It’s no secret that owned content efforts are on the rise as brands across all industries pivot away from relying solely on paid content partnerships. This embrace of owned content hubs shouldn’t come as a surprise, especially considering the ever-growing importance of first-party data, recent advertising scandals across large publishers and social media platforms, and the many perks of evergreen content. This is an exciting time for both the brands behind the content as well as the audiences receiving a more curated experience. This shift in the content paradigm, however, means that we need to completely rethink how we approach the interaction between the two parties and the strategies we use to capitalize on those interactions.
Success in content marketing is a relative term—even members on the same team can disagree on what metrics indicate a successful piece of content or a content campaign. Within paid content efforts, brands typically look to compare metrics such as impressions within a given promotional period, time on page, and scroll depth against previous performances without adequately regarding the variables across pieces that may impact these numbers. While benchmarking against performance can help define paid content success, the nearly limitless nature of owned content hubs presents a new set of challenges that are worth taking on.
Paid content campaigns offer brands the ability to measure performance within a set promotional range of time, while the evergreen nature of owned content hubs means that content is always on and always performing. This seemingly obvious difference might make the thought of defining owned success daunting. However, it also allows brands to define their success more directly. Instead of asking, “How do the traffic metrics of this site benefit our brand?” a brand can use their owned properties to push their readers directly to tangible goals or high-value actions. Owned properties also have the following added benefits: the audience is on the brand’s site for a specific reason, as opposed to publishing partner sites, and the audience is fully immersed in brand-specific content within the site journey. While hugely beneficial, this also means that brands must further strategize to keep visitors engaged and moving towards their desired goals.
Brands are all too familiar with the sales funnel model, which visualizes the customer journey towards purchase intent. While helpful in visualizing the big picture of brands’ sales efforts, this funnel does not accurately encapsulate the owned content journey. Brands should use the owned content funnel as a model for how they organize their content to drive their audiences to high-value actions. This owned content funnel forces brands to ask themselves to identify the value and purpose of each content piece on their site, as adding content for the sake of adding content does not drive readers forward. A Stage One piece, for example, may be a simple introduction to the concept of a savings account, while a Stage Four piece might break down the different types of savings accounts offered by your brand. No matter the topic, each subsequent stage of the funnel should be pushing closer to the end goal, which is signing up for a savings account in this case. Each owned property should also have multiple funnels, as different category pillars likely point towards different high-value actions. Regardless of the category or industry, this funnel delivers brands a clear path to measure their success against and offers a guiding hand in the organization and creation of individual content pieces.
The owned content movement promises more freedom and more perceptible markers of success. While there may be some upfront challenges in organizing and strategizing, the payoffs of building owned content funnels are truly convincing.