Paid, Owned, and Earned Content…Ineffective Without Optimization

If content is the crux of all our marketing efforts, we should be learning, adjusting, and optimizing. If not, it will lead to a negative consumer experience.

One of my first columns for ClickZ was the importance of content and its role as a tangible media format. In the last few months, content continues to be a hot topic. The volume of content being distributed is increasing and the way an advertiser collects and uses data is changing. In our everyday professional lives, it’s easy to “set it and forget it,” but this can counter all the hard work put into content development and distribution.

So where to begin? The most common way a user will reach your content is through a basic search, meaning that search engine optimization is vital to your content planning approach. The optimization plan will need to take into account how all the content is distributed, be it via web, video, mobile, tablet, and social posts.

With media planning in its traditional sense merging with these specialized fields (search, social, mobile, experiential, and video), it’s important to make cross-channel content optimization central to any strategy. To do so (and remain sane), here are a few guidelines:

  1. What are consumers already telling me? Social behavior, social trends, and search queries represent some of the best data for determining content needs and optimizations across all channels. It’s easily accessible to advertisers and beneficial when tied to syndicated and longer term research.

    Example: Use data from Twitter, Facebook, or Google. The consumer is already being vocal, and as an advertiser you have access, so mine this data to improve content development and inform optimizations for existing content.

  2. Is my content relevant to the experience? What is your consumer seeking? Take the research from step one and apply it to their experience, get a basic understanding of the consumer’s needs in a specific environment, and make sure your content answers their question.

    Example: Mobile is very different than a desktop experience; the user is looking for different things tied often to their location. Luckily, because you have access to this data, you can customize content while bringing value and improving consumer experience.

  3. Will the content be readable? This is harder than it seems because there are many formats, devices, and experiences where content lives – disaggregation of delivery systems is rampant across web browsers, mobile browsers, video formats, and social sharing – so ensure everything renders appropriately.

    Example: Mobile again, in small screens. Content needs to be simple and easily maneuvered; patience runs thin with consumers when they are looking for specific content and it’s hard to navigate, so make sure the experience is optimized for mobile search.

  4. Is the content being distributed searchable? The consumer has to be able to find relevant content; they don’t care how a search algorithm works. Advertisers should know the technical requirements for all major platforms and make sure your content includes plain text so that it can be scanned and, in turn, ranked in all search environments.

    Example: Streaming video is increasingly more accessible in consumer search, whether on your website or across social environments. A brand’s video must have text and relevant titles assigned to make sure it populates in queries.

  5. Can I use what consumers are already giving me? Consumers are developing their own content daily. For most brands there will be instances where a consumer is doing the work for you. User-generated content can be positive if you find ways to highlight it within your marketing materials.

    Example: It’s likely content about your brand already exists, but a brand can also solicit or utilize blogger outreach to acquire videos or content. This can be a low-cost opportunity to do consumer research and fill a gap in content needs.

To wrap it up, all I will say is learn, apply, and repeat.

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