“Marketers are expected to deliver campaigns that cultivate rich customer experience and drive brand awareness, all within a quick turnaround time,” said Megan Sangha, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Wrike, in her presentation at our MarTech conference. “Things could be different if science and data were combined within a single source of truth platform to help drive better outcomes.”
Digital disruptions are occurring more than ever before thanks to the 2020 pandemic and technological innovation. These changes have altered the way consumers behave in the purchasing process, which has in turn forced brands to accelerate their digital transformation efforts.
“With consumer behavior drastically shifting to digital, this world is crowded with competitors quickly working to capture consumer attention,” Sangha said. “Marketing executives are struggling to stand out from competitors while trying to keep their current customers. “
“Now more than ever, marketers need to be innovative and creative with their tools and data to quickly deliver eye-catching and innovative campaigns to stand out among the rest,” she added.
Despite the prevalence of tight deadlines and dwindling resources, marketers are expected to provide customers with engaging experiences. To combat this, Sangha recommends turning to psychology, gleaning behavioral insights from buyer journeys.
Use behavioral science to understand decisions
“Behavioral science is a great strategy for optimizing campaign performance through the help of psychology,” Sangha said. She pointed to a helpful diagram (shown below) that illustrates the customer decision-making process from a psychological perspective.
“The large circle is exposure or brand awareness,” she said. “Brand awareness can be found in obvious areas like the ad you see when you’re scrolling through social media or a pop up that you click on . . . Exposure is always on, always changing, and always influencing decision-making.”
Sangha then went on to describe the top and bottom points of the circle, which represent the “triggers” and “purchase” phases, respectively: “Triggers are where a consumer starts their journey. It is influenced by either exposure or a need.”
Consumers then move down into the “messy middle” of the circle, which is the phase wherein they being exploring and evaluating brand offerings.
These explorary and evaluation stages are where brands have the opportunity to build brand loyalty and customer satisfaction. Sangha said these are strengthened through “great customer experience, smooth transaction, and in today’s world, fast delivery.”
Understand cognitive biases that influence purchase behavior and decision-making
“Consumers are moving back and forth between exploration and evaluation, depending on the size of the purchase,” said Sangha. “For marketers, it’s not so fun. And it’s definitely not efficient. How can we get our customers from triggers to purchase? Through psychology.”
She added, “As people explore and evaluate within the messy middle, cognitive biases shape their shopping behavior and influence why they choose one product over the other.”
Sangha described six primary cognitive biases (shown above) that affect consumer behavior. Whether it’s consumers’ propensity to buy things perceived as scarce or those recommended by authoritative sources, it’s vital that marketers know what’s affecting their decision-making processes.
“Understanding behavioral bias and the customer journey are really important,” Sangha said. “Marketing teams that use these principles and psychology see higher customer satisfaction, lower customer turnover, improve the sales process and finds better advocacy from current customers.”
Use behavioral data to optimize channel performance
“To drive better [customer] decisions, marketers need to ensure the information being provided is consumable to the masses,” said Sangha. “We don’t want stakeholders to be overwhelmed with spreadsheets and intricate dashboards that become complacent with their decision-making.”
Presenting this behavior data in a coherent fashion to other departments will help coordinate your marketing efforts companywide, leaving less room for discrepancies in customer experiences across channels. But with so many signals being tracked, it can get overwhelming quickly.
“There is so much thrown at digital marketers,” she said. “They’re using different channels, platforms, solutions, and tools to track assets, campaign, user, customer performance data, etc. And every piece of data gives them insights on market trends and consumer behavior.”
“The only problem is that right now most digital marketers are manually piecing everything together, which means they’re spending way too much time tracking and pulling together data instead of viewing, strategizing and executing,” she added.
Sangha recommends marketers adopt a project management platform to help ensure customer data is clean and applied to the relevant channels, which helps optimize campaign performance: “A recent McKinsey study showed that digital marketers spend 80% of their time manually sifting through data, pulling together spreadsheets or dashboards to track performance data, and only 20% of their time is spent on strategy.”
She added, “Think what you could do with your campaign strategy and overall outcome if you were able to get more time to strategize versus sifting through data.”
