason why any companies content marketing efforts are failing. That reason is that they’re not using data.

The issue is, most companies think they are using data – but in reality they often aren’t. Generating a few reports and sending a few key statistics around isn’t using data properly.

The three areas I recommend looking into in terms of data usage for content marketing are:

  1. Tracking

It’s 2016, yet a lot of companies still don’t seem to be tracking their content marketing efforts properly. Simple fixes like installing call tracking, ensuring that Google analytics is working properly, and using campaign/referral URLs in some content pieces to properly attribute value are the starting point. In Google Analytics you can set up funnels and advanced filters to start really seeing your performance, and bear in mind that last-click attribution is unlikely to be the best way to measure conversions from your content efforts.

  1. Audience Insight

When I dig under the surface a little, I often find that businesses don’t truly understand their digital audience. They’ll know who their physical customers are, and have a good idea about engaging with them. But, when it comes to their digital audience they may be quite different – they’re often younger, or with a different outlook for instance. The other factor to bear in mind is that by understanding your audience at a deeper level than just their age, gender and location, you can start to create content that will serve their needs better. If you understand that your audience have a few key interests, you can segment your audience based on this and start to create personas based on what type of content they’re most likely to engage with. This is invaluable for creating a content strategy that really works.

  1. Optimisation

Everything should be optimised. To some, optimisation sounds like a technical word, when in essence it’s the act of improving your efforts based on what you’ve learned. With content, it’s easy to just keep churning out more and more content based on your initial plan (if you had a plan at all) without ever looking to improve. If you’ve got your tracking right and a plan set up in terms of what you want to achieve, you can measure each piece of content and then use what the data shows you to optimise your content strategy and improve your efforts. That might mean using one writer over another, distributing content at certain times of day, or using a certain format of headline – but by measuring you can learn this and optimise your content to help you succeed.

These are the three areas where quick improvements can be made by implementing data into the content marketing process. There are hundreds of ways you can use data to improve your content, but these three are three of the most impactful ways to make a difference.

If you do one thing to improve your content marketing efforts this quarter, try using data.