Playing by the Numbers: 3 Reasons to Use Data in Your Content

While words are powerful, their over-population on the web can leave your content in the background. About 2 million blog posts are published in a day, confirming the web is a crowded place.

Imagine content getting pushed and shoved to the back like a shy child bullied to the back seat of the bus. Of course, you’d try to gather all the traits that can possibly add personality to your content, helping it get more readers.

Three elements can help here – Trust. Authority. Influence.

And, one factor can bundle these three together and outshine your content – data, or more accurately, numerical research like the one I quoted at the start of this post, 2 million blog posts published every day.

This post talks about exactly that. You’ll learn how adding research can enhance your content’s authority and how it can help make your content trustworthy.

But first, let’s elaborate what we’re talking about here when we say data?

When I say ‘data,’ I don’t mean that complex term that popped up every time a computer teacher talked about the ins and outs of computer function.

Data in content marketing has nothing to do with that computerized version of green algae.

Instead, data is all the facts and statistics that are gathered after extensive research.

Put simply, the following can serve as potential data fodder for the next content item that you create for your business or blog:

  • Studies
  • Statistics
  • Solid facts

For example, this post by MeetEdgar on Social Media Trends 2019 is rooted in research, making it believable.


3 reasons you need to back your content with numbers

Grounding content in data can help it stand out from the crowd, adding a cherry of credibility on top of the value that you’ve packed into the post.

Think of content with data as the popular kid in school everyone talks about. The kid knows how to win hearts with his sincere comments, but the data-less content is the sleepyhead who rarely makes it daily to school. Do people know him? Can they even trust him?

That’s the exact difference between content which is packed with stats and studies, and content that talks without proof.

Buzzsumo’s analysis of 100,000 articles showed that 75% of articles didn’t get any links. Over and above that, 50% of the articles had less than two Facebook interactions as shown below:

how to write authoritative content

This proves that the majority of the content fails. The content that does gain some traction falls under two categories though:

  1. Well-researched and evidence-based content
  2. Opinion-forming journalism

This pretty much explains why you need to weave data into your writing to gain attention.

Here are more reasons:

Research confirms readers love data bites in the content they read

Before we proceed, let’s look at this 2018 survey of 1,054 US adults by SurveyMonkey.

It concluded:

  • Three-fourths of the adults agree that data-enriched content is more trustworthy than content without it
  • 73% opined that content with data is more persuasive
  • 82% confessed that they prefer to read an article based on data than a writer’s opinion

So, it is clear. Content is better with data just as nachos are better with a cheese dip.

Let’s elaborate this further:

  1. Data helps you gain your audience’s trust

In her book, Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content, Ann Handley, says that we need to be honest with our readers.

She writes, “the more credible content is rooted in something real, not just your own beliefs. Said another way: data before declaration.”

So, the takeaway is simple. Data breathes life into content, making it alive and believable.

  1. Data proves your point, making you more authoritative

Saying that customers will trust you more as you produce custom content for them sounds off.

However, sharing studies which reveal that 78% of the consumers trust a brand when it creates customized content adds a true ring to the statement.

Moreover, if you note pros such as Rand Fishkin, you’ll see that they are data-loving folks. They often prove their point with the help of numbers put together in a case study.

Or, they’ll put on their researcher’s hat and dig into the meat of the matter by carrying out a survey themselves just as Buzzsumo did here:

Best B2B Content: Analysis and Insights from Over 50,000 Articles

Not everyone can conduct extensive research though. In which case, you can polish your content by linking to such authoritative research so that you can present evidence-backed, well-researched content to your readers.

Tip: Not all research is boring or difficult. If you want to benefit like 9 out of 10 other marketers who sing praises of original research and its benefits, Andy Crestodina has the solution. In this brilliant post, he covers five ways to conduct original research.

Here’s a summary:

i. Gather data from the web and observe patterns. Then prove those patterns with the help of gathered data

Example: Web Design Standards: 10 Best Practices on the Top 50 Websites.

ii. Gather your findings from something you did and record them as original data

Example: How We Optimized the Mad Mimi Pricing Page

iii. Combine data and analyze it to deliver new findings. It’s much like looking at existing research from a different lens

Example: 7 Marketing Job Descriptions and Salaries. How Much Do Marketers Make Per Year?

iv. Host an online survey. Make sure you gather such data from a vast pool of respondents

Example: [New Research] How has Blogging Changed? 5 Years of Blogging Statistics, Data and Trends

v. Host phone surveys. Unlike online surveys you don’t need lots of respondents. A small dataset will do because it’s the quality that matters in this case.

  1. Lastly, data influences your readers

How many times have you decided to join a newsletter just because it read join X others? The number left an instant impression and you thought, ‘Let’s see what’s so good about this letter.’

Ultimately, you subscribed.

Like here:

Source CMI

I’ll share another example, which is very near and dear to me.

Mars, Inc. warned that the amount of chocolate that we eat could spike to 1 million metric tons by next year (2020).

Plus, there were concerns that we may end up running out of chocolate due to climate change. This got me worried. In other words, the numbers left their influence on me.

Nothing to worry about though as USA Today has reported and calmed chocolate-lovers that “No, the world won’t run out of chocolate by 2050.”

Hence, the takeaway is pretty simple. There is no reason to hoard any Nutella jars or Toblerones. And, use research and statistics to add credibility and authority to your content.

Summing up

Writing authoritative content has numerous facets such as offering value, being helpful, and so on. Adding numbers to prove your point is another among these. And, by now you also know that this isn’t a hollow claim as 82%, the same as the US population living in urban areas, prefer reading data-backed articles over write-ups centered on writers’ opinions.

To reiterate, use numbers in your content. They help:

  • Prove your point, adding to your content’s authority
  • Make your content trustworthy and persuasive
  • Influence readers to take action

So what are you waiting for? Go on. Write a stellar blog post that is both authoritative and persuasive by adding numbers to it.

Not sure how to proceed? Let me know if I can help.

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