Content Marketing, is it a ‘hot term’ which will go away again or is it something which will last? What we do know is that there is no one approach anymore to this topic. There are many ideas around it. A newly published e-book called ‘Rethink your content marketing’ tries to capture the concepts and ideas of thirty-one of the most prominent individuals, the thought leaders, working within the digital marketing domain. From Lee Odden, Avinash Kaushik and from Gerry McGovern to Joe Pulizzi, many big names talk about Content Marketing. The book is an initiative by Matt Roberts (Linkdex) who himself also wrote a chapter. That chapter we are more than delighted to publish here below. The link to the entire (free!) e-book is below the article.
Use Content To Supercharge Your Organic Marketing
For a while now we’ve been looking for a way to describe the type of marketing Linkdex creates data and software for? Enterprise SEO Software. Sort of but no. Content Marketing Software. Again, sort of, but no. PR / Influencer Marketing Software. Same issue. Then what about being more generic and just calling it Digital Marketing. We could but what we do is more specific. At the same time I have observed an industry struggling with similar issues. SEO was being dropped from job titles on LinkedIn even faster than people were self-proclaiming themselves SEO Experts in the early days of the profession. Earned Media and Inbound Marketing got some traction but they’re not loved and struggled to get traction. At the same time it was increasingly evident that the channels delivering the high ROI’s were SEO, Content Marketing and Social Media and each needed the other to succeed. In fact, each of the channels need skills from other parts of an organization as well like PR. This means that the brands that were going to win the share of natural search battle were the ones that were able to find the optimal blend SEO, Content Marketing, PR & Social Media. Breaking down internal silos and working towards common goals. After debating whether a new more appropriate label was helpful or required, I took counsel from the wise people I knew were closest to the debate. Philip Sheldrake, Author of The Business of Influence and chairs the CIPR group on measurement and evaluation. Lee Odden, Author of Optimize and someone who bridges the professions brilliantly. Anne Kennedy, Co-Author of Global Search Engine Marketing and thirty-five years experience in marketing and public relations and her Co-Author, Kristján Már Hauksson, not only one of the nicest people I’ve met, a very smart digital marketing thinker. The label that got debated was Organic marketing. Here’s what ended up being debated and captured. It’s early days and still very much work in progress. In fact it’s for you, the readers of this to decide whether this adds anything to how you go about marketing the businesses you’re part of.
The DNA Of Organic Marketing
There are two key strands to understanding Organic Marketing: Firstly, stakeholders need to define the success of a project as traffic naturally referred from search engines, social media and highly /relevant publication. Without a common goal the multi-disciplinary skill-sets required won’t unite and work effectively as a team. Secondly, success in maximizing the ROI of search, social, PR and content depends on teamwork. SEO’s can’t exist in a silo. Neither can Content Marketers, PR’s and the other channels. Businesses that don’t get departments / disciplines to work in teams will struggle to compete. Both of these highlight the strength of Organic Marketing that is centred on its focus on measurement, ROI and teamwork. With this in mind, a candidate definition is: Organic Marketing is a multi-disciplinary marketing activity with the specific goal of publishing and promoting online content that people like, search for, and want to share. People find what Organic Marketers have published on search engines like Google, social networks like Twitter and Facebook, without ongoing paid media transactions taking place.
Organic Content – It’s A Natural Ecosystem
The primary focus of Organic Marketing effort is the ‘Marketing of Content’, where content should be considered the product being marketed. Seeing content as a product to be created and marketed helps hugely when it comes to creating optimal strategies. Organic content is part of a natural ecosystem where without the need for continued monetary intervention, a domain and its web pages are found, engaged and socialised with, and a business’s marketing objectives met. Like natural ecosystems that are exploited by people and companies for gain, they need to be maintained, tended to and nurtured as their environment changes and evolves, but for the most part, their life and success is relatively long-term and self-sustaining. The Organic Media Channels that provide organic visitors are:
- Search engines like Google. This is referred to as Organic Search.
- Social networks / publishers like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, WordPress, Reddit.
- Referred traffic from websites like digital new media and blogs.
