Digital Marketers, Embrace Your Inner Publisher

Digital marketers have become full-bore content marketers. That statement shouldn’t spur any debate; it’s true. And the adage that “content is king” is proven time and again across top-performing digital marketing programs. If you author and promote original and compelling material, you will be better positioned to succeed in the fight for visitors and eventual conversions. This is true in search, it’s true in social, and it’s true across email and display. Content is the key ingredient to success across the Web.

In kind, organizations that employ or hire content marketers have become modern-day digital publishers, too. It’s important to understand and appreciate that. It used to be that if someone mentioned “content marketing” as a recommended tactic, they really meant a white paper distribution service. Marketers offered white paper assets to publishers, and negotiated a per-download referral fee. Now, content marketing encompasses a brand’s orchestrated publishing activities across all channels.



While this has become the current state of play for most, it represents what’s to come for those who’ve been slow to adapt. Consider this: In today’s communications environment, where brands are not only looking to convert Web audiences but also to build lasting relationships with customers via channels like social media, why would anyone focus on aging legacy tactics?

  • Technical SEO – the days are numbered for technical and programming “tricks” that help boost organic search engine rankings. CMS tools like WordPress, Drupal and others have made it easy for anyone to launch a technically sound website for SEO. Plus, search engine crawlers are sophisticated enough to index and rank the most compelling content regardless of the technical hurdles it has to overcome.
  • Buying Facebook likes – I see this advertised by a number of services, and perhaps you can give your brand’s visibility a near-term shot in the arm, but this isn’t a sustainable strategy. You can’t buy your way to popularity. I thought Patrick Dempsey taught us that a long time ago.
  • Purchasing email lists to support “e-blasts” – Even the name is ridiculous. Who believes that prospective customers want to be “blasted” with an unsolicited email? Build your own opt-in email database. It will require more work, but it will better deliver both the customers and loyalists you want without most of the bounces, unsubscribes, and hostile recipients.

Eliminate the aforementioned shortcuts and tricks, and instead focus on publishing legitimate, interesting content authored by the authorities within your organization. If done successfully, this approach will help fuel the virtuous cycle of content distribution.

And I love the idea of storytelling through communications. If you think about it, at the heart of the Web’s best content are stories. Human beings are innate storytellers; you witness that in daily life. It shows through in our fascination with the arts, television shows, movies, music -- we all love a good story. I believe that digital publishing is really about being the better storyteller.

  • In search we intercept users with our best-written, most appropriate stories
  • In social we curate the best stories for our fans and followers
  • In email we introduce stories that have been pre-selected based on subscription criteria and previous areas of interest
  • Across display, our best stories are propped up as enticements to click and convert

Even in e-commerce settings, there's an entire story-like experience that surrounds that eventual transaction.

The statement that content is king has become flat. It doesn’t nearly encapsulate the complexities of truly effective content marketing. In order to stand out, attract, convert, and retain customers, digital marketers must embrace their inner publisher. This involves enacting organizational cultures that are not only conducive to that publishing mindset, but appreciate the importance of better storytelling.

2 comments about "Digital Marketers, Embrace Your Inner Publisher".
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  1. Ryan DeShazer from GSW Worldwide, October 16, 2012 at 7:45 a.m.

    There's a good back and forth conversation on this over at Twitter between myself and Lee Odden of TopRank Marketing. I have a lot of respect for Lee, and though he disagrees with my inclusion of "Tech SEO" above, it's an exchange you should check out as well:

  2. Mike Nessler from InterCall, October 16, 2012 at 8:31 a.m.

    I couldn't agree more. Hoping for quick fixes and magic bullets to solve content marketing problems just doesn't work. Oddly enough, good old hard work still has a role to play in this world.

    Whenever I sit down to draft a new blog post, I always try to think of my readers just as myself. What do I look for when I'm reading content? What keeps me engaged and what has me hitting the back button? Quality, thought provoking content will always win out. It's a modern day tortoise and the hare. Everyone wants to go-go-go, but slow and steady will win the content race.

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