We talked to Jim Hawker, owner of multichannel marketing agency Threepipe, about their content marketing work with fashion brand Reiss and native advertising platform Outbrain.
What were Reiss's objectives?
Reiss wanted to get more exposure for the content being created through their blog. It was highly styled and quality content that needed to be seen, so Threepipe were tasked with getting this out to the public and we wanted to use an intelligent data-led approach to see if this increased sales.
What steps did Reiss and Threepipe take?
To drive the reach and discovery of their blog content and to boost engagement among their target audience, we worked with content discovery platform Outbrain.
Reiss's content was amplified across the Outbrain network and delivered across desktop, tablet and mobile to readers who were most likely to be interested in it, drawing on the discovery network’s sophisticated proprietary algorithms.
All articles were tracked through Threepipe’s ad server, allowing us to measure what sales were driven, the value of those sales and if they were new or existing customers.
Outbrain outperformed all other platforms in driving customers that converted to high-value sales. Content that performed particularly well combined timely trends with recommendations on what to wear and included: “What to wear this spring – trends to channel now” and “Menswear diaries – footwear to suit you, whatever your style this spring”.
Are you allowed to use Outbrain to link to content that is almost like an ecommerce page?
The content we linked to doesn’t look like an ecommerce page, however the images are clickable, which allows users to view product pages to find out more information. It’s a nice balance and helps us to deliver traffic to blog articles and revenue.
How did the ROI compare to banner ads and search marketing?
We don’t compare this to banner ads or search marketing as they aren’t like for like. What we use Outbrain for is getting great content in front of the right audience. This then acts as the starting point for our conversation with that user. Later down the line we will retarget users with display ads to close the loop. This helps us to integrate content syndication into the overall digital marketing mix.
What are the pros and cons of linking potential customers to blog content vs product pages?
The blog is a great place for showcasing short form content packed with insightful information. It allows us to use a softer touch with new users, as many would be scared off if we drove them straight to a product page. This gives a new user time to get familiar with the brand on their own terms before they make the decision to buy.
The drawbacks with this approach are that you don’t immediately get back the same amount of money compared to other digital channels like paid search or display. However we see this as key to our growth in new customers, and lifetime value is more of the focus here.
Did you look at which media sites performed best?
Outbrain provides us with the sites that provide the most volume of clicks which helps to see where the articles are gaining the most traction. Top sites included: Sky Sports, The Independent, Hello Magazine, Bauer Media, Apartment Therapy and The Telegraph.
How much control does Outbrain give you over where your content is promoted?
Outbrain auto-optimises to where it’s seeing healthy interactions from the public and will push the content where click-through rates are the highest.
Do you think this type of content marketing is an effective strategy for all brands?
It completely depends on the brand and what they can create. What we’ve noticed with content is you get out what you put in. A client like Reiss have really embraced content marketing and continuously create new blog articles, each having a unique angle for us to push.
It ties perfectly into how consumers like to digest information in today’s world. It’s about short form content that’s full of imagery and creativity. We only advise amplification of content if we know the content is up to scratch, users can be quick to seeing through content which has been created to tick a box, compared to editors who create content with the consumer in mind.
What are the next steps for Reiss with their content strategy?
This year we’re looking to build on the success of 2014, pushing ahead with what we’ve found to work (listicle-style content) while also integrating different types of content (animated, video, etc).
The great thing is that Reiss are really keen to understand how everything is performing so now they’re in the position where they can create the content they know their users love to read. This makes it a far easier job for the agency to use, helping us to hit targets for 2015.