Last week, actionable marketing expert Heidi Cohen conducted a webinar on content marketing development, discovery and distribution. During the webinar, which was attended by 172 of you fine people, Heidi received more than a dozen shrewd questions. She provided answers to some of the queries during the webinar’s Q&A, but I thought I’d take a crack providing you with our perspective as well. To see an on-demand replay of the webinar, click here.

Q: Could you speak to microconversion and lead generation? Much of this [presentation] is built around sales and purchases.

A: Your content can function as an ideal introductory interaction with prospects and leads. Good content provides entertainment or informational value, but it also enables your audience to learn about your company’s strategies and principles. Use your blog, video and social media assets to inform people about what your company stands for and not just what your next product release will be. This, coupled with quality content, allows you to create a community of readers and audience members who will return to your site beyond the initial information gathering stage; in this manner you are actually developing a conversion funnel that brings readers from introductions to information gathering to participation to conversion.

Q: Search and inbound marketing: content marketing is essential to rank in search results. That’s an essential consideration in creation as well?

A: Search results are absolutely important. However, and this is even more important, SEO should not be a driving factor in the type of content you create. Create content that is valuable to your company and your intended audience. If you want to tweak the content to make it search-friendly, so be it, but only do so in a complementary fashion. Don’t completely transform the content so that it reads better for Bing than it does for humans. As our CEO Yaron Galai said a few days ago, the second click is magical. You don’t want to drive audiences to one of your pages only to turn them away with bad content generated for SEO. Throughout our history as a company we have championed the DEO movement (discovery engine optimization). As our COO David Sasson once wrote: “In the content world, what’s important is constructing quality content in a way that helps people discover it in areas where they are in [content consumption] mode: Facebook and Twitter are certainly part of this landscape, as are other peer publishers and bloggers who will happily link to quality, interesting content (and who are heedless of keyword games used to fool bots).”

Q: What do you mean by eBooks?

A: eBooks is short for electronic books. Electronic books are similar to print books, but they are meant to be consumed on computers, tablets or mobile phones.

Q: Do you have any suggestions for online websites that help with producing quality videos?

A: Before you decide to outsource your video creation, check out this recently published article from The Content Marketing Institute. This piece offers three recommendations for keeping your video budget under control, one of which is tasking your employees with creating your videos. “You really can produce a lot of great online video by yourself. By why not share the effort — and the glory — with others in your organization? Many companies are bursting at the seams with valuable, re-useable digital content, and great storytellers. Use these resources! Let your subject-matter experts focus on the content, and assure them that you’ll take care of the rest.”

Q: Are there any small blogs [with small resources] that you think are doing a good job?

A: I’m a huge fan of MailChimp’s blog, which does a great job educating readers about product changes and upgrades, as well as providing customer testimonials. Hubspot’s blog is an amazing resource for general marketing how-to strategy. MarketingProfs’ blog has a large stable of contributors that offer an eclectic mix of marketing research and recommendations. IBM doesn’t have small resources (understatement of the year) but their blog is a great example of how an empowered army of workers can generate amazing content for all aspects of your business.

Q: Can you give me a brief definition of what is Content Marketing?

A: Content marketing is the creation and distribution of relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage consumers.

Q: Any tips for creating a content calendar or how to get guest bloggers to adhere to a schedule?

A: I recently spoke with Rebecca Lieb, Digital Advertising and Media Analyst at The Altimeter Group, about this exact subject. She said the first step to creating an editorial calendar is figuring out what kind of content has worked for you in the past. “What’s getting resonance and results?” she asked. “How can you give them more? Or at least give it to them regularly in a way that scales.” The second step, Lieb said, is developing the governance, production and management procedures. “Who is responsible for getting the content? Who is responsible for producing it? Who approves the content once it is produced?” And finally, she said marketers should revisit edit calendars frequently to make sure they maintain the structure and information you want to convey. As for getting guest bloggers to adhere to a schedule: (Juan’s thoughts here) Writers are fickle creatures. Always build in a little bit of a buffer in case someone can’t meet their deadline. Set deadlines a few days or weeks in advance of the actual drop-dead deadline just in case.

Q: I am a small business – and I’m too busy running my business to write and do video. Where do I even begin?

A: Companies like Contently can help create interesting content for you if you’re too busy to write. I would also recommend finding the time to produce at least one piece of content each week. Even if it isn’t Dickensian, any piece of content you produce brings you one step closer to an interaction with your audience.

Q: Do you have any content marketing advice specific to b-to-b marketers?

Q: In a b-to-b environment with niche products with a relatively small audience, can you offer any specific advice not already mentioned in the presentation?

A: A few weeks ago I spoke with Mike Klassen, author of “Increase Sales & Build Deeper Connections: Maximizing Your Content to Boost Sales and Generate Better-Quality Leads,” about how small businesses can get the process started. I think his suggestions also apply to any b-to-b with a small audience. He said he often finds that the notion of content marketing “scares the hell out of some people.” But he says brands have to at least start the blogging process because “a blog gives people a reason to come back to the site…Most small businesses think throwing up a website and a sales letter should be good enough. But nobody’s sales letter is that good.” (Juan’s thoughts here) Remember that your b-to-b audience is also a b-to-c audience. They expect your content to be as interesting as any other business they interact with in their everyday lives. That doesn’t mean you’ve got to hire an advertising agency to film a thirty-second spot with special effects, but it does mean you’ve got to produce content that does something more interesting than your sales materials.

Q: What’s a good way to build a Facebook following? Buttons on website, promos for “Liking” page? I represent a moving company and really struggle to get people to our page.

A: This TechCrunch article is a bit dated but I still think it answers the question perfectly. The piece suggests brands mess around with larger images, add interesting tabs like Flickr and Foursquare, spotlight team members and actively participate. These tips might not skyrocket your following overnight, but I don’t think that should be the point. A promotion giving away a free iPad might increase your numbers today, but after the promotion is over you’ll see numbers level-off as people un-“like” your page.

Q: We don’t have a lot of money to spend on promoting our content. How do you distribute your content without relying too heavily on social media because everyone else is doing that?

A: I’m going to be completely honest with you: Outbrain Amplify is an amazing way to get audiences to discover your content. If I didn’t honestly feel this way, I wouldn’t work here. Here’s how Amplify works: Whether you have 1 article or 1000, Amplify can help you grow traffic with a pay-per-click model that showcases your content alongside editorial on premium publisher sites, such as CNN, Mashable and MSNBC. We’re able to work with daily budgets as low as $10 and we’re maniacal about providing you with the results you expect.

Q: Do you think that developing a station on YouTube is effective in retaining an audience?

A: This all depends on what kind of content you’re producing. If the content is memorable the reader will check back with you periodically to see if you’ve produced anything else worthwhile. I LOVE the Denny’s campaign that I wrote about a few weeks ago. I’ve never been to a Denny’s restaurant and I don’t even know where the nearest one is. However, the videos are so good that I often return to CollegeHumor.com and Denny’s Facebook page to see if a new one has been added.