Sunday, May 25, 2014

My Latest Project: Content Marketing

I have been terribly remiss in posting lately. And for that, I’m sorry. I was surprised when I logged in today that traffic to the blog is still hopping! So, that being the case, let me tell you a bit about what I have been doing. You may find it interesting.

As many know, I started working on an MBA a while ago. I cannot recall whether I ever mentioned that I am studying through an online program. Taking classes online is definitely challenging from a time and motivation perspective. It does, however, offer quite a bit of flexibility that helps when you’re employed full time. Overall, it is going well and I only have another year+ to go.

On the work side of life, I spent the last many months designing and deploying a content marketing strategy for my employer (perhaps you picked up on the fact that I developed an interest in content from some of the posts in the blog). After much planning, we launched the Hire Expectations Institute, a thought leadership website designed to bridge the gap between employers and job seekers, in February 2014.  

Since this is a business blog, I figure you may be interested in knowing a little more about the content strategy… you can consider this a mini case study of sorts.

The development of the content strategy started with establishing some basic goals identifying why we were venturing into content and what we hoped to gain from content marketing. Our goals were simple and well-aligned with the organization’s strategy. The goals were: establish the company as a respected though leader in its industry, drive product demand (without selling), and attract media attention. With these goals in mind and after a ton of market and competitive research, we decided to pursue a two-pronged approach providing content to employers and job seekers.

This was a novel approach for a couple of reasons. First, in this industry, talking directly to the job seeker is unheard of (job seekers are our customer’s customer).  The second reason our plan was innovative relates to how we planned to produce content and the value that it produces. Rather than just writing articles that are virtually identical hundreds of other sources on the internet, we decided to crack open our software. We began aggregating and analyzing system usage data (de-identified, of course) and finding trends that would provide employers and job seekers with insight into each other’s behaviors. These studies were supplemented by large scale surveys to find out the ‘why’ behind the behaviors we identified.

So far, we have only released one research study, but we have 8 more in the hopper! Now, I am sure you are curious whether we are achieving our goals… and we are! The web traffic is hopping and site engagement (measured by bounce rate, returning visitors, time on site, and subscribers) is better than I ever could have imagined in such a short time. Furthermore, our first research study was cited by U.S. News & World Report, Time Warner Cable News, and Inc. Magazine Online in the first 60 days of the site’s launch!

Clearly, a lot of work went into the strategy, research, and site promotion but I will save that for a separate post.  Venturing into a content marketing strategy was a little scary. When my boss asked me to own this project, I thought it was a serious deviation from my product management career. Through the process, however, I found that developing and executing content marketing strategy requires the exact same skill set. Ultimately, I am still managing a product the only difference is that the product is content.

While I know you are all extremely interested to know about me and my project, perhaps you may want to know how my experience can help you. I am not the first nor will I be the last to say “content is king.” A well-planned, differentiating content strategy drives customer engagement and can increase positive exposure for your business. If you aren't doing anything with content today, you really should think about it. Just make sure to do lots of research and plan how you will differentiate your content in a way that supports your goals.  


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