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Content Marketing: People, Stories and Data

content marketing showYesterday, Natasha and I travelled from sunny Suffolk into scorching London for the 2014 Content Marketing Show at the Institute of Education in Russell Square. Content marketing is the ideal method of subtly changing perceptions of your brand by altering points of view over time.

Now seasoned veteran attendees to this popular event, we were keen to see what the impressive line up of speakers had to share about content – and they certainly didn’t disappoint.

Our main takeaway from the day’s sessions affirmed what we’ve been emphasising with our clients for some time…

“Great content is all about people, stories and data.”

The importance of creating and measuring compelling customer-centred stories was the common narrative this year. It’s always been about telling stories, but our access to an increased amount of data has meant we can tailor messages to the people we’re trying to reach in a far more effective way now.

This ‘holy trinity’ of content is very much the ‘marketing of today’ and isn’t something organisations can really afford to ignore.

Here’s some key stats from the conference that show you why:

  • 42% of businesses now have a documented content strategy
  • 90% of consumers find custom content important
  • 53% of websites with properly optimised video content are more likely to rank higher
  • £4bn was spent on content marketing in the last 12 months and £2.1bn of that total was spent ineffectively
  • By 2018, 79% of consumer internet traffic is predicted to be video


Great content has to start and finish with the people it’s designed to reach, engage and convert. For brands to truly be social in their use of networks like Twitter or Facebook, they must be empathetic and human in the way they create, and share content. Speakers referenced the relevance of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and suggested marketers using social should re-visit Human content should be:

  • Inspirational
  • Educational
  • Create an emotional response (not just sadness/happiness)
  • Relevant
  • Authentic

Authenticity was a real keyword for me, because something can’t be authentic if the story isn’t well-crafted and is poorly informed due to a lack of, or misunderstanding, of available data.


I came to content marketing from a journalistic background – and I’m not the only one. The marketing industry is seeing an influx of ex-journos now using their honed, trained story-telling skills to create quality content for websites, emails, brochures and across social networks.

A number of speakers were championing the use of archetypes in quality content marketing story-telling, giving people something authentic to connect to – instead of generic rubbish that doesn’t mean anything to anyone. Using models like The Hero’s Journey, gives a tried and tested structure to a piece of content that people will respond to, as it’s a subliminally recognised archetype.


The prolific growth in the detail and availability of data has changed the way we create, generate, share and measure content. It’s essential because you can’t create great content if you can’t learn what works for your audiences and what doesn’t. You can’t successfully share it if you don’t know what the best channels are for your audience and you can’t measure it if it’s not been aligned to your overall objectives.

Analysing content data enables us to:

  • Understand what content visitors are viewing, how long for and where they came from
  • Discover what content engagement says about who our visitors are
  • Create content based on what we’ve learned from our content data
  • Match or correct the assumptions we make about how visitors engage with and respond to our content

Content leaders measure how every piece of content performs more closely than ever before. In many instances, the time spent on reviewing data associated with content is more than the time it takes to create and share that content. It sounds odd, but by knowing your customers and having the right data – you can be far more efficient in how you plan, create and review the content you create.

If you want to know more…

If this has whetted your content thirst and you want to know more you can take a look at the #contentmarketingshow feed on Twitter to see all the speaker’s slides and summaries from the day. Also, the slides from the show will soon be available at