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Be the source: How to use data-led indexes in your content strategy

09/06/2022
A 7 minute read

Launching a campaign that makes your brand stand out from the crowd is becoming increasingly competitive. Now – more than ever – brands need unique, data-driven, and eye-catching content that doesn’t only attract good-quality and relevant links, but content that your audience will be interested in.

It’s all fine and dandy creating a campaign that is big and complex, but is it really doing what it set out to achieve?

Data isn’t only important for measuring things like your brand’s impressions and click-through rate (as well as what your competitors are up to) – it can also be used to pivot your brand as a thought leader and source of unique information.

Simply sharing information that is accessible from elsewhere may make it less likely that a journalist will link to your website. After all, why would they? You’re just the messenger.

Creating something authentic from multiple sources that can tell a story will help contribute to your website’s visibility and authority in your industry.

Using data-led indexes as part of your content marketing strategy

Using data in your strategy enhances your content, gives readers context, supports your arguments, and makes what you’re saying more compelling (and linkable!).

In simple terms, an index is a measure of something. You can leverage indexes for your brand by creating unique data sets that you’ve put together in one table to measure or indicate something in your industry. 

But how?

  1. Decide on your topic

So, just because you have Excel sheets full of data, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have good content. 

Is there a story behind it? Is it relevant to the current climate of the world? Is it shocking? What’s the take? 

Deciding on your topic and what your content is actually going to be about is the best first step to take, rather than gathering random data to try and pull something together that is actually just downright strange and random. Be aware of what is trending in your industry and how you can add to the conversation and capitalise on it.

When you have decided on a main, overarching story, you can put together a list of publications you want to target that will be interested in covering in your story, as well as those that are in your backlink gap.

2. Collect your data

There are so many different means of data collection out there that the possibilities are endless. A few examples of data sources for your indexes are:

  • Freedom of information requests
  • Google search data
  • Government data (e.g. Office for National Statistics, GOV.UK)
  • Internal sales data
  • Social media tools
  • Surveys

From these sources, you can choose a number of metrics that are relevant to the discussion.

For one of our clients in finance, we created a mock ‘Complete University Guide’ based on the cost to live in different university cities as we approached the months when students were deciding on which universities to apply to in their UCAS applications. As well as course subject and university location, affordability is an important decision for many prospective students across the UK.

Gathering data that was available out there, we created an index on the cheapest UK university cities looking into a number of relevant metrics such as average cost of rent, bills, gym membership, transport, eating out, and nights out, and calculated an overall score to rank them from 1-10.

3. Create hooks and headlines that your data tells

Once you’ve gathered all your data and put it together, you need to analyse it and decide on what stories you want to tell so that your content is newsworthy. 

Being critical of your data isn’t always easy and looking at lots of numbers can be daunting. But understanding what your audience cares about and what is trending right now will allow you to think critically about what your data is telling.

From this campaign, we were able to nit-pick many different stories and angles. For example the cheapest overall student location, the city with the cheapest night out, the city with the most expensive rent for students, where students can gym for under £30 a month.

Breaking the data into different points allowed us to segment our stories to build backlinks from regional and national press, including:

  • The Daily Echo (DA74)
  • Oxford Mail (DA75)
  • The Herald Scotland (DA86)
  • The Bournemouth Echo (DA81)

Are there news hooks in your data relating to location, gender, age, profession, or year? Mention them!

Unsure about design? Indexes are a great basis for data visualisation

Indexes and large datasets can be a good basis for data visualisation. After all, the last thing journalists want to publish on their website is a number heavy table that is ugly, overwhelming, and likely difficult for readers to understand.

You’re going to want to scroll past this (the numbers are also very, very inaccurate).

Boring chart of data

Creating an attractive, eye-catching, and easy to understand data visualisation is going to help your campaign tremendously. The way you present your findings your content both easy to digest and shareable – and the best people to do this are designers.

You can upload the campaign to your blog with an infographic that is watermarked with your brand name, so if any journalists use it, it is clear where it came from. Plus, regularly uploading to your blog with quality and unique content is great for SEO and shows Google that your site is active and is releasing information useful to its users. This bank of assets sitting onsite is a great way of creating a hub to build your backlink profile.

Over 90 million people engaged with Spotify Wrapped because of its data visualisation & shareability

It’s very unlikely that you haven’t heard of Spotify Wrapped because of how much it is shared on social media every year. But in the off chance that you haven’t, Spotify Wrapped has become a viral marketing campaign that is released in December that allows users to view a compilation of data about their listening activity over the past year.

Spotify leverages its unique data to tell a story that each individual user will be interested in and consequently share on their social media. A video is produced alongside top songs users listened to and attractive infographics with key statistics such as top songs played across the year, the number of minutes listening to a particular artist, and what per cent of listeners people belong to when listening to their favourite artists.

Spotify wrapped is a great example of data-led indexes and visualisations - Evolved Search

Spotify Wrapped boosted app downloads by 21% in December 2020, which is largely due to its shareability – over 90 million people engaged with it that year.

Our Automotive content gained 127 links

What started as an eyesore in the form of an Excel sheet with a terrible amount of numbers and calculations was transformed into something fun and intriguing for one of our Automotive clients.

Data-led indexes to drive content marketing - Evolved Search

This campaign earned our client 127 links with an average DA of 56. It was also featured in Yahoo (DA94) along with the unique data visualisation our designers created.

It’s a great example of all of the principles I’ve listed in this post and goes to show how indexes and data visualisation work hand-in-hand to deliver for our clients. 

If you’d like to get your brand involved with some unique and quality content that drives your website’s authority, get in touch today.

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