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Search Engine Optimization Archives - Genuinely

Why Content Strategy Isn’t Enough

By | Building Community, Mack's Musings, Social Media, Web Marketing | One Comment

Mack recently had the honor of speaking at SearchLove Boston 2016 where she presented on Why Content Strategy Isn’t Enough. What follows is a recap of her talk about how companies need to evolve their approach to marketing in order to survive in our ever-changing world.

Technology has changed our world

There’s no doubt that technological advances have made our world faster, smarter, and more connected. Where it took the phone companies 89 years to connect 150 million people, it took Facebook only 8 years to connect 8 billion.

technology-advancing

The problem is, even with all of the remarkable technology that we have, companies are failing to make authentic connections with their customers. Although our world, business, and consumer behavior has evolved, there is an approach to marketing that’s fundamentally broken and it’s not helping companies earn the relationships they need with their customers.

 

marketing-wrong

Competing on content and experience alone won’t do it anymore. Great brands and companies already have these things baked into their DNA.

stand-out

Being stellar at every touchpoint is the new status quo. And yet this, alone, is not enough for companies to weather the relentless evolution of technology, earn customers, and experience growth.

Earning customers and experiencing growth has to come from something bigger and deeper than content marketing or content strategy; it comes from building a company from purpose and earning the trust of your customers through authenticity.

Building an authentic brand is not a social cause thing. It’s not a non-profit thing. It’s not a B2B or a B2C thing. It’s a people connecting with people thing. And it’s about building a company that people care about and want to do business with.

In order for your company to succeed, you have to continually strive to build a better one. And from that, comes your marketing.

Over the next 5 years, authenticity will win

Every day it seems that there’s some new marketing tactic to try: a new piece of technology that will magically help you earn customers faster. But technology will not earn customers. If your company wants to make it through the next 5 years of content saturation, noise, and technological advances, you must build an authentic, human brand.

cohn-wolfe-study

Here are the facts:

  • More than 63% of consumers would rather buy from a company they consider to be authentic over the competition.
  • That same Cohn & Wolfe study shows that the number one behavior that people expect of brands is open and honest communication about their products and services. The second behavior is that they don’t let their customers down, and the third behavior is that they act with integrity at all times.
  • A BBMG study shows that when people are trying to figure out who to buy from, 73% of people care about the company, not just the product, when they’re making purchasing decisions.
  • When people care about your company, they tell their friends. Word of mouth is responsible for more than 50% of all purchasing decisions.

In today’s face-paced, digital world, it’s not about how your company is packaged. It’s about who your company is.

not-about-packaging

about-who-you-are

How to evolve your marketing

How does your company evolve in this digital age so that you can experience sustainable growth?

Start from purpose

Building an authentic brand starts from purpose, and from purpose comes growth.

purpose-growth

Purpose is also what solves these common challenges in our world:

  • Businesses are challenged with unrelenting change. And because our world is changing so quickly, that has changed consumer behavior and how quickly businesses must react.
  • Consumers expect businesses to play a larger role in changing society. They know they have the upper hand. They know they have a choice. So the bar has been set a lot higher. Consumers want companies to do more than just make money.
  • Employees want more meaning in their work. And they want to work for better companies.

Purpose helps companies hurdle each of these problems and also helps them stay relevant in their customer’s lives. Even more, “purpose-driven companies make more money, have more engaged employees, and are better at innovation and transformational change.”

purpose-driven-company-benefits

Building an authentic brand comes from purpose and that purpose drives everything.

purpose-drives-everything

Purpose drives your products and services, the people you hire, your culture, your marketing. Most importantly, it gives focus that drives the whole business.

Once you have purpose and focus, you can develop a much more effective and powerful marketing strategy that will connect with the right customers. When you have a great product or offer great services, and you’ve done your diligence to learn about your customers and how they align with your purpose, those customers want to become part of your community and support your growth.

Positioning around your company’s purpose can be done through an exercise called the Big Ideal from Ogilvy & Mather.

the-big-ideal

Your Big Ideal is the soul of your company. It’s also your point of view on how the world should be. Identifying your company’s purpose comes from the combination of two things: your cultural tension—which is the problem in the world that you’re looking to address, and your brand’s best self—what your company actually does when you are at your best.

big-ideal

One of our clients, the Traveling Vineyard, addresses the cultural tension that people are looking for more meaning in their work and also in their lives.

cultural-tension

At their best self, Traveling Vineyard provides the resources and training necessary to build a successful career in direct sales.

best-self

Traveling Vineyard believes that the world would be a better place if people could change their lives with a fulfilling job. This is their Big Ideal.

world-is-better-place

Traveling Vineyard’s Big Ideal then drives their purpose. Traveling Vineyard exists as a company so that they can change lives by providing fulfilling work.

purpose

This purpose then powers Traveling Vineyard’s marketing strategy that is centered around the theme of living a richer, fuller life. Any content that is generated addresses the questions, concerns, thoughts, and feelings that their customers have at every stage in their journey with Traveling Vineyard.

