One of the biggest mistakes content marketers make is thinking that once they hit “publish,” the job is done. Unfortunately, effective content marketing does not subscribe to an “if you build it, they will come” philosophy. Driving awareness depends on getting your content in front of the right people through an active content distribution strategy.
Developing an SEO Strategy
How did you end up reading this blog? While I’d love to believe that you eagerly refresh the Acquia website each morning in anticipation of our new posts, I’m guessing most of you started with a quick Google search for “content activation” or “multichannel content strategy.” That is the power of SEO in action.
The goal of any content program is to drive high-quality traffic to your brand’s website and build relationships with your audience. People need to be able to find your content quickly, which means developing a strong search engine optimization (SEO) strategy that puts your site on the first pages of results when someone types a query into Google. Your team can work to improve their rank by infusing each new piece of content with popular search terms and keywords as well as other important metadata, alternative image text and alt tags. Search engine spiders are constantly crawling and cataloging all material published to the web to determine which sites to display to users, and marketers only have a few brief snippets of text to prove their value. These search engine results pages (SERPs) rank webpages by relevance, presenting users with a customized selection of links that display a short preview (page title, page URL and meta-description). To maximize visibility, brands need to craft snippets that are informative and aligned with what their real-life audience would be looking to find.
Content marketers and SEO specialists should regularly conduct audience research to understand what terms their users are searching for most and make sure these essential words or phrases appear in the title, description and URL of both their written content and any included visuals. Even though search engines can’t actually “see” the images on the page, your CMS should allow you to tag each image with text that explains what the reader is looking at. These sections should never be left blank. Ensuring that all images are accurately described is not only essential to improving your rank, but it’s a requirement to make your content accessible to people with visual impairments who may be using screen readers.
When SEO first came into popularity in the early 2000s, many marketers believed they could game the system and cheat their way to the top. Brands would stuff their blog titles and intros with trendy jargon and keywords without regard for syntax, frustrating readers who had to sift through pages of irrelevant materials before they found the results they actually wanted. However, today’s search algorithms are wise to this trick and now penalize publishers for delivering poor user experiences by demoting pages with high bounce rates and low reader retention. Your first priority when creating content should be pleasing your real-life audience, not the algorithms. If you’re regularly producing high-quality, informative work, then Google and other search engines will recognize these pieces as valuable and your ranking will reflect that.
Executing Multichannel Content Experiences
While search remains a major pathway in content distribution, it is far from the only arena to focus on.
Between an ever-growing list of streaming services, social media channels, apps and IoT devices, the digital landscape is more dispersed than ever, and brands are tasked with delivering content everywhere and anywhere. That said, cohesive messaging isn’t the same as being repetitive. Just like you’d tell a story differently if you were speaking with your boss vs. your best friend, each social network and platform has its own audience, and the content you display should demonstrate a unique tone.
For example, when sharing a blog on Facebook, you might include a more friendly, informal caption and a snapshot of people.
Meanwhile, on Twitter you may seek to connect your blog posts to current events through relevant hashtags and invite followers to reply with their own thoughts. Defining your different tones and social media channel strategies requires acute knowledge of your audience behaviors and real-time insight into the customer journey. Refer back to your personas and gather insights through social listening. Analyzing audience behavior will help you personalize and repurpose content strategically across all channels, rather than defaulting to a generic copy-and-paste approach.
Aligning Content Strategy for Sales Enablement
Breaking down silos and driving better awareness and content enablement should also be an internal initiative. Let me know if this sounds familiar: You’re a content marketer diligently working to add the final edits to an upcoming e-book when the VP of sales development comes to your desk in a frenzied state. “What information do we have on healthcare? We’re working on closing a deal with a major hospital, and they want to see some use cases.” The problem? You’ve already got two webinars on healthcare best practices on your website, an entire page of industry case studies and a blog post titled “5 Effective Digital Strategies for Healthcare CMOs” that went live last week — but it seems nobody was made aware of these resources or has been using them.
Without a proper sales enablement strategy, marketing teams often feel like their efforts go to waste and sales teams grow frustrated because they don’t understand how marketing helps them drive business value. According to SiriusDecisions, 60-70% of all marketing content created by B2B organizations goes unused by sales reps. This waste of time and resources makes it difficult to prove content ROI and hurts the overall brand effort to establish a cohesive go-to-market message. Businesses need to unify sales and marketing and ensure content is being utilized to its full potential. Here are a few strategies to close the gap and transform sales into your biggest content advocates:
- Collaborate on strategy and purpose - Sales is on the frontlines of important conversations with customers and prospects and can often be your most valuable resource when it comes to planning new content. Schedule regular meetings to better understand the topics that are top of mind for today’s industry leaders and incorporate these insights into your editorial calendar.
- Provide visibility to valuable assets - Sharing an organized repository of your existing content with the sales department and other key stakeholders saves them the time of searching through the archives and saves marketers the headache of someone promoting an outdated e-book from 2015. Keep your content tagged with relevant labels such as customer feature, competitive material, industry and audience. This empowers everyone to find what they need to educate prospects, answer questions and nurture relationships throughout every step in the buyer’s journey.
- Arm your sales teams in the field - No one understands the power of networking and starting conversations more than a good sales rep. But while they can talk the talk, content marketing may need to lend a hand when it comes to articulating those value props in writing. Provide sufficient templates for email copy, draft social media posts for employees to share on their own social networks and send out weekly newsletters to your organization that summarize the key takeaways and main ideas from each blog post or whitepaper.
Stop taking the passive approach to content strategy and get active. Driving content awareness is a continuous, strategic initiative that expands your brand’s reach and multiplies your opportunities for engagement with your target audience. Commit to playing the long-game with content distribution and you’ll see sustained success for your marketing efforts that reverberate throughout the entire business.