Marketing work management: A snapshot
What it is: Marketing work management platforms help marketing leaders and their teams structure their day-to-day work to meet their goals on deadline and within budget constraints, all while managing resources and facilitating communication and collaboration. Functions may include task assignments, time tracking, budgeting, team communication and file sharing, among others.
Why it’s important today. Work environments have changed drastically due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has heightened the need for work management tools that help marketers navigate these new workflows.
Marketers have been at work developing processes that allow them to work with those outside their own offices since marketing projects—campaigns, websites, white papers, or webinars—frequently involve working with outside sources.
Also, with marketers required to design interfaces, write content, and create engaging visual assets today, more marketers are adopting agile workflow practices, which often have features to support agile practices.
What the tools do. All of these changes have heightened the need for marketing work management software, which optimizes and documents the projects undertaken by digital marketers. They often integrate with other systems like digital asset management platforms and creative suites. But most importantly, these systems improve process clarity, transparency, and accountability, helping marketers keep work on track.
Does anyone enjoy job hunting regardless of the circumstances?
But if you’ve recently lost your content marketing job or fear the ax might fall soon, you feel pressure to do it – and like you have no time to waste.
The good news is that excellent content marketing jobs are available for the taking (or the making if you’re entrepreneurially minded.)
To rise in the challenge you didn’t want, you must condense years of knowledge, skills, and experience into compelling materials to attract a new employer. Then you must get your carefully crafted profiles in front of recruiters. The key to success for both steps involves standing out from all the other candidates competing for the role you want.
In a recent Ask the #CMWorld Community livestream, Work It Daily’s J.T. O’Donnell and TogetHER Digital’s Amy Vaughan shared what today’s recruiters want and the disruptive ways to get on their radar.
Ignoring those feelings won’t make them go away and might make it more challenging to focus on finding your next job.
That’s why J.T. recommends taking some time to grieve before you begin a job search. “It’s an unexpected loss. You need to feel it and go through the emotions,” she says.
But don’t get so lost in your misery that you miss a new role that might pop up. “In my experience, people often end up in a new position and say, ‘This turned out better than I expected. I would’ve never come across this opportunity if this change wasn’t forced upon me,’” J.T. says. “Know that a lot of other people have ended up on the better side of it and get ready to move forward.”
Update your job search tools – and how you use them
First, revisit your resume and LinkedIn profiles. You need to ensure they’re updated, consistent, and precisely targeted to the roles you’re considering.
If it’s been a while since you last looked for work, you may need to relearn the rules of a productive job search.
For example, while application tracking systems (ATS) have been around since the 1990s, their time-saving features have made recruiters more reliant on digital tools in recent years. In fact, a 2018 study found nearly 99% of Fortune 500 companies use them. Advanced functionality has improved the software’s ability to create more accurate candidate profiles and match them to applicants’ work history details.
Optimizing your resume with keywords in the job description is essential to getting your resume discovered by potential employers.
J.T. also recommends updating your LinkedIn profile to ensure it aligns with what appears on your resume. “Recruiters pay attention to the resume and LinkedIn work history section. The information that appears there should be identical. Otherwise, they may be confused about which version is accurate,” she explains.
Amy says recruiters will read resumes – and cover letters – that make it to their desks, but they spend only a few seconds on each.
You can’t expect to compete based on skills alone. But demonstrating your personal motivation to do the job for that employer can give you an advantage, J.T. says.
Finding the best opportunities where you can convey that motivation requires a disruptive job search. The technique helps you discover a relevant connection between your passions and career intentions and communicate it to employers who stand to benefit.
The more intentional and storified approach should work well for content marketers because you’re well-equipped to follow it. It also circumvents the gatekeeping systems by giving you a more relatable connection to prospective employers.
J.T. summarizes the disruptive job search process:
Pinpoint the work you’re most passionate about: Think carefully about the kinds of work you want to do, not just where you might want to do it. What lights you up? What do people come to you specifically for? This will be the centering principle for your candidate story.
Create a bucket list of company targets: Don’t just apply for any and every role that matches your skills and interests. Research companies to find 10 to 20 that would genuinely benefit from your unique perspectives and specialized focus.
