Building an audience for your online publication isn’t easy. While the internet has made it easier than ever to share messages with the public, getting people to actually pay attention to those messages can be a pain point.
With a seemingly infinite number of news and entertainment options available to consumers at all times, the best way to capture people’s attention is to produce distinctive, captivating content that stands out from the crowd — regardless of whether people see it on social media, in a search result, or amidst a cluster of content recommendations.
Though producing this sort of high-quality work on a consistent basis requires time and energy, the rewards are certainly worth pursuing. By building your brand publication into a true content destination, you give readers an incentive to interact with you on a regular basis and a reason to trust the brand behind the content.
As evidence, here are three brand publications that fuse great content and smart distribution strategies to give readers the stories that they love:
Casper’s Van Winkle’s entertains while highlighting a brand value proposition.
One of the most challenging aspects of operating a successful brand publication is finding a way to present content that not only entertains and informs readers but also highlights your brand’s value proposition.
It’s a delicate balance to strike. If you focus too much on your value proposition, you risk turning people off by giving them the impression that you’re advertising to them. Meanwhile, if your content serves only to interest the reader, you wind up forsaking ROI.
One brand that has met this challenge head-on is Casper, the online mattress retailer and publisher of the sleep news site Van Winkle’s.
Run by former Gawker and New York Observer editor Elizabeth Spiers, Van Winkle’s produces an array of fascinating stories about how and why people sleep. Given the influence sleep has on the quality of our lives, it’s easy to see how readers can benefit greatly from science-based stories about how an irregular sleep cycle could actually give us more rest or why you shouldn’t drink water right before going to sleep.
Of course, every story Van Winkle’s publishes also furthers Casper’s narrative that sleep is an important part of our lives that ought to be taken seriously. By getting people to think more about the quality of their sleep, Casper subtly encourages prospective customers to avoid purchasing the cheapest mattress they can find on Craigslist and instead buy something more substantial.
The site has also been smart about distributing its content to the public by syndicating posts to mainstream publishers like The Huffington Post. According to a recent Digiday story, one Van Winkle’s story on sheet-washing received more than 30,000 shares after being posted on HuffPo.
- Clearly define your brand’s value proposition to consumers. Then make sure every piece of content you put out supports this message.
- Syndication can be a very useful tool for distributing your content to people unfamiliar with your brand. Find out which other publications your target audience loves to read, then see whether those media outlets would be willing to share your content with their readers.
- Establishing yourself as an expert in your field will go a long way toward influencing purchase decisions. When Van Winkle’s readers are ready to buy a new mattress, they’ll begin their search with the knowledge that Casper is a company that takes their sleep seriously.
Red Bull’s The Red Bulletin created a millennial-friendly media empire.
Alas, not every brand’s target audience is going to be as broad as “people who go to sleep at night.”
What this means is that you’ll probably have to be smart about identifying the sort of people most likely to purchase the products or services your brand offers so that you can provide them with content geared toward their unique interests.
With this vision in mind, Red Bull has built a media empire that spans video, print, digital, and live activations — all with the purpose of giving active, millennial males their fix of high-octane sports, music, and culture content.
The site’s online and print magazine, The Red Bulletin, is just about everything your typical Red Bull drinker could ever want. It features interviews with popular entertainment stars like True Detective actress Abigail Spencer, beautifully crafted photo essays of surfing trips and guides to taking adventurous vacations.
Content strategists will also note that every story ends with a big, bold call to action that asks readers to subscribe to Red Bull’s newsletter for further engagement with the brand.
- Think carefully about the people who are in your target audience, and then create content that matches their interests. If you sell a B2B technology solution, maybe this means the executives you’re targeting are likely to be interested in golf or yachting. Or if you’re a consumer packaged goods brand, perhaps you’re creating content with parents in mind.
- Include calls to action that drive visitors to your email newsletters. This way, you can save money by distributing your content to your most engaged readers for free.
- Harness the power of photography. The web is a visual medium, and Red Bull’s photo essays show just how much your content can benefit from a few high-resolution action shots.
Royal Dutch Airlines’ iFLY Magazine offers new, exciting value to subscribers.
In addition to forming a connection with readers, you can use your brand publication to whet their appetite for whatever it is you’re selling.
For instance, just one look at iFly Magazine, Royal Dutch Airlines’ visually stunning, multimedia publication, will make you want to hop on the next flight out of town.
Royal Dutch Airlines teams up with residents of some of the world’s most exciting places to bring readers up-close-and-personal tours of destinations like Ho Chi Minh City and Cape Town. Once readers are done learning about a place’s history or seeing high-resolution photos of its natural beauty, they are conveniently provided with a link to book tickets to the destination on Royal Dutch Airlines’ website.
In order to get the most bang for its buck, Royal Dutch Airlines works hard to drive people to subscribe to its email newsletter and pays to promote its content to new readers on social media.
- What’s going to make your audience excited about purchasing your brand’s products and services? That’s the kind of content that should be in your brand publication.
- Sometimes you won’t be able to find all of the resources you need in-house. Don’t be afraid to reach out to external partners — like Royal Dutch Airlines’ network of city guides — who can give your publication a unique, outside perspective. Your content won’t always be able to drive conversions directly, but there are some times when it absolutely makes sense to link readers to a landing page where they can make a purchase. Honestly, try viewing iFly Magazine’s photo essay on Australia’s natural beauty and not wanting to click the link to book a flight.
- The key to success is to always be thinking about who your target readers are, what kinds of content will enrich their lives, and how everything you put out ties back to the long-term goals of your brand.
If you do that, the sky’s the limit for what your brand publication can accomplish.
Check out the Taboola resources page for more tips for content marketing success, along with data sheets, webinars, videos, ebooks and more.