Content marketing’s holy grail: journalists and data

Data-led storytelling is a learnt skill. We explain the secret sauce in the content-marketing sandwich: why a search-savvy journalist + data is the perfect formula for content gold.

We’ve all felt that buzz when we consume a stand-out article or story that really resonates, one that seems to speak to us directly.


While it should feel like a well-crafted piece of content – whether that’s long-form, video, infographic or a podcast – there’s a lot going on under the surface that sets the foundations of good content marketing.


On face value, exceptional content appears to meld sophisticated ideas with slick production – but it’s so much more than that.

Iceberg image
Exceptional content is very similar to an iceberg – a lot is going on under the surface

Even if you’re a trained journalist, or a brilliant content producer, ideating and creating a content plan across multiple mediums – including the ever-changing requirements of social – is bloody hard to do.


And without this lived experience as a journalist, it’s even harder – if not near impossible – to consistently deliver killer content that drives both brand and commercial outcomes.

But what differentiates the best of the best content marketers from the pack is a ‘secret sauce.’ An unequivocal understanding that the best way to create content that connects you to your customers is through data.

It’s simple. If you want consumers to engage with your content, their unique needs must come first. And one of the best ways you can discover what they want and need at each stage of the customer journey is through data


Data gives you focus, helping you get to know your audience and show you where content opportunities are.

Content marketing’s killer equation

All good journalists know that your audience always comes first. What they want, need and care about is always the priority.


Really great journalists also have an innate ability to identify the most compelling stories about a brand or business that will resonate with potential consumers. They know, almost instinctively, if a story has legs or that highly sought ‘it’ factor that will make your audience sit up and take notice.


The only thing better than having a journalist on hand to create your content, is having that rare breed of journalist who is trained in search engine optimisation (SEO) and begins their ideation based on a data-led understanding of customer intent.

Search-savvy journalist + data = content that builds your business.

This is the killer equation of content ideation. If you or your agency isn’t following this process, you’re not just missing a trick, you’re burning time, effort and money.

Pink image of megaphone with text that reads Search-savvy journalist + data = content that builds your business

Writing content for SEO

Data-led research will help you understand who your audience is at a granular level, including:

Crucially, getting to know who your audience is doesn’t mean just looking at an unwieldy (and largely useless) list of keywords.


The true art of understanding your customer lies in analysing and categorising search data to recognise and appreciate their specific wants and needs, their psychographics – as well as volumes and competitiveness.

From there, you can identify intent-drive categories you can own and start to design the content assets and digital experiences to engage your audience(s) throughout the customer journey.

Understanding what makes your audience tick is crucial to creating content that speaks to them in the right way and at the right time in their journey.


SEO based content writing sets you up to create utility-led content that your audience can genuinely engage with, thus building a trusting and meaningful relationship.


And equally importantly, it helps you sell.


Once this research is complete, these insights enable you to develop a content hierarchy that details:

Website skeletal framework
This is what a data-led content hierarchy looks like before a journalist consumerises it

How the best journalists ‘consumerise’ data

Next, you must have a top-notch journalist – that rare kind we spoke about earlier – who can transform data into an audience-led content experience and editorial plan.


Simply put, they need to be able to consumerise the data.


Journalists working in mainstream media have the sole focus of creating compelling content. Data and SEO aren’t taught to journalists like it is to marketers, as news outlets have a ready-made audience.

SEO based content writing and data-led storytelling is a learnt skill. It’s a rare breed of journalist who can handle data and SEO, as well as ideate and write consumerised content.

Thankfully, our resident journalists are the best in the business at this consumerisation and wrote the book on combining editorial skills with data-led strategy. Literally wrote the book.


And why are our journalists so damn good?


Because they’ve been trained within an inch of the SEO life.


Our journalists all go through a rigorous, SEO-bootcamp, where every aspect of SEO is drilled into them, from how it’s done to why it matters.


Not only that, but for each and every project, our journalists are briefed on the SEO data results before they start their deep dive into content strategy, plans and ideation.


This enables them to combine their years as professional storytellers with fully-trained, data-led skills.


The result? A complete, consumerised content strategy that ticks every marketing and brand-building box.


For any content marketer – or agency – that’s producing good quality content, this process really should be as automatic as blinking. If it isn’t part of your current operating model, you know who to call!

Bex_Lab_20_Steps_ebook_ Cover_Title_Logo

Get the ultimate content marketing strategy blueprint

Learn our 20-step methodology to formulate a content strategy, operationalise it, and embed it to drive commercial outcomes.


Plus, access our monthly missive Story Lab – brilliant content to grow your business.