Get clear on why you want to work for each company: Hearing that they’re a great place to work and offer great benefits isn’t enough to prove you understand the business and its goals. What is it about them that you’ve come to learn is different and special?
Make a personal connection: Think about what you can bring to the role at the company. Be specific about your knowledge of what they do, who their customers are, and how you can contribute to the business outcomes you know they want to achieve.
Craft the details into a cover letter: Once you’ve outlined your relevant connection points, you can put those details into a cover letter that speaks to your unique understanding of the business and the distinct value you can contribute. “When you can get that story into someone’s hands at an organization, you’ll be amazed at what can happen,” J.T. says.
(Net)work your story into a job
“People need to meet you and see continuity in what you say and do. That can’t always happen unless they get that chance to meet you in person,” Amy says.
Networking can feel one-sided and awkward when you’re under pressure to find a new role. But you can make it more productive with these tips from J.T. and Amy:
1. Turn on LinkedIn creator mode
J.T. points out that LinkedIn has pivoted itself into a creator tool. Use it to prove the points you would discuss in a cover letter and attract the right attention.
Activating creator mode on your profile tells LinkedIn’s algorithm to note (and share with others) the content you share. It also gives access to additional tools that can extend your reach.
Here’s how to turn creator mode on:
Click the Me icon in the nav bar at the top of your LinkedIn homepage.
Click View Profile.
Scroll down to the Resources section of your profile. If it shows “Creator mode: Off,” switch it to on.
Click Next on the Creator mode preview pop-up window.
Add up to 5 topics (hashtags) to indicate what you post about the most.
2. Create and share relevant content on your feed
Think about your specialization areas and speak about them regularly in your LinkedIn feed. Creating new content (or reposting your content on other platforms) on those subjects helps prove your expertise.
You can also curate and add commentary to third-party news, articles, videos, and other relevant stories. It shows you’re in touch with what’s happening in that space and have something of value to add to the conversation.
Be sure to post consistently – J.T. recommends at least once a day – to build an audience of followers.
3. Use hashtags responsibly
Using the right hashtags on your LinkedIn content can introduce your content to people who aren’t in your network. But, Amy points out, it can also help you tap into a hidden job market – roles that don’t get posted but have recruiters looking to fill them.
She explains recruiters may take this approach when they have a great opportunity that would attract a lot of candidate interest and don’t want to get bombarded with applicants.
4. Incorporate personal passions into your work persona
Attracting an audience with your thought leadership content can help you rank higher on LinkedIn searches and gain the attention of more recruiters. But since just about any job applicant can position themselves as an expert, Amy suggests taking an extra step to stand out from the pack: Cultivate a personality brand.
If you’re a regular CMI reader, you’re probably familiar with the reasons to build a personal brand (and if not, I’d highly recommend reading Ann Gynn’s definitive post on the topic). But, Amy says, a personality brand is a bit different.
As she explains, job searchers often struggle to associate their passions outside of work with the work they want to be known for. But creating stories that tie together those interests can make a person more memorable to recruiters and others who can help advance the job search.
Amy explains what this might look like: “[In my content], I talk a lot about groundedness, nature, and empathetic leadership. To me, those things are all tied together because I like to be very grounded in how I lead and very calm in how I approach difficult work situations. Or maybe you are an endurance athlete, and you can build a connection on how your love of endurance sports goes hand in hand with your strong work ethic.”
The content related to your personality brand can make your networking feel more organic. “If you’re reaching out to people in your network just to get a job, they’re going to sniff that out,” Amy says. But if they know you because you’ve shared a relatable story or something of value, they may be more willing to connect with you and help with your search.
Use your content marketing strengths to prove your value to employers
Losing a job never feels good. But with a more precise job search approach, stories that demonstrate your unique expertise, and ways to create a personal connection, your unemployment status won’t last long.
The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.
In a recent study, we found that our pillar pages are magnets for links, organic traffic, and newsletter subscribers — especially compared to regular blog posts. Here are the results that both types of SEO content generated over the course of a year:
Do these results mean you should ditch your blog strategy in favor of pillar pages? Not exactly.
Here’s the catch: You really can’t have one without the other, and it all comes down to content mapping. I’ll explain exactly what I mean in this article.
What is a pillar page?
