Earlier this month, the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) was acquired by events company UBM for a reported $17.6 million dollars. Aside from the well-deserved round of congratulations, it occurred to me the acquisition is an indication of a maturing industry for content marketing, which of course includes blogging.
While blogging certainly isn’t the only aspect of content marketing, it’s pretty clear blogging was (and still is) a critical part of the evolution of the trend as we know it now. This is because content marketing is about publishing and building an audience you own, rather than rent.
The Blogging Gutenberg
The last 10 or 15 years have brought a vast array of tools for publishing blogs. Tools ranging from Live Journal, TypePad and Blogger — to WordPress, Tumblr and Medium. These took the power once reserved for the Gutenberg and gave it to the masses.
Yet, even today, despite well-documented statistics, case studies and benefits, corporate blogging doesn’t get the respect it deserves in some business circles. There is an ever-lengthening content marketing divide between the digital “gets it” camp and “doesn’t get it” camp.
Educating marketers, closing that gap and changing that culture is part of what CMI set out to do from the beginning. So it’s fitting then, that the various mechanisms used to communicate this acquisition announcement stood out as an exemplary illustration of why blogging is so important to marketing and PR, let alone content marketing.
How so? Read on in this week’s edition of Unscripted Marketing links [UML].
Benchmarks: Blogs Press Releases and Coverage
Earlier this week I used two free online tools test a hunch and audit the social shares and traffic to three communications vehicles used as part of the announcement: 1) a CMI blog post; 2) a UBM press release; and 3) traditional news to coverage in a highly credible local business publication. The tools used were BuzzSumo to estimate social shares, and Boost the News (a beta product) to estimate traffic (I also checked Page Authority with the MozBar, but all three had PA:1).
Here’s how the results stacked up as of June 7th:
- CMI blog post: 2,003 shares and estimated 6,000-30,000 views
- UMB press release: 842 shares and estimated 300-1,400 views
- Coverage in Crain’s Cleveland Business: 233 shares and estimated 200-900 views
The reach of the blog post alone has earned about double the traffic and shares of the next two mediums combined.
The reach of the blog post alone earned about double the traffic and shares of the next two mediums combined.
In effect, the champion organization for the commercialization of content marketing, and by extension blogging, has perhaps, unwittingly, also demonstrated why this trend for publishing, community-building and audience development is so important.
Marketing Integration Still Reigns
This is hardly a comprehensive examination and to be clear, I am not arguing blogging is better than a press release or media coverage. I view these interrelated legs to the same 3-legged stool. Cut any one of these legs off and the whole thing falls over.
This is true in the grander scheme of marketing strategy as well. Whether it’s email, newsletters, SEO, PPC, social media marketing — it’s imperative to ensure these are integrated and complementary. Marketing tactics work better when working together.
3 Thought-Provoking Reads on Blogging
What is clear to me is that blogging remains an undervalued marketing asset. This means it still represents a competitive edge. So blogging is the theme for this week’s Unscripted Marketing links.
Here are three thought-provoking articles analyzing the role of blogging in thought leadership; the increased importance as a business marketing medium; and tactical tips for optimizing blog posts for SEO in 2016.
It’s not that thought leadership isn’t valuable, according to author Omar Bilal Akhtar, it’s that companies have come to believe thought leadership is the primary means of implementing a content strategy.
“Compounding the problem is the fact that most of the content being produced under the banner of ‘thought leadership’ is really just ‘blogging.’ Worse, it’s blogging for the sake of blogging. It isn’t introducing any new, original thoughts, nor is it establishing the writer as a foremost expert on the subject, and it definitely isn’t revolutionizing the way people think about a particular topic or industry.”
Patrick Armitage isn’t bashing press releases in this article, though he does take a swipe at PR firms. Instead, he covers down on how the dynamic of the web has changed the effectiveness of traditional communication techniques. Mainstream media coverage “doesn’t move the needle like it once did” because “readers have cocooned themselves in their algorithmically curated.”
“We are now in a post-gatekeeper era of publicity and PR. The gatekeepers are no longer the editors and reporters of magazines and newspapers. The “gatekeeper” doesn’t exist anymore. The brand is the gatekeeper. No longer does a new product launch require a pitch letter and an intern to reach out to a list of editorial contacts — spraying and praying for a response. Companies and key influencers with an established online presence often have more reach than the publications they pitch.”
“So I’m going to take those three to five terms, and I’m going to think about one of those as the primary keyword phrase that I’m targeting. That’s going to be the one that goes exactly matched in the title and the headline and the URL. I’m also going to think about two to four secondary keywords that I want to attempt to wrap into potentially the meta description and image alt tags and the content itself. I’m going to try and use these keywords intelligently in places like title, URL, meta description, headline, content, images, all those spots.”
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