For marketing, content trumps SEO and links back to your site.
That’s not to say there is no value in SEO or links, just that if you
have to choose or prioritize, content is at the top of the heap. If
you’re a big company, you can probably choose to invest in all with far
more resources than perhaps are even needed. But the smaller your
budget, the more likely you had better choose and make the right
choice. Pssst: the right choice is Content!
But to do content right? You need two things (1) an honest-to-goodness content strategy and (2) the right technology infrastructure to deploy on… you just can’t throw content out there and expect it to work for you.
You have strategies for everything else in your business, why not for your hard working content? A content strategy must be in lockstep with the progression of your business as it moves through its cycles. You need to sit down and map out those cycles and how your content will interlink to easily demonstrate how your products and services make your client’s lives easier. You need to decide what value for value exchanges you will make with your visitors – for instance, is there any content that is behind a registration wall? Where should you use video, product demos, graphics vs. the written word? The end goal is to create a superior customer experience that will drive demand. Without the smooth ability to move a prospect down the demand funnel then your efforts are for naught. Your content strategy, which includes, nurturing and the specific touches that you give a prospect are all meant to move your visitor down the demand funnel by giving them the answers to their questions.
The technology you select to create, serve and manage your content is critically important, especially if you want to exploit your tight marketing budget and ensure you have an effective content reuse strategy in place. The tools of the trade that you need at a minimum include:
- Component Content Management Systems – enables you to manage core content at a particularly granular level. We’re not talking about a document such as a white paper but down to the paragraph, sentence or even the word if your business calls for it. Think of the CCMS as the central repository of all core content that an organization uses no matter which channel its to be sent thru. The CCMS make content reuse a reality. Without it there is no content reuse or at least very limited. Utilizing a CCMS enables you to store your content once in a single trusted environment. Doing this also drives consistency of voice. Many clients I have spoken to complain about how disparate their “corporate voice” is. How each division seems to speak differently to the market. A CCMS and the appropriate rules and processes for content use dramatically reduce this issue as it enforces content standards.
- Digital/Media Asset Management Systems enable organizations to store and manage content at the asset level – a document, a video, an audio file, photographs etc. Asset types are keyed off of metadata descriptions of the asset in question. Some Enterprise Content Management systems (we’ll get to those in a moment) subsume DAM functionality within them obviating the need for a DAM implementation.
- Web Content Management – is a system for authoring and managing web site content. Many of these systems not only allow one to easily edit content and manage it but allow you to output executable HTML, JSP, ASP, PHP, Coldfusion or PERL pages as well. Smart systems store their content in XML thereby ensuring content reuse along multiple fronts by separating content from its presentation. WCM functionality can be subsumed into a an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system as well.
- Enterprise Content Integration can be found as part of a middleware integration stack that’s used to integrate all your content-related systems together. You’d want this primarily for managing content in multiple databases or repositories as well synchronizing and searching across such databases. Content Integration middleware also enables your organization to publish content out of your content management system thru multiple channels.
- Web Analytics – are measurement packages which collect and analyze user behavior on a site so that the site can be optimized to make it easier for visitors to find the information they are seeking. Such a tool is also used to understand movement through a site to see if it can be made more user-friendly thus improving navigation and pathing thru the site. These tools can also help you understand the how your marketing campaigns are working by analyzing the number of visitors to unique landing pages and how those pages are performing in terms of funneling prospects toward conversion.
- Search – what good is content if you can’t find it? Powerful and effective Search must be in place so that those absorbing your content can actually find what they are looking for.
- Enterprise Content Management – is a set of related systems and processes which are used to create, manage, archive and deliver content and documents to the appropriate internal or external channel. But its not always a clean and simple set of technologies. ECM sometimes represents the above set of best of breed solutions cobbled together to form a complete ECM solution or it can refer to a pre-integrated suite of solutions. Suite-based ECM providers typically cover functionality such as:
- Document Management
- Web CM
- Content authoring
- Content versioning
- Digital/Media Asset Management
- Forms generation
- Script generation
This is the Minimum Equipment List to manage your content effectively but yes, there’s much more and as your strategies evolve, say to include personalization – the identification of a unique visitor and the serving of dynamic content personalized to their preferences, then you’ll need additional technical solutions to meet those needs as well.