How to Use Data Insights to Kill it with Storytelling

Confession time: Like many writers, I’m sometimes plagued with writer’s block. It’s my biggest obstacle as a writer and content marketer, and I used to feel helpless against it.

For those of you who write, you know that writer’s block doesn’t just happen when you don’t have anything to write about. Sometimes there’s simply too much to say on a particular subject, and then you find yourself bogged down by the enormity of it all. This happens to the best of us, and up until recently I didn’t have a really effective method for pushing past it.

Take the subject of Marriage Equality, for instance. (In case you’ve been living on a different planet this past week, Same-Sex marriage has been legalized in America in all 50 states). Since the story broke the internet lost its collective mind, and everyone has been weighing in – from politicians and pundits to pedestrians and public companies, including big-name brands.

So many conflicting emotions! So much history! And oh, the reactions from detractors…where do I begin?

For in between the pictures of happy couples and supporters reveling in the Supreme Court’s landmark decision, there was an equally strong response from opponents. And boy, was it a backlash!

This is where data for online marketers – including those in the coveted profession of content marketing – can really use data to their advantage. I’m not just talking about for insights on market trends – which is great, of course. But market intelligence is also really useful for mining writing topics, and for refining those ideas into quality content that targets a specific audience.

To illustrate, I took a look at the subject of Marriage Equality using our market intelligence platform, which here at SimilarWeb we simply refer to as “the PRO.”


The Great Keyword Hunt

I analyzed keywords that were driving traffic to major news sites. Keywords (especially long-tail keywords) give great insight into the way people are thinking about a certain topic, and I think it’s one of the best ways to get a tighter focus on certain issues. Something I noticed almost immediately was the difference in search terms being used for various media outlets. Specifically, the way people were searching on conservative news sources (like Fox News, for example) was different from the terms they were using while searching sites like the New York Times or even CNN.

For example, the term “Marriage Equality” brought up just 3 search results for Fox News, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Drudge Report. Of these 3 searches, the first one was “marriage equality is a real danger to our liberty.” This of course points to why the majority of conservatives are so deeply opposed to the Supreme Court’s decision. One story option could be to explore why conservatives feel this way.marraigeequalityfinal


But what I found most interesting about these results is that despite how huge this story is, there are only 3 search results for Marriage Equality. I think it’s because most people who oppose same-sex marriage are disinclined to refer to it as “Marriage Equality,” or even “Same-sex marriage.” They would probably be searching for “Gay Marriage.” So I looked for that instead.

And voila! Now here’s a veritable keyword gold mine, a perfect springboard for story ideas. There are nearly 60 results that have turned up under Gay Marriage. The first of those is “Why gay marriage is wrong.”marriageheadline







What to do with All your Fancy New Keyword Finds

The majority of these searches are negative, which is unsurprising. But the interesting story ideas come from picking some of the more specific longtail search items, which you can pull and research further. Some examples of possible topics:

State SpecificUtah reaction to gay marriage fox news

How have specific states reacted to the decision so far? You can compare cases in certain states as well as the opinions of thought leaders and everyday citizens to get a full range of perspectives.

Dissenting JudgesSupreme court gay marriage ruling judges dissents

The legalization of Same Sex Marriage won by a very slim margin (5-4). It would be interesting to explore the dissenting judges’ opinions along with their respective backgrounds – maybe even compare their decisions on other cases.

Cartoons, Caricatures, & ArtSupreme court gay marriage cartoon

You could go several ways with this one – exploring the cartoon in question is the obvious route. But what about other cartoons, both for and against the Supreme Court’s decision? You could even go beyond cartoons and see what the art world has to say about it.

Same Sex Marriage vs. ReligionSouthern Baptist minister gay marriage fire, preacher in Seattle fined gay marriage, pastor against gay marriage, churches sued gay marriage, are pastors required by law to conduct gay marriage

What exactly is the law here regarding clergy performing same-sex marriages? What happened in these specific cases? But perhaps even more fascinating is those in the clergy who have changed their minds about the issue. Exploring how different religions view same-sex marriage could turn into a series of posts. Heck, you could even get an infographic or two out of it.

Reaction AbroadForeign reaction gay marriage ruling

Just like in the States, there’s a lot of support and opposition about the ruling. Diving deep into how specific countries are responding to the issue would make for an interesting story, especially in terms of how the decision has affected regional LGBT communities.

Brand ResponseGay marriage google logo

A lot of brands have gotten on board with the Supreme Court’s Decision, some in a very big way: Some brands have very vocally voiced their support on social media, (along with the ubiquitous #loveislove hashtag) and others have created ad campaigns and commercials in favor of marriage equality.


Data Insights Makes for Stronger, More Focused Content

Content marketers and journalists alike can benefit from these “data gems” – both in long form content as well as targeted ads and social media blasts. Data insights can also help you understand your audience better, so you’ll know what subjects are likely to keep them captivated (and get them to share on social media).

Keep in mind, this is just from keyword research alone. There are a variety of other ways to gain insights into how to effectively reach your target audience, which I’ll cover in later posts. You can also use the platform to find out what your competitors are writing about, and if their efforts are successful – and how you can learn from them. But the key takeaway is this: When you have market intelligence at your fingertips, it opens up a whole new world for content creation in terms of story ideas, audience insights, and even content strategy.   Which is why these days I’m writing with more freedom than I have in a long time. Writer’s block is still there, but it’s a lot less formidable than it used to be – because now I have the right tools to fight it.marriage equality

About the Author -

Lauren Meir is a writer and the Creative Content Manager at SimilarWeb. Her expertise lies in content marketing and creative branding. She has experience writing for a variety of industries including the art world and online gaming, and her work has appeared in publications such as the Huffington Post, Provokator and the Detroit Jewish News.

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