content strategy

Interview: Content Strategy Words of Wisdom from Kristina Halvorson #CMWorld

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When it comes to content strategy for the web, Kristina Halvorson wrote the book. Literally. Now in its second edition, Content Strategy for the Web is widely recognized as the go-to resource for content strategists all over the world. Kristina is also the CEO and Founder of Brain Traffic, and the founder of the Confab conference series.

We sat down with Kristina in advance of her upcoming keynote presentation at Content Marketing World (September 8-11) for her no-nonsense, no-holds-barred-or-prisoners-taken opinion on the current state of content marketing. Read on for her thoughts on challenges content marketers face, how to really listen to customers, and why a sensible marketing approach is better than a sexy one.

When you first founded Brain Traffic, were you planning on becoming a content strategist?

How Content Marketers Can Tell Better, More Strategic Stories

Storytelling around a campfire

As a marketer, are you a good storyteller? Do you have a content marketing strategy that guides your storytelling?

Maybe you already know how to build a content marketing strategy, but you’re curious to know how to improve it.

Jason Miller, senior manager of content marketing for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, is a natural storyteller – and he has awesome storytelling tips for marketers. (Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client)

In his session at Social Media Marketing World 2015 in San Diego, Jason kept the audience captive, sharing what seemed like a million excellent insights on storytelling to inspire and motivate marketers.

In addition, he gave key insights on how to better use LinkedIn (his area of expertise) for more effective content publishing and promotion.

Tell stories in your voice.

How Optum Transformed Their B2B Marketing to a Content-Led Strategy – #C2C15

Karen-Thomas-Smith-Optum

It’s a big task to move an 80,000 employee organization on to a completely different mode of marketing thought. But that’s what Karen Thomas-Smith and her team at Optum has done, and they did it in the sometimes slow-to-adapt industry of healthcare.

Karen moved Optum — a B2B healthcare software and services organization — from traditional marketing to content-led marketing and thought leadership. Though she was met with resistance at first, she has since transformed Optum’s marketing for the better, as she presented at the B2B C2C conference this week.

Optum’s Journey To Content Marketing Success

Optum’s marketing efforts were once what Karen called “one and done” marketing, meaning trade shows, brochures and other traditional efforts. The focus was on the big sale. If a brochure were a first date, it closed with a call to action that asked for marriage.

Content Strategy Interview with Jonathon Colman of Facebook

Jonathon Colman1.3 Billion.

As of February 2014, that’s about how many active monthly users there are of Facebook. Imagine the content that gets created amongst all those connections – updates, photos, videos, blogging and plenty of cats.

But Facebook isn’t what this post is about. Not exactly.

The subject of today’s post is Jonathon Colman, a Content Strategist at Facebook. Jonathon and I first met when I was programming a Search Marketing track for ad:tech. I had known of him through his participation in the search marketing industry and really appreciated his results focused approach to optimizing online marketing performance.

As a SEO at REI, Jonathon could not only show much revenue per keyword the company was making but also how much revenue was being lost because of slow loading web pages.  I noticed he was also very attune to customer experience and content – something many SEOs are just catching on to now.

No April Fool’s – Raising the Bar on Content Marketing Should Be Your Imperative in 2013

content marketingApril 1st is prime time for jokes from brands seeking to capitalize on the holiday. One trend that is no joke involves the importance of content in the digital marketing mix.

According to a study from Econsultancy and Adobe, content ties as the number one digital marketing priority along with conversion rate optimization for 2013.  That confidence and focus on content has companies responding with investments. A study from MarketingProfs and Content Marketing Institute reports that 86% of BtoC companies will keep or increase their investments in content marketing spending in 2013. Additionally, 54% of BtoB companies will increase content marketing spending.

Along with an increased digital marketing focus on content are the major changes with search engines and the practice of SEO. Now more than ever, the importance of on and off domain content is as important or more than the technical aspects of optimization.

How SEO Can Work With Content Strategy

Content Marketing OptimizationRecently I spoke with Content Strategist, Margot Bloomstein, who was conducting research for an upcoming publication about Content Strategy intended for a variety of audiences. In particular, we discussed productive interactions and exchanges between Search Engine Optimization professionals and Content Strategists.

Organizations advance their reach and engagement goals through content and Strategists work to audit, develop strategy, plan, create and maintain that content. Ahava Leibtag provides an excellent and practical approach at CMI in her post, “Creating Valuable Content” which outlines how content should be: Findable, Readable, Understandable, Actionable and Shareable.

SEO and content strategy intersect in more ways than optimizing web pages with keywords. My take on Margot’s question, “How does SEO and content strategy interact?” starts with understanding customer segments, behaviors and preferences for information discovery, consumption and sharing. Knowing what customers care about and how those concerns and interests manifest as search keywords and social topics folds very well into the keyword research practiced by professional SEOs.

Content Strategy and the Dirty Lie about SEO

SEO Content StrategyA recent comment on Online Marketing Blog in response to advice on Content Marketing Optimization states: “Why not write less and give more to gain credibility …  reach the audience and the rest will follow?”    It makes sense to create great content that people will interact with and share, growing visibility over time naturally. But that’s a superficial and often naive approach to content marketing.

Here’s the full comment from Kal:

“I find a lot of content is wasted! You see the site ranking and click! All you see is garbage and you know it is written for the search engines and not for the reader, researcher, consumer or the surfer.”

Marketing Content During the Customer Lifecycle

Lifecycle MarketingWe’ve established the value of content marketing here through many different posts. Most of the focus has been on creating value from content at the top of the funnel in a buying cycle. That’s where a lot of marketing dollars are focused and it’s an area of focus for the consulting offered by many online marketing agencies.

Content is the source of why search engines exist and therefore, essential for any discussion of SEO. Content is also the means through which brands engage customers on the social web through helpful information, resources, advertorial and even entertainment.

Another perspective to consider is that when brands and individuals share information on social networks and media sharing sites the outcome is content. There are many ways to be more effective with social content creation, sharing and engagement that marketers are not taking advantage of.

10 Steps to Optimize Your Content Marketing Strategy

SES New York kicked off with an excellent keynote presentation by David Meerman Scott (interview) followed by a panel on Digital Asset Optimization including Mark Knowles, Chris Boggs and myself. Richard Zwicky moderated.

The rising importance of optimizing one’s digital assets came out of Google and other search engines’ decision to start including information and file types from other sources than their main search index. Some queries trigger search results that go beyond web pages, MS Office docs and PDF files to include sources such as images, blog posts, news, video thumbnails, books and shopping.

While many SEOs were responding to the changed landscape of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) and optimizing for other file types, many others were already optimizing holistically under the premise of, “What can be searched on can be optimized“.

Content Marketing Strategy with a Side of Social

content marketing strategyDevelopment of a content marketing strategy that speaks to the target audience plays a key role in successful execution of an overall online marketing program. Companies that embrace the social web as part of their marketing mix need to consider the content created within social media channels just as much as corporate web site content.

Whether you communicate to your audience via a blog, Twitter or social networking sites like Facebook, the only true way to build relationships with a growing network is to listen, engage and provide content they find valuable.

When developing a social media content strategy, start by asking questions like: “What does my network find valuable?”.