Explaining the Content Life Cycle

Each thing is of like form from everlasting and comes round again in its cycle.
-Marcus Aurelius 

Our new tagline at CopyPress states that we are  “THE Content Life Cycle Company.” It’s something we believe in passionately as a company, but what the hell is the Content Life Cycle?

Some History

Over the last 6 months I have spent a copious amount of time traveling to dozens of cities across 4 countries and two continents talking to agency professionals, and in-house marketers about the offerings we are building at SteelCast. This mostly included our content placement offering [of what used to be] Hua Marketing, and the content creation system of CopyPress. In one of these meetings in London, one of our partners, Mark Hirschfield, noted that the two products we were selling were really two parts to one whole. He was exactly right.

When I arrived back in the U.S., I began to dissect what we had been building across our product and company portfolios. I also began to review all of my notes from my trips. One question I had asked almost every group we met with was “What pain points do you face today?” The results from all of this reflection was interesting:

  1. We had built a very scalable content placement software and system within Hua Marketing: Connection Seeker.
  2. Also within Hua, we had built a solid group of digital media specialists for image, and video creation. More importantly we built a system for scaling this.
  3. CopyPress was a solid offering, but customers wanted more specialized content with easier to understand pricing.
  4. Customers needed the ability to not only create great content, but place it on well trafficked external sites; a merger of CopyPress and Connection Seeker.
  5. Customers needed the content and connection offerings to be able to serve PR and social media needs as much as SEO, because utilizing shared budgets was easier.
  6. Due to the above fact, the customers also needed to be able to seed and curate content in social media for maximum visibility.
  7. One issue repeatedly brought up was that while the social traffic content was great for exposure, links, and SEO benefit, they were interested in finding a way to convert the traffic directly. This led to a focused retreading of our entire business model.

Re-treading: present participle of re-tread (verb) Go back over ( a path or one’s steps)

We went back through our process and got rid of the fluff, and we looked at what we could add to the mix to make things more palatable for a full marketing plan from SEO to PR. During this period the Content Life Cycle clearly presented itself as a logical concept that can, and should, be applied to every content marketing project.

Content

What is it?

Content creation is the obvious starting point for all content marketing. It serves as the nucleus, and without amazing content, the Life Cycle does not exist.

Con-tent: (noun) something that is to be expressed through some medium,as speech, writing, or any of various arts

Online Content is anything that expresses an idea or emotion, that is meant to be digested by consumers. For this reason, everything on the Internet that we interact with daily can be seen as content. As we noted in our view of the Content Omniverse, this is an ever-expanding amount of material consisting of video, images, text, flash, and applications.

Why is this Important to Marketers?

This almost goes without saying, since “content is king” is the most overused phrase in the short history of online marketing, but I thought I would share some interesting tidbits.

  • There are over 4500 websites that are indexed in the English language version of Google News that we know of.
  • 125 million Americans read online news
  • 1 billion things shared on Facebook everyday.
  • Based on a Search Engine Roundtable poll, Ecommerce companies were effected second most by Panda.
  • According to comScore and Facebook, “Most leading brands on Facebook achieve a monthly Amplification Ratio of between 0.5 and 2.0, meaning that they extend the reach of their earned media exposure of Fans to Friends of Fans by 50-200%. These ratios can be increased to improve brand reach by focusing on tactics to optimize Fan Reach and Engagement or by supplementing with paid advertising strategies.”
  • According to Internet Retailer52% of consumers say that watching product videos makes them more confident in their online purchase decisions. When a video is information-intensive, 66% of consumers will watch the video two or more times.
  • Online retailer Living Direct found that videos boosted conversion as well as increasing time on site by 9%.

The key to our focus is creating a user-friendly platform for both contractors and customers to interact. All of our contractors are thoroughly trained and are given tools to maximize their output and thus earning potential, while keeping prices competitive for clients.

CopyPress’ Focus

Each of our products has a focus and a software to back that focus. When we were redefining our content offering, we really focused on the feedback we were getting from our customers. We settled on three forms of copy: news, sharebait, and product descriptions. Furthermore we decided to bring in a very focused image and video offering.

On the images side we are focusing first on data visualization and article graphic-style infographics.

