Tips from Google for revving up—and measuring—your content momentum

Google’s business isn’t limited to search engines. What are the lessons of its major content marketing machine?

Content tips from Google

Editor’s note: This story is taken from Ragan Communications’ distance-learning portal Ragan Training. The site contains hundreds of hours of case studies, video presentations and interactive courses.

If you’re looking for ways to combine the insights of data with content creation and marketing, pull up a chair and listen to Karen Budell.

Successful content is about more than pumping out stories, videos, webinars and other information, says Budell, who leads content marketing for the enterprise measurement and analytics product suite at Google.

It requires research, data-crunching, talking to experts and, above all, listening, she says in a Ragan Training session, “Give Content More Momentum—and Measure the Impact.” It is the second of a two-part session, “Master New SEO and Content Trends.” (Read more about the first session here.)

“In short, we’re really looking to figure out how to create the right content for the right person, and get it to them at that right time,” Budell says.

Organizations and brand managers face a challenge these days: Though they once longed for more data, in the mobile age they are overwhelmed by numbers and information. The challenge lies in interpreting the mountains of data available.

One type of datapoint is what Budell describes as a “micro moment,” or an instance when a customer “wants to know, go, do or buy something,” she says. “Each one of those is an opportunity for a brand or a company to be relevant and useful with the content that they deliver.”

Google Analytics processes a trillion digital moments across devices every day, she says. This leads to a feeling of “Data, data everywhere, and not a drop to drink.”

Yet the most successful companies are figuring it out. According to a Google survey, leading marketers are twice as likely to act based on insights and recommendations from analytics, Budell says. They’re also 1.5 times as likely to say their marketing strategy is data-driven, and 70 percent say they are using data to make decisions at all levels.

Here are a few of the ways Budell suggests to boost your content’s impact:

1. Let your business goals guide you.

Don’t produce content just for content’s sake. “Quality is so important. Fewer, better, can sometimes have a greater impact than more for the sake of more.”

  • Business objectives: Align around a shared goal that everyone is driving toward.
  • Marketing objectives: Know what you’ve committed to in order to support your product and sales goals.
  • Objectives: Identify program and content objectives that address your business and marketing goals.
  • Tactics: Design specific tactics and content programs to achieve your goals.
  • Metrics: Measuring your content program comes last in this list, but you should consider gauging success from the onset. Only half the respondents to a Google survey said they consider measurement when they first design a campaign. Not good.

Among the areas Google measures are impressions delivered, engagement (such as clicks and social media mentions), active reach (video views or live event attendees) and active engagement (how many not only filled out your form, but downloaded your report).

2. Listen to your audience and your stakeholders.

Listen carefully to find the story you should turn into content, Budell says. This means going back to your reporter roots, for those, like Budell, with a journalism background.

“Don’t just go into that mode of starting to tell people the story that you think you need to share,” says Budell. “Let them tell you what they want to hear.”

Quantitative data provides deep insights, but it can be expensive and time-consuming. Google Surveys is a cheap tool for taking the pulse of your marketplace. Other low-cost surveys also exist.

That said, don’t underestimate the power of qualitative data. Talk to stakeholders within your organization and find out what the stories they like to hear or want to hear more of. Budell buttonholes Google engineers, product managers, sales leaders, customer success representatives and her counterparts within marketing.

Check out what your competitors and industry analysts are saying. What stories are they telling? Where you can find a gap to fill with your message? Identify strategic connections to build narratives. Look at your top-performing content; figure out why it succeeded.

3. Spotlight your ‘hero.’

In this context, the “hero” isn’t your barrel-chested CEO or the frenetic salesperson of the month, but a showcase piece of content.

Google supported its e-book, “How to Build a Culture of Growth,” with a variety of supplemental pieces of content. These included articles on its Think with Google site, pieces for its Google Analytics blog, case studies and two webinars delving into topics such as A-B testing and best practices.

It all amounts to one story, but with multiple entry points. Someone who didn’t notice the e-book right away may have jumped into the webinar, finding their way back to the original piece of content.

“Where you leave off, where can others pick up?” Budell says. “How can you find connection points within your organization to ensure that whatever story you’re telling in your content is cohesive, and you have a consistent story across all points in your buyer’s journey.”

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