As the amount of digital content increases, so does the need to not only create relevant content in order to attract cusotmers and build relationships, but to optimize it in such a way that it stands out from the overall digital noise. Content is becoming the wild beast that is hard to tame and content optimization is more critical than ever.
While there are many industry voices that say SEO is dead, the notion of optimization to improve online marketing performance is alive and well. That's why Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media and Content Marketing by Lee Odden is literally a handbook for succeeding in today's content focused, search and social media web.
Solid, real-life digital marketing and PR examples are interwoven with theory, making Optimize particularly useful. Odden lays down a customer centric framework for more successful online marketing and PR by helping the reader understand how consumers discover, consume and act on digital information.
With a customer centric approach to optimizing the connection between brand information and consumer interests, the reader is provided with context for deciding the best ways in which to use the appropriate mix of online marketing channels. Optimize provides an Attract, Engage and Convert model for this that can be applied anywhere digital content is created and published online in an organization.
Optimize is divided into three sections: Planning, Implementation and Scale.
The Planning chapters cover everything from where an "optimized" approach can fit within marketing programs at companies big and small, B2B or B2C focused. It also suggests that optimized social content is relevant beyond marketing to include public relations, customer service and human resources.
Any business that publishes digital content online for a particular audience can benefit from making it easier for intended readers to discover, consume and act on that information. As Odden states, "If you're not optimizing brand content for easier discovery and better user experience, what are you hiding from?"
With a holistic perspective, Optimize offers insights and solutions to many common content marketing problems including answering the biggest question of all: Why?
Based on an understanding of target customers interests and goals, Odden provides a framework for creating an "optimized and socialized" content marketing plan that provides relevant information across the buying cycle:
- Awareness -- Customers don't know about your brand or solution. How to surface your solution when and where people are actually looking.
- Interest -- Help customers understand what your solution is and how it is relevant to their needs and goals.
- Consideration -- Distinguishing your product from others is essential for moving prospects to customers.
- Purchase -- A lot of transactional messaging is about being at the right place at the right time with the right message. And making it easy for customers to buy.
- Retention -- Provide value above and beyond the initial reasons for purchase.
- Advocacy -- Create an environment that empowers fans to evangelize your products to their networks.
Optimize provides advice on goal setting, strategy and tactics to help marketers plan content with both customer and business outcomes in mind. Content promotion and the achievement of business goals are baked into the content creation process itself, making measurement and attribution more practical and easier to implement.
The largest part of the book is the Implementation phase. Drawing from the strategy established in the Planning phase, Implementation covers:
- Customer Segmentation and Persona Development -- Identify who your best customers are, their common characteristics and goals.
- Keyword and Social Topic Research -- Synthesize what you know about customer needs into topics that inspire content planning.
- Content Planning: Attract, Engage and Inspire -- Architect a content plan that provides relevant, useful and timely information throughout the buying cycle.
- Creative and Curated Content Development -- From infographics to video to industry news, efficient and effective content production is essential for resource strapped organizations.
- Content Optimization for Search and the Social Web -- Best practices for optimizing content investments to improve search visibility and social sharing.
- Social Network Development -- Growing social networks in an efficient, yet meaningful way provides a greater audience for engagement and content promotion.
- Content Promotion, Online PR and Link Building -- Tactics for promoting content that encourages editorial visibility, social sharing and links.
- Monitoring Progress, Measuring Results and Optimizing Performance -- Goals married with measurement and a continuous effort to improve is the essence of how an optimized approach to content yields results.
To help marketers put search and social topics into action with an editorial plan, Odden offers a free, ungated download of two spreadsheet templates for managing topics and a blog editorial plan.
The third phase is about Scale and answers key questions about how to develop processes and identify training opportunities to encourage search and social media content optimization across the organization.
The message of integration and the flow of strategy to tactics to measurement and scale make Optimize a useful resource for marketers from any size company from any industry.
For beginners, it offers a "soup to nuts" framework with plenty of detailed how to's and examples. For experienced marketing and PR practitioners, the inclusion of practical, social media, SEO and content marketing best practices will provide insights not found in other books dedicated to those singular topics.
After reading Optimize you will come away with a deeper understanding of customers' needs throughout the buying cycle and, more importantly, how your company can be the one to address them with meaningful content.