Imagine that you were working in your content marketing job for a year. In December, you proudly look at all the great content you and your team have produced. And then a knockout happens: only 35% of your work has been used.
This is a common scenario for many B2B marketers. According to SiriusDecisions, "60% to 70% of the content produced by B2B marketing organizations remains unused, sitting on sales portals and on the shelves of websites."
It's a sobering statistic.
According to Anna McHugh, Content Librarian and Curator at Red Hat, the factors contributing to the underutilization of content are ease of search, relevance and quality. In a presentation to ContentTECH, Content Constituents: Metadata Strategy for Beautiful Nerds, Anna explains in detail how an appropriate metadata strategy can make the content of a brand more discoverable and relevant.
A well-applied metadata strategy can result in the use of a higher percentage of brand content.
A metadata strategy may increase the percentage of use of the content of a mark. @annamarymchugh #ContentTECH Click to Tweet
But wait, what is metadata?
In an article published by the Content Marketing Institute, author Michael Andrews refers to a definition of the metadata of Mikael Nilsson:
Metadata are descriptive data of identifiable elements.
As Michael notes, "identifiable things" can be content and much more: brand customers, visitors, devices used by visitors, places to visit, etc.
This quote from Michael captures the mission of metadata:
I call metadata a secret sauce because, if everything works correctly, it's invisible: you do not notice the metadata; you simply notice that things are working well.
I call #metadata a secret sauce because, if everything works properly, it's invisible, says @storyneedle. Click to tweet
For Anna, metadata can turn a collection of random stars into a constellation:
Marketers create a single content and consider it their "star". Anna would say to them, "Okay, I understand that this is an important asset and that you have several projects in this direction, but we owe it in this larger ecosystem."
Without metadata, the sky would be filled with randomly placed stars, in the absence of interconnections. Metadata is the common language that places order among the stars to create a constellation.
#Metadata can turn a collection of random stars into a constellation. @annamarymchugh #ContentTECH Click to Tweet
With metadata, people do not see only stars in the sky, they see the Big Dipper, a segment of the Big Dipper's constellation. As Anna says, "Content constellations allow our prospects to explore in a much more sophisticated way. With metadata, we superimpose additional meaning on each asset because it exists in a larger set. "
She continues, "Every star in a constellation can be sewn into a larger content ecosystem and make even more sense. The constellation helps you articulate your story in a more meaningful way. "
Now that you know what metadata is, I'll touch on the essential elements of metadata management that Anna shares in her presentation.
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Advantages of flat taxonomies
Brain Traffic defines taxonomy as "any kind of structure organizing information … the underlying objectives are to create a certain level of consistency and control over the information used to describe a content component and to clarify the relationships between them".
When Anna arrived at Red Hat, an internal taxonomy and an external taxonomy did not fit. One of his first projects was a taxonomic audit. She examined each element of the taxonomy and eliminated the duplicates. She also ensured that a consistent terminology was used.
As a result, Anna joined the internal and external taxonomies, allowing Red Hat to inventory, audit and link all its content with analysis and performance data. I'm going to get into a little bit of analysis and performance.
Taxonomies can become complex when parent-child relationships are introduced. For example, a top-level (parent) category can be a "product" for a technology company. His children categories are "hardware" and "software". The "software" category can have child categories "Java", "PHP" and "Python". This level of nesting can continue indefinitely.
A nested taxonomy makes it difficult to choose users. The natural inclination of users is to skip the step of tagging metadata. The result? The lack of metadata for a piece of content (for example, lack of product or subject tag) means that it will not be visible if users browse or search the website.
This is why Anna recommends the use of flat taxonomies. "If your top-level category is a topic, then you have a list of terms and you do not have nested terms because it makes it difficult for internal users," she says.
Do not confuse the terms #metadata. This makes it difficult for internal users. @annamarymchugh #ContentTECH Click to Tweet
For Red Hat, a flat taxonomy simplifies the tagging process for content owners and speeds up the sharing and use of content across the enterprise.
"Thanks to a uniform taxonomy, we are able to provide people with a content inventory that includes everything from date of publication to quarterly alignment of topics, so that people can mix. It's easier than consulting a lot of nested categories, "says Anna.
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It is natural to structure a taxonomy around the brand's products, services and related themes. In parallel, however, Anna suggests creating a taxonomy to transform – to cope with clients. In other words, create a taxonomy that meets customers' challenges.
