Some of you may have heard of Metal Hammer magazine, a classic rock publication going since the mid-80s. Like a lot of traditional media, it was in financial difficulties, and was recently saved from being shut down in January after Future Publishing bought it from its previous owner.

At the same time, Future also purchased music bibles Classic Rock and Prog, alongside the licence for Team Rock digital radio from Team Rock, all for the bargain price of £800,000.

So, why is this important? It’s a sign of the growing significance of audience within modern publishing. Across the industry, Future has built its reputation as a highly specialist publisher, creating content that helps people indulge in their hobbies and other special interests.

Done right, a content marketing campaign will provide you regular content to boost organic visibility, capture targeted lead information, analyse that data in unique ways to improve ROI, while entertaining and informing your audience. Read '3 tips every content marketing agency should follow' to learn more.

Like seemingly every other publisher though, Future hasn’t been without its problems, thanks to the influence of the internet. It wasn’t long ago that jobs were being cut and titles closed. The acquisition of Team Rock’s music mags are part of its regeneration strategy which is focused around authoritative content.

Investing in a magazine whose fans raised more than £70,000 to help its writers is a no-brainer. Future can now tap into those brands’ audiences, grow them internationally and further its music strategy with a ready-made acquisition.

“Future is putting authentic content and respect for its audience’s passion and intelligence at the heart of its strategy and this will be key to its revival.

It’s a lesson that all marketers can learn as part of their inbound marketing and growth strategies.

Content marketing campaigns can be incredibly beneficial across all industries, for those who want to reach out to an audience and build a position of authority.

 

Audience is the key to any content marketing strategy – here’s why

Is the sporting industry set to be the next big content producer?

The publishing industry isn’t the only one feeling the effects of the internet and its ability to reach out to new audiences. Traditional television services fear they may be losing ground to on-demand content providers like Netflix and even free services like YouTube.

There was a hugely interesting debate recently between YouTube channel ArsenalFanTV and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville. The former England international sat down with the creators to explain his reasons for calling them and fan channels like them “embarrassing.”

Neville was seen as representing the interests of traditional media, while ArsenalFanTV was in the corner for new digital upstarts who can command huge audiences on social media through content alone.

The real story here is the growth of a small channel that travels to every game and produces content that connects with the channel’s 350,000+ hardcore fanbase.

“The fan base feels this channel communicates real fan views before and after a game more so than a paid pundit or 'expert'.

It’s an excellent example of creating content for a dedicated audience, interacting with them, growing a presence and becoming an authority on a specialist subject.

How do content marketing campaigns help brands to convert sales?

There’s a flipside to this, though. There are content creators out there that are doing incredibly well in reaching specific target audiences, but have no clue how to leverage that reach to earn a living. Sadly, they don’t last very long in such a crowded online marketplace – even brands like Future Publishing can attest to that.

Creating an authentic narrative which converts real prospects is something that can confuse brands. What are the benefits of content? Why is it worth investing in? How does a blog generate leads and new business? How does posting on it regularly increase product sales?

Those are some of the most common questions we hear when discussing content marketing, and there isn’t a single answer to any of those questions. Content marketing campaigns can be as simple or as complex as they need to be for the results you’re looking to achieve; such is the bespoke nature of this medium.

The key elements to producing successful content are researching your audience and trends in the market (reading’s just as important as writing), interacting with your target market to find out as much as you can about them, and reaching out to them via their preferred social media channels.

Again, the bespoke and creative nature of content means that everybody’s goals are different, and that the process is an ever-evolving one which needs to be worked on on a regular basis. With the right strategy, marketers embracing creative content can not only improve sales and conversions, and nurture their prospects in an effective way, but grow to become a heavyweight voice in their own industry to attract the attention of customers and competitors.

There’s more than one successful content marketing strategy

Make no mistake about it, people are willing to pay for great content. The Times probably raised the most eyebrows when it put its online content behind a paywall, with many predicting the experiment (at the time) would fail and that others would be reluctant to follow the same path.

Recently though, a local paper based in the West Highlands (The Oban Times) is taking the unusual step of putting most of its content behind a paywall. The Wall Street Journal has also invested heavily in closing a Google loophole that allowed readers to bypass its paywall and access content through the search engine free of charge.

The Spectator and Financial Times are two other sites that have worked to remove free access and turn people into full-time subscribers. The paywall model is one that has a lot of detractors, though.

Content’s value can also be complemented with other forms of technology to provide value for brands in other ways. This can include nurturing leads and encouraging them to leave essential contact data, or  leveraging a social media campaign to attract new prospects. Social media especially is essential to extending the reach of creative content.

New technology isn’t the be-all and end-all for pushing branded content and other media however, as highlighted by Joshua Topolsky in an excellent post on Medium. He underlined the danger that organisations face if they believe that exposing their content to a wider audience will provide a quick fix to their problems, especially if they constantly shift their focus onto the next big app or platform.

Don't build a content marketing strategy on shifting sands

Topolsky points out how enamoured content producers are when it comes to new technology, and how they try mixing different forms of media together in an effort to get a march on their rivals. Newsletters, then interactive newsletters… how about putting a video in there, too? Are users able to find the company’s Snapchat account at all? Why aren’t they adding us on Twitter?

All of this totally misses the point of content creation and over-complicates the process. Your aim with content marketing should be the same as when you look to promote a product or service:

“Keep it as simple as possible, research your market and entice them with some flair and creativity.”

Does your market really use Snapchat? Will visual content pushed on Instagram really be worth your budget? Do you really need to sign up to several apps and services to get your message across and, most importantly, should your customers have to?

No is the simple answer. With the right research and inbound marketing strategy, you can streamline and simplify the creative side of your media creation process. Turn it into a slick machine that entertains, informs and attracts new leads, allowing you to keep in touch with them and turn them into long-term brand advocates.

Research is essential, though. You don’t have to have to be Shakespeare and worry about writing the next great article that will take your industry by storm. Though that’s great if you have access to the resources to do it on a regular basis, you first need to understand your audience and approach them in the right ways at the right times. That’s the key to creating a truly successful content marketing campaign.

Done right, a content marketing campaign will provide you regular content to boost organic visibility, capture targeted lead information, analyse that data in unique ways to improve ROI, while entertaining and informing your audience. Read '3 tips every content marketing agency should follow' to learn more.

 

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