When it comes to certain types of problem-solving activities or tasks, it is OK to ask for help.
For instance, if you need to clean up a mess, you call Mr Wolf (“Pulp Fiction” trivia anyone?). Or if there’s something strange in your neighborhood, you call the “Ghostbusters”. Same story if you need a content creation strategy for your online business, you call a digital creative agency.
This is not just an assumption, it is an evidence-based tip: a recent study done by Hubspot across 1,000 marketing decision makers in UK proved that 79% of them believe content marketing is effective, but only 6% know how to implement it.
It is safe to assume the situation is probably quite similar in the US context as well. In fact, capturing a brand’s story requires both a strategic approach and a set of sharp and state-of-the-art specific skills in design, copywriting, photography – all of which digital creative agencies can easily cover.
Outsourcing such tasks also allows businesses to achieve more efficiency budget-wise, as each investment done on content made by an agency will be based on a thorough measurement and what we apply to the creation of content to determine ROI, that of an ad-cost-ratio, and hence built to be absolutely worthwhile. This is actually one of the milestones behind the growth processes at netamorphosis, that are constructed around an ‘ad cost ratio’ as a budget planning and performance management tactic to ensure incremental (new) revenues, as well as, profitability—defined as net income—which we strive to achieve within a 3-year time period. The reasons behind this type of approach is that it allows for agility and acceleration, once KPI’s are performing ahead of projections…which is the name of the game in digital.
Moreover, content creation is an ever-evolving creature, and while it tends to have a lifespan, especially in the fashion world, web platform infrastructures, that houses both content and optimizes user experience can be constructed for longevity. Often there is a capex-capital-expenditure expenditure when constructing a new website or framework, but the philosophy that neta subscribes to is that strategic and thought-out online infrastructure should endure a minimum of 5 years, but our reality is a digital content driven platform that endures 7 years – that is +40% above the industry standard.
These types of digital platform frameworks can become vehicles for engaging content serving both long term sustainable traffic objectives such as SEO, and shorter term immediate, promotional and seasonal conversion driving needs. The work done by neta Founder/CEO Lyde Spann in building the strategy and vision behind zara.com is the perfect proof, as it has stayed practically untouched nearly a decade later after its launch. Zara is the largest and fastest fashion retailer online today, serving more than 70+ countries through a fashion asset/photography driven approach. Featured photos are the surface of the experience, and the only thing that is subject to adjustment: the site interface and infrastructure of zara.com have not changed since its eCommerce debut in 2011. This seems a rather impossible achievement, but the most dynamic omnichannel fashion brand in the world made it true, exhibiting the symbiotic relationship between smart web technologies and evolving content creation.
3 PRO TIPS BEHIND A CREATIVE AGENCY’S
APPROACH TO CONTENT
- Strategize web copywriting based on an SEO vs SEM approach: organic search results bring consumers that are actually interested in your content
- Build data-driven personalized omnichannel experiences: nurture your end-users with quality and meaningful interactions
- Photography Art Direction + Design Art Direction can help capture your target audience’s attention through dynamic and compelling visual displays
The medium, the message, the content
Creating content also means taking control of a brand’s message and narrative, as well as of the means and modalities for its dissemination.
Internet savvy digital content creators and influencers offer some quite distinct best practices, as they have learned how to use owned and earned media platforms to deliver practical news and information on themselves, as well as, to share and disseminate their vision and aesthetic, their take on life and reality. Think of Beyoncé’s use of Instagram to carefully and strategically share her uber-staged personal updates on pregnancies and new births, and how this led to some of the most liked images in the history of the social network, achieving +11,247,000 and +10,328,000 likes respectively.
This process does not stop at the creative stage, as good content creation is always tied to its promulgation: you don’t just choose the message behind your content, you also always choose the medium – or better, the media. Donald Glover/Childish Gambino’s highly political and reference-filled new music video “This is America” launched on SNL (TV) and online, generating an earned media overflow, reaching +40mil views on YouTube in just 3 days and proving that indeed today packaging and sharing content is also about establishing thought leadership.
Content and its consequent dissemination are quite pivotal for businesses as well. If, however, in personal branding it is all about the artist’s vision (that’s why we love, follow and are inspired by them after all) when it comes to a brand or a service, the focus shifts and converges around the end-user.
Content creation is instrumental in both building user engagement and educating consumers; and in reinforcing trust, leading to consumer acquisitions that drive results for businesses. In fact, carefully built, planned and shared content fosters engagement that in turn over time drives conversions, as it helps determining a business’ leadership through knowledge sharing done at the very beginning of the sales funnel: this is the first opportunity a marketer has to build trust into prospects searching for clues/solutions to their problems and/or fulfillment of a particular desire. Moreover, useful and ultimately interesting content is quite naturally what hooks audiences to a brand, service or person. Good content does not just casually connect with people looking for specific bits of information: it has been crafted in order to produce value for its TA, and that is why leads and ultimately revenues will come as a rather natural result.
