You’ve probably heard about “Sales Enablement” before, but get ready for the next trend in digital- “Content Enablement”. Learn why you’re going to be hearing a lot more about this in 2019, and why it’s vital you pay attention.
A Costly Lack of Insight
Before jumping into Content Enablement, let’s take a look at why it matters. A study by the Content Marketing Institute, found that B2B marketers allocate 28 percent of their total marketing budget on average to content marketing, and the most sophisticated allocate 46 percent!
These content owners are investing significant time and resources into producing multiple pieces of content on a daily basis, yet studies show that only 39% of these content marketers have a documented content marketing strategy. In fact, a study by Zazzle media found that 65% of content marketers find it challenging to produce engaging content.
The truth is, a lot of content marketers go through the effort of creating content, and then wait to see if it’s effective. That’s because while 75% of content marketers report using technology to gain insight into how their content is performing, only 56% use it to gain insight into audience preferences and behavior (Content Marketing Institute, 2017). That’s a highly inefficient way to approach an expensive and critical job function.
With the amount of time and resources being spent on content creation, it’s important that you take an efficient approach to doing what you know is going to work, as opposed to simply guessing at it.
Making Content Count
The key to producing great content, is to ensure there is a demand for it. That’s where Content Enablement comes in. The power of a Content Enablement approach is that it’s data driven and predictive. Even some of the better content marketing teams still tend to rely primarily on single sources of after-the-fact data. They’ll create content, distribute it, and then use a tool like Google Analytics to see how the content performed. Then they’ll base future content on the pieces that performed the best.
There’s value to that approach, but the main weakness is that you have to spend time creating content first, and then see if it works. It’s an inefficient method of creating a content roadmap, and when your audience’s needs and interests shift, you’ll be left scrambling to figure out how to shift directions as well.
Studies show that 90% of the most successful B2B content marketers prioritize their visitor’s informational needs over their own promotional messages. Yet very few actually have the tools in place to gauge what pieces of content should be prioritized (Hint: it’s usually not the ones you put on your quarterly marketing roadmap).
To prioritize visitor needs, you need a Content Enablement program in place that analyzes what your visitors are looking for, so you can streamline your content creation efforts to focus on what’s most important to them. This is made possible by using a combination of site search data and on-site analytics to create an end-to-end view of your customers’ content journey.
How Does Content Enablement Work?
The difference between website analytics and content enablement, is what data you’re looking at, and how you’re cross-referencing it to gain an understanding of what your visitors are looking for.
Let’s use the example of the admissions department at a university. The university’s digital team would likely be using basic content analytics to check how many students clicked on an admissions page, how much time they spent consuming the information on that page, and if they filled out a contact form.
A content enablement process takes this further. For example, it would involve looking at the basic analytics, but also how many visitors were searching for admissions information (or related topics), whether they executed those searches from the admissions page, and if those searches were effective. Then, by cross-referencing that data, the university’s web team would be able to understand not just WHAT visitors to the admissions page did, but WHY they did it. The additional data would indicate gaps in information, what information is trending, and where that information might reside (on other pages of the website) if it does at all.
For example, if they executed a search for “financial aid” from the search bar on the admissions page, it becomes clear that a vital piece of information was not easily accessible on the page. By cross-referencing that data with the website exit rate from that page, you can also start to draw conclusions about how much more sticky your site could be if you fixed that particular content gap.
This is all actionable data, and gives the university’s content team the specific information they need to create more relevant content and fix any gaps in the site. Aside from the obvious benefits of creating a more informative and sticky website, there are also resource savings- fewer students will call in with questions about admissions, and instead, will go the self-service route.
In effect, content enablement is the perfect complement to your CMS platform. While the CMS deals with the delivery of content via your website or intranet, your content enablement platform helps you to optimize that content, getting more out of your content and CMS investment.
Better SEO: Using Content Enablement To Improve Topic Clusters on Google
Beyond improving visitor engagement on the website, content enablement also has extremely valuable SEO implications. “Topic Clusters” are a great way to improve search engine optimization and start ranking and gaining more traffic on the keywords and phrases that matter.
If you’re not familiar with “Topic Clusters”, it’s a relatively new SEO tactic designed to prove to a search engine like Google, that the content on your site is relevant to users, and should be ranked higher.
For example, let’s say you want your site to rank high for people in the higher education market looking to replace their Google Search Appliance. In order to do this, you would first create a page with information related to “Google Search Appliance migration”- this single highly detailed ‘pillar’ page, will be the central hub for that topic on your website. But that page doesn’t work alone. You’ll then be creating multiple other pieces of content related to various aspects of replacing the Google Search Appliance for colleges and universities, that link back to your ‘pillar’ page and to each other, creating a highly useful ‘cluster’ of content.
This ‘cluster’, assuming it’s filled with various pieces of relevant information related to migrating from the Google Search Appliance, will signal to search engines that your site is an authority on the subject, and will therefore rank you higher for that specific topic.
Content Enablement can help with this SEO strategy in multiple ways:
- By identifying trending keywords and phrases, you can begin creating topic clusters that will address them, giving you extra lead time on upcoming topics of interest. This is critical to an SEO focused content roadmap. For instance, by using some of the techniques we mentioned in the previous section, you can identify what content is most relevant to your website visitors. Those are also the same topics you want to rank for in a search engine like Google, so by creating relevant content around those topics you’ll be able to boost your search engine ranking.
- By identifying content gaps, you can ensure that your topic clusters are solid. There are few things more damaging to your SEO efforts than visitors who bounce off your site because they aren’t finding relevant content. Remember- with standard analytics you can only see how people react to the content you already have- you’re blind to what they were looking for and didn’t find.
- Identifying which topic clusters matter. This one is a little more difficult and will likely require the use of an advanced platform employing machine learning to parse through the large data sets generated by larger websites. It’s also the most rewarding. You can utilize a content enablement platform to actually reduce data down to discrete sets of topics. A great example here is what Cludo did for Vodafone Australia. Visitors to the Vodafone website executed millions of searches over a 12 month period, submitting tens of thousands of unique search terms. This is a huge, and relatively indecipherable amount of data for a marketer to make sense of in its raw state. However, using a content enablement approach, Cludo condensed this data down to just 28 unique objectives (or topics) that the website and marketing team at Vodafone could use to strategically allocate content resources.
The thing is, keywords stuffing has been dead for a while, and Google’s algorithms have increasingly become smarter at detecting what content is actually being engaged with, vs. being created simply to pull in visitors. Since the key to engagement is relevance, SEO and content teams need to focus on creating content that actually meets the specific needs of visitors– content enablement is a much faster way to get there, compared to a trial and error process with generalized content creation.
The Ultimate Goal: Creating A Unified Content Strategy
One of the main reasons that content enablement is going to be big in 2019 is the increasing adoption of unified messaging strategies for organizations. Similar to how Sales Enablement Platforms made life easier for sales teams by optimizing their CRM processes, content enablement helps create a unified, data driven, message and content architecture to engage visitors. Just as a sales enablement platform creates greater value for your CRM system, a content enablement platform will derive greater value from your CMS system.
Given the increasing competition for both visitors’ attention, as well as search engine ranking, the cost of not optimizing your content is significant. It results in lost revenue, time wasted answering questions in person or on the phone, and at worst, an ineffective digital communications process that fails to answer your visitor’s most pressing needs. Instead of creating a streamlined content marketing plan based on your customer’s needs, you’ll be operating largely on guesswork based on incomplete data- think about how you’d manage your website if you didn’t have a tool like Google Analytics to rely on? The same goes for content creation- to be relevant, it needs to be data driven.