A pillar page is a piece of content that comprehensively covers a broad topic. Pillar page — also sometimes referred to as hub and spoke — content weaves together a wide range of relevant subtopics (spokes), organizes them all in one place (hub), and effectively showcases your subject matter expertise for the broad topic.
Pillar page content should be easy to navigate for readers looking to learn — at a high level — about a particular topic, but should also offer relevant resources for them to dive deeper.
It’s kind of like the choose-your-own-adventure of content marketing.
Topical authority: why it’s important
When it comes to content creation for SEO and digital marketing, you don’t want to create content around any old topic. Instead, you want to reinforce your brand’s topical authority with every new piece of content you create (be it a blog, a pillar page, an eBook, etc.).
Let’s put it this way: If you’re in the business of selling mechanical keyboards, it doesn’t make sense to publish a blog article about the best recipes for a summer BBQ. Unless you’re recommending that your customers grill and eat their mechanical keyboards, which is (highly) unlikely.
Instead, it’s more helpful to your brand — and your audience — if you cover topics related to mechanical keyboards, like:
What is a mechanical keyboard?
Mechanical keyboards vs. regular keyboards.
Custom mechanical keyboards.
How to transition to a mechanical keyboard.
Pros and cons of a mechanical keyboard.
By covering as many topics related to mechanical keyboards as possible, you’re building a foundation of informational content that tells search engines: “Hey, I know a lot about mechanical keyboards!”
And the more content you have that starts to rank for important search terms related to mechanical keyboards, the more likely searchers will see you as an authority on the subject. Ideally, they will start coming back to your content when they need to learn more about this specific topic.
Pillar pages + blogs = a match made in content marketing heaven
A well-executed and organized pillar page is one of the best ways to showcase to your audience (and search engines) that you have topical authority in a specific area. Blog posts help you achieve topical authority by allowing you to cover a wide range of relevant subtopics in great detail, and pillar pages organize all of that content into a nice, user-friendly package.
Let’s take a look at this tactic in action.
We built our content marketing guide as a pillar page, which allowed us to cover a slew of subtopics related to the broader topic of content marketing, all in one piece of collateral.
All of these subtopics are organized into sections on the page, with a hyperlinked table of contents at the top to allow readers to pick and choose exactly what they’d like to learn about:
Then, throughout the page, we offer readers the opportunity to go deeper and learn more about each subtopic by linking to relevant blog content:
What is content mapping?
A pillar page is a great tactic if you’ve got a lot of existing blog content all focused on a particular parent topic. It’s one of our favorite ways at Brafton to repurpose and repromote our blogs.
But you can also create a pillar page with all brand-new content — it’ll just take more research, planning, and production time to complete.
Enter: content mapping.
Content mapping is the process of assessing your target audience, understanding what they are trying to achieve, and helping them along that journey with branded educational and commercial content. Its scope can span the entirety of your content marketing strategy or a single piece of pillar page content.
Why content mapping matters in content marketing
The planning (or content mapping) of a pillar page is just as important as the research done to choose the correct keyword to target for your business.
Pillar pages are kind of like the books of the marketing world. If you were an expert birder, for example, you wouldn’t set out to write a book about bird-watching without doing any research. Especially if you’ve spent a lot of time writing and publishing articles about bird-watching on your blog. You’d want to understand a few things before starting that book, like:
Which of my blog posts generated the most interest from new and returning readers? (i.e. pages with the most new and returning visitors, as seen in your web analytics tool).
Which blogs kept readers coming back for more? (i.e. pages with the most newsletter subscriptions, or the best newsletter subscription rates).
Which blogs did my industry peers find most useful? (i.e. pages with the greatest number of high-quality referring domains and backlinks).
These questions can be answered by looking through your web analytics tools, such as Google Analytics and Moz Pro.
What do my competitors’ books on bird-watching look like? (i.e. the types of bird-watching subtopics the page 1 results cover).
What does Google think searchers want to see when they search for bird-watching? (i.e. the types of content that are found on page 1 for your target keyword — and surprise! it might not be books).
How long and detailed are my competitors’ books? (i.e. the level of complexity and comprehensiveness of the content ranking on page 1).
