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The evidence is everywhere: Content marketing works. Successful campaigns generate three times the leads of traditional marketing, according to Demand Metric. 

So, if you aren’t seeing that level of success with your own content marketing strategy, what’s going wrong? The answer is buried in the data. You just need to find it. Using content analytics to identify trends is an important part of understanding how and where your content works. Do your homework, and it’s possible to shape a more successful strategy.

What Is Trend Analysis?

Successful content marketing strategies are data-driven. Generating only content you want to, or content based on general assumptions about what your audience wants, isn’t likely to reap positive results. You must have some hard facts to work from, including solid data regarding what has been successful in the past. This is where trend analysis comes in.

Trend analysis involves mining your existing data with content analytics tools to identify patterns. Did a previous campaign work better than expected? Is revenue rising or falling during the previous quarter? This valuable data helps you to make informed decisions about what kind of content to create.

Benefits of Analyzing Trends

Developing a content marketing system for your business is a potentially costly endeavor. Identifying trends has the potential to reduce associated costs, and is important for several reasons:

  • Setting marketing goals: While the ultimate aim of all marketing campaigns is to increase revenue, every campaign should have a very specific objective. For example, your aim may be to improve brand reach, or break into a new market. Reviewing previous campaigns and studying the overall growth or decline of your business, makes it easier to set those campaign goals. For example, if you’ve noticed a decline in web sales, your next content campaign could focus on drawing people into your web store.
  • Shaping future content: Knowing how well previous content worked helps you to create compelling new content. It’s possible to optimize your content, focusing on the things that people like and avoiding subjects that didn’t generate interest.
  • Being more efficient: Content creation is expensive and time consuming. You don’t want to waste time producing material that doesn’t meet your expectations. Trends identify your strongest content, guiding you to spend more time working on projects that are successful.

Tools for Analyzing Trends

There are many tools available for content analytics, including online services with a range of functionality. One of the most commonly used tools is Google Analytics, a powerful product that makes it possible to mine a wide range of data to help identify patterns.

Important Information Derived From Trends

Trends in data highlight key information. Some of the most important information to look for is:

  • Successful content: How you value your content depends on your campaign objectives. If you want to build relationships, successful content is that which engages with an audience. If you want to improve your brand reach, successful content is that which gets the most views and shares. Regardless of the metric you use, spikes in that data indicate you should weave more of that type of content into your campaigns.
  • Successful platforms: If you’re using more than one type of platform you should know which ones offer the best return on investment. It’s important to know if certain types of content perform better on specific platforms. Furthermore, understanding which platforms your audience uses the most helps you to focus efforts where they’re likely to generate the most interest and engagement.
  • Successful times: By analyzing the times when your audience is most active you have a better understanding of when you should post new content. This information helps to inform deadlines when outsourcing content creation, and lets you establish automated publication schedules.

Tips for Analyzing Trends

Trends are important for predicting future patterns and establishing content schedules, but a mistake could be costly. You must ensure you analyze the data carefully and draw accurate conclusions:

  • Keep time in mind: When you’re studying data, consider when the data is from. Real world events, fashions and trends all play a part in the success of content, so don’t automatically assume a previous success is easy to replicate.
  • Study long time periods: Trends appear over time. Study data over long periods to get a better understanding of what the figures mean. 
  • Don’t study one piece of information in isolation: A single piece of data doesn’t prove anything. Create context by drawing on other types of related data, and the same data from a different time period, to better establish the patterns. 
  • Keep on analyzing: Content analytics isn’t something you only do once. Keep going back to the data, refining your analysis and using your findings to enhance your subsequent campaigns.

Final Thought: Staying on Trend

Content marketing is a very competitive field. With 90 percent of all companies using some form of content advertising it’s increasingly difficult to stand out. If you want to remain relevant and visible, you must use every tool at your disposal. As such, using content analytics to establish trends should be an important part of your strategy. Once you know what works for your brand, you have a better chance of continuing to grow your audience while getting a better return on your investment.