How Optimization Influences Communications

Why are you reading this blog post? That, I’m not really sure about.

Who are you? Why are you reading this blog post? I can take a good guess. You probably have marketing, communications or PR in your profile somewhere. Chances are, you’ve read a post on a similar subject or even read something on the Zer0 to 5ive blog before. If our readership mirrors a site such as MarketingProfs, you are likely a professional at a small or medium-sized business in North America.

How do I know this? Because we’re inside an optimization loop. It’s similar to the social media bubble of our own design that keeps the unpleasant posts of our crazy uncle out of our feed and keeps feeding us posts that we’ll like, comment and share on. The optimization loop is more automated and more invisible. Every Google search (at least 5.5 billion a day), Amazon purchase (600 items a second on Prime Day 2016), or Facebook like (500,000 a minute) is being captured and analyzed to keep us clicking, buying and engaging.

Past performance is generally regarded as a good predictor of future behavior online, so the optimization loop keeps on working to drive more clicks. For those trying to get someone to take a new action online, the loop can be hard to break into. Here are a few ideas on how you can get your message out (or your client’s message, since you’re probably from an agency!):

1) Publish Outside Your Box

When creating content for potential customers to read, it’s important to get it published in the right places and engaged with by the right people so that it leaves your brand’s loop and enters the content loops of your prospects. This can best be accomplished through contributed content to publications or blogs that serve a target audience. When it comes to Google, they will have stronger authority on the content topic, and will be more likely to make your content rise to the top of search results.

There are also ways to leverage social media to try and break into new areas (e.g. hashtags in Twitter, audience targeting in Facebook), but if your account is outside of the loop, it’s less likely to be effective. With systems like Facebook’s algorithms in place that rely on thousands of factors tied to affinity and actions around a company’s page and individual posts, having your content pushed out by a well-regarded third party is a great way to increase impressions on your message. Plus, it allows you to use your brand and personal accounts to spread that message rather than relying on self-published content, which is likely to receive fewer eyeballs.

2) Become an Expert to Your Audience

There used to be ways to fake it online without real content, but the methods employed by Google and Facebook to determine valuable content are largely driven by user behavior. Bounce rate, time on page and post engagement all matter when it comes to rankings and visibility, so time spent creating good content will pay dividends over time. By combining strong content and wider distribution, it’s possible to become an expert source for target audiences.

This emphasis on quality carries over to email marketing as well. Gmail and other services increasingly monitor user engagement to determine if an email will be delivered. They examine behaviors at a macro (sending account) and micro (individual email) level to build reputation scores, so if your emails are ignored for being of little value (let alone marked as spam or unsubscribed), it’s going to keep your content from being seen.

3) Understand the System

It takes a lot of work to keep up with the changes being made by the big online platforms. Keeping up with what’s working on Google and updating your content and communications strategy on an ongoing basis to match can pay big dividends. Factors go beyond content too. For example, if web pages are slow loading, not mobile friendly, or not protected with SSL encryption, there can be penalties from Google because your site is not providing a good, secure user experience.

There’s also a degree of “follow the money” that smart users can capitalize on. If Facebook wants to push Facebook Live video to users to increase its popularity, it would be wise for you to use it and break through the walls that the algorithms put up. Being aware of best practices and using them to influence your communications strategy can create a lasting competitive advantage, as the optimization loop only gets stronger in your favor.

By: Bob Minkus, Director

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