These questions can be answered by manually reviewing relevant SERPs and utilizing TF-IDF tools like Clearscope or MarketMuse to understand the breadth of subtopics and types of content ranking on the first page.
Once you understand which of your content performs best and which content Google and other search engines prefer to rank highly for your target keyword, you can start piecing together a plan for your pillar page.
A note about internal linking
Before we dive into the how-to portion of this piece, we should also acknowledge the importance of internal linking to this whole process.
And I’m not just talking about throwing in a link to a related product/service at the end of the page and calling it a day. The internal linking structure of your pillar page is literally the glue that holds the whole thing together. It helps readers easily navigate to related resources to continue learning from your brand. And it helps search engines understand the relationship between your pillar page content and the additional content you’re highlighting on the page.
But when it comes to internal linking, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
Including too many internal links throughout your content can cause a frustrating user experience or look spammy, so use caution and make sure the only internal linking you do on the page is extremely relevant to the parent topic.
If you’re unsure whether or not you’ve got too many internal links on the page, you can run it through Moz’s On-Page Grader tool, which automatically counts the number of links on your page and flags if you’ve got too many.
Tip: Keep in mind that this tool will count ALL links found on the page, including those in your main navigation and footer, so the “Too Many Links” warning could be a false positive.
As Moz explains: Google recommends you don’t go over 100 internal links per page, because it can dilute the SEO value sent from the pillar page to the linked pages, and it can also make it more challenging for users and crawlers to navigate all of the content.
Two data-led ways to map out content for a pillar page
There are a couple of different ways to approach the construction of this type of content, but they each rely on organic search data to lead the way.
1. Planning a pillar page and related resources (all from scratch)
Let’s pretend you don’t have any prior content created about a particular topic. You’re basically starting from scratch. Let’s also assume the topic you’ve selected is both core and commercially valuable to your business, and that your domain realistically has a chance of ranking on page 1 for that keyword.
Let’s say you’re a pet food company and one of your main products is cat dental treats. Once you’ve determined that this is the exact keyword you want to target (“cat dental treats”), it’s time to start your research.
Step 1: Manually inspect SERP to understand searcher intent
First, we’ll start by manually inspecting the first SERP for this keyword, and answering the following questions:
What types of content are on the first page of results?
Why are people searching for “cat dental treats”?
By answering these two questions in our SERP analysis, we’ll make sure that our plan for creating a pillar page to rank actually makes sense and it’s what searchers want to see on the SERP. We’ll also better understand all the reasons behind why someone might search this keyword (and we can then address those reasons in the content we create).
So let’s answer these questions:
Question 1: What types of content are on the first page of results?
Answer 1: The first SERP includes a variety of product ads, a People Also Ask section, and a selection of organic blogs and product pages.
Question 2: Why are people searching for “cat dental treats”?
Answer 2: From a quick analysis of the SERP, we can deduce that people want to know why and how cat dental treats are important to a cat’s health, and they also want to know which cat dental treats work best. Perhaps most importantly, it’s highly likely that they plan to purchase cat dental treats for their furry companion(s) in the near future.
Step 2: Select related keyword ideas for blog content
Since you don’t just want to create a pillar page for just the primary keyword, you also want to pinpoint a selection of related subtopics to be written as blog content.
For this part of the process, head over to your keyword research tool, plug in your target keyword and (with an eye for topics that you’re well-suited to cover), jot down a list of keywords and phrases.
Here’s our list of potential blog topics:
Best cat dental treats.
How do cat dental treats work?
What to look for in cat dental treats.
Do cat dental treats work?
Can cat dental treats replace brushing?
Vet recommended cat dental treats.
Grain-free cat dental treats.
Step 3: Choose subtopics to cover in your pillar page content
Next, you’ll want to review the subtopics mentioned in the top ranking results. While this process can be done manually (by clicking into each result on the SERP and jotting down the topics mentioned), a TF-IDF tool like MarketMuse makes this part of the process much quicker:
These TF-IDF tools analyze the top 10-20 results for your target keyword and automatically present the common subtopics mentioned in each piece. This gives you a very good understanding of what you’ll also need to cover in your piece to compete for a top-ranking spot.
