balloon experiments
Four content marketers discussed forthcoming experiments at the beginning of the year. Here's how they're doing PHOTO: Norma

Earlier this year, I wrote about how four content marketers were planning to experiment with different ways to make their content stand out from the crowd. Their goals ranged from implementing more effective search optimization, to attracting new customers, to finding ways to repurpose content, to increasing traffic and conversion rates. 

Now that we’re at the midway point of the year, I decided to check in on the status of those experiments.

4 Content Marketing Experiments

Margaret Magnarelli: Audit and Optimization of Existing Content

Margaret Magnarelli, managing editor at Monster, had a scenario we'd all die for: lots of content. To be precise, Monster had 5,000 pages of career advice content for its job seekers. Magnarelli's team planned to lead a full-scale content audit, followed by a year or more of de-cluttering and optimizing that content. As I covered in a related article, they'd publish less and audit more.

What’s the status of your experiment?

My team has been taking on this project in stages. First, we scoured the list of all published content and tagged articles for removal, refresh or redirect. Then we organized the content by topic areas. Among the pages needing refresh, we are focusing on those with the highest organic traffic. This ensures that job seekers who are coming to our site from the side door are introduced to our current brand voice and values.  

We’ve also redirected out-of-date pages to a related evergreen search-optimized page. All told, we’ve redirected or targeted for redirection some 130 pages. And we’ve got a lot more to do. We’ve also identified seasonal content that we can easily refresh every year and trot out on our social channels and newsletters, like this one on summer jobs. We can milk more ROI out of a single piece versus re-creating it every year and shooting ourselves in the foot in search. 

What new experiments do you have planned?

We’re always experimenting! We’ll be playing around with new formats on our podcast, Jobsessed, to see what boosts listens, and we’ll also be trying out different styles of video to see what influences engagement. My philosophy is to always be taking iterative risks. Try on a small scale with a low budget to see if something works, and if it does, amplify your efforts.

James Carbary: Video Interview Road Trip

James Carbary, founder of Sweet Fish Media and co-host of the B2B Growth Show podcast, planned to travel around the country and record video interviews with B2B marketing leaders. Carbary's goal was to drive community engagement with the video content and attract new customers as a result.

What’s the status of your experiment?

The video series we produced wasn't captivating enough to really stand out. With the existing audience we have, we should have seen much more engagement than we did. So we decided to stop the series. If we could do it over again, we’d come up with a more unique approach. We did what was relatively easy, and because it was easy, everyone had already done it.

What new experiments do you have planned?

We're launching a new video campaign that I'm really excited about. We'll be running a Facebook ad campaign with the videos, targeting a group of people who should be really excited about the content. 

With the new campaign, our goal is to make people laugh, whereas before, it was to educate. If we can make people laugh, we're hoping the videos will get shared organically. And because of the topic of the videos, we know that the type of people who will laugh and then share them are high-potential customers. 

Jacob Warwick: Creating More Impactful Content

As then-director of communications at Skedulo, Jacob Warwick's experiment centered on taking a more intentional approach to content. He wanted to create content focused on his customers' business interests as a means of growing stronger relationships over time.

What’s the status of your experiment?

The strategic efforts that we built into content creation helped us redefine our brand and changed the dialogue around our entire content and communications process. This helped us adopt the leaner go-to-market strategy that Skedulo still uses today.

What new experiments do you have planned?

Note: Warwick has moved on to a new role, and is now founder and CEO of ThinkWarwick Communications.

With the addition of over a dozen new professional resources to the ThinkWarwick Communications agency this year, we are most interested in experimenting with a mix of new client relationships to help identify where our team clicks best, niche-wise. We have had the most experience in B2B technology, SaaS and software, but have also been finding successful client relationships in the health and fitness industry, finance and motorsports.

Andy Crestodina: Increasing Publishing Frequency

Inspired by a data point in Orbit Media Studios' annual blogger survey, co-founder and strategic director Andy Crestodina's experiment was to double the frequency of publishing. He planned a corresponding increase in Orbit Media's email marketing by increasing its newsletter in frequency from every other week to weekly.

What’s the status of your experiment?

Traffic from our newsletter basically doubled when we went from bi-weekly to weekly.

email traffic Q1


But the traffic impact from search wasn’t as immediate. Here's are the pageviews for an article published during Q1. You can see that it didn't really perform in search for many months. The experiment was long over before this started ranking high and attracting visitors from search.

article doesn't rank high

Overall, the experiment worked. We set new records for traffic during this time. We set our all-time high for traffic levels, driving 132K pageviews during the month of March.

we broke our records

But publishing twice as often didn't lead to twice the traffic. The question is whether the increase in traffic correlated with an increase in ROI and did that increase justify maintaining the new, higher publishing frequency? At this point, the answer is probably not.

What new experiments do you have planned?

Since the publishing frequency experiment ended, we started a new quarterly event called the Orbit Academy, where we invite clients and prospects in for half-day workshops. We also sell tickets to non-clients for this event. That effort resulted in immediate increases to leads, sales and revenue so we think it’s probably a better use of our time.