Working as the CMO for Newport Academy neta has carved out a thought leadership position within the teen treatment and rehabilitation space via a content-driven omnichannel strategy approach also based on what is called the “sticky factor”, which is where a client engages with its end-users spreading information in different ways across different platforms, and ultimately converts them to act.
A calibrated mix of long and short form content items—published across multiple touch points and structured with a SEO vs SEM objective in mind—allowed neta to achieve the ambitious goal of mainstreaming key topics linked to behavioral health and science, contributing to the progressive removal of the stigma on mental health and establishing Newport Academy’s authority in the sector. Needless to say, this also worked in generating conversions, as it was directly tied to a number of peaks in online form submissions, but also increasing a user’s average session duration to the Google target of 3 minutes, where a website is rewarded with SEO dividends if it is engaging users in addition to merely a transactional objective.
Such strategically planned pieces are then published on the website, disseminated through PR and last but not least used for email marketing purposes, another key element to build engagement and ultimately drive leads generation:
“with average reading sessions of +3 mins, emails remain the lowest cost, highest opportunity to engage with customers; given the quality of an email database”
– neta Founder & CEO, Lyde Spann
Content creation also supports tie-ins between online and IRL activities, often attached to PR opportunities. In February 2018, with the help of a solid PR partner, neta helped to secure short and long term earned media (including a feature on Vice), immediate influencer buy-in, and back-linking through “The Meal as Medicine”, a food education-themed dinner for selected guests, featuring Culinary Program Director Jeffrey Zurofsky at the amazing Our Habitas space in NYC. Lastly, these core actions are then backed up through collateral-types of tasks such as disseminating consistent content on social media and display advertising to lead traffic, positioning and awareness; and fostering UGC (User Generated Content) such as reviews on Yelp and Facebook, to optimize a global digital reach – again built upon a successful back-linking strategy.
All the above establishes a consistent, meaningful and ever-growing digital footprint for Newport Academy, which is also carefully managed and constantly ‘controlled’: when it comes to services that revolve around sensitive types of topics and issues, social listening, crisis management and a general proactive strategic approach are also essential aspects of the job.
Content Creation in a nutshell
A creative agency knows the overarching objective of content creation is to reach and engage the end-user generating consistent value for them at each stage of the consumer journey.
In fact, with content quantity without quality does not generate more results nor traction, no matter the medium of choice. Actually, it is quite the opposite even when content might seem impromptu. Take a peek at the top posts of #collectivelycreate on Instagram: these are definitely not quick snaps and prove how quality is paramount even within the more immediate types of touch points, such as social media. Moreover, the debate on alternative facts and post-truths is bringing a shift from quick content, rapidly packaged and then thrown online, towards a slower type of approach on media and on content creation. Long form, accessible and easily engage-able content seem to be key to long term results in consumers’ trust and thought leadership for marketers and brands. Think of the “long-read series” on UK’s leading newspaper The Guardian, which also brought a new business model to the mix, making all articles accessible vs. other leading publications like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, where you only have very limited content accessible for free, and not ‘locked’ behind a payroll.
COPY VS CONTENT
Copywriting defines a key activity for a digital creative agency, that of writing word-based content for advertising purposes. The “Visit, Join, Shop” MoMA experience pay off—part of Lyde Spann’s work with the leading modern and contemporary art museum in the world—is an example of campaign copywriting; the text information in the netamorphosis.com static pages is an example of web copywriting; and the product descriptions in an e-commerce website, such as those neta crafted for New Museum Store, are examples of eCommerce copywriting;
instead, is the art of developing multi-faceted and trans-media types of storytelling, built around brands, clients or services and living across different touch points, unifying the overall journey. Therefore, content creation tasks go above and beyond pure marketing/advertising and actually work towards delivering a cross-platform and consistent brand experience for the end users. Content creation is a rather structured and long-term activity: to be efficient in terms of investment it needs to be timely, relevant, cost-effective and compelling. In fact, it allows brands to share their competence within their field of expertise (a good example are the numerous Newport Academy features neta helped to secured within its sector and more mainstream press), or to share information about their products (SEO-champion bra brand Third Love does this quite well via their ecommerce content). Moreover, it also builds brand stories that amplify a pre-existing allure through a careful selection of metaphors, creative angles, art direction (think of Kenzo World’s promotional video, directed by Spike Jonze which was not only visually intriguing but also part of a broader take on “beautiful imperfections”, including a short campaign featuring Britney Spears).
Copywriting, web copywriting and ecommerce copywriting are all part of content creation, as are:
A good digital creative agency knows: content creation starts from (web) copy writing
As n e t a Founder/CEO Lyde Spann puts it:
“If you don’t start by putting live text within a web page, you miss the value of SEO and you don’t fully unleash the impact of design and images from a user’s experience”.