Our video offering will be focused on three video types: Speed-Drawing Illustrations, Transitionals, and a partnership with Simple Show.

While many companies are offering these types of products, our focus is on creating platforms and training programs that allow for maximum scalability regardless of media type, and offering great pricing and value for the customer.

CopyPress’ Software

We guide all of our content creation through our CopyPress CMS, which is the original software we built for the company. It allows us to hire, train, and manage hundreds of contractors.  It also allows for easy editing, revisions, and delivery.

Connections

What is it?

Con-nec-tion: (noun)

  1. the act or state of connecting.
  2. the state of being connected: the connection between cause and effect.
  3. anything that connects; connecting  part; link; bond: an electrical connection.
  4. association; relationship: the connection between crime and poverty; no connection with any other firm of the same name.
  5. a circle of friends or associates or a member of such a circle.

If content is the life blood of the Internet, connections are the veins. Documents, websites, social profiles, everything, all connects to each other making up the hyperlinked web. Facebook and Google have built billion dollar businesses around the graph of connections, and because of this it is the logical second step in the Content Life Cycle.

How many connections live on the web?  Well, Majestic SEO has 3,887,023,273,384 URLs in its index.

Why is this Important to Marketers?

Simply put, getting traffic to your product or offering is why you get paid.  Connections through links still make up a valuable core of Google and Bing algorithms for search. Users on Facebook, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, and every other social media platform, connect to content and products that interest them.  Journalists utilize connections to build, research, and cite their work.

Content is to the online marketer, as the print ad is to the offline marketer.

Connections are to the online marketer, as the circulation of the magazine with a printed ad is to the offline marketer.

2012 will forever be the year that SEOs talk about the death of linkbuilding. The reality is that linkbuilding as we knew it will never be a safe practice again. The only way to achieve off-page SEO metrics is by building links via the Matt Cutts’ mantra of “quality content”. However, if you just create content and then leave it on your site to be stumbled over by happenstance, then you aren’t getting the full value of the content.  You need to be able to create connections with other site owners to build relationships that get views to your content and also offer them content and content concepts to get you visibility on their websites.

Facebook’s EdgeRank is based on several factors, but most important to this conversation are the “affinity” and “weight” portions of the algorithm. A users “affinity “ for a brand is a connection, and the content a brand shares with its followers that results in likes and shares are further connections that add to its “weight” in the EdgeRank scoring.

Along these lines, public relations online continues to morph. Online publications continue to take the place of their paper equivalents, and todays PR teams must be able to create and cultivate connections with high end writers online. PR, search, and social media truly have no lines of separation anymore, and a healthy marketing campaign involves all three disciplines.

CopyPress’ Focus

We have a team of people creating connections today, so customers can quickly scale campaigns already having insight into the types of content they except and the types of guidelines they follow.

Our process allows for marketers to scale organic outreach quickly, order content, and monitor results. Publishers can utilize the system to manage their pitch process and ensuring high quality PR pitches. We are building what believe is a process that is both marketer and publisher friendly, based on transparency, and honest outreach. We look to give more than we get in return from publishers, writers, and content curators, and that is a formula that always leads to success.

CopyPress’ Software

Connection Seeker is a content market place for 100% organic connection creation, and content placement online.  It also serves as a place for journalists to receive pitches from big brands and thought leaders. We are currently crawling 2 million domains for social and search metrics to be able to allow professionals to find just the right connections for their campaigns.

We also launched CopyforBylines.com yesterday, which is more of a gift to the community than an internal software project. We wanted to be able to utilize a guest blogging community that made things easier for publishers and writers, so we created it.

Curation

What is it?

Cu-rat-ion: (verb) The act of curating, of organizing and maintaining a collection of artworks or artifacts.

This part of content Life Cycle has been something I have had the pleasure of watching morph over the last 5 years. It has gone from a Wild West style of marketing, to a very legit service with actionable KPIs.

As we define it, Curation is broken into two subsets:

  1. Social Seeding – We utilize existing social ad platforms to seed our content to social users. If the content is quality this seeding should ignite a viral wave.
  2. Organic Curation – We organize our content into online collections that users may find interesting. This is platform based and can be on Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Facebook etc. The key to this strategy is growing an interesting grouping of Curation platforms and mingling with other taste makers.

How big is the Curation Universe?

