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High-value Content - And A Good Cms - Make The Real Marketing Difference
By Rob Rose
A quick look at many corporate Web sites finds a surprising amount of low-importance content occupying precious space – and consequently, customer time. The good stuff is supposed to be in there somewhere, but it’s just very hard to find. It should be a no-brainer then, to understand why monetizing content on Web sites seems so difficult; but online marketing dollars are being spent in bigger amounts than ever before, and the complaints about lack of ROI are getting louder.
It’s a bit hard to think that so much of the data and content we create is ineffectual, and just a waste of time. But we do need to keep it around for those rare times when someone wants it. So here’s what we’re up against:
• Creating high-value content
• Making sure it’s easily accessible
• Finding automated ways to ‘promote’ content that may suddenly be in demand
• Tying all this together with online marketing – SEM, SEO, content syndication, Web 2.0 – and ROI
It seems clear that what we need is great content and the right tools (a Content Management System or CMS) to input, manage and publish that content.
The Core: Content – or is it Customers?

There’s not much to say about the importance of quality content that hasn’t already been said. Repetitive, inaccurate, poorly written or out-of-date content can clearly cause long-term damage to the way your organization is perceived in the marketplace as well has how you rank in search engines.
Let’s shift the focus here to the content creators – how do you get the most from them? The key here seems to be synchrony: content creators must work together with marketing teams and higher-level management to ensure that the content generated is based on business imperatives and strategic goals. But is that enough? According to content management guru Gerry McGovern, “The Web changes the very roots of the relationship between the customer and the organization. The customer, not the organization, is dominant on the Web. Thus you must put the customer’s needs at the absolute center of everything you do if you want to be successful.”
Seen in this light, the issue is not just high-value content, but high-value, customer-focused content. In fact, you could possibly say that only customer-focused content is high-value content. This is much harder than it looks. Relating to content, technology and the Web site is much easier – they are tangible things that we can work with, tweak, and re-design at will. Understanding customer needs is a different story altogether.
It’s like a company saying “We have a great new product that will really impress you with its huge array of features. It’s got these bells and those whistles and is amazing value for money as well! It’s been called the best in its category by X analyst and Y research organization. Click here to Buy!” And then they wait for the sales revenue to come pouring in – but it’s only a trickle. Astonished, they go back to the drawing board, assuming there’s something terribly wrong with the product. Another blank; the product seems as good as it can be. So what’s wrong then? If the company had a way to analyze customer behavior on its site, it might then realize that what most customers want to hear is how products solve their problems, not just bristle with every possible gizmo. The content creators and marketers go into another huddle and then come up with “We have this great new product. It helps you address A and B problems while saving money. We’ll even give you a free trial to prove it…” Sure enough, there are more leads and more conversions.
The Right Tools

Once messaging, style, form and objectives are clear, it then becomes just as important to have the right tools to rationalize the process end-to-end. Without an effective way to input, manage and publish content to your site, there’s really no reason to create the content in the first place. So, apart from an understanding of ‘business imperatives’ and ‘strategic goals’, your content creators need:
• A tool or set of tools that allows them to create, manage, publish, reuse and retire content on the Web site and all other online customer touch points – such as landing pages, microsites, mobile content and syndicated content.
• The flexibility to do all of this, including changes to design and templates, both for business users in non-technical environments as well as more technical developers.
• A way to streamline workflows and set up approval processes so that all content goes through the appropriate channels before appearing in front of a customer.
• The freedom to quickly adapt, change or repurpose content without worrying about creating brand inconsistencies, design gaffes and other site problems.
• Simple ways to ensure that content is search engine-friendly; making keyword inclusions, Meta tagging, search friendly links and title pages easy to work with.
• A way to integrate Web analytics with the content tools, so content creators and marketers can continuously refine campaigns based on customer behavior. With the data from analytics, they can also ensure that your customers are easily getting relevant and need-specific content.
Ergo, they need a good Content Management System (CMS).
The Good CMS and Better Online Marketing

Without getting into too much detail, it’s clear that a good CMS must address each of those above needs comprehensively. In your search for the right solution for your needs (not just the most technologically advanced or feature-rich), you’re sure to come up against the choice of going with a traditional installed system,

an open-source program, or a hosted (Software-as-a-Service or SaaS) model. This is a separate story in itself, and you can find more information on choosing the right CMS in our whitepaper - “Which CMS is Right for Me?” – downloadable from the CrownPeak Infocenter.
Getting to the marketing aspect, there are several things the CMS can help you with:
• Brand Consistency: Single-sourcing and central control ensures that customer-facing content is consistent and appealing, no matter the number of collaborators
• Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM): 51% of people click on the first result on a search page. Good content has to be found! The CMS can enforce W3C compliant code, create ‘crawlable’ site maps, eliminate broken links, reduce code clutter, create effective title tags and Metadata tags, and avoid content duplication. Even with paid placements, content hygiene will ensure your site ranks higher.
• Banners and AdWords: The CMS can help streamline your targeted banner placements and pay-per-click advertising. What’s more, analytics will enable you to hone campaigns on-the-go, increasing effectiveness.

• Campaign Management: The path from getting a customer’s attention to making a sale requires superlative co-ordination between online touch points. The CMS can help easily create, publish and track landing pages and microsites, and automatically ‘promote’ the more effective pages for better visibility. It should also help synchronize other channels such as email, direct mail, SMS, and more – all without mangling your company’s key message and brand guidelines.

Content Syndication: The right CMS should allow an open syndication strategy, enabling a phenomenal increase in reach through the use of formats like RSS and Atom.
• Web 2.0: Technorati reports that over 1.6 million blog posts are made every day. To keep pace with this staggering volume of user-generated content requires a re-think about dealing with your audience. The CMS can help here with more dynamic structuring of content, supporting ‘placeless’ assets with rich tagging and query-based navigation. The CMS can also ensure maintenance of good URLs, which means social bookmarking sites such as and StumbleUpon will have easier access. With a flexible content data model, you can also support public participation in the publishing workflow, and voting/rating systems as well.

With an optimized Web presence, you are likely to see much more traffic – to all your online touch points. The combination of high-value (customer-centric, lest we forget) content and an effective CMS means a larger number of quality leads can be generated, which typically means more conversions and more revenue. Also, tracking these leads and responding in appropriate ways can now become much simpler; your marketers have the tools to manage the entire process, providing need-specific information to customers at the right time.
The icing on the cake would be a CMS that allows you do all of this without having to manage the technology itself. This is where the SaaS model comes into its own: you have the freedom to focus on core competencies – and conversions – while the vendor manages, maintains, and upgrades the CMS.

Technology, no matter how advanced, can only provide tools, techniques and approaches to achieving a goal. At the center, we still need to develop a high degree of sensitivity to customer needs; and hone our own competencies in responding to those needs – both in terms of our products and in terms of our communication. Once we’ve got the core sorted, working with a cutting-edge, easy-to-use technology solution just makes for a winning combination.
This article is contributed by Rob Rose - Vice President of Crownpeak. An effective CMS means a larger number of quality leads can be generated, which typically means more conversions and more revenue.


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