content management

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I was on a website today (I won’t say which)…. but I left the website probably before I wanted or needed to.  Why? I just plain got lostAnd the problem was linking… way too much of it!  I know, I know… it helps your SEO, but there’s a point at which you’re degrading user experience by leading them on a wild goose chase for what they want.

I’d get to one page, wanting to read about products, and I’d follow one of the page links, which had more links and soon I couldn’t remember what the heck I was looking for to start out with.  I got tired of this quickly, so I just left.

So, I thought it’d be a good opportunity to offer a few ways to think about your website when you’re putting it together or planning the content.

  1. Think linearly. When gathering information, people usually want to follow a linear and logical path to get that info.  Sometimes it’s from big-picture to details.  Sometimes it’s being led through the process your company takes with its customers.  Sometimes it’s a look at groups of offerings.  Whatever it is, think about how to lay your site out in terms of information-gathering.
  2. Make sure the internal link makes sense.  Don’t add a link for the sake of adding a link.  It doesn’t do any good to be having your readers move between disjointed pieces of information, as it makes it more difficult for them to put the whole picture together.  From a technical standpoint, having your readers feel disjointed will also likely increase your exit rate (in other words, the leave your site!).
  3. Make it very easy for your readers to get back to the original page they were viewing.  Much in line with #2, your readers came to a particular page to read about that facet of your company.  If they came to your services page, they want to know what you have to offer.  They probably want to know about everything you’ve got before moving on, and of course you want them to know that too.  Make sure they can get back there to get that info.
  4. Don’t forget your blog and/or your social media assets. Directing someone towards a blog post or two can be a great idea.  Ideally (if you’re blogging right) they hang out there for a little while, engage in your contact, and get to know your company more.  Without overdoing it, this can be a great way to add an internal link that follows the above guidelines, but also has the possibility to really hook your viewers and supplement your content.
  5. Think about lead conversion while you’re at it.  When you’re putting together a logical path for your readers to follow through your website, think also about how that goes into converting them to customers.  Would adding a particular internal to your services page add the “right” type of info for them to get out their chequebook?

Any other tips for people to think about?

Session: Content Marketing - Delivering Value and Impacting Sales

Panelists: William Cava, CTO of Ektron; Darren Guarnaccia, VP of Product Marketing of Sitecore; John Munsell, CEO of Bizzuka; Peter Nieforth, CEO of docmetrics.

Paul: What is Content Marketing?

Darren: About using content to drive behavior on your site.  Whatever you do in your business, using content to drive action and behavior on your site

Bill: From a marketing perspective, the ease of management and optimization of your website.  It’s impossible to manage information on the web using old school methods, content management is critical.

Peter: If you can measure it, you can manage it.

John: The creation of content that people want to consume and engage them in conversation at the point of consumption.

Paul: What is content?

Peter: Anything that your audience is looking to consume.  Look at what your audience is, and how they’re going to consume.

Paul: Is it something your audience is looking to consume, do they have a choice?

Peter: I think times are changing, people are consuming info in a whole new way, you have serve content to the audience in a way they’re looking to consume.

Paul: Is content management online only?

Darren: You have an experience, you get engaged, and you can do this anywhere, in-store or on the web.

Bill: The online presence is just a reflection of what the company is projecting offline.

Paul: What’s different between traditional marketing and content marketing?

John:  Traditional marketing is about blasting and pushing content.  Content marketing is more about content that people WANT to consume. Your job is to engage people that come to your site and want your information.

Darren: If you think about it as engagement, your website is a way to engage them online. Content gives you a view into who those people are, let’s you segment and let’s you speak to them.  You can’t do that with traditional marketing.  It’s a different way to interact with consumers.

Bill: Online marketing has the ability to hook into someone’s flow: you can tie into the tools they use on a day-to-day processes and connect to them there.

Paul: Who’s in charge of this?

Darren: Marketing team understands the customer the most.  You’re recruiting customers based on what they want to buy.

