How to Use Open Source Data in Content Marketing

Data-led content marketing campaigns are often some of the strongest in terms of coverage. Realistically, companies don’t often have huge amounts of first party data at hand to use to create assets.

That’s where open source data comes in. Open source data is free to use, often comes from very reliable sources and can be used in many different ways to create dynamic content campaigns.

The below article looks at the benefit of using open source data and the different ways you can use it when creating content marketing campaigns.

Borrowing Authority

Brands, or agencies representing them, often worry that they don’t have the authority needed to make big, newsworthy statements in their content. For example, if Forbes release a list of the best cities for tech jobs, they are rarely questioned on the basis of their list because the brand is known as an authority in their field and therefore their content is trusted and republished.

Unfortunately, we can’t all be Forbes. So, how do lesser known brands mimic this kind of authority? By using authoritative data sources in their content marketing.

For example, if a small company were to use data from the government and a well known job site, such as Indeed, to create a list of the best cities for tech jobs they would have the full weight of those data sources’ authority behind their campaign.

For a more comprehensive list of authoritative data sources that can be used see our blog post 7 Awesome Data Providers you Should be Using for Your Content.

There are 3 key ways to use open source data in content marketing;
1. Visualisation
2. Correlation
3. Indexation


The simplest way to use open source data in content marketing is to find an interesting data set that has been presented in a boring way and make it visually exciting. Of course, this is only feasible if you have the design resource in place to create a visually engaging piece.

There are issues with this style of content, mostly that journalists will bypass you as the creators and simply credit the data source when writing it up. There is also the issue that certain publications do not like accepting visual content and prefer to create visuals in-house – in which case you won’t have anything to offer as once again they will just credit the data source.


There is a way that companies can overcome the issue of using external data sources and still receiving full credit for the content created – do something with the data!

If you take one or more data sets and use them to create a new metric, that new data is yours to create content from and gain full credit for it.

This is where you can really get creative with open source data – just remember that a correlation doesn’t always show cause so make sure the connection you’re making is logical.


Take your data-led content marketing to the next level by using multiple data sets to create a brand new index. Any brand should be presenting as an expert in their field, using that expertise you can decide which metrics would best convey the focus of your content. It’s then easy to use these metrics to develop a brand new ranking.

Totally Money Commuter Towns For example, to show London’s Best Commuter Hotspots for Totally Money, we decided the metrics that would best show this were commuting time and costs into London, and the house prices and life satisfaction in each town. Using data on all 4 metrics we calculated that Swanley is the best commuter town to live in this year.

These methods can be used to create countless content campaigns, so get creative and start digging for data to play with!

Know any great sources of free data? Let us know in the comments!

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