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Tips to incorporate knowledge collection into your daily workflows

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Tips to incorporate knowledge collection into your daily workflows

This week at Forrester’s B2B Summit in Austin (my first in-person event in years), Jackie Palmer, VP of product marketing at Demandbase, and I chatted about the inconveniences inherent to our current working culture and environment. She told me she’d heard from one of my colleagues the day before, but because she’d been out enjoying dinner and drinks, she’d snoozed the message so she could get back to it later.

We agreed on these points: thank goodness for snoozing and what a relief it is that we can also now schedule messages (emails, Slack DMs, texts, etc.) to be sent at a later time. Both of these technological breakthroughs let us get things done when time permits, allowing busy professionals to squeeze in a quick few minutes of work here and there (while out to dinner, for example) without getting completely bogged down when the task turns out to be less bite-sized than we originally expected.

Checked an email but don’t have the time or resources to reply immediately? Put it back in the queue or schedule it to reappear when you’re likely to have everything you need. Had an idea you want to share with a colleague? Jot down your message but schedule it to arrive in their inbox when they’re sure to be focused on work.

Last week, I laid out a framework for personal knowledge management and shared some of the apps in my toolbox. This time, I’ll share some techniques for knowledge capture that take advantage of technology to ensure the right bit of info is in the right place at the right time. (It strikes me that this is the same language we use when we discuss getting customers and prospects to engage with our content.)

2022 MarTech replacement survey2022 MarTech replacement survey

The main idea behind all of these workflows is that for each type of information you’re gathering — a person’s contact info, a task that needs doing, an insightful article you want to find later, etc. — you have a single endpoint with multiple inputs. So, no matter the context (squeezing in a check of the mobile phone, completely on-task at your desk, multitasking in a virtual meeting, etc.), you have an easy way of getting that information to the right place so it can be surfaced at the right time.

You can collect and put information of any type in the right place for later use, no matter your current context.

The ubiquitous form

I’m a huge fan of forms for information collection because they give you so many options on the other end. You can slice and dice data, or just treat it like freeform text.

Zapier browser extension + ??

Zapier offers an extension for Chrome that lets you set up a form to appear as a right-hand sidebar next to whatever you’re doing. One great use for this is when I need to add new contacts to my database, or when I’m collecting information about vendors when I’m researching for our MarTech Intelligence Reports (MIR). Sometimes, this information will arise when someone introduces me to someone else via email. Other times, I start this process from online research on a webpage.

Here’s what the Zapier Chrome Extension looks like in your browser window

In any case, to ensure the information goes to the right place, I tap on the Zapier extension for Chrome which gives me a sidebar where I can grab info from my main screen without leaving that context. At the moment, I want contact information to be stored and accessible from a whole bunch of different places, so I use a Zapier zap to send that kind of info to Google Contacts, ClickUp, Airtable and (because I’m testing it right now) Folk. I input it once and click on the send button and voila — no more duplicate data entry or cutting and pasting. It’s not perfect, but it helps a lot.

Bonus: Here’s a link to my Zapier zap that does this, which you can customize to your own application

JotForm

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We ask vendors in the categories we cover in our MarTech Intelligence Reports to complete forms that quiz them about their companies and their product offerings in the tech sector we are examining. This helps ensure we ask the same questions of every vendor and, with some types of questions, we can turn answers directly into charts or graphs. The final section of the questionnaire asks for their views on the trends driving the category as a whole. This qualitative information is super valuable info for me, so I use Zapier to ensure their answers end up in Mem, where I can surface it when I’m outlining and writing.

I use these forms internally, too. They have a lot of capabilities that make them more powerful than the Zapier browser extension, and one of the most important is the ability to use drop-downs, checkboxes and radio buttons. These types of inputs ensure that you get consistent, structured data, without pesky alternative- or misspellings, typos, etc.

With this consistent data, it’s much easier to slice, dice and analyze the resulting data without doing a big cleanup. When I’m collecting information on vendors in various categories in the early stages of MIR research, I use a form that feeds data into Google Tables or Airtable, where I can analyze it all later. I’ll set my desktop up where I’ve got the form on one side of the display and the information destined to be input on the other. Because I use dropdown fields like “Software Category,” where I can choose from various options, I can later look at all of the companies in that category side by side, though I can jump from category to category when I’m collecting information.

Email forwarding or BCCing

As a marketer, you probably do a lot of work in email. However, email interfaces — however well-designed — aren’t the ideal places to surface the information that you share and receive via email. So, when you’re considering what elements to include in your personal knowledge base, make sure that email forwarding is supported as a means for importing information.

