Six learnings publishers can take from content marketers

1. Content marketing is publishing

There is an ongoing discussion if content marketing is just a hype or a marketing technique which is here to stay. Of course it is both. But apart from any theoretical discussion: content marketing has to be considered as the advancement of publishing. Publishers are still thinking in products. Publishers produce magazines, websites, events, they produce articles, videos, stories. Content marketers seem to do the same – but there is a difference. Publishers are happy if a piece of content is done and distributed. Then their job is done. For content marketers the job starts not till then. Here are some key learnings from the content marketing sphere which every publisher could obey.       

2. Analyse your target audience

Every publisher will be able to picture his target audience and will be convinced that indeed he presents a good description of it. Whereas taking a closer look we will detect that these descriptions are rather sketchy. But no target audience is homogeneous. There are subgroups in any given audience, different motivations to deal with a topic, different types of people that should be addressed. To satisfy the information needs of an audience’s niches one should be able to describe precisely who these people are and what they are interested in. We consider four steps to be essential:

  • Analyse the search habits of your target audience. Examine their keywords and keyword cluster to gain a precise idea what they are really looking for.
  • Analyse their social media behaviour. Which platforms are important for them? What are they doing there? Which influencers play an important role in these discussions? Which topics seem to be hot?
  • Take a very intense look at all potential competitors for your audience’s attentiveness. That may be blogs you have never heard of, e-commerce shops, formerly unknown events. You will detect these competitors through a serious keyword examination.
  • With all the knowledge you gathered with these insights define personas. Only an elaborated set of personas gives you a clear picture of your real target audience.

If you went through these steps you will be able to name precisely the types of people you want to address. And then you will be able to tailor your content exactly. Only content which fits has a chance to be considered. Every content marketer will conduct these steps. It is time that publishers will do it as well.     

3. Set your content goals

Content production without a clear set of goals is a waste of time. Ask your editors what will be the content goal for every piece they produce. Should it simply boost the traffic on your website? Should it foster user engagement? Or should it generate leads, sell a product, trigger a download? Should it bolster the expert status of your editorial performance and therefore strengthen your unique selling proposition? Whatever it may be – there has to be a goal for every piece of content. Just to write an article and to publish it whilst hoping someone is going to read it is not enough.

Every editor needs to be clear about his goals. Only if he knows precisely what he wants to achieve he can manage his activities to pursue this goal. Again – the setting of content goals belongs to every content marketing endeavour. It should belong to publishing as well.  

4. Atomise your content

An article normally consists of different components. The body is surrounded by abstracts, lists, diagrams, interviews, pictures. The same is true for a video. It can be cut into pieces, quotes can be extracted. Nearly every larger piece of content can be deconstructed into its Minimum Information Units (MIU), as we call it. Jay Bear – one of the thought leaders in content marketing – calls it “content atomisation”. 

Regardless how you call it – remember that deconstructed content can be used again and again. The article is printed in the magazine. It is published and will be available online. The pictures you made for the article can be posted on Instagram or Pinterest. The interview will be published separately in your weekly newsletter, on your homepage, in Facebook and Google+. Some lists are published in social media and on your homepage. Diagrams can be offered for downloads, again they can be used in social media. The different MIUs can be used in dozens of different ways. But first of all you have to be aware how valuable your content might be. Content marketers know how to atomise their content, publishers tend to consider an article as just one unbreakable piece.   

5. Amplify your content’s impact

If you atomised your content it is easy to amplify its impact. Because now you can use the different pieces everywhere. In print, online, social media. You can release piece after piece and interlink them all. The abstract has a link to the whole article, the article to the pictures in Instagram, the written interview has a link to the video you took which is uploaded to Youtube. You use the different MIUs everywhere and connect them all. Wherever a member of your target audience comes into contact with one of your MIUs there is a chance to involve him more and more. That is the exact contrary of the old publishing mode: instead of “print and forget” you actively “produce and reuse” every single piece of content. To quote Don Nicholas from the Mequoda group: “As you know, the age of the Internet has turned editors into marketers who are responsible for their content.“ Indeed, it is the editor’s job to amplify his content’s impact through a smart use of its MIUs.

6. Measure the effects

You set your content goals, you atomised your content into MIUs and you reused it again and again to amplify its impact. Now it is time to measure the effects. Did you bolster the traffic? Was there a higher engagement by your readers, did they share and like it? Could you measure the effects of interlinking everything? Did the people move from one MIU to the next? If you wanted to trigger downloads and to generate leads – how many have there been? You have to measure because only then you can prove how effective a special piece of content was. And that is really something publishers can learn from content marketers: content has a task. Trace it. 

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