Text is indeed the first driver of action for web content creation at neta, as, after the information architecture has been set up, we immediately begin our copywriting work defining (1) writing style guides for how content is created—for clients and for internal copy direction purposes—and (2) operational wireframes of emails, webpages, promotional emails.
Rather strategic copywriting and content creation were also behind two successful luxury brand ecommerce launches n e t a curated, that of Frances Valentine, by Kate Spade Valentine and the original founders of Kate Spade New York, and that of AERIN, the lifestyle brand of Aerin Lauder.
Oddly enough, both opportunities came with a name-linked challenge. In fact, for various reasons, it was not possible to directly associate the founder’s names to their labels. Hence, the brand value behind the name needed to be leveraged smartly: through SEO and content, neta tied Francis Valentine to Kate Spade’s name capitalizing 3rd Party press that was announcing the new label from reputable outlets such as Vogue, NPR, WWD, Wall Street Journal, Business of Fashion, Glamour and Refinery 29 which wielded cross brand association through the SERPs and back-linking for traffic acquisition.
This approach, paired with other content and technical funnels, also helped in quickly and effectively establishing the new brand as top-of-mind. The original founders of Kate Spade New York, always understood how to engage their customers, however, when they originally launched Kate Spade it was a pre-digital era, where retail was constructed around wholesale distribution. Whereas in the world of direct-to-consumer when Francis Valentine was born, it is now about content creation, user engagement, and gaining traction through a combined mix of text, images and media content. This new content-driven take is epitomized within their successful “Where’s Kate?” video.
Results achieved & projected at launch, beyond positioning and consumer awareness, included:
- 3-Year CAGR = +303%
- Y/Y ecommerce channel growth = +121%
Content Creation needs good visual hooks
If text comes first, design and photography art direction definitely come second, as words without context or form, mean very little to end users – you might know this already, if you read one of our latest neta Insights features, The Evolution of SEO.
Providing a design direction mostly means envisioning a graphic identity system that allows immediate and quick identification of a brand or product from a user perspective. When neta supported Newport Academy in building all its web assets and contents, we made sure in partnership with Newport Academy’s stellar and committed content team that visual elements worked together to convey an immediate and consistent brand experience for the target audience. For instance, by using shapes and colors inspired by Ivy-league blazons, the double purpose of normalizing the topic of mental health and speaking to the right type of prospects through a shared visual coding which is now embodied in the Newport Academy’s logo was successfully achieved. Similarly, when it came to defining the user experience behind the upcoming new ecommerce for RYU, neta played with colors, shapes and structure, in order to maximize the impact of key brand drivers behind this pioneering urban athletic wear brand, and immediately titillate consumers’ interest by inviting them to click and explore their user-oriented and RYU’s universe.
Creating a fully immersive, convergent and functional UX also means finding clever ways to recreate and amplify the IRL experience (which is highly sensorial) online, all the while of course ensuring that (1) end-users are still at the center of the experience and that the experience resonates with all that is being built for their consumption; (2) certain numeric targets in terms of sales and conversions are met.
When working with Mexico’s leading luxury retailer El Palacio De Hierro, neta was tasked with the objectives of:
- Growing e-commerce sales from $90M to $490M (=+444%) in 2 years, and from $90M to $1355M in four years (=+1400% over 4-year growth rate, equal to an average of +350% y/y!)
- Enriching the current catalog of products available online from 6k to 30k (=+500% growth rate)
- Achieve an Order Fulfillment Rate > 80%
These numeric KPIs where matched with awareness and positioning as there was a need to both build the Mexican luxury consumer’s confidence to buy online and ensure the final UX could embed the sentiment “Soy Totalmente Palacio” (“I am uber Palacio”) equal to the experience consumer’s would have when shopping at the iconic El Palacio De Hierro flagship store in Polanco, Mexico City. To achieve this, neta conceived a 25 Initiatives plan (ranging from content creation to business intelligence) that disrupted the current elpalaciodehierro.com business and drove strategic growth to projections.
At the core of this ambitious blueprint, was a user centered approach based on delivering better UX and better SEO through web content creation, which in this case meant working on both ecommerce copywriting and on image assets. As done for Zara 7 years before, neta recommendations to El Palacio De Hierro resulted in key actions that focused on maximizing content production to generate long-lasting results, delivering yet another strategic infrastructure designed to last above the industry standards and achieving all projected KIPs through:
- Set up of a studio with 7 simultaneous sets
- Design of a detailed production modality, following precise and quality driven criterions
- Divide tasks among photography service professionals
- Allow optimization and achieve photography production of 400 styles daily (1,800 pictures daily!)
If we can lead Zara, the fastest fashion retailer in the world, and the most well-known luxury retailer in Mexico in defining new standards and achievements in content production, what could we do for your content creation?