Photo credit : Evablue
We had some really great speakers come share some of their tricks of the digital marketing trade at SEO Camp Montreal, last Friday (May 31). We covered a wide range of topics, from some in-depth Analytics optimizations for improving conversions and customer retention presented by our very own Gauthier Lemesle, to the “feminizing of SEO”, presented by Lydie Padilla, Head of Digital Content at TC Media. (Girl Power!)
Here’s my take on the content marketing tips and insights discussed at the event, that I think all digital marketing brands should start applying now.
Quick stats (not from the conference) about online content
- 87% of b2b buyers say online content has either a major or moderate impact on vendor preference and selection
Most valued/influential type of content:
- Professional association research reports and white papers (67%)
- Industry group research reports and white papers (50%)
- Customer case studies (48%)
- Analyst reports and white papers (44%)
- Product reviews (40%).
- Too many requirements for downloading (50%)
- Blatantly promotional and self-serving (43%)
- Nonsubstantive and uninformed content (34%).
Most disliked content practices:
Read the study
Let’s dive in to the most useful content tactics we discussed at SEOCamp Montreal!
1. Implement Rich Snippets: A Powerful Way to Maximize Real Estate + CTR on SERPs
I was so excited when Benoit Piette, the former president of W3Quebec and co-founder of MHTML5tl showed us easy markup tactics using schema.org, microdata, microformats or RFDa to add hyper-relevant, proactive information to display to users on the SERP. Piette talked about the rise in searchers obtaining all or most of the answers to their queries directly from the SERP (think online calculators, converters, flight information, Googleistakingovertheworld…) and while this trend will cause site click throughs to decrease in general, the brands that harness the power of rich snippets (vs. those that don’t) will be able generate more clicks without having to be in the top 3 results on SERPs (IMO).
I think the simplest way to envision the opportunity with rich snippets is to imagine the SERP as a store window and rich snippets as the products on display. Retailers dress up and accessorize their mannequins to drive attention and “package a look” that will make passersby want to enter the store and buy. Rich snippets are essentially your content packaging. You can do author markups (to humanize your content and add social validation) and you can also markup tons of other types of content: recipes, videos, companies, events, music, software applications, products and reviews.
Check out this example of a markedup recipe for the keyword “banana bread”:
To drive my point about markup even further, when I did a signed-in search and started typing “mar…” they’ve worked profile suggestions into the autosuggestion list! I smell Authoriship results in the search bar in the very near future…
Our package is now on display, so how do we make customers happy with what they find inside?
2. Use Content at all Stages of the Customer Journey
Justin Briggs, founder of Briggsby (ex-Big Fish, Moz and Distilled) gave a riveting presentation (read it here) that put actionable perspective on why we should be using content to drive brand objectives at every stage of the customer sales cycle. His approach is ”full funnel content marketing” and it’s really about looking at SEO as part of a larger marketing mechanism that supports all your other online and offline initiatives. The oil helping your marketing engine to run is content: articles, videos, images, infographics, blog posts, guest posts, whitepapers, forum boards, newsletters, community interactions… you get the idea. And the fuel nozzle pumping the oil is METRICS.
Links, traffic, comments, shares, these metrics paint a partial picture of the effectiveness of our content marketing efforts. But if we want to measure the true impact of our content marketing, as Briggs highlights, we have to drill down much deeper using a systematic approach to measure how every content initiative is helping to drive desired actions: cost per acquisition, ratio of customer lifetime value to customer acquisition cost, marketing originated customer %… (You can read a good primer on these marketing metrics by Mike Volpe.)
Two easy tools you can use now to measure how people are engaging with your content:
Once you have a working system for tracking and analyzing your most important KPIs, you have some brand soul searching to do…
3. “Stand for Something or Brand for Nothing”
“Stand for Something or Brand for Nothing” – this is a great tagline I stumbled upon from a web design site and it’s really what is going to attract and retain the customers most valuable to your business.
Briggs also put up a great slide that said “People don’t buy brands, they buy the way brands make them feel”. Stick this Simon Sinek quote on your bulletin board, set it as your desktop background. It should be the raison d’être behind every content marketing endeavor you take on. SEO is evolving; it’s more than making your site indexable or ranking for keywords–it’s about creating experiences, delivering on your brand promise and creating meaningful interactions that put the customer at the center of your decision making.
As put by Matt Cutts, SEO is becoming less about Search Engine Optimization and more about Search Experience Optimization. Find your own way of permeating who you are as a brand, what you stand for and give people a reason to want to belong to your vision.
4. Take Cues from Women
My former colleague and good friend, Lydie Padilla, made a solid case for getting more women onboard in your digital marketing initiatives. She was able to calculate an average +60% ROI for companies led by women. Why?
- Women-led technology start-ups generate higher revenues per dollar of invested capital with lower failure rates than industry averages
- Organizations that are the most inclusive of women in top management achieve 35% higher ROE and 34% better total return to shareholders versus their peers
- Women control more than 80% of U.S. spending (and I’m sure the stats are not too far off in Canada). Considering they are your main customer-base, women marketing to women know how to design experiences past the product or service to create loyalty.
- Online, women are 30% more active on social networks and rule the blogosphere. A ComScore report on women and the web found that ”Once women connect, they engage; once they engage, they embrace; once they embrace, they drive.” Now that’s something powerful to tap in to!
Two easy ways you can start tapping into your feminine side:
- Focus on cooperation-based strategies rather than competitive ones
- Inject more empathy in how you write and how you share
5. “Keep Marketing Fun”
This remarkably simple to say but often hard to do tagline shared with us during Brendan Sera-Shriar’s (TheBrendans) audacious presentation SEO is Dead: Long Live SEO reminds us that while SEO components are necessary for online visibility, Google is really the one optimizing the search engine, not us. To me, this reinforces one of the points Agustin Vasquez-Levi made in his presentation How to Evolve When the Future of SEO is Not Provided. We have to go back to “Marketing Basics”. We have to understand our audience and personalize the customer journey to online purchase. “Good marketing makes it easy for the audience to join the ride” and it’s true. The benchmark for successful customer experience lies in how easy you make it for people to embark on your journey.
Where is SEO Heading?
This year’s edition of SEOCamp Montreal marked a significant turning point for the industry. Just last week, “Moz” dropped the SEO from its name. SEOCamp too is planning a name change for next year. Over here at nvi, we’ve done some changing of our own, joining forces with Aegis Media’s iProspect network to expand our role in search and digital performance marketing across the globe.
So it is hard to argue that SEO – in the traditional sense – has reached a plateau. There’s a huge spectrum of opportunities in digital that go far beyond search, and thanks to everything we’ve been able to accomplish with SEO up to now, we have a plethora of means for reaching out to people with messages that matter to them, through channels they want to communicate through. Rather than seeing it as a signal of impending doom for search, I see it as a new era of marketing opportunities to explore. And you?