Transform your #taxonomy so that it is customer-facing. @annamarymchugh #ContentTECH Click to Tweet
Taxonomy should consider "what reduces their stress, what is their job, what do they do on a daily basis. It's also about understanding what makes customers happy, what influences them and who inspires them, "says Anna.
Red Hat has a metadata structure that organizes its products and product lines for internal research. However, for external research, metadata focuses on customer issues.
"We are able to articulate values and talk about the challenges our customers are trying to solve, instead of saying," OK, Linux interests you, so we'll just send you Linux content to you " . blue, "says Anna.
I visited the Red Hat website to see this taxonomy in action. On its Resources page, a faceted search feature allows me to restrict the list of resources by applying filters.
The filters expose components of the Red Hat taxonomy, such as this filter for the content type:
Click to enlarge
Browsing through the list of filters, I find a category called "Business Challenge". Here is an example of Red Hat completely reversing its taxonomy, putting it in touch with its customers. The numbers to the right of each challenge indicate the number of resources in that category (for example, 363 resources for IT optimization):
Click to enlarge
When computer optimization is selected, a list of all matching resources is displayed:
Click to enlarge
Using metadata, Red Hat provides potential customers with hundreds of resources, categorized by category of challenges. Win, win.
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Connecting metadata to analytical data
Consider a content marketing specialist in a technology research firm. She can easily access web analytics to determine the busiest blog posts in the last month. For the most interesting posts, she can see the bounce rate, the time spent on the page, the time spent on the site and the average duration of sessions.
But what if his boss asked him how were the blog posts about artificial intelligence? This is a more delicate exercise that probably requires manual work (for example, looking for blog posts that deal with artificial intelligence, then collecting data in a spreadsheet).
This exercise becomes much easier when metadata is connected to analysis data.
At Red Hat, the taxonomies and tags used on the website are mapped into the web analytics system. From the Content Management System (CMS), the team exports each metadata object by assigning each object a unique identifier. The export is then imported into the web analytics system.
Examining performance metrics for a topic category is now simple.
As Anna explains, "OK, are you interested in APIs? We'll give you a report with all the content related to the API, as well as the content related to a specific product that uses APIs. And we'll tell you how this set of content looks. "
Red Hat marketers offer ideas on how to reuse high-performing content. They also find content that resonates with their audience but requires updating. Instead of creating new content that might miss the target, the team takes the right content and makes it great. It's all about the initial work of connecting metadata (such as taxonomies and tags) to web analytics.
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Document your metadata strategy
As an avid reader of the Content Marketing Institute, you know the importance of a documented content marketing strategy.
A documented metadata strategy is no different.
A documented metadata strategy helps other members of your organization understand and use metadata. @annamarymchugh #ContentTECH Click to Tweet
A documented metadata strategy records your approach on paper and helps other members of your organization understand the strategy and how to support it.
In addition to documenting the strategy, Anna recommends keeping an inventory of your taxonomy as well as a log of changes. If someone says: "I've never said you could get rid of this tag," the content team can answer, "Well, I talked to you seven months ago when I renamed it. You still have the tag, but it's called something new because the technology has changed. "
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Get the results
Metadata can move mountains. Anna shares the results of the Red Hat team metadata management efforts:
Organic traffic growth: 99% (quarter-on-quarter) and 300% (year-on-year).
Growth of gated interactions: 36% (quarter on quarter).
First-page ranking on seven of the eight priority topics.
Increased promotion of valuable content created in-house.
Next Steps (for you)
When Anna talks about metadata, taxonomy and beacons, the eyes of some people are kindled, though she demystifies them admirably in interesting ways. But keep your eyes clear and open if you want the content you create to be used. Metadata offers tremendous potential and power.
Inspired to do something about your metadata management? Discuss the subject with your team. Identify who should form a metadata committee.
Consider working backwards: with the help of examples from this article, identify the business benefits you hope to get, then work backwards to determine how management metadata can help you achieve that.
And make sure you have your new metadata strategy in writing.
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Want to learn more about content marketing strategies to get your content found and used? Get ready today to participate in Content Marketing World from September 3rd to 6th. Register using the code CMIBLOG100 to save $ 100.
Cover image of Joseph Kalinowski / Content Marketing Institute