What’s Trending: The Head and the Heart
August 24, 2021
Content marketing is a creative and analytical practice. We have to gather and analyze the data to guide content strategy, then create something compelling that will earn and reward people’s attention. We have to have a scientist’s mind for innovation and the capacity to feel true empathy for our audiences.
Successful content marketers seek to continually nourish both the head and the heart. It’s an ongoing learning process, one that includes hard skills and soft skills. And it must include the realization that the head and the heart are both part of the same body — that we can apply data to our creative content and creativity to telling data stories.
This roundup features articles across the whole spectrum of the marketing discipline, from the analytical to the emotional and back again.
What Marketers Are Reading and Sharing Most Right Now:
Marketing is a full-body workout for the brain, and burnout is always a real possibility. Content marketing teams need to develop resilience, to not only continue to do the work, but to also excel at it.
“To create truly resilient content marketing, content leaders must be able to reinvent and find inspiration despite the most arduous circumstances. Resilient content marketing is about reinvention, reimagination, and renewed insight despite the challenges,” Gina Balarin says.
Gina proposes a model for resilience in team structure, leadership, and beyond. Then she applies that model to real-world challenges, like facing pressure from the C-suite and dealing with infighting between team members.
Search algorithms are continually learning and becoming more sophisticated. At the same time, the sheer volume of content on the internet keeps expanding. The result: Content has to be exceptional to stand out: Substantial, useful and highly relevant to the target audience.
The “pillar page” structure is one way to serve up content that gets Google’s attention. A pillar page is a long-form piece of content that serves as an overview for an entire topic cluster, rather than just a keyword. The pillar page is supported by crosslinks to “cluster pages” that target individual keywords in depth.
Obility SEO Manager MacKenzie Hawe offers a step-by-step process for creating a pillar page, from research to drafting and beyond.
The right strategy and structure is the first part of modern SEO writing. The second component is readable, engaging copy to fill out the structure. “SEO copywriting … focuses on the content creation process, ensuring it offers maximum value and readability for both Google as well as regular users looking for information,” Julia McCoy says.
One key element that doesn’t get enough attention: The structure and layout of your content. Julia illustrates how headers, subheaders and lists can all affect your ranking, and even earn you a spot at the top of the SERP. “Make your article structure part of your outlining process so you’re ready to hit the ground running with the next step,” she says.
One way to cultivate resilience in content marketing is to experiment with new types of content. For instance, marketers usually use social media posts to drive traffic to their own sites. But social media algorithms tend to favor content that fosters engagement on the social media site. That puts marketers and social sites at cross purposes.
One solution, says Joshua Nite, is “social first” content, defined as “content that does what the algorithm wants it to do: Engage people on the platform, start a conversation, and rack up comments, likes and shares.”
Successful social first content, says Joshua, brings together your thought leaders, influencers, and audience on a platform designed for interaction and discussion. The best part? “It’s still content that can be repurposed in blog posts and other assets,” Joshua says.
According to a recent survey, only half of marketing and sales decisions are based on data. Marketers are collecting more data than ever before — now it’s time to put it to work to guide content creation, audience segmentation, and more.
“To remain competitive, [businesses] must take iterative, effective steps to implement the technology, processes, and best practices for taking customer-facing actions from sales and marketing data,” Mike Goldberg says.
Businesses should strive to break down silos and share data throughout the organization, says Mike. In addition, sales and marketing leaders need to get comfortable with advanced analytics to guide decision-making.
Part of breaking down data silos is getting sales and marketing on the same page. Too frequently, they’re not even reading the same book - a recent survey found that nearly half of respondents weren’t aligned on goals for sales and marketing.
This lack of agreement leads to tension, Carrie Shaw says. “It’s hard to imagine being a marketer who constantly experiences tension with those for whom he or she is delivering leads. And it’s hard to imagine being a sales professional who is dependent on leads and doesn’t believe in their quality,” she says.
Carrie outlines five key areas in which sales and marketing should align. For Carrie, it’s about more than just the quantifiable areas of MQLs and deals closed; it starts with empathy. “Understand that each of us is trying to succeed in our own ways,” she says. “That’s a good place to start.”
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