Data and content are a potent force

Clare Hill, Managing Director, The CMA

Welcome to the CMA Report on the impact of data on content marketing.

This is the first of four reports produced by the CMA on issues driving innovation and development in our industry.

At the CMA we recognise that intelligent harnessing of data’s potential is as big a topic as big data itself. In a recent poll of our members, more than 90% said that they were using customer data to inform their content marketing strategies, whilst 83% revealed they were planning to use data more in shaping their content marketing strategies in the coming year.

It goes without saying that providing highly personalised, targeted and effective content marketing strategies that achieve greater customer engagement and increased ROI is the holy grail of the modern marketer. But the greatest strength of data in this quest is also its weakness. Today there’s so much data being generated, in so many channels, every second of the day, that it’s hard to focus on what’s important in terms of insight and measurement.

We are fortunate in that two of our members, MEC and iProspect, have been carrying out research to answer two of the most frequently asked questions about data by content marketers. In its Citation Audit research, MEC aims to discover what sort of content creates reach and engagement. In its analysis of almost 1 billion Facebook posts, iProspect considers how format and the devices used to access content impacted customer actions and results. Find out more about their findings in Angus Wood's piece and Ben McKay's report.

The data we gather and the potential impact of what we can do with it are also considered by Chris Rayment, Insight and Planning Director at Cedar Communications, and Michael Reeves, Business Development Director of Red Bee Media. Headstream’s Steven Sponder reveals how using customer data intelligently can turn a ‘just looking’ web prospect into a purchasing customer.

But it’s not just provided data that can shape our industry. Content creation is at the heart of what we do: John Brown Media’s Head of Content, Matt Potter, and Simon Baker, Head of Branded Content at ITN, explore its use as a data source. The stories published and news generated have long been seen as the key source of ROI. Both Potter and Baker challenge this view and ask us to look at how the data and research used to create stories can be an additional asset to our balance sheets and bottom lines.

We’d like to thank all the CMA members who contributed to this report and welcome your contributions and views on this exciting, ever-developing area of marketing.

How data is impacting content marketing

Data sources and strategies


of CMA members use customer data as part of their content marketing strategy. 40% of members source data from clients (Source: CMA Audit)


of CMA members aim to use more data to inform their CM strategies in 2015 (Source: CMA Audit)

Fewer than 1 in 20

companies have life-event information on their customers that can help improve sales and reduce churn (Source: Royal Mail/Data IQ)

Visual and practical content packs a punch

33% imagery and memes top the poll in most shared content. Videos run a close second at 25% (Source: MEC Citation Audit)

Add a video to your website and you can drive an additional 2 minutes of dwell time to your websites. Add ‘video’ to the subject line of your email and you’ll increase open rates by 19% (Source: HighQ)


How-tos and practical content that answers a question top the polls for why content is shared at 35% but personal branding also has a part to play at 31% (Source: MEC)

…With data insight + brand narrative you can make a big impact

In 2003 new car buyers made 4 visits to a dealership. In 2013 it was just 1.5


In 2003 only 1% of buyers researched car models online. In 2013 92% did (Source: BMW Annual Report and Google)


of car buyers purchased a brand that was not their initial favourite option and 21% a brand they didn’t have in mind at all (Source: Google Gearshift)

Ignore mobile at your peril


By 2017 87% of connected devices will be either tablets or smartphones, with a continued decline in desktop (Source: IDC)

In terms of engagement, complete video view on mobile is twice as high (0.49%) as that on a desktop (0.24%) (Source: iProspect)


of all mobile traffic is video (Source: High Q)

Read next article