Since the first known advertisement sold in North America — a newspaper spot for a plot of land in Long Island — the strategies and tactics used to reach potential customers have grown exponentially. A few centuries later, and with a little help from desktop computing, the internet, and mobile technology, Content Marketing has become the new Ruler Supreme. As a strategy, content marketing has completely engulfed traditional advertising and public relations efforts, repositioning these and giving rise to a multitude of new channels for reaching customers.
Content marketing is successful because it strips away ‘the pitch’. Useful, relevant, engaging information delivered through inbound rather than outbound channels is its foundation. Content marketing values information that viewers value. This is the yardstick by which we measure all proposed content marketing tactics at Think Agency.
This as our guiding premise, execution of an effective content marketing strategy requires implementation within all four of its media channels: shared, paid, earned and owned. Failure to properly utilize each channel where and when appropriate is why most content marketing plans fail. An optimized plan can only be achieved by professionals who understand the channels, or the combinations of channels, that will provide the best opportunity within a given environment.
So, if content is King, then Think Agency is his sword. Sometimes the sword is used surgically to pierce specific targets and sometimes it’s used to deliver a sweeping blow. Regardless, it is always used with calculated intent. Let’s begin with some basic swordplay.
Paid media is likely the most widely adopted and understood of the four content marketing channels. In the digital space, Google’s Adwords is the most widely adopted example. When evaluating potential clients or client competitors we find many companies paying for first page position through Adwords — even though their site already appears on the first page organically. This is an acceptable strategy as a stop-gap measure to gain first page visibility on low-ranking keywords or as part of a consumer or e-commerce sales strategy. For most B2B companies, however, those dollars would be more wisely allocated to other channels. Perhaps to a channel that would help elevate a page two organic result to a vastly more effective page one position. This reallocation of dollars would substantially increase organic traffic and would eliminate the perpetual cost of page one visibility for a low ranking keyword.
In the scenario above, redirecting focus on shared media channels may yield more traffic, more qualified site visits, and reduce paid expenditures — not to mention the potential to build brand champions through engagement. Examples of shared media include social media channels and third party blogs. In the B2B space, however, shared media continues to be the most misunderstood and frequently under-utilized channel.
The direct benefits (traffic, conversions, sales) are admittedly not obvious, and the metrics typically used for measuring effectiveness are vague at best. However, we do know through our own findings and through interpretation of Google’s stated search engine goals and algorithm updates, that sites whose engagement is high in shared channels can yield increased organic rank on properly targeted keywords. So, rather than measure shared channel success by something as intangible as ‘engagement’, initiate a well optimized social plan and measure its effectiveness related to the organic gains of specific keywords for your web site.
At Think, we have seen strategies such as these work reliably for every client in almost any market. In a recent example, Think Agency employed the paid and shared tactical changes described above, in combination with owned and earned tactics, to the substantial benefit of Atlas Roofing Corporation — manufacturer of commercial polyiso insulation, roof shingles and underlayment.
Atlas Roofing’s web site was able to secure top 3 search engine positions for more than 20 of its targeted, non-branded keywords within one year of beginning execution. These are highly sought positions that account for 61% of all organic search clicks. Control of these positions not only helped yield a 20% increase in organic visits (that’s more than 50,000 additional visits) but also pushed their competitors back to lower yielding positions — and in some cases off of the first page.
Again, this was not accomplished through targeted paid and shared tactics alone. Critical to seeing a surge in organic dominance is a company’s owned media. These types of media include your web site, corporate blog or mobile applications. These owned media are critical because they are always there when you need them.
In the case of Kingspan Panels North America, manufacturer of pre-engineered insulated metal panel systems, their web site content required extensive keyword optimization. This began with a discovery phase in which industry relevant keywords were harvested and evaluated for their potential effectiveness. A final keyword list was created and prioritized based on the initial strategy, and refactored during the implementation period as needed through ongoing evaluation and monitoring. Nearly all critical pages on kingspanpanels.us were re-written — and are now infused with industry relevant, high-value terms and phrases.
We also engaged in an aggressive attack on the earned media front leveraged by a small paid media expenditure. This involved creating, submitting and pitching keyword articles, case studies, and press releases to online and traditional media outlets. As an agency that specializes in the AEC industry, we have developed great relationships with editors and publications. This unique position allows us to deliver an earned return that often far exceeds the limited reach of a paid-only campaign.
Through this effort, Kingspan has received $156,665 of equivalent ad space exposure in print and digital industry specific publications, with a four-month budget totaling just over $61,200. Further, by producing and placing original content for Kingspan, they have experienced a 100% increase in their organic visits. Again, all directly attributable to the implementation of a comprehensive, integrated content marketing strategy.
Conversely, if media outlets showed lackluster interest in a story — in true content marketing fashion — we simply turned to our owned outlets on which to publish. (No editors to say, “None shall pass!”) And not only does this tactic allow us to publish at will, it also drives post-release traffic spikes and encourages repeat visits from those who come to depend on our clients’ insights. Best of all, new content is a critical factor used by search engines to determine the authority of a web site.
By generating new and relevant content for distribution within all four of the content marketing channels, we have found that not only are publications frequently eager to run our clients’ content, but more importantly, we’re never without effective channels through which to drive our messages. This approach increases brand reach, builds trust, attracts customers, and ultimately earns the favor of the King.