content-strategy-theme

Build an ecosystem

Once your company has clearly identified its purpose, that will drive everything. Essentially, your marketing strategy will be born out of this ecosystem:

marketing-ecosystem

  • Identifying and understanding the people who align with your purpose so that you can talk to them
  • Developing the strategy that will help you use the right channels to reach that audience
  • Creating the right content that will connect with that audience, taking care to solve their problems
  • Getting that personal and customized content in front of the right people with customized outreach
  • Assessing data (and intuition) to determine whether what you’re doing throughout this cycle is bringing growth.
  • Finally, showing your purpose through action: having that stellar experience; having that stellar content; following through at every touchpoint and simply being human

Ultimately, your marketing strategy is only powerful when it’s connected to the purpose of your business as a whole. Your marketing efforts then become an iterative cycle of getting to know the right people, understanding them, figuring out what they need, and helping them solve their challenges. This is a slow build of trust. You must work to be authentic and personal in order to earn a community and grow your business.

personalization

Why isn’t content strategy enough?

There are two reasons that content strategy isn’t enough to build a sustainable company and brand:

durable-brands

 1) Content strategy alone won’t build a durable brand
If you want to earn the right customers who will support you, tell their friends about you, and stand by you in good and bad, you’ve got to do the work to connect with people. Yes, you need to create 10x content and provide a stellar experience across channels, but growth goes deeper than that. It’s not about how your company is packaged; it’s about who your company is.

brands-transcend-technology

2) We need to build brands that transcend technology
Remember that technology can’t build relationships with your customers. That’s what humans are for. Building an authentic brand will help you weather technology, the saturation of mediocre content, competition, and Google. So no matter what the trend is, or how the algorithm is changing, you will have built a brand so durable that people will talk about you, they will hear about you, and they will come looking for you.

time-to-evolve

It’s time to evolve our approach for durability and growth

Just like building a business, a purpose-driven and authentic approach to marketing is hard. It takes a lot of time and effort and care. Perhaps it’s time to assess whether what you’re doing now in your marketing is really working. Maybe you’re feeling stuck. Maybe you’re not getting results from what you’ve been doing for many years. Maybe your audience growth has plateaued. And maybe all the tactics you try don’t seem to get traction.

It’s time to do things a little differently. It’s time to build from purpose and build authentic, human relationships with customers.

Google Instant Preview: How does your website hold up?

By | Web Marketing | No Comments

In a continued effort to assist users in getting the search results they really want as quickly as possible, Google is now featuring Google Instant Preview (launched November, 2010). When searching in Google, you may have noticed a small magnifying glass icon at the right of each search result. If you mouse over this icon, you will receive a quick snapshot of the page where the link leads.

Google claims that Instant Preview will help searchers find results faster with a thumbnail peek at a site’s content (entire page shown at 300 pixels in width). If Google Instant Preview does prove to provide faster results, the feature will certainly be here to stay. That being said, the individual pages of your website may warrant a closer look.

How does the basic structure and layout of each page on your website hold up? Meaning, if searchers only saw a thumbnail preview of one of the pages on your website, would they be convinced to click through?

Optimize for Google Instant Preview

  • Utilize a clean, simple layout. Embrace white space (padding) throughout the page.
  • Simple navigation is key; you want the user to get the impression (quickly) that your site will make it easy to find what they need.
  • Although users are accustomed to scrolling, with Google Instant Preview the most significant branding elements definitely need to display above the fold.
  • Headings and other clarifying visuals like info graphics (that can be interpreted when compressed) can help to bring quick clarity and may help your result get selected.
  • The background color for Instant Preview is white, so try to use background colors that contrast well and help your result stand out.
  • The image of your website pages will be compressed, so be aware that colors like red, purple and orange will degrade in the compression.

Human vs. Google: User Experience and SEO

By | Web Marketing | No Comments

I talk a lot about the big picture of SEO and making sure that you put your users first and Google second. After all, if the web had no users, Google would be out of a job.

There is a way to provide a good user experience and help your rankings.

Here’s how:

  1. Create a clear path
    When a user comes to your website, they need to see a clear path to what they are looking for. Designate your audience’s top three tasks when visiting the home page of your website. Provide calls to action within the design and content that direct the user to the most significant places you’re expecting they will want to go.

    As you add new content to your site, the “calls to action” on the home page can change to reflect. This way, your users (and Google) have direct access to the new stuff (helping to boost your rankings).

  2. Respect the hierarchy
    Like your customers, the search engines see your main navigation as the most important pages in your website. Those pages hold the most value, the sub pages of those sections hold the second most value, and so on.

    Make sure that you place your most important information, resources and materials towards the top of the hierarchy. This will help your users to find anything quickly and easily, and it will also help the engines to understand what pages are most valuable. If you must bury anything deep within your site, make sure it is easily accessible through your predictable navigational structure. And, if it is really important, make sure that you provide a link to it from somewhere on your home page (or the engines may not ever find it).

  3. Learn to evolve
    As the web continues to evolve, the user will continue to take precedence. Your website’s job is to provide value through content, user interaction (blogs and forums), and media (images and video). Your job is also to participate in your online community (social media websites, blogs, forums) and help your potential customers (and other websites) to learn the value that your website provides.

Do your best to satisfy your users, the humans that are visiting your website. Naturally, over time, you will watch your rankings become stronger and more stable, and you will also have happier customers.