10 Reasons Editorial Sites Are The Future Of Corporate Websites

Here’s why con­tent mar­ket­ing is evolv­ing beyond com­ple­men­tary sup­ple­men­tal con­tent.

Lisa Lacy By Lisa Lacy. Join the discussion » 0 comments

Brands like Red Bull, Coke and, more recent­ly, Taco Bell are lead­ing the charge toward edi­to­r­i­al-dri­ven web­sites that for­sake tra­di­tion­al cor­po­rate site con­tent for the sto­ries, images and videos that were once the purview of blogs and news sites.

When Coke debuted its revamped site in 2012, the move was still per­ceived as some­what rad­i­cal. Now, how­ev­er, mar­ket­ing experts say a ver­i­ta­ble evo­lu­tion is under­way.

Here are 10 changes dri­ving this shift toward whol­ly edi­to­r­i­al brand sites – which eclipse sup­ple­men­tal edi­to­r­i­al con­tent – and why mar­keters must evolve or die.

1. Value

Mar­cos Sanchez, vice pres­i­dent of com­mu­ni­ca­tions at tech­nol­o­gy-focused ven­ture cap­i­tal firm Runa Cap­i­tal, said hav­ing a cor­po­rate web­site sim­ply doesn’t cut it any­more as mar­keters look to pro­vide more val­ue with the result being that more com­pa­nies are look­ing at con­tent mar­ket­ing some­where between edi­to­r­i­al and adver­to­r­i­al.

Accord­ing to Sanchez, most brands under­stand con­sumers don’t want to just go to a com­pa­ny site, but rather want a rea­son to be there.

Whether that’s cus­tom games, online order­ing, cus­tomized prod­ucts or edi­to­r­i­al con­tent, it’s impor­tant to give peo­ple a rea­son to go to your site, and just post­ing a tra­di­tion­al web­site isn’t enough,” he said.

This is also the rea­son old­er dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing tac­tics are dying out.

Obnox­ious ban­ner ads that force acci­den­tal clicks do noth­ing more than arti­fi­cial­ly skew click-through rates. They pro­vide no val­ue to the con­sumer. It’s exact­ly why Apple is push­ing a ban­ner-free ecosys­tem,” said Kyle Reyes, pres­i­dent and cre­ative direc­tor of The Silent Part­ner Mar­ket­ing. “You could care less about what tech com­pa­nies want…but we need to acknowl­edge the par­a­digm shift. The three top down­loaded apps in the Apple Store recent­ly have all been ad-block­ing soft­ware. Clear­ly there’s a strong wave hap­pen­ing at the con­sumer lev­el and it will con­tin­ue to fuel a shift towards con­tent-dri­ven web­sites that actu­al­ly bring val­ue to the con­sumer.”

Melanie Deziel, direc­tor of cre­ative strat­e­gy at Time Inc., too, notes adver­tis­ers must pro­vide more val­ue in part because con­sumers have an incred­i­ble array of resources out­side of a cor­po­rate web­site to learn about a giv­en brand’s prod­ucts or ser­vices.

2. Social

Per John Nesler, researcher and con­tent writer for online mar­ket­ing com­pa­ny Cre­ative Cal­i­for­nia, edi­to­r­i­al-dri­ven web­sites are sim­ply a nat­ur­al pro­gres­sion from brands devel­op­ing their own social feeds.

At some point, the breadth and cre­ativ­i­ty of their spon­sored con­tent becomes so var­ied that it makes sense to devel­op their own inde­pen­dent pseu­do-enter­tain­men­t/ed­i­to­r­i­al out­let to con­tain all of it,” he said.

Eliz­a­beth Clor, senior direc­tor of con­tent mar­ket­ing at cus­tomer expe­ri­ence man­age­ment firm Clarabridge, agrees.

Con­sumers now fol­low their favorite brands on Face­book, Insta­gram, etc. and so they have lit­tle rea­son to actu­al­ly vis­it their web­sites, unless they are mak­ing a pur­chase,” she said.

3. Influence

For her part, Rebec­ca Brooks, part­ner at mar­ket research firm Alter Agents, notes con­sumers have access to tons of infor­ma­tion about brands that does not come from the brands them­selves and word of mouth – par­tic­u­lar­ly dig­i­tal word of mouth – is a huge influ­encer.

In the past, you only talked to peo­ple you knew, but now there’s a vast army of strangers that have already tried a prod­uct and giv­en feed­back,” Brooks said. “Irre­spec­tive of the brand, dig­i­tal word of mouth is becom­ing the dom­i­nant influ­encer in mak­ing pur­chas­es, so how does a brand stay rel­e­vant when it is not includ­ed in the con­ver­sa­tion? Edi­to­r­i­al is one of the paths to that.”

4. Mobile

Fur­ther, Mat Zuck­er, a part­ner at brand and mar­ket­ing con­sul­tan­cy Prophet, said mod­ern mobile-first cus­tomer expe­ri­ences have put huge ques­tion marks over web­sites in gen­er­al.

In oth­er words, brands must now ques­tion how the expe­ri­ence changes when vis­its aren’t from the desk­top and what the val­ue propo­si­tion is of a web­site ver­sus an app or oth­er owned chan­nels.

