Emergent iContent — What it is?
Using content in all its digital forms to increase of search volumes to affect sales increases. This requires a coordinated content distribution approach across diverse digital media.
A historical perspective.
Companies have long understood that increasing public awareness increases sales. From the 1960 – 1980’s, the largest companies like Procter & Gamble, Gillette, AT&T built their companies through the strategic use of distributed awareness content, mainly delivered through TV, newspapers and in-store promotions. The key was a coordinated approach within a fairly limited set of media channels.
Today, one can think of the Internet as the new mass media of our age (TV, newspaper and promo’s all rolled into one uber-medium), however with a twist. It has far more options AND it has been democratized. No longer is there a cost to play – in fact many vehicles are no/ low cost. The trick is to use that medium effectively and the challenge is to be efficient even as the technology evolves.
What’s not working today.
Companies are spending lots on content creation and distribution in all its forms – email, press releases, websites, CEO blogs, webinars, user groups and on and on. Typically, all this content is created and distributed in silo’d programs driven by the respective subject matter experts; web design agencies, web optimization agencies, pr agencies and online agencies. This disparate activity creates fragmentation not allowing a strong presence to be felt where it really counts – within the dominant awareness vehicle of our day – search volumes and search visibility.
So what’s missing from this model?
What’s missing is a strategic emphasis on using new content serving vehicles into the existing marketing communication mix … and managing it to drive search volumes and hence sales. Using the Internet’s architecture of 1:1, 1:Many and Many: Many structure which incorporates blogs, podcast, PR, widgets, social networks and user communities, as a sales generator, one can create an enhanced model to get more impact from all activities.
Why do it?
Search volume has a direct correlation to sales velocity. At a basic level, the more you can direct and increase search volume in a focused way – the more sales will increase.
How it works.
The Internet is a content serving engine and increasing search volume is a key sales generator. Therefore, it is well worth the effort to strategically optimize search volume but it requires the efficient distribution of all digital content – from press releases to corporate blogs.
This model was developed to optimize content distribution along a specific architecture as mentioned above; One to One; One to Many and Many to Many. All content distribution vehilces fall into this architecture rather neatly.
Why it works:
Today, the Internet has democratized content delivery to anyone who understands how to distribute content efficiently. Huge upfront buys are not required, heavy spending in banner advertising is not required. What is required is a smart approach to how to gain awareness in this new world.
Sounds good – but prove it.
Stats from Jupiter Research. Top Forms of Content Delivery Among top 2500 Advertisers
2006 versus 2007
1. New Blog – used by 39% of sample and up 22% from last year
2. Forums – used by 33% of sample and up 18% from last year
3. Video on social networking site – used by 26% of sample and up 24%
4. Podcasts – used by 26% of sample and up 37% from last year
What’s not:1. Traditional promotional advertising is used by 38% of sample but is down 19%
2. Microsite is used by 26% of sample but is down 4% from last year
Real World Success Stories
- Private Internet security company that spends virtually no money on advertising is now the most searched security brand beating its primary competitor — a $3 billion mega security company. During this period, overall sales activity increased 28% while marketing expense was reduced 36%.
- Using widgets, an online retailer selling maternity clothes had acquired 10,000 new customers and a step change in their conversion rates
- A medical technology company coordinated its corporate blogging strategy with it’s public relations activity and search volumes went up 5x. Sales experienced an incremental 12% due to increased Internet visibility.
How to measure.The traditional model was based on a granular level view of specific tactical level actions – open rates, downloads rates, conversion rates and on and on. All good measures – but these offer a shortsighted understanding on how to drive sales. The trap marketer should not fall into is the temptation to measure each vehicle rather than looking to measure business impacting metrics. Here’s how measuring individual components can lead a marketer to the wrong conclusions:
- Company A pays for a booth at a trade show – show generates 20 leads
- Then company sends email to leads to follow up – but no deals are closed
- Three months later, the company creates a white paper discussing their solution and sends out a press release
- Two months later, the company sells 4 solutions
The BIG question – what drove the sale??? One can not exclude all the touchpoints that lead up to the sales because one can never know what is inside the head of the customer. The Internet is far more measurable than any mass media in the past so the lesson here is to assume all touch points contribute to sales and work to coordinate content for maximum search impact. While one can measure specific actions that a marketing tactics may have caused – the real and only metric is sales volume. And today, the good barometer of that is how visible you are in search volumes. Happily, that is an easy metric to capture.