Here’s the list of subtopics we’ll want to cover in this pillar page, based on our MarketMuse data:
Step 4: Create your outline and plan content
Now it’s time to connect the dots from your research. The best way to do this is to start by structuring your pillar page outline, and then going back in and filling in the areas where you want to create supporting blog content.
Here’s an example of what the end result might look like:
H1: The Complete Guide to Cat Dental Treats: For a Fresh-Breath Feline Friend
H2: What are cat dental treats and how do they work?
Topics to cover: Cat dental treats
Blog post to support section: Title: How Cat Dental Treats Work (& Why Your Kitty Needs Them) Keyword: how do cat dental treats work
H2: What are the benefits of cat dental treats?
Topics to cover: Clean teeth, fresh breath
Blog post to support section: Title: Do Cat Dental Treats Really Work? (Here’s What The Experts Say) Keyword: do cat dental treats work
H2: Are cat dental treats an acceptable alternative to brushing?
Topics to cover: Cats dental health
Blog post to support section: Title: Cat Dental Treats Vs Brushing: Everything You Need To Know Keyword: can cat dental treats replace brushing
H2: Do vets recommend using cat dental treats?
Topics to cover: Veterinary oral health council
Blog post to support section: Title: Vets Recommend Using Cat Dental Treats — Here’s Why Keyword: vet recommended cat dental treats
Blog post to support section: Title: 5 Of The Best Cat Dental Treats & Why We Love Them Keyword: best cat dental treats
Blog post #2 to support section: Title: What To Look For In Cat Dental Treats Keyword: what to look for in cat dental treats
Creating an outline for a pillar page isn’t easy, but once laid out, it helps us understand the content that needs to be produced to bring the whole thing to life.
Here is our list of content to create (based on our outline):
Pillar page: The Complete Guide to Cat Dental Treats: For a Fresh-Breath Feline Friend
Blog #1: How Cat Dental Treats Work (& Why Your Kitty Needs Them)
Blog #2: Do Cat Dental Treats Really Work? (Here’s What The Experts Say)
Blog #3: Cat Dental Treats Vs Brushing: Everything You Need To Know
Blog #4: Vets Recommend Using Cat Dental Treats — Here’s Why
Blog #5: 5 Of The Best Cat Dental Treats & Why We Love Them
Blog #6: What To Look For In Cat Dental Treats
The best way to tackle this list of content is to create and publish the six blog posts first, then once they are live, you can write the pillar page content, placing hyperlinks to the supporting blog posts directly in the copy.
2. Planning a pillar page from top performing content
For this next method, let’s say you already have a ton of published content about a particular topic, and you’d like to reuse and repromote that content within a pillar page dedicated to that topic.
All of the steps in the previous process apply, but for Step 2 (Select Related Keyword Ideas for Blog Content), do the following:
First, you’ll want to understand which of your existing pieces generates the most interest from your audience. Let’s use our web analytics data for this. In this example, we’ll look at Google Search Console data because it shows the actual search performance of our website content.
Let’s use the topic of “content creation” as our desired pillar page keyword. Search for the query in Google Search Console (choose the “Queries containing” option):
Pull all of the pages currently generating impressions and clicks from terms containing your topic, placing those with the highest clicks and impressions at the top of your list. Here’s what this might look like:
As you can see, most of the content we’ve created that also ranks for keywords containing “content creation” is blog content. These will be highly useful as related resources on our pillar page.
Now, go back to your TF-IDF tool and select the subtopics related to “content creation” that you want to cover in your pillar page. Example:
Social media content
Content creation tool
Content creation process
Finally, map your existing blog content to those “content creation” subtopics. The initial mapping may look something like this:
You may not be able to map each blog perfectly to the subtopic you’re covering in your pillar page, but that’s OK. What’s important is that you’re providing readers with relevant content (where applicable) and that content, as you’ve seen in your Search Console data, is already proven to perform well with your organic search audience.
Pillar page planning templates and resources
Pillar pages take an incredible amount of time and planning to execute, but they are worth every penny.
Here’s an example of the success we saw after producing one of our more recent pillar pages, “How to Rank on Google:”
Here’s a template of the outline used to bring the page to life (and you can use it for your own pillar page). Just make a copy and off you go. Good luck!