In 2018, more and more enterprise brands are beginning to build their marketing technology stacks.
In parallel, over the last year, we have witnessed the convergence of content and search engine optimization (SEO).
Intelligent marketers are utilizing these trends and building integrated marketing frameworks to provide marketing benefits far beyond the organic channel. Early adopters of these smart SEO and content frameworks are successfully implementing optimized content in paid search, email and social media campaigns and utilizing SEO insights to drive cross-channel performance.
Many enterprise brands still struggle to make their regular content highly visible in organic listings on search engine results pages (SERPs). The core challenge of marketers today is something I like to call “content congestion” — the deluge of articles, blog posts, social posts, emails, videos, glossaries and other types of content vying for customers’ attention online.
Building intelligent and smart content frameworks provides something akin to a fast lane: It packs SEO and mobile-friendliness best practices into content from the moment it is published so that it gets to the top of the SERPs more quickly, offering strong organic search success.
Smart content is a combination of the best of two disciplines: SEO and content. It is content that is optimized for not just one channel, but for all channels.
Smart content is discoverable and easily found, optimized from point of creation and ready to activate across multiple channels.
As more brands adopt an augmented marketing stack with smart content, it becomes increasingly clear the framework also provides avenues to activate, infuse and integrate content across multiple digital channels.
This is why I often refer to organic, content and artificial intelligence (AI) first platforms as central stack technologies.
The key to content success in all of these marketing channels is, to a great extent, its ability to identify specific customer intent. The content pieces are developed less as a platform for top-down brand messages and more as a targeted and direct response to specific customer needs.
And that content tends to perform well in any direct response campaign. Let’s look at few “smart” examples.
Paid search and organic search work hand-in-hand, occupying the same touch point — the SERP. Historically, the overlap between paid and organic was not extensive: Often paid search managers developed their own campaigns and landing pages with little regard to organic objectives or performance.
Today, paid search managers are working more closely with their SEO counterparts, coordinating, for instance, paid investments for important organic topics that have no organic real estate above the fold of the SERP.
Many pay-per-click (PPC) managers go a step further: They examine the user questions that smart content pieces target and start bidding on them for paid search campaigns.
Since these pages are fully tuned for their respective queries, and since they perform very well given their integrated call to action (CTA) and content recommendations, they tend to outperform traditionally paid search campaigns.
For example, a company we work with saw its average quality scores nearly doubled for smart content PPC campaigns, which helped them lower cost per click, increase total clicks for its budget and boost website lead generation significantly.
Smart email marketing
Plugging in a smart content topic easily extend to email marketing. When the topic is developed using the voice of the customer, it lends itself well to email subject lines that quickly resonate with their target audience, boosting email open rates.
Some early adopters of the smart content frameworks leverage their new content by incorporating it into the email body. Tuned copy and imagery, built-in CTAs, and even suggestions for further reading work exceptionally well to drive email clicks and website visits.
Once they have landed on the site, visitors are introduced to other compelling content developed through a cohesive content strategy to solidify utility and thought leadership on emerging topics.
Lastly, smart content also works for social campaigns. We have seen brands extend their smart content from the website into LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter posts and articles.
Again, since the content leverages the voice of the customer faithfully, it resonates well with social media users who engage with and share smart content. Social amplification of content is a key tenet of the smart content framework, whereby writers promote their new content as soon as it gets published.
With its attention to the voice of the customer and performance-first approach, smart content fuels the heart of marketing.
Even though smart content was born out of the need to win in the SERPs, it’s becoming clear that forward-thinking brands are leveraging their initial content investment and reaping great benefits across channels and touch points to provide customers with consistent and engaging experiences that drive engagement, trust and loyalty.
Knowing customer intent and word choice better informs the language and logic of your website, blog, display ads, emails, social, ebooks, white papers, videos, frequently asked questions and support resources. Search captures two critical insights, intent and relevance. It knows what people are looking for, the words they use to describe it and whether your brand’s content matches that intent.
The reward? Better visibility, higher traffic, conversions and revenue.
Below is a handy checklist to use when looking at how best to add SEO insights into multiple channels to increase their ability to capture intent, relevance, effectiveness, conversion and contribution.
SEO and analytics
- Most organizations have upstream analytics connected to the SEO program to help them monitor and optimize. Now, brands must look downstream to improve the accuracy of their attribution and the return on investment (ROI) of the SEO program.
- We often ask business-to-business (B2B) customers in the community if they know the name of their sales operations manager and have had a meeting with them. Building these relationshipswill help marketers tag and preserve the SEO-generated traffic as the opportunities are pulled through the sales cycle to closed won.
- Another analytics point that needs to be connected is in finance with the Financial Planning and Accounting (FP&A) manager responsible for measuring marketing performance. In that case, basic education about the channels and tracking system is often necessary to help them make accurate calculations.
SEO public relations/investor relations/analyst relations
- Understanding consumer intent can help marketers see and leverage emerging trends that can help them build out a messaging plan with proven demand behind it. The key thing public relations, investor relations and analyst relations have in common is that they work to position the company, its product and its performance in a particular light with a framing story. Consumers and analysts alike will often begin diligence on a company by querying a search engine. If a brand and product do not appear at the top of the search results, it reflects poorly on the relative strength and weakens whatever story the marketer was pitching. Many trackable digital journeys begin the SERPs, so making sure the site content is developed and ranks in the SERPs is necessary for effective public, investor and analyst relations.
SEO and website
- A website is one of the most important marketing assets for most companies. The SEO manager is uniquely positioned to help organize and optimize the site and the user experience it provides. SEOs are sometimes the only people who think about the taxonomy, or organization and logic, of the site. If the logic of the site is bad, users may give up in just a few seconds.
- Menus are the most-engaged site element on most standard webpages. Understanding user intent enables marketers to get the menus right.
- After the menus, site search needs to be available and functioning well to help people explore the site and find what they are looking for instead of giving up and going elsewhere.
- Site speed is great for both user experience and SEO performance, and the SEO manager can advise on how to optimize images, caching, and the code for best performance.
- Lastly, SEO is more inclined than most other functions to run experiments, and it is a discipline that always needs more advocacy and support in a busy marketing organization.
The convergence of SEO and content is opening up new ways for marketers to integrate SEO into the heart of marketing technology stacks. Forward-thinking marketers who are adopting AI first technologies are able to cement this position.
SEO has wide-reaching benefits across whole marketing organizations, and it is vital that we, as a community, seize every opportunity.
Enterprise SEO and cross-channel performance: Activation and integration