Being Part Of A Collective
Objectives like growing your share of search require a collective response. It’s my opinion that no individual can successfully tackle the task of outperforming a competitive market single-handedly. The overlapping marketing disciplines / skills / data required to create the optimal conditions for organic marketing include but are not limited to:
- Content Strategy & Marketing
- Design & Copywriting
- Conversion Rate Optimization
- Social Media Marketing
- Influencer Marketing
These marketing disciplines / skills are Organic Marketing Stakeholders. This means that a business’s ability to collaborate and function in teams directly impacts their relative Organic Marketing Performance. This then begs the question, “What makes one team outperform another?”. This question was a source of great intrigue to me. The answers I found were inspired by authors like Patrick Lencioni, who across a number of related books managed to sum up most of what all of the other texts were pointing at. If you manage or are part of team I’d strongly recommend you open up this Pandora’s box.
The 4 pillars Organic Marketing Performance
Content For Organic Visibility
Content design for Organic Visibility is about providing searchers with the best answer possible to a query. Not what old school SEO’s would do which is get a worse than average page to rank and disappoint the searcher. Keyword queries broadly into 3 categories of keyword query:
- Owned keywords like brand / products / and trademarks
- Transactional keywords that make a business money
- Informational keywords that build awareness of a brand
Having a strategy for all of these is essential. And when creating your plan, don’t think it’s only about your websites rankings. It’s not. For example, owned keywords and ZMOT are so intertwined in how you approach online content that to separate them or not attempt to manage them is a mistake. If you’re new to the concept of ZMOT – download the book.
Content For Socialization
Content for socialisation comes in a variety of forms that include news, opinions, interviews, eBooks, white papers and more. The media is also diverse and includes text based publishing, photography, illustrations, video, and info graphics. The socialisation signals this content is looking to achieve are:
- Organic Links from websites like digital new media and blogs
- Organic Shares from social networks like Twitter, Facebook, G+, Pinterest, Instagram
To maximize the links and shares (as well as mentions), from influential publications and authors you need to get the PR and Social Media team engaged in the project. Their ability to find and refine content angles, messages that resonate and influence are a critical component of Organic Marketing. In fact you’re reading an example of Content For Socialization. Linkdex have created this eBook in the hope that we might inspire you to write about it and share it socially.
Here’s an obvious statement. Web pages are a collection words, phrases and media that are coded in a structured way to enable the page to render in browsers and be read by applications like search engines. A website is a collection of web pages organised and labelled using Information Architecture (IA) skills. What’s often missed by teams that don’t have representation from the search team is that a business’s ability to optimize pages and websites for users and search engines is a critical component of maximizing a businesses content visibility. Content needs to be designed and written to influence the maximum number of visitor to complete your desired goals. A secondary, but equally critical stage of the Content Optimisation process is the creative and Conversion Rate Optimisation process. Having CRO skills in your team can boost your bottom line in a significant way.
The Organic Marketing Key Performance Indicators (OMKPI’s) of Organic Marketing are defined by a business’s marketing objectives and must be agreed upon by the Organic Marketing Stakeholders. These are the specific and measurable things that leave no team member in any doubt as to whether they had achieved their goals or not. They are objectives each team member can articulate along with the path to achieving them. They should include metrics like:
- Contents search engine visibility against a defined keyword universe
- Organic traffic (brand vs. non-brand)
- Keyword reach (Number of keywords)
- Content performance ratio (Pages / Visibility)
- Social / Referred / Direct traffic / Revenue / Goals e.g. subscribers
- Quality and number of unique referrers
- Quality and number of new links and mentions (But links are better)
- Brand / key product ZMOT profile
- Website technical optimization
- Content creation and socialization metrics
- Publisher and Authorship engagement
- Key influencer relationship stages / life cycle
- Key influencer outcomes / results
- Following (Social / Subscriber)
Paid Media Is Complementary To Organic Marketing
It would be wrong to say that paid media does not affect Organic Media. If visitors shown paid media and are sent to great content and they socialise it, the signal created from that socialisation can and does impact Organic Marketing Performance. However, paid media can only act as a catalyst / kick-starter to content that is capable of having a life of its own without ongoing paid media life support. If the content has no visibility without having paid media send visitors it should be thought of as a paid media asset. This article was written as part of the e-book “‘Rethink your content marketing” by Matt Roberts.