Cornell University has had some interesting—and some frustrating—experiences in their goal to develop quality content marketing.
There’s a lot of trial and error involved with content marketing. Even some of the most successful content agencies have had experiences where they have suggested a strategy to a client only to find it not paying off—in more traffic to the website and more conversion of visitors into leads, inquiries, and eventually sales—and a correction or redirection is needed as soon as possible.
From its experiences, Cornell learned the following:
“Thought leader” failures.
Apparently, Cornell University depended on some of its many top faculty members to be the thought leaders in its content marketing program. These thought leaders would provide the steady stream of content that would make the university stand out as an expert in specific business verticals. The problem with this approach, according Andrew Hickey, director of digital marketing at Cornell, was that these top professors were in high demand in many other ways, making the steady flow of content from them challenging. This situation is similar to that of a major manufacturer in the professional cleaning industry. For the manufacturer’s blog program, it turned to experts—doctors of this and doctors of that. While some of these experts jumped at the opportunity to write for the site initially, in time that excitement dried up and the manufacturer was stuck with a blog with aging content.
Ways to avoid this problem: Have several sources for content, even paid writers.
Quantity versus quality.
Depending on who you talk to, having a steady stream of content added to a website can actually be more important than how good the content is. The thinking behind this is that the search engines like to see activity and updates on a site; the result is enhanced search engine optimization. However, this is not the way things turned out at Cornell. According to Hickey, Cornell found that the higher-quality content resulted in greater engagement, which usually meant more visitors coming to the Cornell website.
Ways to avoid this problem: Quality content should be the top priority, but it must be posted on a consistent basis, daily or at least weekly.
Lack of resources:
This relates to Cornell’s content stream problem discussed above as well as to the jansan manufacturer’s blog problem. If the expert content providers can’t be counted on to keep writing content, what do you do? Additionally, very often when the expert content writers do supply content, their articles must be edited, sometimes radically, for readability and understandability. This means that more resources are needed to prepare the content for online posting.
Ways to avoid this problem: There are a few options here. The first one is to not depend on experts to provide the content in the first place. Have a quality content marketing company prepare article postings and then have an expert sign off on each of them. The expert may want to make changes, and that’s more than fine, but this will help you maintain a steady stream of content to the site. Another option is to place less emphasis on these experts. Depending on the product or service being marketed, sometimes just helpful advice and quality information written in-house or by a content marketing firm will do the trick. As to editing, it is very important that anything posted to the site be well edited. Good copyeditors are available; you can go online and find one or many.