  • Facebook – 800+ million – Number of users on Facebook by the end of 2011.
  • Twitter – 250 million – Number of tweets per day (October 2011).
  • Tumblr 39 million– The number of Tumblr blogs by the end of 2011.
  • WordPress 70 million – Total number of WordPress blogs by the end of 2011.
  • StumbleUpon -25 million registered users.
  • Pinterest –  12 Million unique visitors.
  • Reddit – 609,308 unique visitors a day (At least 25,000 uniques an hour).

Why is it Important to Marketers?

Once your content has been created, connected, and hosted it is time for you expand the visibility of what you have built.  PR strategists have long employed this technique by identifying and approaching taste makers to get exposure for their products, social media has only given more power to this process, and helped to demystify it.

Even by mixing a very small social seeding budget on appropriate platforms (Facebook, StumbleUpon, Twitter, Buzzfeed, and Virool) depending on media, along with submitting the content to Curation portals marketers can see huge increases in traffic to their valued content.

CopyPress’ Focus

Our most basic focus is to build a transparent Curation product. There is no reason that any portion of a marketers strategy should be a black box. We don’t beg for votes, we don’t buy likes from bots. If the content is good enough, and the placement location is quality, we have found a simple small budget for social advertising and solid Curation should be sufficient for noteworthy viral uptake at least 30% of the time. We believe a transparent service that abides by the social platform rules is the best option for marketers today, as there is simply too much to lose from anything less.

CopyPress’ Software

Our Social Grader is our newest piece of software, that is still in Alpha.  The concept behind this development project is to allow for two things:

  1. Tremendous insight into the Curation process
  2. To collect data and find out exactly what type of content works on different platforms, and most importantly, why?

We plan on launching the registration-based version of this software in October with the following features:

  1. Social grading for individual posts
  2. Integration with Google Analytics
  3. The ability to monitor and collect data points over time
  4. White labeled reporting

Conversions

What is it?

Con-ver-sions: (noun) the act or process of converting; Con-vert: (verb) to change (something) into a different form or properties;transmute; transform.

In marketing, our job centers around transforming traffic into customers, leads, or some other valuable KPI.

Why is it Important to Marketers?

Your job likely depends on this KPI more than any other. What is the value of traffic that doesn’t convert? For most people, the answer is zero. Now that you have a serious amount of traffic pumping to your site how do you get them to convert? For years, social traffic generation was seen as a branding or SEO play because the net benefit of direct social traffic often has no direct tie to conversions. However, today we have tools at our disposal that make this issue a thing of the past.

CopyPress’ Focus

At CopyPress we utilize retargeting and opt-in email list creation to turn social users into acquisition targets. We help our clients create and manage marketing materials that will yield maximum results, and tie them to the content to help capitalize on the emotion elicited during its engagement.  This process helps transform content consumers into customers.

CopyPress’ Software

This stage of the process is the one where we felt other companies had a stronger core competency than us. For this reason, we have synched with software such as the PAR Program to manage our conversion optimization of content. By allowing our partners to focus on the software, we can keep our eye on processes that yield the highest return for our customers.

Iteration

As we move through the cycle we collect data, and then upon completion we size up that data and iterate. We make changes to increase the value of each piece of the cycle. We find out how content can be improved, how our connection process can be made better, the best places and strategies for organic Curation and paid seeding, and tweaks that can aid conversions.

The Content Life Cycle

At CopyPress, we view content on the web as a living and breathing thing. It isn’t something you create and it goes away, out of site out of mind. It yields based on the care given. For us, the content Life Cycle is the approach to yield maximum returns on content. It allows for every portion of the online marketing team to have deep investments in the content creation process, and gives ways to grow the success over time. We will be exploring the content Life Cycle monthly via our newsletter and webinar series, and I urge you to sign up and take part in our educational series.

About the author

Dave Snyder

Dave began his career online as a well respected Internet Marketing Consultant. He has spoken around the world on the topics of search marketing and social media, and has consulted for some of the worlds largest companies on the topics. He has also been an educator and writer in past careers.

Dave’s passion shifted from a purely marketing focus as he worked with more and more entrepreneurs to build profitable companies, to the creation, construction, and management of startups. This passion was the inspiration behind SteelCast.