Why do you create content? This seems like the easiest question on the marketing quiz, but the answer may be more complex than you think. When you’re considering creating content, the obvious answer is that you’re creating it to provide value, information, and maybe entertainment for your audiences. Things get complicated when we start deciding how to get there. Suddenly, we’re creating content to get found by the search engine bots, to get the action we want, and to fit into established campaigns. It’s easy to lose your way when you’re creating content that satisfies everyone’s needs.
Get back on track by addressing real problems and responding to audience interest areas by using search data intelligence to inform your content marketing strategies.
Create a positive content experience
If you’re creating marketing content that answers actual questions and includes topics that audiences are searching for, you don’t have to worry about optimizing for the search engine bots, as long as you’ve adhered to good search and content practices.
Creating a positive user experience includes making sure content matches header and title tags, avoiding duplicate content, and ensuring a logical content flow. More importantly, a positive experience requires presenting topics and information your audience is already looking for, in a way they want to consume it, and on the channels they’re already paying attention to.
Getting the right data at the right time can help you to create a positive content experience for audiences while meeting content goals and organizational KPIs. Using the right search data you can:
- Develop content strategies that deliver positive user experiences.
- Create unique content based on relevant topics.
- Use mediums most popular with your audiences.
- Focus efforts on the marketing channels your audiences use.
“I think some of the challenges come from people getting pulled in lots of different directions and creating content to match the latest marketing campaign instead of designing the campaign around messages that resonate, communicating it on mediums that people enjoy, and sharing it on the methods (channels) that your audience will use,” states Erin O’Brien, President & COO GinzaMetrics.
Getting found online means capturing the attention of audiences already inundated with lots of content. To do that, some marketers have created click-bait content. “Click-bait” is a term that’s earned a lot of negative attention. It refers to content that’s designed to attract attention and cause someone to click on the link to learn more. The practice is considered unacceptable because, all too often, the content the user was led to was not the content promised.
However, there’s an opportunity for marketers to use the practice of creating click-bait in a positive way to improve the user’s experience. There’s nothing wrong with creating attractive content with interesting and engaging titles that causes someone to click on the link. But, and here’s the important part, when they do, make good on your promise and provide content that matches the topic and style of the “click-bait”. By definition you’ve created a title that gets someone to click, but the content you provide is relevant, unique, and engaging instead of spammy and irrelevant. The goal here is to tie everything together, create a positive experience for the person following the link, and provide content most relevant to your audience that isn’t misleading in any way.
Understanding which channels are driving traffic
Once you know what topics and questions are most relevant to your audiences, you’ll want to reach them on the channels they’re already using. That doesn’t mean, however, that if one or two channels aren’t performing as well as the others you should abandon some channels in favor of others. The challenge is to discover how audiences on each channel are discovering the content on that channel. In other words, they may be looking at videos more on Twitter and clicking on links to blog posts more in emails. If you have an under-performing channel, it’s time to find out how to improve your presence there.
“I go back to the medium, method, and message format for measuring content,” advises Erin. “You’ll want to know if it’s the channel that’s not working, or if it’s how you’re sharing things on that channel, or if you’re sending the wrong message to the people on that channel.”
Content is not a campaign and it’s not just something you do for a campaign. Content itself is an entire ecosystem that thrives only when each individual part of the ecosystem is working. As with all ecosystems, removing one element, no matter how seemingly insignificant, can disrupt the entire flow. While you may see more traffic to your website from one particular channel, you don’t necessarily know how information or exposure to your content or your brand on other channels has influenced the action that actually brings in those visitors.
Understanding which marketing channels are working best means monitoring and comparing inbound traffic from all channels, including which social channels your audiences are using to find you. Compare that data to your content insights to discover which pieces of content are getting the most attention and where specific content is being found.
Use keyword and content group data to compare which messages are getting the most engagement. Once you have all this data in one place (having a platform that gives you all the data helps), start looking for overlaps. You’ll begin to form a picture of what’s working and what’s not. You’ll also want to compare your results to your competitors, and anyone who is competing with you for attention on the Internet.
Continuing to create content that doesn’t fit the needs of the audience on a particular channel doesn’t lead to a good user experience. Deliver what audiences are looking for, where they’re looking for it, and how they’re consuming it to provide added value to audience experiences on any channel.
Sharing data between functions to create harmony
In lots of organizations, different channels belong to different departments. To get a cohesive message, functions need to share search data. When data is hidden in silos, it’s much harder to get the big picture and it’s harder to segment out the medium, method, and message. But, if you’re able to measure the efficacy of efforts across all the channels, all the mediums, and all the messages, then every effort can be optimized and every department will have a better idea of what they can do to show more success.
Once everyone is looking at the bigger picture, departments can start to have more productive conversations, instead of competing for resources and wins. You’ll begin to understand what messages get better responses with audiences on specific channels, how those audiences prefer to consume that content, and where specific departments can spend their resources to optimize efforts and not duplicate or detract from other efforts in the organization.
Building connections between marketing, PR, social media, SEO, and other communications-based departments within an organization requires setting up measurement to structure data in a way that’s useful for everyone. Creating keyword and content groups is a good way to create segments that everyone can gather data around.
When a campaign is created, include all the keywords that every department will use to talk about the campaign. Once all the keywords are grouped, any content that’s created around that same campaign can also be grouped and viewed together. While the campaign is in motion, all departments can easily see which pieces of content are working and which channels are showing the most activity as a result of that content. Audience interest and campaign results can be improved by continuing to generate content in the same way to channels that are performing well, and improving audience experiences in channels and mediums that are not. Once the campaign is over, you’ll have valuable knowledge to inform your next campaign.
Not so obvious benefits of search data synergy
Besides the obvious benefits of greater collaboration and less competition between functions, data sharing may lead to faster decision making throughout the organization.
“As we all know, the online world moves really quickly, so faster decision making is key. It’s also better decision making because you’re measuring things in a way that allows all the data to be part of the conversation and all departments, including sales, customer success, technical support, account management, SEO, marketing, PR – all of it,” remarks Erin.
Creating content that solves problems means understanding what customers and prospects are saying. Here are some questions to ask your customer-facing peers:
- What questions are frequently asked?
- What words are being used to ask the questions?
- What are some common answers?
- What resources are most frequently sent as follow-up?
- What additional resources would you want to have?
Knowing how people are talking about their challenges is as important as knowing what they’re talking about. When you talk to your customer success team, find out what words and phrases people are using when they’re describing confusions or how they’re phrasing their questions. Go back and look at chat scripts or whatever is available. Record a couple of calls or sit in on a couple of calls to find out the words and phrases the sales team, customers, and prospects are using. From these conversations, create another cache of keywords for content creation. Leverage the information you gather to create better content or improve existing content. Look to see how you can curtail customer service or support issues by providing certain information up front or more clearly.
Include product development in your discussions. Share data to show them what people are talking about and what they want. Share search data to show what people are looking for in your industry to help product development teams understand how people’s wants and needs are changing as they describe their pains to you in a search bar.
“Using a tool like Keyword Discovery can help you to discover how people may be talking about topics or products in ways that you’re not aware of and not already tracking. This can be a great source of information to help you update content to include how people have changed the way they talk about a topic you’ve already created content for,” notes Erin.
Use search data to make sure you’re creating a good experience, whatever you’re doing – creating website content, off-site content, customer support materials, social media messages, or any other communications. Know what your audience wants and give it to them. It’s as simple, and as complicated, as that.