Data, privacy, and us; the fight for information

If we ever thought knowledge was power, we were clearly misinformed. It’s not the knowledge of the cosmos or the history of Troy that’s powerful, but rather, the collection of personal data that has become the new trading currency in our modern world. Marketers, businesses, and even the casual salesperson on the street are all engaged in a battle of data to gain as much personal information as they possibly can to hit targets, KPIs or revenue quotas. We collect and horde data like it’s the last tin of beans in a post-apocalyptic world, and as we sit in the wake of the GDPR legislation, perhaps this is the post-apocalyptic landscape that marketing is experiencing.

For the last year there’s been a constant flow of articles, survival guides if you will, on exactly what GDPR is, what it includes and what you can do to get around it, but perhaps we’ve been asking the wrong question all along. Instead of looking for loopholes and evading legislative change, shouldn’t we be fighting to put greater power into the hands of consumers, instead of trying to praise it from their grasp with the assumption that we know best? Of course, the counter argument to that is that sometimes marketers do know best, because if we consider mental availability and a connected shopper journey, then surely some consumers don’t know what they want until we place it in their inbox or use their IP address to flash it across their screens. We’ve worked in retail long enough to know that the giants of this industry aren’t particularly keen on handing that much power back to the consumer, essentially because it will make their lives invariably harder. It will also serve as the call to step up to so many and let us just entertain the idea for a moment that perhaps the latest data protection laws could be the renaissance for the marketing and advertising world.

We spend so much time complaining about lazy marketing and uninspiring advertising campaigns, and with so much access to the consumer, because of the masses of data that sits in the palm of our hands, there isn’t really a need for too much creativity or genius. When you already have their eye, because you have their email address and consent, you’re not really stretching your creative capacity to catch that eye, and so the result can be below par content.

Let us, for a moment, look on the bright side of life and assume that even when buyers don’t give their consent, and ask to be opted out of the mailing lists and the campaigns, and they don’t even want to see your name flash across their screen, perhaps it will push us all to become a flurry of innovation and creativity. Perhaps we’ll discover new avenues of invention and find more exciting ways to build relationships with consumers and catch their eyes. Perhaps we’ll become daring and brave in our campaigns and maybe, just maybe, it might bring out some of our best work yet. Perhaps it is just another creative period, and if some of the best painters and artists came out of the last renaissance, surely, we’ll begin to see the best ad agencies emerge and maybe it will take us all into our very own age of enlightenment.

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The most useful content marketing tools

Content marketing is on the rise. Consumers are becoming ever more aware, and old-school tactics that used to work during the early days of the net are seeing a steady decline in effectiveness.

Marketers have discovered that they need to offer something to the customer to get results. Thus, content marketing was born.

But a content marketing campaign can be tricky to plan, let alone take off effectively.

Fortunately, there are loads of easy to use tools that can really help either streamline or simplify the content marketing process. We’ve pulled together some of our absolute must-haves below.


When researching particular topics, it’s good to see how far they will travel. How large is the audience, and how likely are they to share your content on social media?

This is where Buzzsumo comes in. You can put in any keyword you like and Buzzsumo will show you the top most shared articles around that keyword across social media.

But where Buzzsumo really comes into its own is for writing titles for pieces. You can use Buzzsumo to research the most widely shared pieces for the topic you’re covering.

Keep in mind that this isn’t just for blog pieces. Buzzsumo can really help with video titles and press release headings too.


Visuals really count in blog posts. Research has shown that blog posts that have more than one image in them are more likely to be read by a user.

But is your creative resource stretched? Maybe you’re not up to scratch at Photoshop? (Me neither)

Well, fear not. Canva is one of the simplest, and best, creative tools around. It’s free to use, but we’d really recommend the paid version (around £10 p/a) to get full use of all their features.


Whilst doing your planning, you’ll need to look at some keyword data. While there are plenty of tools out there, our preferred keyword research tool is SEMRush.

With SEMrush, you’re able to get accurate keyword data and currently see where your site ranks for these keywords. You’ll also be able to use SEMRush to analyse certain topics, and what hubs to build your content around.

SEMRush is useful at every stage of the content marketing process. From broad strategy planning, right down to the metadata for your page.

Google Trends

Content marketing often has to relate to popular trends or issues, especially if you’re looking to run any sort of digital PR activity alongside it. If you’ve got an idea, it can be smart to make sure that your idea hasn’t peaked already.

If you’re looking to analyse a trend, Google Trends is a great place to start. It does exactly what it says on the tin, allowing you to explore trends and topics. The line graphs give you some easy to use visualisations too, which can be helpful for illustrating your point to a client.

Quantcast Measure

Audience data should form the backbone of all your marketing strategies, not just your content marketing strategy. Your client may already have audience data, but how can you make sure it’s correct?

That’s where Quantcast Measure comes in. All you have to do is pop their pixel into your GTM frame, and you’ll be able to get audience data outside what your clients already have.

This can be really helpful for double verifying the data that your clients may already possess, but it can also help with PR placements. The QCM pixel can show the sites that your audience have a higher affinity for visiting – and can, therefore, help with your PR strategy.

Google Analytics

Good old reliable Google Analytics always makes the list, and for good reason. It’s one of the most valuable ways of seeing what your audience is actually up to. Are they repeatedly reading one particular article? What about several articles on the same topic? Or products? Has there been a particular spike in a certain product you offer?

These questions can really help you plan out your content, especially if you’re looking at creating a schedule for your Hub content. Focus on what your customers are already talking about in order to drive engagement.

Facebook Messenger

An underrated content marketing tool is Facebook Messenger. Messenger can be a really good content distribution tool and many studies have found that the open rate and CTR on content distributed through Messenger is a lot higher than traditional email.

But one of the best ways that Facebook Messenger can help is during the research phase. We previously covered how Facebook Messenger can help you to do research on your clients’ current audience. If you have a particular angle you want to explore, using Messenger to conduct some research – or even gather some stats for your next press release – can be absolutely invaluable.


Using these tools can really help you at every stage of the content marketing cycle. Getting to grips with these tools will allow you to spend less time doing tedious things, and more time creating awesome content!

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Friday Reading #138

Thanks for staying with us! The great GDPR Purge of the 25th
May (email-aggedon, or the spam-ocalypse?) cut the wheat from the chaff,
vacuumed the email inbox, and hopefully restores email subscriptions back to
what they’re supposed to be – a useful update on the new and interesting, you actually
read. Great to have you with us.

Machine learning has often been called the cause and solution to the
future’s problems – their ingenious
and mendacious
ability to solve problems is one of the more fascinating
parts of the science.

Buzzfeed’s investigative journalism has been a shining light in the
last year or so, and their article on fake Amazon
is a belter!

Publishers are starting to carve interesting positions on the digitally
at the moment – Vogue is using Instagram
to push talent over content
, the economist are using data-visualisation
to drive subscriptions and the industry is pivoting away from facebook
to Youtube

Squeezing money out of popular content on the web has always been a
nightmare – with Patreon now supporting 100k creators with $350m worth of
patronage, have they solved
the problem

In other things to read at your desk to shake off the hangover: the
most authentically
creepy sloth costume
and what a Flat
convention is like.