Is content marketing an art or a science?

It’s not a new debate but an increasingly relevant one. As technology continues to improve, the C-Suite is demanding a clearer measurement into impact. Marketing and communications professionals responsible for curating content are no longer governed by ‘gut feeling’ and instead, are increasingly driven by engagement metrics to demonstrate ROI.

These professionals are well aware how their role requires a mix of art and science thinking. They both draw from the left brain and the right brain, using data and reason to guide the creativity that fuels it.

But this relationship is less rigorously applied to content marketing – an emerging discipline that straddles both marketing and communications objectives.

Marketers and communications professionals have varying levels of social media sophistication – particularly with LinkedIn, which is often a core channel for content. With LinkedIn estimating more than 130, 000 posts are made on its newsfeed every week, organisations are increasingly turning to it as a distribution channel for thought leadership.

Far fewer, however, understand how to draw insight from the platform to ensure their content connects with their target audience.

Marketers and communications practitioners will often speak to me with this challenge solely in mind. Most are able to gauge the success of content on Facebook and Instagram to some level. Plenty of tools exist which measure various social aspects of content marketing, such as ‘likes’ or ‘shares’. But real engagement isn’t buzz. Determining whether content is connecting with a target audience is a key challenge.

Content marketers are struggling to understand whether their current LinkedIn strategy is working – whether it’s reaching the right audience and whether a piece of content is being actively engaged on the platform.

Other times, they will want to target a particular demographic; millennials for example. But they don’t have the understanding of what this group is looking for when they log onto this social networking site.

In short, what content marketers want to do is debunk the myths surrounding their own activity and drill down into strategy to make their dollars work harder.

How can data help?

Data is pivotal. Armed with information, marketers and communications professionals have a window into the opinions, passions and motivations of their audience.

At Isentia we’ve seen this in our own business. The Research & Insights stream has grown by 25 per cent in the last year, as this market recognises the importance of data. I’m often told by clients that they’re just at the start of their measurement journey, but still desperately rely on data to convince the C-Suite to spend money on content marketing.

Research & Insights can be used to help inform content marketing strategy by highlighting what brand-relevant topics an organisation’s audience is engaging with. It can also help content marketers understand where their brand sits against those their competitors, by measuring their share of voice on a particular topic.

But most importantly, data can help marketing and communications practitioners build out content itself. By understanding what type of content receives the most engagement on the platform, they can tailor their content strategies and measure their success at the same time.

Data is the key to debunking the myths of what does or doesn’t work in a content marketing strategy. It gives marketers and communications professionals the opportunity to ensure they understand their audience first and foremost, in order to communicate in a way that connects.

This is where science can help inform the art in content marketing.

Asha Oberoi
Head of Insights, Australia and New Zealand