Turning Search Insights into Content Gold

Photo: Giorgio Monteforti <http://www.flickr.com/photos/11139043@N00/>Content marketing has become an increasingly important focal point for many brands. However, even if a brand produces interesting, engaging and relevant for it’s core audience – efforts will be wasted if the content can’t easily be found or isn’t timely.

With that in mind, it’s important to consider the interplay between search marketing and content marketing, particularly with respect to social platforms. A key lever for “winning” the content game is providing content in timely manner – when people are looking for it. Having the right infrastructure and processes in place can help a brand do just that.

Here are several recommendations companies should consider:

  • Ensure that the search, social and web content functions are tightly intertwined. Team members should work closely together – or, if based in separate geographical locations, have regular calls. Establishment of strong relationships is key. In my current role at Intuit, I sit right across from our search manager and I speak with him daily.
  • Develop a mechanism through which search insights are regularly provided to those responsible for creating content. Through Google Trends, the search manager can create and share search insights that reveal what people are (and are not) looking for. Insights can, for example, include: most popular search queries, search queries that are rising in popularity, search queries that are declining in popularity
  • Be poised to act quickly based on insights provided. If search trends reveal gaps in your blog content calendar, have a writer available to create the content – perhaps an internal writer or a freelancer. If people are looking for content now that you intend to publish later, make the necessary adjustments to your content calendar.

Finally, and importantly, make sure that you are set up to measure the impact of your efforts!  Having the right content is one thing, to truly provide value it needs to be available when people are actively searching for it.

Building a Customer-Centric Company: Lessons from Coca-Cola Content 2020

Marketing was much simpler when information flowed in one direction, from company to customer. However, with the rapid proliferation of touch points over the past decade or so, and the ability for customers to generate and share their own content about brands, the nature of the game has truly changed – forever.

While most companies realize and understand this, the extreme rapid pace of change has left many somewhat bewildered and slow to adapt in shifting from a product or company-focussed organization to one that truly is customer-centric.

Last year, Coca-Cola produced a visionary and informative video communicating their vision for marketing and communications over the next decade. I recently learned about and watched the video, and I wanted to share my key takeaways – I have done so below.

First, here is the video. Trust me, it is well worth spending twenty minutes of your time to watch.

Key takeaways Coca-Cola’s Content 2020:

1. Content Marketing is Going to Become Critically Important

 

People are drowning in a vast ocean of information and content. Most of it, when viewed from the perspective of a particular individual, is completely and utterly irrelevant. However brands that are able to create interesting and meaningful content – in the mindset of customers, that is – will be better positioned to set themselves apart. In developing a compelling brand story, companies most focus on fitting into the unique individual narratives of a customer’s everyday life, and in someway creating real and genuine value. Marketing “fluff” just won’t cut it.

2. Company Structures and Processes Need to Evolve

The environment has changed, and company structures that were well-suited for the mass marketing era have become antiquated. In particular, companies need to become more open and willing to partner with different contributors in an effort to collaboratively achieve objectives. Essentially, companies need to consider new ways of doing things – such as, for example, inviting input from customers through crowdsourcing or perhaps partnering with a technology company to reach customers in a new and innovative way.

3. Companies Must Adapt to an On-Demand Culture

 

Digital technology and social media has truly facilitated the development of an on-demand culture. While marketing and communications campaigns, finite in nature, will still play an important role – companies need to focus more on being present when customers want them to be present. Engagement opportunities now exist 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, across multiple touch points.

4. Think Big, But Keep Business Objectives in Mind

The rapid pace of change necessitates that companies become more innovative in how they engage with customers. An innovative corporate culture requires big thinking – ideas that push boundaries, perhaps getting companies out of their comfort zone. However, in developing innovative approaches, companies must not lose sight of their business objectives. Connecting the dots might not be easy, and the path might not always be clear, but companies must consider how “idea X” will help the company achieve “objective Y”.

5. Learn to Operate in Perpetual Beta

 

Test, learn, measure and refine. Companies like Google continually test and refine products – often not even dropping the “beta” label once a product has been launched.  Big, creative thinking and innovative content requires testing, and the reality is not everything will work. But companies that focus on identifying successes through measurement, and refining those successes based on insights gained, will be well-poised to create relevant content for customers that truly has meaning and provides value.

What are your thoughts?

Building Relationships and Winning Business Through Content Marketing

It’s well-known that the nature of sales and marketing, specifically effective strategies that fuel sales and drive business, has changed dramatically over the last several years. Digital technologies and social media have truly given customers a voice – an opportunity to engage with companies they do business with and share feedback, whether positive or negative. Further, the customer buying cycle has evolved with the firm establishment of online research as a critically important component. Customers are seeking information that informs and adds value to their decision making process, and they now have access to copious information from a variety of resources – including your competitors.

This shift has resulted in the need for companies develop a strategic focus on nurturing longer term relationships prospects and customers, as well as invest in content marketing.

Defining Content Marketing

According to Wikipedia, content marketing is “an umbrella term encompassing all marketing formats that involve the creation and sharing of content in order to engage current and potential consumer bases. Content marketing subscribes to the notion that delivering high-quality, relevant and valuable information to prospects and customers drives profitable consumer action. Content marketing has benefits in terms of retaining reader attention and improving brand loyalty.”

Executed effectively, content marketing can significantly help you nurture relationships with prospects and customers – leading to a high level of customer loyalty and increased demand generation for your company’s products and services.

Becoming a Thought Leader

The motivation behind content marketing is the belief that educating the customer results in your recognition as a thought leader and industry expert. The focus is on informing customers and prospects about key industry issues and topics, sometimes mentioning the products and services you offer – but not overtly spouting their virtues. For example, you may chose to write a blog post that educates customers and prospects on data storage compliance regulations in industries such as financial services and healthcare. Or, alternatively, you could execute an email marketing campaign to provide customers and prospects with access to a white paper that provides detailed insights and information on a relevant topic.

A variety of tools can be used for content marketing, including:

  • E-newsletters
  • Blogs
  • Social media
  • Videos
  • Webinars
  • White papers
  • Company website

Companies need to consider which tools are most appropriate based on their specific target customer.

Getting Started

Leveraging content marketing to cultivate thought leadership and build sales over the longterm requires a well thought out plan, hard work, perseverance, and devoted resources. It isn’t easy, but given the right focus, it is very achievable.

Consider the following questions when developing a content marketing strategy:

  • What information do prospects often ask you for, when evaluating your products and services?
  • What information can you provide, that would truly provide them with value and make their decision easier?
  • How can you best provide information to prospects? Via a blog? Emails? Videos? Webinars?
  • Do you have the in-house resources to create the content?
  • What other online resources, such as industry blogs, trade media, or association websites can you pull content from?
  • Are you prepared to share content on a regular basis?

If you would like to learn more, and you have some time to spare, please listen to this interview with content marketing expert Marcus Sheridan (aka The Sales Lion).