Friday, March 24, 2023
Content Marketing Part 3 - The Marketer's Perspective

For 25 yearsI worked as a print magazine editor specializing in association and regulator publications. For the last eight of those years, I was the managing editor of a regulator’s magazine that was mailed to 250,000 members.

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, we lost 30 percent of our advertisers that month as the world began to shut down. In November 2021, the magazine stopped publishing entirely and I found myself unemployed, along with two of my colleagues. The decision to shut down the magazine was not unexpected. The decline of print media had only accelerated during Covid-19, and our publication was no exception. 

I saw this as an opportunity to recalibrate, to try something different, something new. A friend had just launched a digital real estate platform called Wahi. The company was in its early stages and he was embarking on a large content project as part of a long-term Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy. He needed someone to manage the content and to come armed with a plan. 

I wanted to try something different, but I wasn’t sure I was the right person for the role. My first thought was, I know very little about real estate and even less about technology. Next, I thought, I know nothing about SEO, let alone online content. Print was all I knew -— or, at least, so I thought. I had a bad case of imposter syndrome. 

As I pondered the opportunity before me, I recalled the words of marketing guru Seth Godin: “If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.” At the time, I had failed to recognize how transferable the skills I had honed as a print magazine editor were to the digital world. Nine months later, I am amazed at how much I have learned from working with a diverse team of product leads, data scientists, software developers, SEO and digital marketing experts.

For anyone in publishing looking to make the leap from print to digital, here are some tips (based on my experience) for a successful transition: 

Seven Tips for a Successful Transition from Print to Digital Content.

Create a content plan. It’s essentially no different than an annual editorial calendar for a magazine. Whether it is print or digital, content is still king. 

If you don’t have SEO expertise, partner with an SEO expert to help optimize your website for greater search visibility. SEO is a marketing strategy that will help people find your website and increase brand awareness. A combination of strategies including publishing high-quality content (and lots of it -— see #3) and building backlinks from high-ranking websites will help boost your Google ranking. 

Get used to More is More (at least in the beginning). I used to think that writing for the web was all about short form. Well, in the world of SEO it can be the exact opposite — especially when you are a new domain and want to drive organic traffic to your website. Often it’s pages with longer form articles (think 1,500 - 5,000) that rank better on Google, which can help increase organic search visibility when keyword searches are conducted for that topic. So, be prepared for VOLUME.

Consider a multi-platform approach. People today digest content through many different platforms, so you need to meet them where they are. Consider social media, video, and other channels to broaden your reach. 

Invest in the right tools. Find a content management system that is flexible and allows you to do all the things you need it to do — publish content to multiple platforms, schedule content, track audience engagement and more. 

Measure it. There’s a classic adage used in business, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” This rings true for your digital content big time. Metrics are your best buds and can help paint a picture of how well your content is performing and what’s resonating — or not —  with your audience. 

Manage your expectations — particularly if the website is new. SEO is a long-term strategy that can build brand awareness and establish that brand as an authority on a particular topic. But it doesn’t happen overnight; it can take months to reach the top of page one for certain keywords. For several months now, Wahi has been continuously publishing over 50,000 words (approximately 25 articles) per month through our SEO-optimized Real Estate 101 articles, which provide homebuyers and sellers with valuable real estate advice.

We are now starting to see our efforts pay off. Traffic from organic searches is growing, the number of pages we are ranking for on Google is up, as are impressions and clicks. We still have a long way to go, but building a brand takes time and, more importantly, a diverse team that believes in the product and understands the goals. 

About the Author: Kristin Doucet is the former managing editor of Professionally Speaking magazine and is currently the director of content at Wahi, a real estate website for buyers and sellers. 
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This is a guest column for the COPA judges so they can share some of their wisdom with the industry. The COPA Judges are the who's who of the publishing industry in Canada.  COPA Judging Panel Link 
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