John: In today’s environment, everybody’s a marketer.  It could be the CEO, someone in customer service, or programmers.  It’s a representation of your company and core values.

Paul:  How do you bring inside people out in front of the customer without losing control?

Bill: Flock started publishing early content mockups on Flikr, and getting feedback from the community during their business processes.  Sometimes you do need to let go of control when you’re dealing with communities outside your website.

Paul: What sort of mindset has to happen to make that shift happen?  Posting content on the web before it’s “finished”?

Bill: If you’re looking to have a conversation with more control, do it on the company website.  You can do it in a way that has the level of control you’re comfortable with.

Darren: One client wanted to build a community to build trust with pet owners.  They let everyone upload videos and blog about their pets.  The goal was to drive the feelings of comfort and security about their pet, but they wanted to make sure there wasn’t inappropriate content, so they enabled tagging etc.  There were human controls in place that made the process feel comfortable for them, but still fostered customer emotion.

John: The media now helps company address controversial issues.  Engage in the conversation without being defensive or controversial.  It’s a different way of viewing content.

Paul: How do you know what will engage customers?

Peter: Measurement is key.  There are several ways you can measure what’s going on with your content.  If you’re not measuring it, how do you know how to respond to it?

Bill: Make sure you have an overall strategy.  Too many companies focus on the tactics instead of overall goals.

Darren: Engage your customers about their opinions.  What do they care about?  You can use all the analytics in the world, but sometimes just asking the question is the best way.  They may tell you which way to go.

Paul: How adept are marketers at thinking like publishers?

John: They’re not.  If Content is King, then Conversion is Queen.  Content may be important, but conversion is crucial.  Understand what publishing means now.  Many marketers just hear content, content, content.

Peter: I agree.

Paul: Is that a new skill set?

Darren: Part of this is mindset.  Think about the destinations (RSS feeds, outposts, etc), and packaging your content into a format that can be used on these outposts.

Audience Question: Why don’t we see more of this?  Why aren’t we seeing better content management?

Bill: People and organizations jumped in building a website in a way that wasn’t scalable.  People are moving over to this, but slowly.

Darren: It’s hard to use or over controlled sometimes, and it turns people off.  People haven’t caught on to being “open.”

John: There’s a misunderstanding of what the web can do for people.  It takes resources, but people don’t grip what it can do for them when managed properly.

Paul: What is a common mistake you see businesses making in the way they manage content or in content marketing?

Peter: They have a lot of content and they have no idea what getting up on there.  Give the value and then give them the option to give you information in return.

Bill: Marketers focusing so much on the analytics in spite of an overall strategy.  The second mistake is people underestimating the power of fresh content.  Updating content on a website frequently.

Darren: People don’t look at their website as a holistic experience channel.  They look at it as a hunk of brochure material.  Treat it as an experience.

John: Traditional Marketing says to test, but for some reason people aren’t doing that online.

Audience Question: Can you touch on the creation of good content?  Incorporating it into a workflow?

Darren: There’s understanding what’s great content in the workflow, and there are internal metrics about what is good content for the customer.  The way one client incentivizes internal content production is by rewarding them with positive customer feedback through a customer “rate this” option on each piece of content.

Peter: Marketing can do guerilla tactics.

Audience Question: Are there some examples on powerful content marketing?

John: While we don’t have a specific workflow, we hired a Marketing Genius, whose whole job is to review the whole organization and identify opportunities for content production. You have to staff it.

Peter: We hired a journalist who covers the .pdf world.  We’ve built relationships with this world to connect us with them.

Bill: Hiring someone is easy to do, because it’s hard to really estimate how

Paul: One idea or tool that people can take away to get more mileage out of their content please?

John: Video on YouTube and Vimeo.

Darren: Taking your assets as a hook into a show (like this) and bridge the information gap by informing people.  Use it as an “intimacy bridge.”

Bill: Event syndication, talk about events that your company is doing, and hook them into a feed.

Peter: We’ve had success, believe it or not, with press releases.

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