Optimizing content means designing content so it’s ideally positioned for discovery. Optimization occurs in the creation phase. To get results, you have to work optimization strategies into your writing process. It requires focus and flexibility and a certain amount of humility to alter your voice in an effort to attract more attention. But whether you’re optimizing for computers or consumers, the payoff for your brand promises to be worth it. Or so these experts say. Meet the optimization gurus featured at the 2016 Content Marketing Conference in Las Vegas, NV.
7 Steps to Developing a Resonating Brand Voice
Erica McGillivray, Moz
If you could tell the world one thing about yourself, what would it be? As businesses we face this question not just when we’re setting up shop but every single day after. What do we want people to know about us? What do we want them to think about how we do business, treat our customers, take care of employees, fix problems, give back to our community? All those things get rolled up into the idea of a “brand voice,” and that’s what Erica McGillivray was at the 2016 Content Marketing Conference to talk about. She’s broken it all down into seven steps that range from identifying what’s different about your brand to humanizing the way in which you reach out to consumers, but the overarching theme was a combination of authenticity and creativity. How can we be both true to ourselves and push the boundaries? How can we write status updates that make people giggle and also not accidentally insult people with our emails? Lots of questions with complicated answers, but McGillivray was remarkably adept at pushing the audience’s brains in the right direction. The rest… well, that’s up to us.
Arnie Kuenn, Vertical Measures
First, content was king. Then keywords were given full rights to the royal jewels and everything – content flow, grammar, quality, even message – was often sacrificed on the altar of the almighty keyword. There were a lot of problems with that approach, though (see the list of issues above), and we as content marketers have had to shift our mindset away from keyword-centric strategies towards a world where things like “Madonna impersonator Peoria IL cheap” don’t actually help us as much as we think they do. Arnie Kuenn agrees, and he envisions a world in which we learn to optimize content from the customer’s point of view instead of a computer’s. Are we using keywords customers would actually type into a search box? Will the content we’re creating help consumers make a decision or solve problems? Are we using the people in our own organization (the sales team, product delivery specialists, customer service reps, and so on, that most frequently interact with customers) as the resources they truly are? The answers to these questions form the foundation of Kuenn-inspired practical content optimization, and if that sounds enticing, you should’ve heard the details.
Mike Roberts, Spyfu
<Insert tell-tale Bond theme here.> If we could hum something spectacular while Sean Connery catapulted across the Content Marketing Conference dais we would, if only because SpyFu’s Mike Robert’s had us feeling pretty cunning indeed. The word “hack” is overused in content marketing, but the six tips and tricks Roberts offered up were worthy of the description. He didn’t tell his audience why he told them how. From identifying content goals to exploring the metrics of PPC campaigns to learning from your competitors’ mistakes, Roberts detailed concrete ways to go above and beyond the information in typical content optimization primers to identify next-level solutions to widespread problems. Oh, and there was math, the kind of math that makes you rub your hands together and cackle. Imagine a hack that can boost your SERP position a single spot and result in 50 percent more clicks? That’s the kind of content marketing math you want to master, and at the Content Marketing Conference, that’s the kind of calculations you’ll learn how to make.
Unifying Branding and Conversion – Why Can’t We All Get Along
Tim Ash, SiteTuners
There’s a common misconception about branding. People believe it’s something we release into the world like doves on someone’s wedding day, but that’s a great way to lose control over how your company is perceived. No, branding is a toddler that never grows up, a thing to be constantly attended to and nurtured lest it get itself into trouble. On the other hand, you have a company’s desire to convert. We can love our “real selves” all we want, but if consumers aren’t buying it – literally – what good does it do us? On the face of things, branding and conversion are at odds, but Tim Ash doesn’t believe they have to be. His insights into audience perception, context, even things like color and font psychology were fascinating, but nothing reverberated more than his statement that not having a brand wasn’t the end, it was freedom – freedom to see what works. You’re not locked into anything – you can explore and find out what will make people convert before you finish designing your brand. It was a top-down look at how branding and conversion can truly coexist, and it was compelling.
Mathew Sweezey, Salesforce.com
Mathew Sweezey is kind of magician, but instead of standing in front of CMC16 audiences and pulling a rabbit out of a hat, he was outlining important marketing research data and turning it into stuff you and I can actually use. We’ve gone from just five marketing channels in 1960 to more than 200 today, and every time we post on social media, we’re competing with thousands of other simultaneously posted bits of content in an effort to grab the attention of the general public. Instead of mounting a content offensive, Sweezey suggests taking a step back and understanding who we’re reaching. Capitalizing on our audience’s heuristic leanings – our desire to learn for ourselves instead of being forced to absorb information – is the strategy behind successful moves made by companies like Amazon (they see great sales from their “people who looked at this item also looked at” campaign). By laying out the information we want to share in a place where our target audience can’t help but stumble over it, we’re increasing the likelihood that our message will actually get where we want it to go. There was a lot more to Sweezey’s presentation – it was one of the most value-packed sessions of the entire conference – we’ve got time for one more takeaway: when you have questions about content, get your answers from the people who matter. Remember your audience, Sweezey says, and they’ll remember you.
5-Star writer Alana M has spent her adult life discovering the world as an award-winning professional musician, sommelier, trained chef, and social media guru.
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