Crystal Carter 00:00
Understanding the value of the content creation in your business funnel is really important because it helps you to prioritize. You can't make everything all at once; you can't do everything straight away. I think you have to have a look at what you've got and see where there's – I’m gonna say it – low-hanging fruit.
You need to have a look at what you've got and see if there are any gaps in your funnel. Think about the customer journey all the way through, from all of those stages, and see where the gaps are – and see what you can do to close those gaps.
David Bain 00:41
The Strategic Marketing Show is brought to you by Insights For Professionals: providing access to the latest industry insights from trusted brands, all on a customized, tailored experience. Find out more over at InsightsForProfessionals.com.
Hey, it’s David. How do you know if your content is likely to resonate with your users? And how do you decide on what content you should be publishing? That's what we're discussing today with a lady who believes that demonstrating experience, expertise, authority, and trust should be at the core of everything we do online. She's a former Senior Digital Strategist at Optix Solutions and current Head of SEO communications at Wix. A warm welcome to the Strategic Marketing Show, Crystal Carter.
Crystal Carter 01:27
Hello, David. I'm very pleased to be here. It's always a pleasure to speak with you.
David Bain 01:31
Always a pleasure to speak to you as well, Crystal. You can find Crystal over at Wix.com/SEO/Learn. So Crystal, what do you mean by user-centric content?
Crystal Carter 01:41
When we talk about user-centric content, another way that people refer to it sometimes is ‘user-first’ content. I think we are essentially living in an age where users expect to be able to have a conversation with a brand. They expect to be able to speak to them directly, they expect to be able to ask questions and to get replies and to get answers. One of the ways that we're able to deliver that, particularly with good value, is with our content – the content we create both on blogs, but also in videos, and in webinars, etc.
When we make it user-first, we're essentially sourcing the ideas for the content, not necessarily from a keyword planner, not necessarily from a keyword tool, but directly from the users. This can take a number of different forms. For instance, it might come from your customer service team. We have this a lot where, at Wix, we’ve got 200 million very engaged users who work on our platform every day. And if they've got a question, they'll ask customer services, and if customer services wants to know, “How do they do this SEO thing?” they'll jump in a little bit of Slack channel, and we'll have a conversation to try to help them with that.
Sometimes we'll get a few questions that come up regularly, and that means that we need to address that with content. So sometimes it's a question where somebody maybe didn't understand something, but then also, sometimes it's a question where maybe we have a content gap. Maybe we have something that isn't very easy to understand from the current content that we have, and we can either adapt the current content that we have to make it more clear for users, or we can create something new that is more valuable for them.
David Bain 03:15
When you were initially talking about how users expect to be able to speak with a brand, I was thinking that you were talking about things like, when they land on a blog post, the ability to open some kind of chat applet straightaway and actually have a conversation with someone – but you're not necessarily talking about that.
Crystal Carter 03:31
I'm talking about, particularly, content that would live somewhere, so not necessarily instant content like a chat. However, if you do have live chat (which I've seen work really, really well) it's useful, sometimes, to have something to refer to. If you know that people are regularly coming to your About Page or something and asking whether or not you're open on a Tuesday night – and let's say you changed your hours, and you used to be open on a Tuesday night and now you're not open on a Tuesday night. It might be that you have a blog that explains why you're not open on a Tuesday night anymore, and how you used to be open on a Tuesday night, but actually, “We've changed our services and we're doing this now. And you can use call us on this number”, etc, etc, etc.
If you know that that's happening regularly then, if you have a live chat, when users ask for that information, you can refer them to the posts that you've created before. It makes you look more prepared as a brand, it makes you look more together as a brand, and it helps you to serve more users more consistently.
This is another thing. For instance, if you're thinking about some of the forums like Quora, Reddit, or other Q&A forums – if you're seeing people regularly asking a question, you can reply with a sort of summary and then you can say, “And I've gone into this in much more detail in this piece of content, in this video, in this blog, in this in this worksheet, in this template, or whatever it may be.” What I recommend, what I’ve done, and what I've seen (it’s certainly a tactic that we've taken) is to have a look at user consensus. If you're getting a lot of people asking for a similar thing – and it does come up; your sales team will say, “Hey, we need something about this product. We don't have anything about this product, and people keep asking me ‘what's so great about this product?’, and I have nothing to show them.” And then the next salesperson goes, “Hey, have you got something about that product?” If you're having that question regularly, you will save yourself time and you will help your sales team if you're able to create something based on that need.
If there are internal customers as well, your sales team will be very active. In my experience, sales teams will be very active in telling you where they need more content, where they need to have a case study – where they need to have something that will help them close the deal when people ask them questions. Your customer service team, again, will also be a team that will be actively and regularly speaking to people. Also, if you have somebody who's running communities – for instance, if you're running a user community, or an industry community, or even people who are managing your social media communities – they will regularly be engaging with users, and the same questions will come up about your brand very, very often.
