Paul Kenjora is founder and CTO of Arkayne Inc. (www.arkayne.com), whose technology automates link-building to related websites. BtoB recently asked Kenjora about how strong and appropriate online content can inspire conversations, nurture leads and boost conversions.
BtoB: What factors influence the success of content marketing?
Kenjora: Information gathering is a key step to content marketing. To get results, first identify your audience. Second, you need to assess your existing material as a fit for that audience. Marketers that tailor content for a specific customer segment will become more effective at engaging customers in both search and social media.
Content that is targeted at specific customer segments has the added benefit of improving search engine optimization campaigns. As the number of search keywords increases, more specific content can improve your likelihood of being found.
BtoB: What about the tone or level of that marketing content?
Kenjora: The conversational nature of social media has impacted consumer behavior in the traditional online space, especially with regards to tone and directness. Presenting people with information they want, even when the material is only mildly associated with your product or service, has a much greater effect than pushing blatant sales material and lead-capture forms. However, remember that when prospects do locate you, you'll have a few precious seconds to convince them to stay.
BtoB: Should content marketing get into product features or competitor comparisons?
Kenjora: This is a tricky question. The short answer is to do both but with a catch. Businesses want their websites to focus on value propositions for the specific audience segments they are trying to engage. SEO campaigns in traditional search should then be focused on competitive terms for that segment. Common to both search and social media is the need to understand your customer segment, as well as how your competitors play there. Here, your content assessment will reveal gaps to address, such as countering your competitors' strengths and highlighting your own unique attributes that differentiate your offerings. Evaluate specific themes, engaging topics, types of content and the keywords attached to each, and gauge what performs well via search queries.
Additionally, and important to note, the social media space is still young and has fewer manners. It's OK to directly engage with consumers who are specifically complaining about competitors. If done in a friendly, helpful manner, others will start differentiating you from the competition as a better alternative. The social media content is just as important here for competitive benchmarking as any other content searched for on the Web.
BtoB: What about purposing content for specific marketing needs?
Kenjora: Content marketing requires volume, so reflect again on whom you want to reach. Zero in on the best performing types of content for your audience, and develop a budget and production calendar that guides the distribution frequency your resources can support. If your frequency expectations fall short, consider agencies that specialize in content development. Also, think about utility as your team or agency builds content. For example, a company that markets conference planning and support services can appeal to event planners with videos about meeting destinations, custom calculators that estimate hotel service costs and articles about managing travel logistics. These materials shouldn't hawk your services, but rather should share advice. Your prospects will come to trust you as their go-to source for such knowledge and will want to do business with you.
BtoB: Content can be tailored for specific customers as well, right?
Kenjora: Absolutely. Putting relevant content in front of Web visitors immediately, based on their interests and behaviors, diminishes their need to spend time searching, or getting frustrated and leaving altogether. Techniques beyond basic SEO can help you fine-tune content and capture maximum visibility for each piece of content. Context-aware tools, for example, profile Web visitors and predict what kinds of information will be most useful for them while they are browsing. In addition, cross-linking content within your network of sites and with other sites for sharing across social communities also can expand the reach of your material. Tap social media to seek out ideal customers who in tandem can aid your rise to first-page search status as they pass your content through their networks.
BtoB: How about measuring success?
Kenjora: Routine checkups are required to achieve and maintain success, and often uncover ideas for improvement. You should track social media mentions, links to your site and inquiries or sales by content and referral source.
Google Analytics and similar free tools exist to get you started, and more advanced features and alternative systems are reasonably priced. Use these measurement tools throughout the course of your programs rather than just at the end. And don't rely on keyword analysis too much; customers read content, not keywords. A focus entirely on keywords generates content that only machines and algorithms care about. M