What’s Trending: Make “Practice” Your Best Practice
October 12, 2020
When you take up running, your best might be running a single mile without stopping. But the more you practice, the better you get — until you’re running marathons and steadily improving your finish time.
It turns out, the key word in “best practice” isn’t “best.” It’s the practice that matters. Think of best practices as an invitation or a challenge, not a destination. Follow them if they work, but keep looking for ways to make that best even better.
This week’s roundup features five articles that can help you re-evaluate your best practices. Read on for deep thoughts on SEO, gated content, problem-solving and more.
What Marketers Were Reading and Sharing Most This Week:
Best practices for SEO change faster than for any other marketing tactic. As Michael Brenner observes in this piece, search engines are actively seeking out and thwarting our best efforts. “Google hates SEO because it conflicts with the search engine’s purpose: to answer queries and questions,” he says.
The way to resolve the conflict is to make your content genuinely useful for customer queries. Modern keyword research is less about discovering the one magic phrase that will trick the search engine into ranking your content, and more about developing a topic cluster that will lead to valuable content for your reader.
Ultimately, Michael says, while keywords do help guide a reader or a robot to your content, “True thought leadership is how you develop content that ranks for substance without relying on keywords.”
To gate or not to gate? For marketers, it’s an existential question on par with Hamlet’s classic “To be or not to be.” The old-school consensus was that virtually any substantial piece of content should be gated. After all, you’re offering the reader something of value; why would you give it away?
In a content-glutted world, however, gates can be less effective for some types of content. If your target audience can get similar content elsewhere without a gate, there’s little incentive to pony up their contact information for your eBook.
Gated content can, and should, still be a part of your content strategy, provided it’s used for the right content at the right stage of the buyer’s journey. According to digital agency WebEnertia: “As an audience advances down the marketing funnel, gated content that solves a specific need or challenge can help turn that interested viewer into a lead.”
The three key components of quality gated content are relevance, value and practicality. Not only should the content be meaningful and useful, it should be actionable. “If you can improve a customer’s business before your first conversation, they’ll be more confident and interested in you,” says WebEnertia.
Webinars are enjoying a resurgence right now, and for good reason: people are stuck at home, starved for entertainment, relying on video calls for human interaction. But this newfound popularity cuts both ways. There is more live-streaming content out there than ever before, far more than anyone has time to consume.
What can make your webinar stand out? Pamela Bump surveyed 400 customers to find out what they want out of a webinar, how they prefer information be delivered, and more. Two big takeaways: People prefer “A presentation that teaches you how to do something specific,” and rated interactivity as an essential component.
In practical terms, that means your Q&A with an industry leader would be better as, “Industry leader shows you how to do this thing,” with a poll at the beginning to help guide the lesson and an audience Q&A at the end.
As B2B marketers continue to evolve best practices, we become more sophisticated in our approach and more mature in our ability to design and execute campaigns. The smart folks at B2B Marketing have developed a framework for marketers to measure their progress, from operations and processes to execution and campaigns.
This article can serve as a template to guide your B2B marketing team’s growth — it’s less a set of instructions and more of a platonic ideal to work towards.
The will to continue making best practices better comes down to a shift in mindset. Rather than a linear process of perspective to action to outcome, it’s a circular one:
The outcomes from your previous action give you new perspective on how to refine your assumptions and take a different action. This works whether or not you’re satisfied with the outcome; outcomes are simply one part of the ongoing journey of improvement.
“Think back to any negative outcome from your marketing team this year,” says Dennis Shiao. “Can you apply lessons learned from the outcome to update your perspective and assumptions? Define the new action, implement it, and see what happens. Don’t like the result? Repeat the process.”
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