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What Can Digital Publishers Teach Brands?

There’s never been an easier time to become a digital publisher. Popular publishing platforms are being designed in a way that anyone can use. Overly-complicated and expensive technology is no longer necessary for digital publishers. All you need these days is a smartphone and a WordPress account to get going.

With such a low barrier to entry, it’s becoming more common for brands to jump into the digital publishing game. When brands develop blogs or produce articles, we call this content marketing. Many brands find content marketing beneficial. With the right strategies in place, brands are using content marketing to increase engagement and conversions on their websites.

According to HubSpot, global business-to-consumer (B2C) ecommerce sales are expected to reach $4.5 trillion by 2021. Seventy percent of marketers are actively investing in content marketing. Web traffic is among the top two most-common measurements of success for content marketing, and nearly one-quarter of marketers (24%) plan on increasing their investment in the coming year.

As brands spend more time and resources on content marketing, it’s even more important that they do it the right way. Content marketing involves a lot more than just quickly posting low-quality content on the web. Not only will that not lead to the results that a brand is looking for, but it actually has the potential to hurt the brand’s reputation in the long-run.

That’s where digital publishers come into play.

Learning from successful digital publishers who have built businesses around developing and distributing content online, and following the best practices they have developed, is the key to avoiding rookie mistakes as a content marketer.

Here are three lessons that digital publishers can teach brand marketers.

Make distribution a priority

Putting together high-quality content is only the first step in a content marketing strategy. In order to be successful, digital publishers know that distribution is almost always necessary.

Unlike legacy media companies, digital startups are usually starting from zero when it comes to finding a niche and building an audience. Brand marketers face the same challenge. Nobody thinks of going to the brand’s website to find high-quality articles, so search engine optimization and social media marketing are especially important.

Incorporating audience feedback into the editorial process can be helpful, as well, since people love to read about the topics they’ve suggested and contributed to. Brands that invest in audience development will quickly find that their content reaches more readers. When those readers share that content on their own social media channels, a brand’s reach increases exponentially. While there are audience development experts out there, most brands will find that they don’t need to hire an additional staffer for that role.

Embrace data

Pageviews are just one of the metrics that digital publishers look at to determine the success of a particular article. Analytics paint a clear picture of how readers are responding to content. In addition to pageviews, content marketers should keep an eye on visitors, shares, and time on site.

Reviewing multiple data points in tandem can tell an even better story about what’s going on. For example, digital publishers will often look at where traffic is coming from and what devices readers are using. When combined, that information can help guide future editorial efforts.

This sort of strategy is sometimes called the holistic approach. Brands that take the holistic approach to website analytics are measuring how their audiences are interacting with the content they publish, and they are using that information to make decisions about what kinds of articles they should write and where those articles should be published.

Give content a second life

Don’t be afraid of repurposing older content. Digital publishers do it all the time.

Local news publishers will frequently find multiple ways to use large data sets, or they may re-publish evergreen content when the topic is back in the news. For example, a digital news publisher might post an article about wildfire prevention each time a new wildfire breaks out.

An even better way to repurpose content is to expand on an article and turn it into an e-book. Digital publishers will often sell ebooks through their websites, but brand marketers may find even more success by making their ebooks available for free in exchange for a reader’s email address.

To avoid redundancy, it’s best to repackage content rather than simply re-publishing the same piece twice. So rather than re-posting that article on wildfire prevention, the publisher might update the article with more recent information or updated statistics.

In some cases, all it takes to repackage content is to add a new image or a relevant video. As long as the repurposed content meets a current need, it will serve a purpose and it will likely perform well from an analytics point of view.

Digital publishers know all the best tricks for capturing and engaging readers. If you’re a brand marketer embarking on a content marketing initiative, do yourself a favor and reach out to a few successful digital publishers for their advice before you begin.