Over the last two decades, the rise and spread of the internet and personal computers have led to a revolution in the field of marketing and content creation. This is not unique to our field, of course, but it is certainly the area where we have noticed and experienced these changes. One of the greatest benefits of the internet and computing is the growing availability of data on just about everything.

Marketing of Yesteryear
In the past, most marketing, content creation, and strategies for user engagement were designed based on an inductive process. Experts used their own observations of individual situations in order to make broad predictions about how large numbers of people would act and react. In this circumstance, every situation requires a great deal of thought, and the analysis of many variables. What are the goals of the marketing campaign? Who is the target audience? All of the questions had to be answered by drawing on the individual experiences of experts. While this was the best method at the time, it had its share of downsides. First, guesses are often wrong. When you are guessing, you have to be constantly correcting your course and looking at the results of your efforts. However, it is quite possible that while you are miss-stepping, you could temporarily or permanently cripple your business. Thankfully, data offers an alternative.
Data Based Planning
When using data, we are not using inductive reasoning, but deductive reasoning. Deductive reasoning is a type of logic which allows broad statements to be used to make specific predictions. For this type of reasoning, you have to start with a premise you believe to be true, and examine the logical implications of the statement. The difference between these two approaches is immense. Examine the difference between the statement “most guys I know aren’t interested in fashion, we should focus on a female audience”, and “while men spend 17% less on clothing overall, they spend 39% more on winter wear.” The first statement is a generalization that could be somewhat helpful if true. But because it is a generalization based on anecdotal experience, there is always the chance that it is false. While data collection methods are not foolproof, the more accurate observations that you can make, the better you can allocate your resources and direct your focus. Additionally, the data driven statement allows you to make much more useful decisions. You can optimize not only your overall approach, but every single facet of your business can be analyzed and optimized.
Online Content Creation
Creating engaging and interesting online content is an area that can majorly benefit from the use of data. Because the content creation, dissemination, and consumption all occur electronically, there are ways and tools to critically examine each step of the process, and to gather useful data from the parties involved. For example, you can use data to examine the most valuable tools for making your content visible. A blogger or video creator can see where their viewers come from. If most of their audience is coming from social media, you might decide to embrace and cater more specifically to this community. Additionally, you could see that very few of your viewers are coming from search engines, and choose to optimize your SEO and pay for services to help streamline your content for search engine visibility. This allows you to look specifically at your strengths and weaknesses, and knowledge is always valuable.
Additionally, you can view the way that your content is consumed. Do you draw readers quickly, but most of them leave soon after? You likely are advertising and creating good titles, but your content may be lacking. Consider hiring an expert to revamp and streamline the content you create. For a video creator, this might include script work or research. For a blogger, this could be things such as making your content more readable (formatting, line breaks, etc.), or increasing the quality of information that you offer.
Moving Forward
I think that anyone who can look at the tools available can realize the importance of utilizing this new array of tools which are available. The spread of computing and wireless global communication means that you can instantly connect with people worlds away. And the data you collect can help you understand both yourself, and your customers. You can examine your customers habits to observe where they come from, what they look at, and what makes them leave. You can separate this data in order to better personalize customers experience. Large companies frequently do this, you can see Google or Facebook ads which are targeted based on keywords found in a user’s messages. These companies understand how powerful this data analysis can be as a tool to increase their value. You too should understand and begin to benefit from this powerful asset.