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May 23, 2014

SMX Advanced 2014 Series: David Roth on Content that Ignites Passion

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SMX Advanced 2014 is drawing closer — three weeks to go and we’re psyched for Bruce Clay’s SEO training workshop and, of course, the tactic-packed SEO, SMM, PPC and content marketing sessions. Today, we continue to the SMX Advanced 2014 Interview Series with David Roth. As the vice president of marketing at Move, Inc., the parent company of Realtor.com and other real estate-related web properties, Roth knows the value of high quality, compelling content — and the strategic content marketing that accompanies it.

David Roth of Yahoo!Roth is a featured speaker in the SMX Advanced panel “Executing a Flawless Content Marketing Strategy” (June 12 at 1:30 p.m.). Alongside fellow panelists Chris Bennett (CEO of 97th Floor) and Purna Virji (Director of Communications at Petplan Pet Insurance), Roth will share his top insights on leveraging content to get the most out your content marketing strategy. The panel, moderated by Chris Sherman of Third Door Media and coordinated by Mark Traphagen of Stone Temple Consulting, will explore advanced social tactics, building authority and trust, and creating conversion funnels that transform readers into customers and fans.

Roth, who has worked with companies such as Tivo, Kodak, AOL and Hyundai, shared some of his top content marketing strategies in this exclusive interview. Discover examples of content marketing and brand stories done right, plus advice on how to take your own brand’s content strategy to the next level.

When it comes to content, the ‘if you build it, they will come’ mentality just isn’t cutting it — what is the content marketer’s biggest misconception?

It feels like people think content is the be-all and end-all — that content is the goal in an of itself. I tend to think that content is merely the currency with which we credibly tell our story. I had the pleasure of spending an hour with Gary Goldhammer last month. He’s with Hill + Knowlton and he’s a brilliant digital strategist. He reminded me that good content marketing is really about effective storytelling. That helped me understand that content for the sake of content is inherently worthless. It’s only through a carefully layered narrative that content can effectively support your story and drive your overall integrated marketing strategy.

Can you share some examples of brands doing it right when it comes to content?

At the risk of blowing our own horn, I think we’ve done a really nice job with our celebrity real estate content marketing practice at Move, Inc. It helps us tell relevant stories that really hit our audience’s passion points while illustrating our brand’s proof points of accuracy and timeliness. I’m going to be highlighting this practice at SMX Advanced with the goal of illuminating how marketers can craft relevant stories that resonate with their own audiences.

As far as other brands go, I love what Chipotle is doing by creating video content that helps them tell the story of responsible farming and how important it is, not only for the planet but also to their brand and business. I also like how American Express is heavily investing in original content to tell their story to consumers and small businesses. They are definitely ‘all in’ when it comes to content.

What are your thoughts on repurposing older content?

We’ve had limited success in repurposing old content. In most cases, ‘old’ equals ‘stale.’ But occasionally you come upon something that ages more like a fine wine than a craft beer. And sometimes it resonates so strongly the first time around that it pays to trot it out there again and again. An example comes to mind where we ran a story Gilbert Arenas — the NBA player  was selling his house, and that house has a real shark tank in it. We were able to parlay that into multiple articles about the mansion and Arenas’ other houses. We even did a ‘listicle’ on other homes with shark tanks. For some reason, our readers never seem to get tired of Agent Zero and his pet sharks. Go figure!

What advice do you give to brands looking to improve when it comes to content?

First, it’s important to have an open mind and be willing to accept failure as a necessary step in the process. You need to test different approaches, and you’ll never know what’s going to work until you try a few things. We came upon celebrity real estate through a combination of equal parts rigorous methodology and dumb luck. We tried a number of different combinations before we found the recipe that works best for us, and we’re constantly tweaking it to evolve the model.

Second, producing content is a real investment and there are few shortcuts, so it takes steadfast commitment from executive management to make it work. Finally, given the high cost of developing quality content, I think it’s important to develop effective strategies around how to leverage and integrate content for maximum effect. Take what you’ve developed and adapt it to every channel you can use to effectively tell your story and amplify your voice, using personal relationships with influencers, the multitude of available social networks, and other marketing channels like email, syndication, infographics, etc.

Content conversion? What tactics can you share with brands to measure content conversion?

It’s important to remember that like any channel, content marketing has its own set of metrics and KPIs. For example, our content traffic has an effectively low CPC but doesn’t convert to leads as well as mobile ads or SEM traffic. In fact, our bounce rate on content is fairly high. But we’re OK with that because, in the end, not only have we connected another consumer with our brand, but we’ve done so at a very efficient incremental cost. When you figure out how to make content marketing scale for you, it becomes an incredibly powerful engagement tool for marketers.

Thanks David! We can’t wait to see you at SMX Advanced 2014!

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