One question that comes up for Wix is that – it’s old-school. It's an old-school question – they’ll say, “Oh, but can you rank a Wix website?” We get this loads of times. And Mordy Oberstein, my partner in crime and our Head of SEO Branding can say, “Yes. Yes, you can. Here's an article that I wrote all about it, and that explains some of the top-ranking websites, etc, etc.” Similarly, I have a tweet that I have. When people say it on Twitter, I'm like, “Here's my tweet with my favorites” and you just link back to the tweet. It also tells people, “I'm ready for you. I’ve already answered this question. So there you go.” That's something that can be really useful.
David Bain 06:56
So you mentioned Reddit and Quora, and obviously Twitter as well there. One thing that scares me about recommending what I've done in the past, or a resource that perhaps is a little bit commercial and drives people towards maybe doing business with me, is the perception that people might think I'm overtly selling my services – and you hear stories of people firing down people on Reddit or Quora for doing that.
Do you have any advice on the best way to go about doing that without being perceived as someone that's overtly selling what you do?
Crystal Carter 07:25
One thing that's interesting is that, within any industry, there are going to be general questions about the thing that you do, right? We were talking about music a little bit earlier, so let’s say you’re a guitar maker. There are going to be people who are generally asking about how guitars are made, or how to choose a good guitar or those sorts of things. Those are general questions. There are also going to be people who are asking specifically about your guitar, right? If you're a brand, then there are gonna be people who are asking specifically about your product.
If people are asking specifically about your product then, in my opinion, it's fair play to give them specific information about your product, if you specifically have it – because that is adding value for them. That's saving them time. That's giving them valid information. If they are speaking generally about a general topic – like say somebody’s saying, “How do I choose a good guitar?” – if you have content that is satisfying that need or that question, and that is something that you're finding that your customers are asking, and you're finding that people are asking generally online, then that's something that you can share, if it adds value. I think it needs to have genuine value and, if you're adding genuine value, then that's great.
I've certainly come across articles that were on commercial websites. For instance, okay, here's a classic example. This is old-school, I’m going to date myself but, back in the day when I was a kid, I used to make cookies for my aunts and uncles every Christmas and I had a Betty Crocker cookbook. That was my cookbook that I used because the recipes were good. I wasn't an exclusive Betty Crocker evangelist, but I use the Betty Crocker cookbook because it was a good cookbook. And here I am, 20-something years later, talking about that cookbook. I think that if you're able to provide genuine value – and they were good recipes. There were snickerdoodles in there, there were chocolate chip cookies.
David Bain 09:24
Snickerdoodles? I don’t know what a snickerdoodle is.
Crystal Carter 09:25
Snickerdoodles are good. They're good cookies, I'm telling you. If you want to increase your cookie repertoire, get snickerdoodles on there.
They were good recipes; It was good content. Don't sell your audience short. If you're able to provide good value, and if you've done some robust research on a particular topic, then absolutely share it with people. Also, it's worth declaring who you are. I've seen people who said, “Hi, I am from this company. Full disclosure, I am from this company so I have some bias but, in my experience, this, this, this, this, and this.” I think that’s fair play. Because also, if you're from that company, you do have experience in that industry – whether it's in your commercial interest or not. So yeah, that's what I'd say. I'd say, “Have a go.”
David Bain 10:18
You've talked a lot about how to establish what user-centric content to write, based on the conversations that you're having with users. But what about the content you've got on your website already?
How do you determine how successful it is and how valuable it is for users? What kind of metrics do you look at to establish that?
Crystal Carter 10:37
I think you can have a look at some of your traditional SEO metrics to see if you're getting value. For instance, if you have low traffic, then it might be that you need to update your positioning of a particular article. It might be that it's a great article but, actually, if you just fine-tuned the wording, for instance, then it would help with keyword discoverability. It might be that you look at the SERP, for instance: the Search Engine Result Pages.
Let's stick with guitars and let's say the search is: “How to tune a guitar”, right for our guitar company. If you search for that yourself and you find that, actually, the top-ranking things are tools or YouTube videos, and they're not instructions for how to tune a guitar – written instructions for how to tune a guitar – but are multimedia things, then that is also something to think about. The format matters.
Also, if you're finding that your users are predominantly mobile and you have a desktop-first website, then that's also something that you can think about as well. You can look into your user metrics to see how people are engaging with your content, and to see where you have gaps in your content. For instance, if you're seeing that this group works really well for desktop but it's not working so well for mobile, then there's something that you can update there. If you're seeing that, in the competitive landscape, most people are accessing content like this – via a video or via a long-form blog, or even via an eBook or whatever it may be – that is also an indicator that maybe you should adjust the formatting. I think that there are a few different ways that you can do that.
David Bain 12:20
What's your favorite way of establishing the questions that you should be answering that you don't know You don't know? For example, you may talk to your customer service teams, your sales teams, and your customers and get lots of great questions that you should be answering – but there may be some questions that they haven't suggested, they haven't thought of, that actually can generate quite a bit of volume as well.
For instance, sticking on guitars, the question that might be suggested is “how to tune a guitar”, however, maybe what resonates with a large group of people is “how to stop a guitar from losing tune”.
How do you actually find and uncover those kinds of questions that you should be answering, but haven't actually found yet?