With some tools, like ClickUp, I can BCC a certain email address when I’m sending a message that’s related to a particular task, and that email (as well as many replies) will be included in the “comments” field of a task.

Recording + AI transcription

This is something I’ve used for virtual meetings (be sure to get permission), webinars or events, Twitter chats, podcasts and the like. Once you’ve recorded speech, drop it into Otter or Speak for automated transcription, then dump the transcription into your unstructured repository (be sure to keep the original audio in case the auto-translation is less-than-accurate).

Read it later

I use Pinboard (the evolution of what was delicious) to capture two kinds of information: articles that look promising but I don’t currently have time to read, and articles I’ve read that I want to refer to later — such as when I’m assembling something I’m writing. If you pay for the “archive” account ($39/year), Pinboard keeps a local copy of the content on the URLs you’ve bookmarked. Later, you can find relevant info via tags or full-text search even if the original content source is no longer online.

Conclusion

These are just a few of the ways I try to ensure important bits of information don’t pass me by in the course of the day. I hope they spark a few ideas for you that can help you smooth your workflow. I’ll explore organizing and surfacing that information in the weeks to come.

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About The Author

Pamela Parker is Research Director at Third Door Media’s Content Studio, where she produces MarTech Intelligence Reports and other in-depth content for digital marketers in conjunction with Search Engine Land and MarTech. Prior to taking on this role at TDM, she served as Content Manager, Senior Editor and Executive Features Editor. Parker is a well-respected authority on digital marketing, having reported and written on the subject since its beginning. She’s a former managing editor of ClickZ and has also worked on the business side helping independent publishers monetize their sites at Federated Media Publishing. Parker earned a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.

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MARKETING

Follow This Purpose-Driven Path to Greater SEO Success

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Follow This Purpose-Driven Path to Greater SEO Success

Historically, getting content to reach the top of a search engine results page usually hinged on your team’s ability to fulfill the rules of Google’s algorithm – no matter how complex, obscure, and sometimes unwritten.

However, that picture is changing now that AI has arrived behind the scenes of the top search engine, says Dale Bertrand, Fire and Spark’s content and SEO strategist. Its machine learning delivers more precise, adaptive, and contextual search results. It also gives marketers another approach to search result success – a purpose-driven strategy.

Develop a purpose-driven #SEO strategy that would please @Google’s #AI algorithm, says @joderama via @CMIContent @pageonepower. Click To Tweet

At the 2022 ContentTECH Summit and a recent Ask the CMWorld Community interview, Dale discussed what Google’s heavier reliance on an AI-controlled algorithm means and how a purpose-driven approach can help your brand compete with – and even beat – bigger fish in the SEO sea.

Search for greater SEO intelligence

In the early days of digital search, Google’s founders used the web’s link structure to rank the most relevant page results. “Basically, if you had the right links to your website and the right keywords on your pages, you would rank well,” Dale says.

But now, it’s more important to understand how that AI engine gets trained than to follow technical SEO rules. Dale says making this mindset change can help set your content on a path to increased visibility on search and stronger marketing performance overall.

It’s more important now to understand how that #AI engine gets trained than to follow technical #SEO rules, says Dale Bertrand of @Fire_and_Spark via @joderama @CMIContent @pageonepower. Click To Tweet

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Engineers set the technical quality guidelines

Human engineers are still involved in ranking content relevance. But instead of programming the algorithm, their role is to rate a site’s trustworthiness, content accuracy, authoritativeness, and connection to other relevant content providers on the topic at hand.

“That quality information is collected as a big dataset from websites that have been graded, which is part of what they feed into Google’s algorithm to train the AI,” says Dale. There’s a big, long document out there – the web quality raters guide. Any marketer can read it to see what the raters look for when building the training dataset for Google’s AI.”


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AI adds behavioral signals

From that point, Google’s AI engine takes over, tracking search behaviors, analyzing signals of intent, and correlating those insights with the quality rating data to determine the most relevant content to a search query.

But, Dale says, keep in mind: “Google’s AI engine doesn’t care about your content – it only cares about its own performance.” It’s looking for confirmation that the content it selects will deliver a satisfying experience for searchers. Your job is to make sure it sees your brand’s content as a likely win.

Prove your #content has what it takes for better search results. Build momentum through community and demonstrate multifactor authority, says Dale Bertrand of @Fire_and_Spark via @joderama @CMIContent @pageonepower. Click To Tweet

Shared purpose promotes multifactor authority

Dale discusses two ways brands can prove that their content has what it takes to deliver the AI’s desired results:

  • Build momentum through community. A community behind your brand frequently visits, engages with, and links to your website. They recommend your products and services and amplify your site. Dale says these actions demonstrate a high level of customer intimacy. Google’s AI uses the artifacts of success from this content – high engagement, low bounce rate, and a high click-through rate – to confirm your site and content are loved.
  • Demonstrate multifactor authority. Part of AI’s investigation of brands that resonate with online consumers is the company you keep, Dale says. Authoritative individuals, organizations, and influencers can contribute to your brand’s authority by linking to, citing, and amplifying your content across their channels and platforms.

