TechBytes with Erik Newton, VP of Marketing and Head of SEO, BrightEdge

Erik Newton

Erik Newton
VP of Marketing and Head of SEO – BrightEdge

Event-specific content made big waves in the retail and commerce industries in 2017, and we were intrigued to know how modern marketers analyze the impact of customer data on their hyper-local content marketing campaigns. Diving deeper into the niche of content marketing, we spoke to Erik Newton, Vice President of Marketing and Head of SEO, BrightEdge.

Tell us about your role at BrightEdge and the team you handle.

I am the VP of Customer Marketing and Head of SEO. I run multiple matrix organizations in marketing, for SEO, and within the customer base itself involving dozens of people.

How do you see the evolution of the Marketing Technology around customer data and intent insights impacting business decisions?

Effective marketing technologies make massive data sets tiny and enable better marketing decisions and outcomes. To explain massive and tiny, I like to use the analogy of a single penny and one million pennies. Everyone knows what one penny is. Do people understand a million? A million pennies is somewhat difficult to visualize, but when we call to mind visual aids, like three Freedom Towers tall, or enough to fill an entire phone booth, it’s easier to follow the magnitude of size.

Big data is a lot bigger than a million data points. It’s more like a billion or couple hundred billion or more. Only a platform and sophisticated software can help make sense of it. So an effective marketing technology has to process mountains of data and provide a friendly interface that can output a single relevant recommendation, like an intent-rich topic suggestion for a marketer to write about.

BrightEdge tracks and captures on average 51 percent of trackable traffic in SEO – the channel where the majority of the customers and intent data come from.

Holiday themes like Black Friday and Cyber Monday produce sensational marketing campaigns. How do marketing campaigns benefit from BrightEdge data on these events?

Marketers need to understand their audience and the language they use throughout their customer journey. Search engines are looking for the most relevant content to share with their customers. When brands use BrightEdge for their SEO, it allows these marketers to see inside the customer’s’ context and word choice and align their content with it.

Currently, at BrightEdge, we’re tracking the 2017 holiday season online activity to enable customers to better understand audience behavior during this critical time of the year and where the opportunity lies to amp up their digital presence. For example, we’ve found there is a phenomenon we’ve dubbed “Research Sunday” developing, wherein customers begin the Black Friday and Cyber Monday journey one week prior to the events––on the Sunday, five days before. The opportunity lies in developing messages, offers, and channel and device tactics to reach the customer with research and reviews at that point in the journey.

How critical is it for modern businesses to leverage AI and machine learning capabilities for better SEO and content management?

Whatever the scale of the company and the content operation, we’ve entered an age when it is paramount to employ Smart Content––content that is powered by big-data-fed machine learning so it is observant and self-adjusting from release to years down the road. This Smart Content is targeted, optimized, technically current, integrated and most importantly, profitable.

At BrightEdge, we started tracing this Smart Content need several years ago, and developed BrightEdge DataMind, which is AI that consumes big data, applies machine learning to make big data tiny enough to enable a single writer to create a single smart blog post –content that is more likely to rank, be found, and engaged by consumers.

Is customer engagement the new ‘digital business currency’? How do you meet customer expectations when it comes to sharing marketing data?

Engagement is half the battle. For B2C companies, we advise customers to think in micro-moments and to be digitally available at multiple points where a purchase decision might be made. For example, in search you need to target Quick Answers, Local, Video, regular listings, and paid ads. The BrightEdge Data Cube helps customers track and target these universal content types for these micro-moment touchpoints.

Most B2B companies sell to sophisticated decision makers and groups of decision makers that seek out extensive background information and reviews online before contacting or accepting contact from an outbound rep. Think of that as pre-engagement content. Sales cycles are usually a few months, so more content is needed to keep the opportunity from going cold. Engagement of all kinds, human and digital, is critical to engaging and servicing and renewing B2B clients.

Search plays a big role at the beginning, middle, and end of these customer journeys and lifecycle. Prospects start by looking for generic keywords, learn about products and brands, develop preferences, and then usually come back via the brand when they are ready to move forward. BrightEdge helps brands build and track content that engages for all phases of that journey.

What would the B2B industry look like in 2020 as companies shift to dynamic customer experience management and hyper-personalization?

AI will help companies get the right content in front of the right prospect or customer at the right moment, and that will free up the customer-facing people involved to work on the things that humans are uniquely good at, like strategy, building relationships, and communicating concern for their customers and their success.

Thanks for chatting with us, Erik.
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