As a business journalist, I looked forward to information from a handful of specific sources each quarter. In fact, my quarterly e-commerce reports would wait until each of these select few companies, from whom I had come to expect great information, released their data. I relied on these sources for fantastic written and visual content our readers appreciated.
Now, when you have journalists and readers actually waiting on and looking forward to your content, isn’t that a massive win for your brand?
This is the power of sequenced content. Your audience comes to expect a certain type of product from you with each new installment. They subscribe to your RSS feed so they won’t miss it. They follow you in social channels to catch that first tweet once it’s released. They absolutely cannot wait to see what you’re coming up with next!
One of the greatest practitioners I know in generating buzz and anticipation for the next piece of his puzzle is Larry Kim, from WordStream. What is sequenced content, exactly? Kim explains it as, “a full content marketing campaign, typically consisting of original research, which is then followed by a sequence of follow-up articles which cover the same topic from a different angle.”
WordStream Discovers the Power of Original Research
WordStream has generated millions of pageviews over the last four years, having published approximately two thousand unique, original articles. Incredibly, 50% of that traffic was derived from his Top 10 performing sequenced article campaigns alone!
In May of this year, around the time of the Facebook IPO, Kim and his team at WordStream released a study on Facebook Advertising that suggested Facebook Display advertising doesn’t work. He turned his original research into a professionally designed infographic to make his information visually appealing and easy to share. In order to keep the story going, Kim then wrote a series of follow-up posts, such as Why I Bought Facebook IPO Shares and Why I Dumped My Facebook Shares, from a business angle.
Another of his sequenced content campaigns delivers data points on the most lucrative keywords in Google’s paid advertising arsenal and is a perennial favorite with media and readers.
Follow-up stories are incredibly helpful, says Kim, in that they have driven thousands of additional page views, social shares and links to the original study, in his experience. He had even more media inquiries from journalists looking to interview people who had recently bought or sold Facebook shares.
Kim has invested millions in publishing original research. Is he some kind of saint, altruistically out to help his fellow marketer with his company’s data and insights? Does he want to be famous author? No, he uses sequenced content to help establish thought leadership, build brand recognition and ultimately drive sales for WordStream. Numbers don’t lie; Kim’s sequenced content has earned his company:
- thousands of social media shares, including over 1,000 tweets and almost as many Likes on the Facebook Advertising example above,
- a significant presence in major news sources and business/technology publications,
- hundreds of thousands of blog visitors per month,
- increased organic traffic to the website,
- and a greater volume of more relevant, better converting leads for their software products, AdWords Grader and 20 Minute PPC Work Week.
Take a page from Larry’s book with these best practices for sequenced content campaigns:
- Produce original, interesting research or analysis.
- Stay relevant to your audience and target market by offering content closely related to your product or service.
- Seek out hot topics and become the news.
- Make it easy and fun for readers to share your content with their social contacts.
- Stay on point; set out to prove one concept or idea and keep your work tightly tied to that idea.
TopRank Rocks Social Media with Curation and Networking
I’m still relatively new to TopRank Online Marketing, but one of the main reasons I was inspired to join the team is their brilliant content marketing strategy. For the past three years, TopRank has published the 25 Women Who Rock Social Media series, with excellent reception.
Each year’s winners nominate the next year’s candidates. This content creation strategy accomplishes a number of really awesome objectives in one fell swoop:
- Celebrating the successes of others is great PR and a fantastic networking opportunity.
- Industry influencers have a vested interest in promoting the content.
- The entire collection of content is highly relevant to a marketing audience.
- Readers anticipate and look forward to the next installation.
TopRank’s free visual e-book series is another example of the power of sequenced content in practice. The title “B2B Marketing Innovation” alone has been viewed almost 60,000 times! Our Content Marketing Secrets eBook has just as many views and has been embedded 71 times, creating an even greater opportunity for new sets of eyes to reach our content.
TopRank’s tips for winning sequenced content campaigns:
- Act as a curator of awesome, celebrating the successes of others, for influencer buy-in and increased exposure.
- Focus on one format and do it incredibly well.
- Repurpose content and build out your content marketing campaign by writing a blog post about your e-book, sharing snippets in social channels, etc.
There are a number of other companies excelling in sequenced content creation and I’m running out of room! More and more, we see smaller companies acting as publishers and using these strategies to create original, interesting content, or curate and repurpose to win views, social shares and leads for their products and services. Success in content marketing isn’t reserved for bigger brands; focusing on building a series of content can actually help you focus and build campaigns you can easily scale.
Do you know of a brand, large or small, killing it with sequenced content that gets social shares and wins targeted leads? Share your favorites in the comments.
Image via Shutterstock.