I had a conversation recently with a subscription niche publisher who was struggling to drive traffic and convert subscriptions. When I suggested that they test providing free articles for SEO and Social Media marketing purposes, they just could not wrap their head around the concept. In their view, if they offered ANY free content they would cannibalize their entire business. I suppose if they put a portion of their premium content out on the web for free, that would be true.
Publishers who have struggled with this issue, segment their content. They offer free content that is intended drive search and social traffic and establish the brand with non-subscribers. They offer DIFFERENT content behind the paywall - this is a key strategy of successful publishers. With major brands and small companies now becoming publishers in their own right due to the explosion in content marketing, publishers and content marketers are now competing directly for the same audience but with vastly different goals on how to measure the success of published content.
Very much inspired by this conversation, I gave a talk on Paid, Owned & Earned Media at the Gilbane Conference, which focuses on digital content technology. Traditionally, publishing and information services have been at its core, but this year content technology supportingcontent marketing had equal time on the program. As the conference was full of content marketers AND publishers, I focused my talk on what was the same and what was different between them and how each value ROI.
Members of Subscription Site Insider also represent this "Mars-Venus" divide. Some of you are publishers who are increasingly competing with companies leveraging content marketing to drive sales of products.(This challenge is especially true of business-to-business focused publishers.) Subscription services (such as dating sites and other tools and services) are becoming more like publishers as they become more sophisticated with content marketing.
There are three lessons learned that each can learn from the other that I highlighted in my talk:
1. Understand that your competitive landscape includes competition from content marketers (especially B2B)! Do you have a plan for this?
2. Content Marketers are very sophisticated about tying revenue and attributing it down to the article level, make sure you are looking at ROI of all of your content. Learn pipeline tracking of content from content marketers!
3. Publishers, emphasize your unbiased editorial content to drive brand and engagement with target audiences. This is your unique value proposition, flaunt it!
1. Understand how to establish yourself as a provider of credible and unbiased content to win your target audience over. Think like a publisher and create great content!
2. Publishers are very good at engaging and building an audience, learn from them!
3. Your content budget is driven by sales revenue of your product/service. That gives you a funding advantage (in many cases) for producing content. Use that and leverage your expertise in marketing and sales automation and ROI tracking to drive audience and revenue!
Here is a link to the full video presentation:
Here are my slides: