Kane Jamison will be speaking on Content Marketing at SearchFest 2016, which is being held March 10th, 2016 at the Sentinel Hotel in Portland, Oregon. For more information or to purchase tickets, please click here.

See Kane Jamison speak at SearchFest 20161) Please give us your background and tell us what you do for a living.

I’m the founder of Content Harmony, a content marketing agency based in Seattle. We have a strategy & creative team that help our clients with content marketing strategy, content creation projects, content promotion, and the analytics that tie it all together. We work with a fairly wide variety of clients, but in particular with mid-sized e-commerce and tech companies.

I got started in web marketing through blogging and WordPress around 2005. I made a career jump into a marketing role in 2009 shortly after I started learning SEO, and have been focused on content & search since then.

Now I spend my time overseeing our creative time and handling new business and marketing for the agency. I also get to do a lot of the “research & development” that comes with improving our services. A good example for the past year has been our focus on how we can best promote content to tightly targeted audiences with Facebook Ads.

2) Why do you have to market “excellent” content?

Like search, content is often a zero-sum game. For your organization to be the best resource on a topic online, you typically need to be better than someone else’s content for that same topic. So, the more key a topic is to your business, the more incentive you have to produce the best possible resource you can around that topic. You can take the approach of improving content so that it’s, say, 20% better than anything else out there, and sometimes that will work fine for a long time. But, it’s often not hard for someone to come along and make something slightly better or slightly newer than yours.

It’s also possible to go above and beyond, and cover a topic so well that nobody dares attempt to improve on your version. Rand Fishkin has described this content approach recently as 10x content and I think that’s a good concept to teach to other marketers when we’re trying to compete for a big topic.

With all of that said, I think that the most cost effective strategy is a combination of producing 10x content alongside a decent quantity of less substantial content that is ‘good enough’. For example, a Q&A section of a site with tons of long tail content is a great way to saturate a market for a topic and make sure your brand is always visible. But, it works much better on a site with decent domain authority, and that domain authority often has to be built with large 10x content types of projects that can be used for building audiences and links.

Above all else, I think producing ‘excellent’ content is the table stakes for creating brand awareness and earning the attention of customers when they’re not in purchase mode, regardless of SEO considerations and benefits.

3) How well can you tie content marketing to traditional business metrics?

Extremely well, if proper measurement is in place. We typically teach a model of aligning content marketing goals with 1 to 2 broad sales funnel stages: brand awareness, engagement, consideration/conversion, or retention.

Content marketing can drive goals in all of those categories. But, if you start a campaign or content program expecting to hit home runs on all of those – “we’re going to build links, gain lots of traffic, sell lots of stuff, and cut customer support calls” – you’ll often fall short.

When we can get a project to really hone in on which one of these is the primary goal for a program, and then set specific and reasonable goals in each area, then we have a much better chance of showing success.

I think the second aspect to actually connecting content marketing efforts back to results is having the right measurement in place, and that requires buy-in from multiple teams, plus a strong understanding where content fits into that model. If you’re running a B2B service company, content is always going to serve an awareness and engagement role, but you may not be able to track its affect on sales if that’s being done offline with an inside sales team. So, you need to credit content with the lead generation using multi-touch attribution, and you also need to track whether sales conversion rates improve as website leads show increased content engagement, and you need to train your sales team to use content as a sales tool, and you need to implement about 10 other ways of measuring content’s indirect effect on sales. That all takes a lot of effort that doesn’t happen unless marketing and sales leadership is on the same page. If they’re not on the same page, then it’s unlikely that all of the measurement will be in place that allows you to properly connect all the dots.

In other organizations, like e-commerce, it can be much more simple to demonstrate the direct connection between content-driven traffic and conversions, so it differs quite a bit for every business.

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