Bad teams don’t share information with other teams they work with. Good teams do. And teams that survive in the long-term share information that allows them to engage users as people.
In order to survive, the different groups that collaborate on a brand’s web strategy (design, editorial, etc.) must work as a cohesive team with a singular objective: engaging people. Marketers are constantly at risk of losing sight of the people whom they need to engage, by using data that is too narrow to describe them effectively.
As such, the information and tasks shared between team members should be seen as opportunities to talk to people, rather than obligations to share data for the sake of data. This is one way in which strategists can avoid forgetting about the people whose attention is vital to any sort of success in marketing.
Beware the Siloes
At L&T we often encounter the problem of siloed marketing teams in our conversations. By this, I mean that the analytics, writing, design teams, etc. are separate, never communicate, or share only limited information.
If the teams are worth their salt, their output — such as a web page template or article — will be good according to the standards that they define. However, unless they play as a team and exchange multi-faceted information, good is all the output will be.
Think of this idea as L&T’s Conjoined Triangles of Success.
Sharing Multi-Faceted Data
Teams can promote better collaboration by sharing richer data.
Let’s use the interplay between designers and analysts as an example. If we were dealing with a medical practice, say, the analytics team might gather some search data and identify an informational need in the form of the following keyword: shoulder labrum tear. The design team might then be instructed to create the layout for a page explaining this injury.
If the design team uses this one data point — the demand for a particular keyword — as the basis of their design, they will at best create a page that looks good. However, if they talk to the SEO and analytics team about the people that are entering this query, what they need, and their mental state, they will have the information necessary to give the reader the experience they’re actually looking for. In the case of shoulder labrum tear, the target audience of a medical practice (people with injuries) want straightforward help and to be able to understand their next step simply.
Data that Informs Your Brand’s Writing
In the early days of search engine optimized web design, many professionals built websites that were completely insensitive to their bedside manner and personal brand. Take legal services, for example: it would be completely absurd for an attorney to start jabbering ungrammatically, using phrases like best lawyer new york — but real businesses in many industries have sites like this because it was good for SEO in 2010.
Rather, by seeing the human behind the keyword data, writers can bring their brand’s bedside manner online.
Flipping the Script
So far we’ve examined how analytics can help design and writing — but these processes can enhance analytics in return.
As I mentioned in my article on writing your first ever blog post, you can use search data to inform your publishing strategy, but the search data you get comes from the content you publish. So, if you only write about one thing, you’ll rank for a very narrow cluster of keywords. Conversely, writers can generate rich, useful data by experimenting with new content and publishing on a variety of topics.
The same applies to design: analytics tools and heat maps can help you optimize the way your site looks, but the data these tools provide is generated by the design you first created. Creating design that is sensitive to the user will encourage engagement and, ultimately, yield more useful feedback.
Computers are getting cleverer and users more discerning. Nobody complained about 90s websites because the internet was new and unprecedented. Keyword stuffing worked in 2008 because Google hadn’t caught up.
Gaming the system has become more difficult since then, and will continue to do so. As such, it is imperative for organizations to build teams whose objective is to have conversations like human beings.