Crystal Carter 12:59
For questions like that, that can sometimes require a little bit of qualitative research and a little bit of qualitative engagement with your audience. I remember doing some research for some network engineers, people who do like WAN/LAN, work with servers, and all of that sort of stuff. This was something that was a little bit beyond my scope of expertise at the time. And I found, in my keyword research, that basically there were loads of numbers. Everyone spoke in numbers; they just spoke in server numbers and things like that. “Oh, this Server 395 is really great.” and “Server 720 is really awesome.” and that sort of stuff. I found it really tricky trying to find topics for that.
In the end, I spoke to our network engineer. I was like, “What things do you read? Where are you engaging? How do you find information? How do you understand?” and he pointed me to a few very niche blogs that were talking about some topics. I also started looking at another really good source, which is conferences. Particularly for something that's in the tech space and that's constantly evolving, if you look at conferences and conference topics, you can get an idea of the kinds of things that people are thinking about, and the direction that an industry might be going in.
So particularly for this client, I started looking at the conferences in that space (because there were a lot) and I started seeing that there were lots of people talking about this particular edge network sort of thing, for instance, and there were lots of people talking about those sorts of things. People who are making conference decks are going to be trying to differentiate, they're going to be trying to push the envelope, and they're going to be talking about new ideas. So, if you're looking for new ideas, that's a really great way to find things.
It's also worth speaking to your customers directly. I know this is something that Google does. They'll say, “What do you want to know about this?” And I know that one of my favorite YouTube channels, Screen Junkies, they'll also say, “What do you want us to do?” They do something called Honest Trailers, which is one of my favorite things on YouTube, and they’ll say, “What do you want us to do next?” and the audience will say, “Oh, we want you to do Indiana Jones” or whatever, and lots of things. You can get a little bit of consensus from that as well.
David Bain 15:21
How do you actually establish what stage of the buyer journey you should be targeting your content at? Is that an important thing to be considering? Should you simply answer the question?
Because I'm thinking, obviously, people are at the research, consideration, or purchase stage of the buyer journey, depending on what type of business is. So should you actually think about that as well and base your content based upon where in the buyer journey the user happens to be?
Crystal Carter 15:46
I think that understanding the value of the content creation in your business funnel is really important because it helps you to prioritize. You can't make everything all at once; you can't do everything straight away. I think you have to have a look at what you've got and see where there's – I’m gonna say it – low-hanging fruit.
You need to have a look at what you've got and see if there are any gaps in your funnel. Think about the customer journey all the way through, from all of those stages, and see where the gaps are – and see what you can do to close those gaps. Think about what you have that's the best thing that you have at the moment.
For instance, if we're talking about guitar tuning, that's a sort of consideration, top-of-the-funnel sort of thing. Let's say you look, and you've got a written thing from a few years ago, that's about guitar tuning. It might be that you say, “Well, actually, what this needs is a video.” or “What this needs is some images.” or “What this needs is a tool, maybe we need to build a tool” – whatever it may be. Think about whether or not you've got something that you've got to start from scratch, or whether you've got something that you can polish up and update – so, the investment. Think about the investment that you'll need to make in order to update this content, to fill that gap.
But also, think about where the gaps are and if there is a gap that stopping you from converting, stopping you from meeting your ultimate business goal, then that should come to the fore. So if there's something that's really important – that actually people don't even get in the funnel, if they don't engage with a particular kind of content – then that should be a top priority. Then you can have a look at whether or not you've got something that's currently kind of doing the job that could be improved, or whether you need to just create something entirely new. Also, whether or not you have something that's in a different format that could be adopted to meet the different need – because sometimes it's a question of there's nothing. Sometimes it's a question that it's not in the right channel, and that's also worth thinking about as well.
David Bain 17:52
So, closing up. Not necessarily thinking about user-centricity, what’s the number one thing marketers need to incorporate into their strategy?
Crystal Carter 18:00
The number one thing that marketers need to incorporate into their strategy is prioritization, I guess I would say. Prioritization and intentionality, and I think those two go together. There are a lot of people who will do an audit, who will do a review, who will give lots of different recommendations but, if you're not able to prioritize them based on the business need and based on your overall business goals, then it's gonna be very difficult to get them implemented. It's going to be very difficult to get buy-in from your wider team. It's going to be very difficult to be able to get the resources you need in order to move forward.
Understanding what is a priority is really, really important – and being intentional about that priority. “This is a priority because it will help us to increase sales.”, “This is a priority because it will help us not to lose sales.”, “This is a priority because it will help us to get leads.”, “This is a priority because it will give us a competitive advantage.” Understand why you are making a recommendation. Understand why you're making an implementation.
David Bain 19:09
I've been your host, David Bain. You can find Crystal Carter over at Wix.com/SEO/Learn. Crystal, thanks so much for being on the Strategic Marketing Show.
Crystal Carter 19:18
Thank you so much.
David Bain 19:21
And thank you for listening. Here at IFP, our goal is simple: to connect you with the most relevant information, to help solve your business problems, all in one place. InsightsForProfessionals.com.
Access the latest business knowledge in Marketing
Join the conversation...