Direct sales materials are pretty easy to optimize: change the font, reposition the image or bolden a word. But… does this impact the conversion rate? If yes, good on us. If not, we have to rinse and repeat. But what about the not-so-obvious (or let’s say, direct) content assets? How would we quantify and optimize those?
We’re not talking about optimizing content in terms of SEO and relevant keywords. There are other factors that go into content optimization. It is less a matter of keyword presence and metadata, and more so
• The sentiment of trust (building trust through content)
• Intent (setting phrases that connect with how the user searches)
• Quality (presenting content through language) and
• Authority (the use of thought leadership through industry expertise).
Here’s an outline of what the optimization process looks like:
1. Intelligence gathering
Optimization of indirect digital assets starts with questions: ask the right questions and you will find the right answers. It can’t get truer than that in marketing, and, inadvertently in sales. Every question should revolve around covering the various bases of content marketing. It can be through anything from understanding your prospect’s average age and location, to figuring out their needs and problem. It can be about studying your competition’s unique selling points, or deciding your own product’s best targetable audience.
2. Content development
Once you have the intel in place, it’s time to develop high quality content. Employ subject matter experts (SMEs) – every piece of content needs to be epic. Once you have a full content inventory, it’s time to assign them to a specific purpose at a specific stage of the buyer’s journey. Maintaining a content calendar helps. If there is a lack of good content, re-package or re-purpose your content.
3. Content distribution
If you have an epic piece of content, but no one is reading it – does it really exist? It is common marketing wisdom that even before ideation, the very medium of distribution needs to be resolved. Is it via social media, email or search results? Your answer molds the content for optimum results. The best strategy is to create content ‘islands’ where one BIG piece of “money” content is being bridged with several secondary content pieces—get them to a page from anywhere you can. However, the distribution should always make sure to continuously and consistently lead the prospect forward in her buying journey.
4. Content scalability
Once there is one campaign in place, it’s time to focus on automation and scalability. The best way to achieve this is to create templates for your campaigns. Starting from planning to executing such campaigns, from creating readily usable set of content inventory (emails, landing pages, social media posts, microsites, etc.), from a set distribution plan to assigning functions to each stakeholder, the whole process must be templatized at best. When there is need or scope of yet another campaign to run side-by-side, just replicate what you have in place already.
5. Sales and marketing alignment
The final step yet the most important one. Seventy seven percent of top-performing companies reported that their sales and marketing teams have a healthy (“good or strong”) relationship. However, it can still be a challenge for the rest. Good and healthy relationships result from respect first – and understanding second. Since both departments emerge from different origins and have different goals, friction is bound to develop. With constant collaboration, smooth communication and enhanced ownership, both teams can learn to become more aligned with each other. Marketing inherently supports sales, and sales keep the marketing ball rolling on. Dispense with one, and both collapse. With adequate corporate training, team participation, and open-ended feedbacks, both marketing and sales teams can learn to cooperate with one another and create a holistic synergy to the business.
Content marketing is not putting up a post that gets created in an hour in a hurry.
In fact, optimization of content marketing can be harder than optimizing direct response marketing. While the results are rather indirect and not palpable to the naked eye, inbound marketing efforts, if done right, can provide excellent returns on investment for your company, and to the overall success of your sales team.