Are we forgetting something?

We spend four hours on our phones every day (I’ve seen different figures, some say over five hours). Science has confirmed that smartphones are highly addictive, more so than alcohol and gambling. Every interaction with Facebook or LinkedIn rewards us immediately with a burst of the “pleasure hormone” dopamine in our poor brains. Even the supertechies in Silicon Valley who invented the apps and the features and made them addictive are now trying to make amends for the monsters they’ve created and warn the world’s population. Obsession with new technology seems hardwired in our brains.

Another obsession of the modern homo sapiens seems to be numbers. As everyone knows, if you can measure something, it exists (and counts in the board rooms). Take these two human obsessions and smack them together. What have you got? Data-driven marketing! It’s simply irresistible. And as we are absorbed by the numbers, we might miss out on something essential.

New marketing technologies emerge constantly making anything seem possible. Web analytics gave us oceans of target group data. Marketing automation opened up a new world of behavioural and personal data, tracking every move of our prospects. The SEO industry booms – of course.

We just have to figure out what to do with all this data (and quickly before our competitors). Data may be exploding, but don’t let it explode in your face. 

How do you come up with your content ideas? More specifically, how do you find out who your target audience is what you need to know about them? How do you know what makes them excited (as professionals, of course)? Obsessed with data-driven marketing, many turn to SEO search phrases and keywords. We gravitate towards the massive amount of data produced every month, every day, every minute, hoping our KPIs will tell us something.

But if we only look at quantifiable data, there is something we’re forgetting: our readers. To create content that engages them and helps them through their buying journeys, we need to understand their professional challenges.

Now what do I mean by that? First of all, I have no doubt that we need to analyse the numbers (and turn our analysis into performance improving actions). But click-through rates of published content will not tell us what keeps a CEO of a mid-sized ecommerce business awake in bed at 4 am. The number of downloads will not explain the system integration challenges of a CTO of a large corporation in the energy sector. KPIs can show the audience response to different topics and content pieces during the previous months. This is key feedback when planning our content, indicating what to do more of and what to less of. But KPI don’t reveal professional goals and challenges. They don’t give us much of an understanding of the different business needs of the target prospects now and in the future. 

We will never know  what traction a piece of content will have in advance. Will it resonate with the right people? Generating content ideas is to some extent a guesswork. But we can make educated, better guesses that, over time, will increase the return on our content investment.

Imagine yourself as one of your readers. How do you perceive your company’s customer journey – seen from a pontential customer’s point of view? Does it acknowledge your business situation and professional challenges? Know thy customer might be one of the oldest sayings in the marketing textbook. I guess it’s still going strong.

In my next blog article, I will go into some concrete, effective ways to gain the deeper insights on your audience that your data won’t reveal.

Stay tuned!

– Erik


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