Prove your #content has what it takes for better search results. Build momentum through community and demonstrate multifactor authority, says Dale Bertrand of @Fire_and_Spark via @joderama @CMIContent @pageonepower. Click To Tweet

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How to use purpose to build SEO power

Dale describes an SEO strategy that can help build authority and momentum by focusing on a purpose your brand believes in: “Hopefully, your brand stands for something. But [for SEO], it’s even better if your brand is actively promoting a change that you want to see in your industry.”

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By using your content to build valuable conversations around that change, you give the tools to those with an established interest to spread your brand messages. This data around this reciprocal relationship demonstrates the brand traction Google’s AI sees as proof your content is a solid search bet.

Dale shares a client example:

I worked with one brand that was selling handmade children’s products. The US government was about to pass a law that would have made it so [small businesses like this] would have had to do $100,000 worth of testing before being allowed to sell a single product. We were able to lead the movement against that law and turn that into an SEO campaign that generated authority, backlinks, and website engagement – all the things that Google’s AI is looking for.

He explains the process he used to achieve those results:

Step 1: Find high-profile groups and learn about the causes they support

Find potential partners – influencers, non-profits, advocacy organizations, and others who are working towards a purpose in which your business might have a stake. It could be an organization that’s written about helping previously incarcerated people find jobs, influencers promoting veteran-run businesses, or an event that supports disadvantaged youth in your local community.

When you’ve identified viable candidates, research their positions and how they communicate about them in their online conversations. “You need to understand what issues these influencers care about, what they’re writing about, what’s going on in their social conversations. All of those things are targets for your purpose-driven SEO campaign,” Dale says.

Step 2: Choose a mission your content will support

Once you find an area with enough grassroots supporters, craft a mission statement around it for your brand’s SEO campaign. It should be something your brand can speak to authentically; otherwise, audiences will see right through it. “It has to be based on your organization’s values because you’re going to get behind it. At the end of the day, if you don’t care about feeding hungry children, that just can’t be the mission,” Dale says.

If you’re on the B2B side or operate in a crowded market, it may be worthwhile to adopt a unique or even slightly controversial mission to differentiate your brand. “[You might think] sustainability is a good [purpose to build on], but so many companies have taken this topic on that it doesn’t move the needle from a search marketing perspective,” Dale says.

Rather than just choosing a hot topic, he suggests looking for a niche, such as a critical change affecting the supply chain for your industry or a regulatory issue that impacts product costs, to rally around. Doing so can help insert your brand name into relevant conversations that your bigger, higher-profile competitors may not be associated with.

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Step 3: Create “citable” content aligned with your mission

The goal isn’t to promote your brand’s involvement with the chosen cause; it’s to create content your partner organizations can cite when making their case for the cause. “The content is fuel for their advocacy – it gives them credible, authoritative information they can use in their arguments,” Dale says.

For example, Dale says, interview someone personally affected by the mission, write an opinion piece about the change your business is advocating, or publish an original research report. “This is the type of content that [they] would organically mention and link to while trying to get their point across in their own content conversations. That’s how you’re going to get the deeper engagement and increased backlinks that Google’s AI can see,” says Dale.

Step 4: Reach out to other like-minded influencers

With a body of purpose-focused content cited and linked to, you can increase your content’s authority and reach by sharing the outcomes with other influencers who care about the topic. But rather than conducting a blast email campaign, contact them individually by email or personal message on social channels.

In this outreach, focus your messages on furthering the mission. “We’re not promoting our business, our products, and services, or our content. We’re saying, ‘Hey, I saw that you’re a big advocate for helping previously incarcerated youth find jobs. We’ve got an interview your audience would be interested in … would you help us promote it?’” Dale explains.

Not only are influencers more likely to respond to this type of outreach, but they may be more willing to promote your content without compensation because it helps them create content in an area that they’re passionate about, Dale says.

Fuel a shared purpose and find greater search success

In a crowded landscape, where reaching a top spot on SERPs is harder to achieve than ever, it’s time for marketers to stop trying to outsmart the search algorithm. By putting a shared human purpose at the center of your SEO strategy, your content will broadcast all the signals of authority, relevance, and value Google’s AI is looking for.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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