Some believe the internet is so crowded with content, that success depends entirely on deep pockets for production and promotion, and content marketing isn’t worth it anymore.

For well over a century now, consumers have felt there was too much content. Too many books. Too many commercials. Too many podcasts. Even today, we all feel overwhelmed at times by the amount of content out there. I feel it too.

But we’re all wrong. The problem isn’t that there’s too much. The problem is there isn’t enough good content out there.

It’s rare that people feel overwhelmed with the amount of music out there. Spotify has over 50 million tracks in the library (not including podcasts). If you listened to music without stopping, it would take you 285 years to listen to it all. Despite this overwhelming amount of music, it seems less crippling somehow. I believe that’s because there is enough good music, enough variety, that there’s something for everyone.

In an attempt to win at content, many marketers try to simply churn out as much as possible to just see what sticks. As a result, over 90% of content gets 0 organic traffic and probably never sees the light of day after being published. What a waste!

Instead of spending so much time on content that never gets seen, what if we cut back on the amount of content created and really focused on the quality? What if our content strategies were so targeted that they allowed us to have a bigger impact with fewer pieces of content? If marketers focus on creating more engaging content, then we won’t need to endlessly produce as much of it, and if we don’t need to produce as much of it, we can utilize that time to develop more engaging content.

How do we make this shift in our process and start making more engaging content? Do we focus on data? Do we follow our gut? I propose that it is a combination of the two.

Effective strategies first gather data, and then use that data to innovate a creative solution.

There is no doubt that gathering data is an essential step in the process. Without it our strategies are simply conjectures, and can even become very self-serving rather than customer-serving. However, while the valuable insights gained from these methods can help direct our strategies in a more targeted way, we must be careful to avoid relying 100% on the gathered data. If that’s what we do, then we’ll end up with boring or cold content that doesn’t truly help anyone. Customers see right through that.

The sole goal of data collection should be to have a better understanding of our audience, their needs, and how to relate to them. With that direction, we can begin to implement creative solutions.

And it’s not just about creating content that is moderately helpful. We have the power as marketers to change our customers’ perception of the world. David Ogilvy said, “Big ideas come from the unconscious… but your unconscious has to be well informed, or your idea will be irrelevant. Stuff your conscious mind with information, then unhook your rational thought process.” So following that principle, we must be constantly in search of knowledge. Relevant, interesting, and informative ideas that we consume ourselves will provide the backbone of the quality content we produce for our customers. If we do not cultivate the health and strength of our own understanding, our ideas will be lackluster and likely fall into that category of the 90% of content never to be seen.

So, as we gather more data on our audience, we can expand our field of vision, and then we sit back and let our brains create. Sounds simple enough. But what does this process of gathering data look like? What methods are available to those wishing to cultivate effective content strategies? These tactics include:

  1. Search Intent Data
  2. Semantic Analysis
  3. Market Data