Content Marketing: Think Like a Publisher—How to Use Content to Market Online and in Social Media

by Rebecca Lieb

“Instead of advertising, the shift is toward publishing… Companies are sharing: knowledge, expertise, and how-to. They know customers who might not have 30 seconds to spend on watching one of their ads might gladly surrender 30 minutes to dive into truly useful content.”

Continuing the ‘think like a publisher’ theme, an editorial calendar “ties that broader schedule together with specifics such as holidays, trade shows, company announcements, events (such as webinars), or new product launches… The editorial calendar also serves as an invaluable map for repurposing content.”

The book includes examples of companies with impressive ROI from their content marketing efforts.

  • Eloqua, a B2B technology company, “has, within two quarters, attributed $2.5 million in closed business to prospects who first downloaded one of the company’s ebooks. Another $4 million is in the active buying process, according to the company.”
  • With an investment of only $1000, Blendtec created a series of “Will It Blend?” videos starring its CEO putting various objects in a blender. “Sales of Dickson’s blenders rose more than 700%.”
  • Online shoe retailer Zappos has also found success with internally produced videos. The company has “more than 58,000 short videos of its staff (not professional models) showing off the shoes, bags, and clothes it sells. It found that when a product page includes a video explanation, not only do purchases rise [30%], but also returns decrease… The company is currently pumping out some 400 new short videos per day.”
  • SAP observed that traffic from social media sites “was converting at 2.5 times the amount of organic search traffic… ‘We believe the high conversion rate is because these people are very much engaged… They’re the ones who are beginning to reach out to their peers and consult other people, which usually means they’re farther down in the buying cycle than the people who are kicking the tires… a solid reason for having keyword research in place.”

SEO is a key topic in this book. “Nothing matters more in search engine optimization than content… Before the first sentence, tagline, or headline is written, be sure to identify those keywords and key phrases your target audience is likely to use when searching for your website, articles, blog entries, or other content initiatives.”

To optimize multimedia, the author explains that “filenames are accorded the most weight by search engines when it comes to ranking….” A transcript of the dialogue is another effective way to optimize audio and video.

The author also discusses user-generated content, like reviews. “Any ecommerce merchant who runs reviews on its site will tell you it increases sales—as well as search engine optimization… Users often use the same language to discuss products that searchers use when seeking those same products.”

Buying cycle is a recurring theme in the book. “It’s the specific, targeted terms… that attract the targeted traffic at the bottom of the purchase or conversion funnel.”  The author also refers to creating the appropriate “serving size” for each stage of the buying cycle. “The very basis of any content is to serve the needs of varying customer constituencies: to educate and inform them, to answer their questions throughout the buying cycle, and to help them better understand and use the products and services you’re offering.”

“At the heart of content marketing is listening, responding, and crafting appropriate content based on what’s ‘out there’ … Chris Brogan recommends… 25% listening, 50% commenting/responding, and 25 % publishing…  Monitoring customer support forums for issues and problems that crop up with new and old products is another way of learning what types of content should be added to FAQs, manuals, videos, and other support channels. External listening is critical, too… on Facebook, Twitter, in user groups, and on discussion boards.”

Chapter 20 is about how to conduct a content audit.  “The aim is to provide a qualitative analysis of all the content on the website… in tandem with a content inventory.” Part of this process is to identify out of date content and any gaps in content.

Overall, this is a decent survey of content marketing, although a good copy editor could have made it better. The author previously wrote The Truth About Search Engine Optimization.

Lieb, Rebecca. Content Marketing: Think Like a Publisher–How to Use Content to Market Online and in Social Media. Indianapolis: Que, 2012. Buy from