eCommerce Companies Need Content Partners, Not Mills

Working with another company to write the content for your business website is fairly commonplace today. The sheer scale of contemporary websites necessitates a scalable process and vast pool of freelancers that most companies can’t easily access.

When I talk to CMOs and marketing VPs/Directors at e-commerce companies, I often hear a complaint about managing such an endeavor:

The content just doesn’t fit. The copy our internal team writes just sounds better.

Or the biggie: We didn’t get what we ordered.

I have personally experienced these justified concerns during my roles managing SEO strategies and content at my past employers (two of the biggest ecommerce players on the planet). They paint a vivid picture of a specific problem: Most content mills just don’t get their customers. They don’t fully understand a business’s SEO, SEM and content strategy before beginning the production process. They don’t understand the near and distant goals of the business, the vision behind current initiatives, and what leadership at those companies is building toward.

It’s not that the leadership at these mills doesn’t possess the capabilities, experience and skills to fully understand a complex content strategy. Often, these individuals come from the same roles their customers currently occupy. The mills are just not set up to fully partner with their customers and help realize the grand goals of a sustained content strategy. In my experience, if leadership and account managers do not fully immerse themselves in every aspect of a customer’s initiative — from brainstorming to documenting and pivoting as metrics become available — the project will fall short.

That’s why at eZdia, we strictly adhere to what we internally call the Magic Trifecta: Strategy, Technology, Scalability. Through this methodology, we not only deliver to our customers agency-quality content, we also build a content infrastructure that maps exactly to a customer’s needs, wishes and vision.

If we can’t or don’t contribute as an equal partner in each of the three aspects of the trifecta, we’re not delivering. And quite frankly, if your content partner isn’t doing the same, I believe the trip you’ve embarked upon with them will be lackluster at best — and at worst, an utter failure. My vision for eZdia (and for this industry overall) is centered on content infrastructure providers acting as long-term, engaged partners to their customers, using the three pillars in that trifecta as support.

Strategy

We want to be in lockstep with you from the time you define the KPIs of the content initiatives we will be involved with. We can stand at the whiteboard with you, see what content you’ve published to date, isolate the holes in your content strategy, and help you devise not only better indicators of success, but also paths toward stitching up those holes. The collective professional experience at eZdia obviously lends itself to this ability, but our most promising and effective advantage is the range of services we’ve built to dovetail with most any strategy.

We can use our technology and our strategists to help you evaluate your web properties extremely quickly. By letting our “Managed” crowd access and evaluate each page in your SKU or landing page inventory and categorize them based on specific criteria you set, you’ll achieve a deeper understanding of what you have (and what you need) than ever before. Does your content match your images? Does each page contain enough relevant data, formatted in the correct way, to optimize its search engine performance? Are there typos in your web copy? How does each site rank for a certain keyword?

We can help you further define and improve your content strategy by using cold, hard data. A data-driven strategy is always best, and more than ever before, we are equipped to deliver just that. Imagine being able to leverage an immense group of freelancers to classify and then organize your SKUs or landing pages into clear-cut groups, each one carrying a different weight in terms of how soon and how drastically the content needs to be updated. In short, eZdia is a different type of content infrastructure provider: We start building your solution at the foundation, with your data.

As part of these planning and brainstorming sessions, we need to understand more than just your objective KPIs in publishing or refreshing content. It’s traffic goals. SEO is, of course, a part of any solid content strategy. Our customers need to get the right content in front of the right sets of eyes to sell. But thanks to enhanced algortithms from the main search engine players, it’s just one facet of an effective take on SEM. And any content provider you decide to work with needs to understand the softer elements of your strategy — the brand voice, target audience, subjects to avoid.

That’s what we at eZdia want and need, because we strategically build each project from the ground up. And, of course, as part of this we also want to know every nook and cranny of your brand style, “tone, look and feel” so that we can recruit the right writers for your needs and make sure their instructions are crystal clear.

Because eZdia’s leadership and account management teams are always working with cutting-edge SEM methods, helping customers gather and analyze performance data and applying best practices to address those issues, we are more equipped to participate in your strategy sessions than most customer prospects expect. And as always, Deepak (my co-founder), I and rest of our team are personally available to help both new and recurring customers with any of their content strategy, SEO or SEM needs.

Technology

Our planning sessions with you will shape the technology we employ to realize your content aims. The majority of mills subject all writing work to a set-in-stone workflow, a homogenous process that produces subpar results. At eZdia, we fully customize our processes based on your assessed needs. This means we can establish work flow and special quality assurance steps that go beyond editing, such as fact checking, negative filters, negative sentiment & brand voice filters, formatting checks, copy length guidelines, internal compliance, data insertion and so on.

As we learn more about what you have set out to do this year with your content, you will be an equal party in our discussions about how we will leverage our technology to suit you. No obscurity. I believe that involving the customer (to the extent they wish to be involved) on both sides of the curtain is essential to not only creating a lasting partnership, but to assuring the success of any venture.

One good example of how we’ve built our technology with customer involvement in mind is how we’ve shortened the feedback lag between your internal team, our project managers and outside producers. We actually allow your team to log on to our platform and perform a final QA of the content if so desired. This empowers your staff to leverage our content production engine and accept or reject content as it leaves our hands. It also ensures that feedback and suggestions are noted, built back into the system and acted upon immediately. We can turn on a dime if you decide what you’re seeing isn’t quite right, or if you’re like most companies, there is a continuing evolution in strategy or brand messaging that must be taken into consideration.

Scalability

The term scalability gets bandied about a lot in this industry and others. Like so many other buzzwords, much of the term’s specific meaning has become obscured. But to me, and to the team at eZdia, scalability means something very specific: It means continuously investing in human talent & machine efficiencies.

We can only scale as far as our ever-growing group of talented freelancers can stretch, so we have an abiding commitment to developing and strengthening that base. We are constantly recruiting great new talent and investing in them, so not only can they be successful, but we can assure that this human element comes through and your project is also unique and successful.

Additionally, we understand our managed teams are a collection of talented individuals, often hand picked, trained and fostered over many months to meet your project’s unique goals. eZdia’s customers demand more, so we deliver more through our people (Scalability), the configurable Technology necessary to support them, building specific content templates in our tool, and the Strategies we deploy to make every project, and those involved on both sides a success.

As the content solutions industry continues to grow in 2015, I hope other industry leaders will join me in acknowledging that by following these three core principles, along with spending more time immersing ourselves in our customers’ plans, goals and dreams, we can do better. We can erase some of the assumptions about scalable content solutions and reshape people’s opinions. Mills that simply dump a boatload of content on a customer’s doorstep are a thing of the past. It’s time for content infrastructure partners to thrive.

Ready for a new approach to your content strategy and creative partnership? Get in touch with the eZdia team! They’ll give you a tour of our platform, a live demo and show exactly how we accomplish each of the components I talked about here.

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Originally published at www.ezdia.com on January 9, 2015.