How Bad Data Can Ruin Your Content Marketing (and How to Avoid It) Live

"Data is a huge part of what I do every day ... I use data at a 30,000 foot level as well as in the day-to-day weeds." 
by Stephen Zorio
By Stephen Zorio

Amanda Nelson is the Director of Marketing at RingLead, a company that offers "a suite of products to clean, protect and enhance company and contact information."

In addition, she is (deep breath) an Adjunct Professor, School of Communications, Master of Science Degree Program, Interactive Media at Quinnipiac University. She has also has won awards from the Online Marketing Institute, Direct Marketing Association, and Content Marketing Institute, among others.

Put more succinctly: She is an expert in the world of content marketing.

She's also knowledgeable and passionate about the world of data. "Bad data is a waste of time and money," she once wrote. "It doesn’t serve the customer or the user in any way." We agree, so we asked her to share her thoughts on the role of data in content marketing.

Read on to see why she doesn't believe in failure in content marketing, the risks of bad data and how marketers can use data to their advantage.

There’s an old saying about data and data quality: Garbage in and garbage out. It still holds true, as long as there have been databases. The result of bad data is massive.

How is the rise of data (and both its increasing accuracy and immediacy) beneficial for content marketing?

The beauty of content marketing lies in its ability to deliver results in real time. With accurate tracking and clean data, you can ensure that the results of your efforts can start coming in within seconds of your content launch. This enables marketers to respond in real time and adjust headlines, imagery, keywords, etc. as quickly as the data arrives. This makes content marketing more fluid, flexible and diverse than traditional media. 

Because of this, I don't believe there's such a thing as failure in content marketing. The worst thing that can happen is your content falls on deaf ears, and no one shares it or reads it. If that's the case, then no one even knows it failed. It's similar to the "if a tree falls ..." analogy. The good news is, you know whether or not your audience heard that tree falling within seconds of the roots cracking. From there, you can tweak and change it to make it successful. Failure isn't an option.

(Edit: With all due respect, at ScribbleLive while we agree that failing isn't fun, we also believe that failing, quickly, is essential to the iterative process of content marketing.)

What do you think content creators and marketers will be able to do better and how will readers and consumers benefit?

With content marketing, you have the ability to "Always be Helping", as Jay Baer says. This empowers your audience by providing them with helpful insights and information they need to do their job better, get promoted, reach a new life stage, etc. By not selling or pushing product, brands can do a better job of helping their customers succeed, which will open their ears and eyes to the brand's product or service, when customers are ready to hear it.

Alternately, what risks does the rise of data present? What does that mean for readers and consumers?

Eight million people change jobs each year, 75 phone numbers change every 30 minutes. All of this results in incorrect contact information in your database. Your data is decaying as you read this interview.

There’s an old saying about data and data quality: Garbage in and garbage out. It still holds true, as long as there have been databases. The result of bad data is massive. For marketers, reports, automated processes, workflows, and drip nurture campaigns are skewed. Bad data affects morale, because it is frustrating and inefficient for many departments. Bad data costs you money. It could be upwards of $100 per bad record, for example, which is quite serious.

The answer is to never allow bad data into your database in the first place.  Data quality is essential. Find, remove, and prevent bad data as well as enhance the data you already own.

If you'd like to learn more about how ScribbleLive customers use data to drive real-world results, click here to sign up for a free trial

Is there a chance content marketers become too reliant on data?

There's always a chance that you could get off track, or rely too much on numbers rather than experience, or your audience's needs. It's important to understand the balance between the data, your audience, and your company's goals. Number one is always the customer. What do they need and how can you help them? The rest follows in line.

In addition, having a clear plan, with goals and an editorial calendar, will help you stay on track. Looking at the numbers, or gathering customer feedback, may alter and change your plan, but that's OK. Your plan should never be 100% set in stone. It's a guide that must be flexible to the ever-changing world of the marketplace. Review and update your plan each month, and meet regularly with key team members and customers to stay on track and on the same page.

Has data played a larger role in your work and, if so, have you found it to be useful? How so?

One of the reasons I'm so excited to work for RingLead is because we are all about data. Data is a huge part of what I do every day, and working at a data company only fuels my drive to work harder. I use data at a 30,000 foot level as well as in the day-to-day weeds. We use data to ensure our monthly lead trajectory is on track (30,000 feet), as well as track the lead source details from a blog post or a tweet (day-to-day weeds). By understanding our data at all levels, I have a holistic picture, and I can use data to report results to execs, as well as optimize blog headlines.

How can marketers and content creators set themselves up to take advantage of what data offers and avoid its potential pitfalls?

Focus, focus, focus. Start with your goals and the KPIs associated with those goals. Look at those KPIs daily, and report on them often. There is so much data, and so many opportunities for metrics, that it can be overwhelming and confusing. Once you spend time developing the right KPIs, and you're reporting only on those, you can fine tune and tweak your efforts to achieve success. At the same time, be open-minded to changing your KPIs and adjusting your goals as needed. It won't be perfect from the start, but it's crucial to have that type of focus before you even launch a blog post.

(Chris Matyszczyk, an award-winning executive creative director and CNET columnist, also shared his thoughts on this topic.)

-- Our all-in-one SaaS solution combines predictive analytics with content planning, creation, and distribution technologies to deliver optimized business results. Click here for a free trial and see why brands love ScribbleLive. --


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