Crafting compellingÂ contentÂ that boostsÂ webÂ trafficÂ and genuinely benefits readers is all about momentum, creating purpose, finding advocates, and developing a supportive culture. Here’s how we did it at AdRoll, writes Jaime Lee, head of content strategy at AdRoll.
Expert marketers, such as Gary Vaynerchuk and Seth Godin, describe content creation as the secret sauceOpens a new window to modern marketing for a good reason â€” it works.
You’ve probably noticed here at AdRoll, we’ve been developing blog posts and digital resources on a near-daily basis. And since we started doubling down on content creation 12 months ago, we were able to boost web traffic by a whopping 438%. Here’s a sneak peek into how we did it:
Starting With the â€˜Why’
Digital marketing is one of the noisiest and most competitive industries out there â€” we’re vying for people’s attention against SEO experts, big-name agencies, and the most innovative creatives you can find. To stand out from the crowd, we had to build a strategic and robust engine from scratch.
In kick-off discussions with my team, I reminded them that the purpose of content creation is never about selling products. Instead, it’s about anticipating our customers’ needs and helping them succeed â€” attract, not interrupt. So, we shifted gears and jotted down questions about who our readers are and what they are struggling with at each stage of the customer journey. What are they curious about? What do they hope to learn? How can we support their marketing efforts?
Answering these questions required conducting customer research and developing a broad understanding of what they care about. Ultimately, our goal was to map content to every touchpoint of the customer journey, which would then help us build our content calendarOpens a new window .
Pro Tip: You have more tools to inform your content story than you may think. Look into Google Analytics, your email platform, or even social media analytics for initial insights. You’ll also want to take a deeper dive and explore Martech that can comprehensively connect revenue attribution to your content customer journey.
Content Advocates = Content Creators
Our ability to boost web traffic, support our customers, and unlock new readers in an otherwise oversaturated digital landscape stemmed from much more than just a strong SEO strategy, paid ads, or other buzzy marketing topics. Instead, I attribute much of our success to something simple: we got everyone in the company involved and invested.
Even though I work with a rockstar group of creative content producers, I knew we had to expand beyond the marketing team. I decided to approach different departments â€”Â from sales to product development â€” and consult subject matter experts in the company. In our conversations, I asked them about insights they gleaned from talking to customers. I invited those who shared an interesting story (and there were many!) to contribute to creating thought leadership content.
Though some were hesitant, I reminded them that everyone’s story and experience could be used to create a piece of content that customers find valuable. In fact, 88%Opens a new window of executives believe thought leadership that highlights worthwhile knowledge and experience increases a customer’s respect and admiration for a company. Turns out that some of my coworkers’ qualms were related to being nervous first-time writers â€” I reassured them that our team would provide writing and editing support.
Content creation is a partnership effort and comes from the entire organization. As head of content strategy, it was important for me to create a culture where content creation is essential and valued. So, I made sure that this slice of our marketing pie stayed top-of-mind among my coworkers through zealous communication. Not only did I send email recaps and Slack messages, but I also found opportunities in company meetings to present the narrative around content impact.
Sharing Is Caring
Our AdRoll employees were on board, and we had an exciting calendar of content lined up. But one huge challenge loomed ahead: content distribution.
When brands are publishers and their employees are content creators, everyone â€” employees, partners, and customers â€” can be a distributor. We had to promote a new line of thinking: For our content to successfully reach our audiences, we couldn’t just rely on obvious solutions such as paid ads, SEO, email campaigns, or organic social.
Of course, conveying this to my coworkers over lunch was not sufficient. We needed a strategic and deliberate plan for distribution â€” one that would compel and empower people to share content on their social media accounts. Long story short, I set up a task force for marketing distributors, launched an employee advocacy program, and built content distribution into partner and customer programs. Turning employees into brand representatives worked â€” teams across our company began sharing that their customers appreciated our useful blog posts and resources. Though these participation programs are still a work in progress, our metrics show that having more people engaged in the process helps push our content far and wide across the web.
Pro Tip: It’s valuable to determine who your key stakeholders and partners are so that they can advocate for you. You’ll want to get your executive suite onboard, so their excitement trickles down to everyone in the organization.
The next phase is connecting the dots between content production, distribution, and customer lifecycle. In going beyond vanity metrics, such as clickthrough rates and reading times, we looked to answer these questions:
- Which types of content are relevant to our different audience segments?
- How do the various types of content we produce map onto our audience’s lifecycles?
- How does our content influence our audience into taking desired actions?
- How do we stay a step ahead to serve content that is valuable and proven to convert to truly help our marketing audience, grow professionally and as a brand?
Measuring impact is a continuous fine-tuning process as we gather more data. By leveraging these insights, we can feed our production and distribution engines.
Â Now It’s Your Turn
If you’re just starting to build out your content marketing production and infrastructure, regularly producing high-quality content can feel intimidating. Crafting compelling stories on informative topics that genuinely benefit readers is a deceptively simple objective.
But don’t worry: My parting advice is to remember that content is a momentum game â€” it’s better to start small (say, with one blog post per week) and eventually scale, rather than launch and post inconsistently. Be prepared to continuously feed your content beast via a validated production and distribution process by leveraging the ideas, experience, and talents of your coworkers. And most importantly, don’t forget to find advocates who can evangelize the value of your efforts.