[EDITOR’S NOTE: You can read the complete version of this post on Blanks’s blog here.]
I have been swimming in the Web metrics for several of RBI’s brands recently, and am constantly amazed at the insights that pop up. The question I am given again and again is: "How can we increase performance?"
Sometimes this question is with regards to an entire editorial strategy, other times it is focusing on just one content channel such as blogs, or it gets into focusing on one particular blog, newsletter, video series or Twitter account.
When looking for improvements, you try for the straightforward solutions first – tried and true tactics for online content:
■ SEO training
■ Structure content so that it is scannable
■ Use images to engage readers
■ Use links to connect great content
■ Focus a lot of effort on headlines
■ Etc., etc., etc.
Most media brands are no longer amateurs in online media. They have been doing this for years, and have long ago realized that this it’s not a choice of print vs. Web, but of serving readers wherever they are.
What this means is that the answers to the question "How can we increase performance" are no longer simple. Why?
■ Because it’s not easy to serve experts, what b-to-b markets consist of;
■ Because audience behavior is changing quickly;
■ Because there is more competition nowadays;
■ Because revenue models have shifted;
■ Because search has changed the media landscape;
■ Because media brands are expanding their product lines to include a variety of revenue models;
■ Because while tactics can be quick, strategy takes time to analyze, implement, measure, and iterate.
In my recent diggings to answer the question about increasing performance, I find that every answer leads to another question, and then every question leads me to a better understanding of the needs and behaviors of the audience and product I am focusing on.
I have become mildly obsessed with a four part interview with Ira Glass, host of NPR’s "This American Life" radio series. (Here, here, here and here.) When Ira discusses the challenge for him and his team, he talks about how hard it is to find a great story, and how valuable it is to not be afraid to throw out "good" ideas, "good" stories, and considerable effort. Ira says they end up ditching half of the ideas that they actually moved forward with, meaning that they are willingly throwing good stuff in the trash.
His reasoning is that, when you throw something "good" out, it gives the chance for something GREAT to be born.
For b-to-b media, what this means is moving beyond simple answers, beyond adding on one more tactic to an existing strategy. It means focusing on two things:
■ Understanding and serving the needs of the markets that one is focused on, and always willing to rethink what those needs are and how audience behavior evolves and changes.
■ Constantly refining the products & solutions that you are offering.
In the media world, some are making a big play in the "content" space by churning out a huge number of articles.
Will such a strategy work for b-to-b markets—those filled with highly experienced experts who need advanced solutions to move their business forward? Will "good" be good enough for these markets? Will "good" put smiles on the faces of those deep in the trenches? Will "good" grow media revenue models?
Click here to read the rest of Blank’s post.