Changing Search

Last MIMA event was very thought-provoking and intellectually entertaining.  Mike Grehan treated the attendees with an insightful presentation “Search and the Connected Consumer.”

The presentation was an overview of the industry’s development and maybe an insight on “what’s next,” more than a set of tactics that can be used today.  However, the understanding of the next step of the development will help us with the tactics tomorrow.

Mike Grehan reminded us about the history of search and functionality of search engines – good old days of Altavista when a site related to a certain category and a category expert would not be found by search engine without actually using the category keywords.  This approach was not helpful for the searcher, and the web moved along in using principles of Network Theory.

The Social Network Theory (I found a concise definition) assigns higher importance to the networks where the element is happen to be comparing to the activities and intrinsic quality of the element itself.

The application to search from Mike Grehan’s presentation: If I am a catholic, I can go to Church and ask the priest for the link…  I can have many links, but if I can get just one link from the Pope….

Increasingly, the search results are tailored to a person’s unique interests based on the person’s interests derived from the browsing history.

There are a few interesting implications (beside making sure that content we are trying to promote linked as widely as possible within networks and not necessarily web sites):

  1. People might select what they “ought to” read or watch and not necessarily what they want to read of watch. As a result, they may not be interested in more information in the same category…
  2. We can be isolated in selected type of content and “shelter” ourselves from otherwise useful or important information.
I was fortunate to stumble upon Ted’s presentation of Eli Pariser on the Filter Bubble. Filter Bubble suggests that individuals might be isolated from information of any kind that they not not previously selected or people with similar interests selected.  The concept has many implications and will most likely play an important role in search development and our approach for using search for promotion of our businesses.

Interesting developments!  Next several years will be exciting to watch!

I definitely plan to read The Filter Bubble book.  Oh, how can I not?  TED is my network…  yes, just an aspirational one, but highly trusted  🙂

Thinking about TED – Arianna Huffington: How to succeed? Get more sleep –  one of my absolute favorite talks – I absolutely follow the advice 🙂

Book – Content Rules

Interesting and useful.  The book is packed with practical advice and recommendations. The book is particularly useful for people working on the content – including subject-matter experts.

The book also balances the tactical advise with strategic overview – each piece of content should have its “home” in the general map of company’s objectives.

Particularly beneficial for b-to-b (in my opinion 😉  ):

  • The content Rules
    • Embrace being a publisher (business environment changed – this is the reality)
    • Speak human (kill corporate-speak, buzzwords, etc.)
    • Do something unexpected (many examples – particularly important for b-to-b)
    • Play to your strengths (if no resources/enthusiasm are available for specific channel – it does not have to be used)
  • If no research already exist in the company, have a brainstorming session and answer questions:
    • Who are you trying to reach?
    • What are they craving?
    • What do you want them to do?
    • What content do you already have?
  • Little detail: words do not use (and I was so proud when I finally started to understand what they meant!  🙂 )
    • impactful – use instead: influential, substantial, powerful
    • Leverage – use instead: influence, exploit, enhance, use
    • Learnings – use instead: lesson
    • Synergy – use instead: cooperation, combined efforts
    • Proactive – use instead: anticipate, foresee
    • Drill down – use instead: in-depth, detailed
  • Content creation tip: think small – create smaller chunks of content; possible to combine later into eBooks, etc.
  • A white paper can become a series of blog posts
  • Lee Odden’s suggestion: write a post on strange an humorous search phrases that lead people to your content
  • People with the same titles can approach content differently.  For example, CIO archetypes, which would be interested in different type of content:
    • Function head with focus on achieving IT operational excellence
    • Transformational leader with focus on creating enterprise-wide change
    • Business strategist with focus on driving business strategy
  • B-to-B – create a grid that maps the questions and concerns on each buyer at each stage fo the buying process to the content that the buyers prefer  
  • B-to-B ideas: testimonial form Santa Claus and Easter Bunny (Cisco)
  • B-to-B not to overlook:
    • Downloadable competitive comparison
    • FAQs
  • SAS: “…Our product marketing organization identifies the key issues or problems in those areas that our target audiences are facing, and from that point, content development happens in many different areas of the company, around the world. ”  SAS content marketing reports to product marketing organization.
  • HubSpot: calls to action is in three places on each blog post – beneath the headline, right of the post, at the end of the post.  Adding a single call to action initially tripled the number of leads generated from the blog.
  • Video content is 50 times more likely to show on the first page of search results than standard text-based content (properly optimized of course 😉 )
  • Fun content suitable for B-to-B: golf course tootorial how to properly angrily through your club into the water or how to properly break your club
  • Kadient’s approach to content (company sells software and has a long sales cycle): Content library is created with all content organized by the stages of the sales cycle. “Every piece of content we create with a goal in mind to give a business and marketing objective to why we are creating it.”  generating leads for sales is primary objective. However, the same content can be used for lead nurturing.
Great book, highly recommend. I received my copy from Eloqua – thank you!  After finishing the book, I am passing it to the next person in the company!

Web Analytics Wednesday – tag management

Curious…  Just yesterday (oh, a decade ago) we were placing simplest tags to a simplistic web sites and marvel on the power of information we could collect!  And were struggling to figure out what to do with it 🙂  Now, it looks like we figured out that we need the information (still not using it wisely across the industry  in my opinion 🙂  ), we want even more power, and… have more tags.  Websites became also more complex.  The dream of the universal tag will probably remain a dream, so new kind of services emerged – tag-management systems, such as Ensighten.

Tag management system offers a great promise of managing tags without IT involvement, quickly add and remove vendors’ tags and add modifications, and generally be ready to “whatever comes next.

Tag management solutions seem to be reasonable for enterprise sites with many components, and tags of different vendors – what makes sense.  My personal opinion: it is a product of the future – if right now almost half of the sites have two tags or less, and 48% have three tags – the pain is not quite felt yet, but it is definitely coming.  Though in my personal experience tags were missed…  though the reasons why they were missed were more organizational, which could be addresses by business process rather than technology…  the technology would not help in some situations.

Though it is nice to know that the technology exists!