We felt a little bad for the New York Times recently due to the leaked internal report last month, but that didn’t stop us having a look through to try and learn something new and see if we could pick up some useful tips.
The 97-page report was all about the newspaper’s strategy for innovation and for journalists it provided a rarely available, but somewhat depressing, look into the struggle one of the world’s biggest institutions has with technology.It was particularly sad because it showed that the journalistic standards of the New York Times just weren’t pulling through enough traffic.
For marketers, however, it provided a sort of a case study about a brand trying to perfect its digital marketing strategy. There are some very valuable and practical takeaways from the document that content marketers should pay attention to, and Metia’s Asavin Wattanajantra lists a few in an article for Ragan.com.
The decreasing importance of a homepage
Firstly Wattanajantra notes that homepages aren’t as important as they used to be. The newspaper reported that only a third of its site’s traffic came from the home page. The majority of visitors landed on completely different pages – through search results or links in social media.
Apparently businesses can also “resell” evergreen content. With a history dating as far back as 1851, the New York Times has a lot of old but interesting articles that it wasn’t making use of. In the report a way to reuse such content was suggested – whenever a related news story broke, the evergreen content can be shared to draw in new visitors who missed it the first time around. Marketers can easily use this tactic with blog posts.
Repackaging the content
Content can be repackaged, Wattanajantra claims. The New York Times toyed with the idea of delivering content through different platforms so it would become more useful and shareable by readers; content marketers, who also know how much work goes into providing quality content, should make use of this approach as well. Content can be presented as blog posts, videos or podcasts – every platform has its own unique audience.
Marketers should also be aware that structure and tags make a difference. In the report, the newspaper admits its online content wasn’t tagged properly and therefore finding out how visitors used the website was hard. Besides the analytic benefits of tags, they also have a special role to play in search engine optimisation (SEO).
Unlocking the full potential of various channels
There should also be guidelines that maximise reach. The New York Times admitted competitors like BuzzFeed and the Huffington Post were getting more clicks and readers and part of this was down to a strict set of rules for what a story should include before it was posted – it might have to include a picture, a twitter headline, a Facebook comment etc. When all of those are in place, the content can achieve its full potential over various channels.
Finally, marketers must remember that user content is not worthless. The newspaper, like many established publications, often viewed user submissions as content of “questionable” quality, that editors rarely bothered reading. However once they did, they realised many of the submissions were actually quite good. In the Meantime, the Huffington Post managed to attract a lot of traffic by publishing such content. For marketers, this means guest-blogging is a good idea; posts by a company on platforms like Forbes and LinkedIn provide invaluable exposure for a brand.
So despite the slightly dire outlook of the report, we actually managed to come across some helpful hints. What do you think of the above tips?