Data journalism + content marketing

Data source: B2B Content Marketing, 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America.

Content marketing is very popular. 88% of marketers say they use content marketing and three-quarters of all marketers plan on producing more this year. That is a lot of content being generated on behalf of brands, despite the fact that 44% of marketers are neutral on its effectiveness. Despite having a huge number of forms of content to deliver — blogs, videos, infographics, slideshows, articles, listicles, webinars — the effectiveness of the content is really dependent upon the story of the content itself. If a brand’s story isn’t worth telling, is it really worth a listicle or motion graphic? Isn’t the real opportunity for content marketing in the data behind the story that behind the content marketing tactic?

Data journalistic content marketing

As an information designer, having a unique batch of data to work with is ideal. We can look for the story in the data and find unique twists, insights or observations that might now otherwise be known. Then we can tell a story that the brand or organization can own and tout. That is the differentiating factor. Having something to say based on data that comes from or is about your brand is true authenticity. Stop publishing canned articles about general topics that are vaguely associated with your brand. Fluffy associations do you little good. Rather, have lunch with a colleague in engineering or a researcher and find out what they are learning. Find a nugget of data or two about your organization’s insight into the marketplace and give that to the communications team. Lead with a small but pertinent fact about what is new — dust it off, wrap your brand identity around it and use it for storytelling.

Can you share about:

  • a unique characteristic of a segment of your users.
  • growth trends in your space.
  • thoughts on industry findings or trends
  • some user-centered research findings
  • the story behind an analytics anomaly
  • an engineers’ trend insights

Taking more of a data-journalistic approach to storytelling on behalf of your brand will expand the possibilities for creating custom content that expands your organization’s range and reach. It takes more of an investment, but it will have more of an ROI than canned content will ever have. It has a longer shelf life and has more likelihood to be search-friendly. And if the story is crafted correctly, you should be able to use the investment of custom storytelling into two to three content tactics that extend your content investment.

So go get some data and feed it to the content team.


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