Data-Driven Content Marketing: 5 Ways to Inspire Ideas with Data with Chris Bosher

Head of Strategy for Borne and 2023 award-winner at The International Content Marketing Awards, Chris Bosher, provides valuable data-driven content marketing insights with his five brilliant ways to inspire ideas with data.

With data now indistinguishable from content marketing, how can we learn to understand and use it better for our businesses to make more informed decisions while creating content that bridges brands with consumers? 

In this piece, we reflect on Chris Bosher’s exceptional discussion at our 2024 B2B Summit on ways to inspire ideas with data.

What is Data-Driven Content Marketing?

Data-driven content marketing relies on analytical research and understanding to create more impactful, relevant and engaging content campaigns and strategies. 

With data analytics, brands develop content strategies more in tune with their audience’s interests, behaviours and motivations.

Chris Bosher | Head of Strategy, Borne

Winner of the “Best Use of Data and Insight” at the International Content Marketing Awards 2023, Chris Bosher is the current Head of Strategy at Borne and a renowned strategist helping businesses optimise their branding, communication and creativity.

Chris gave an excellent discussion at CMA B2B Content Marketing Summit 2024 highlighting the importance of data interpretation and its application in refining our content marketing strategies. 

As we already know in today’s data-driven content marketing landscape, informed analytics are indispensable. However, it just takes one glance over the numbers to feel overwhelmed. 

But with Chris’ insights, he illustrated how businesses can harness data to gain a deeper understanding of their consumers and market dynamics, fostering more innovative ideas and stronger connections. And all without the confusion and mind-boggling explanations. 

Getting Creative with the Evidence: 5 Ways to Inspire Ideas with Data 

“We’re living in an era where the idea will become a lot more important in B2B brand building […] We need ideas, and we need to take data to create ideas.”
Chris Bosher 

Before crunching those numbers and reflecting on data-driven content marketing concepts, let’s begin with Chris’s favourite data story and a brilliant example of survivorship bias from the Second World War in how we should try to read data with more creativity and imagination.

Back when the Allies were researching the planes that returned after bombing raids over Germany, the researchers investigated areas of the aircraft that were struck by gunfire. 

The dots on the image indicated where the returning planes had been damaged. The initial theory was to strengthen these areas until mathematician Abraham Wald highlighted the areas of the plane that hadn’t been hit. 

His creative approach to looking beyond the obvious data revealed that the areas untouched on the returning planes were likely the areas struck on the planes that didn’t return.

Play with it 

    “Very often creative people can feel really distrustful of data, particularly in an environment where it’s used to kill good ideas.”

    Data-driven content marketing is not just about insights and statistics. There are brilliant stories to be told too. Chris highlights how playing with data in B2B content can drive greater differentiation rates for brands producing stories over others. 

    Because ultimately, it’s just much more enjoyable, creative and engaging for people

    However, despite the fact all brands collect data, it’s the ones who let themselves be data-led that create interesting stories and develop engaging, creative content for their audiences. 

    So, the first questions B2B business owners should ask is:

    • What data do I have?
    • How can I play with it? 
    • How can the data itself become an idea?

      Zoom out 

      “The connection between a brand and consumers builds when enough trust allows the brand to try new stuff.”

      Beyond transactional attempts of engagement, building connections between brands and consumers relies on the brand being able to zoom out in order to engage the person behind the consumer.

      But with all businesses metricized with KPIs and under pressure to deliver short-term performance results, it’s difficult to steer from the narrative of “We know what works”.

      However, without delving into opportunities of what works outside what brands already know, we’ll always be limited by our rigid, pre-determined risk management functions.

      For example, as Chris expertly explained in his talk, The Michelin Guide is a prime example of a brand zooming out to produce restaurant guides encouraging drivers to travel around Europe and eat at the best places (While wearing down their tyres in the process). 

      Data-driven content marketing can help brands explore the broader relationship and intersection between their consumers. With data, we can understand not just the consumer, but the person

      What they do. Where they go. The clothes they wear. The choices they make. What they’re interested in. Etcetera. It’s all in the data and we can use this information to tell better stories for our audiences. 

      Now, beyond the question of what data you have, we need to ask:

      • What else do I know about my consumer? 
      • Where are the intersections between the brand and the audience? 

      Find the feeling 

        “People inspire people more than information.”

        Data-driven content marketing can be misleading. Despite all the stats and facts, sometimes the more motivational things an audience needs to see or hear are found in revelations we least suspect. 

        On the project that won Chris (Borne) the ‘Best Use of Data and Insight’ award last year for ‘CITB, Go Construct’, Chris and his colleagues were tasked to investigate the “image issue” for careers in the construction industry. 

        And what they discovered was it wasn’t the salaries or the prospects on offer. Shifting the lever of perception was not found by showing the jobs young people might like, but by showing the people they like, doing those jobs. 

        Their data found that people who did join the industry did so because they knew someone who had already. Therefore, they built their campaign around finding aspirational people in the industry and telling their stories. 

        “We are not thinking machines that feel; rather, we are feeling machines that think.” 
        Antonio Damasio 

        In summary of this section, rationality is logical and easier to understand, but emotions can be much more significant drivers for behaviour. 

        So, the question to ask here is:

        • What are the feelings at play? 

        Long ideas 

          “The nature of ideas is changing in an era of data.”

          Communication with audiences was once straightforward back when there were limited platforms. However, as we know in today’s world, communicating ideas has become more fragmented and needs to suit the specifics of the data and platforms on offer.

          The ability to change the way brands tell stories should now depend on what they know about their audience and the platforms they can utilise. This phenomenon is changing the discipline of ideas, but it also provides opportunities to express ideas in different ways to different people.

          Rather than seeing data as an input, can we look at it as a delivery mechanism? We might have a great idea, but can it be delivered in an interesting way using data?

          The question to end this section is:

          • Is your idea data-ready? 

          Secret weapon 

            Whether customer or business-related, when applying data-driven content marketing strategies, brands tend to look at their own data before looking further into the general search. Interestingly, this general search capability shows that public data is available to any brand which means no one has a greater advantage. 

            Essentially, brands have access to the same data as everybody else. So, it’s not the data itself but the way we look at it and use it. The more interesting data you can gather about your competitors that relate to your consumer and bridge your brand, the more impact you can make.

            Unique insights can be available to everybody, but if you use them first, they can quickly become your secret weapon for inspirational data-driven content marketing campaigns.

            Enhance your data-driven content marketing insights with CMA 

            For more insights, awards and events in the content marketing industry, join our CMA Membership

            With an ever-growing global content marketing community, you can stay informed on the latest trends and network with fellow industry experts while contributing to our agenda. 

            Whether you belong to an agency or brand, international or UK-based, discover more about CMA memberships today.   

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