5. Authority

In addi­tion, Christophe Jam­met, direc­tor of social media and mobile at strat­e­gy firm DDG, said if brands invest in high qual­i­ty, edi­to­ri­al­ly-dri­ven con­tent, con­sumers will asso­ciate their pos­i­tive con­tent expe­ri­ences with your brand.

Fur­ther, Jason Brew­er, CEO of dig­i­tal agency Bro­lik, said con­tent hubs that are designed well and filled with good con­tent become con­sumer mag­nets and increase a brand’s author­i­ty.

These con­tent hubs improve the per­cep­tion of a brand but can also have tech­ni­cal ben­e­fits like increased domain author­i­ty and organ­ic search traf­fic if the con­tent hits on pop­u­lar ques­tions and inter­est top­ics of the tar­get audi­ence,” he said.

6. Journalism

News orga­ni­za­tions are also respon­si­ble for this shift toward edi­to­r­i­al-dri­ven sites as they shift away from report­ing with neu­tral­i­ty, accord­ing to Nesler.

News sto­ries have long been shaped by the bias­es of the cor­po­ra­tions and brands that par­tial­ly or whol­ly owned the media out­lets which pro­duce those sto­ries,” Nesler said. “So, in a sense, Taco Bell, Coke and oth­er cor­po­ra­tions are meet­ing these news out­lets in the mid­dle.”

Fur­ther, more biased posts are more like­ly to gen­er­ate desir­able mar­ket­ing out­comes, he said.

Look­ing at social media, it’s clear that biased news arti­cles, opin­ion pieces and oth­er con­tent, which all amount to cor­po­rate-spon­sored con­tent, get tremen­dous trac­tion, being quick­ly shared by mil­lions of peo­ple,” Nesler said. “It makes per­fect sense for brands to get into the game by devel­op­ing con­tent that isn’t focused entire­ly on their prod­ucts, but instead riffs on the inter­ests of their tar­get­ed con­sumers. Peo­ple aren’t going to share a Coke com­mer­cial on Face­book, but they’re quite liable to share an inter­est­ing arti­cle that just so hap­pens to be pro­duced by Taco Bell, or a weird and quirky video made by Coke.”

7. Channels

The ad space is evolv­ing such that mar­keters now have to cir­cum­vent both tech­no­log­i­cal and men­tal ad block­ers, accord­ing to start­up mar­ket­ing con­sul­tant Nigel Raven­hill.

So you have the rise of new adver­tis­ing chan­nels and for­mats, which aren’t what any­one old­er than 40 would even rec­og­nize as adver­tis­ing – or define as adver­tis­ing,” Raven­hill said. “As adver­tis­ing morphs beyond its his­tor­i­cal­ly rec­og­niz­able shape, using chan­nels that didn’t exist in the 20th cen­tu­ry, man­aged sto­ry­telling like [Coke and Taco Bell] will be increas­ing­ly cen­tral to com­pa­nies.”

Brew­er, too, said the shift away from tra­di­tion­al cor­po­rate web­sites points to a change in mar­keters’ mind­sets.

Brands are final­ly catch­ing on to the fact that their cus­tomers don’t want to be sold to and they don’t real­ly care about the ‘cor­po­rate’ run­nings of their busi­ness,” he said. “Brands that focus on the needs of cus­tomers and strive to cre­ate con­tent that adds val­ue to their lives are see­ing cus­tomer loy­al­ty and engage­ment improve.”

8. Consumption

We are liv­ing in the “It’s All About Me Econ­o­my,” in which con­sumers want data, infor­ma­tion, and con­tent when and where they want it, Reyes said.

They want to con­sume sto­ries and info­tain­ment that will help enhance their lives and their buy­ing deci­sions,” he said.

9. Perception

Aaron Wat­ters, vice pres­i­dent of SEO firm Lead­hub, said big brands have put in years of work toward prod­uct aware­ness and are now focused on top of mind aware­ness.

The more engag­ing a big brand’s con­tent is and the more they own top of mind aware­ness, the more dif­fi­cult it is for new com­peti­tors to enter the mar­ket,” he said.

He uses Red Bull as an exam­ple.

For years, they’ve been engag­ing their audi­ence with amaz­ing con­tent from extreme sports,” he said. “If you vis­it their U.S. site it’s all about con­tent that their audi­ence is inter­est­ed in – it’s more of a blog than a sales plat­form. In fact, their pri­ma­ry nav­i­ga­tion does­n’t even include infor­ma­tion about their prod­ucts.”

10. Humanization

For his part, con­tent mar­ket­ing strate­gist Hen­ry Ada­so said it’s the need to become more per­son­able that is dri­ving this trend.

Peo­ple don’t tra­di­tion­al­ly view brands as peo­ple. So sto­ry­telling and more per­son­able con­tent are ways for brands to con­nect with the every­day cus­tomer in the social media age,” he said. “The per­cep­tion is that brands don’t care about peo­ple. Peo­ple care about peo­ple. So how can brands show that they care? By cre­at­ing per­son­able con­tent and by part­ner­ing with social media tal­ent.”

What do you think? Are tra­di­tion­al cor­po­rate web­sites doomed?

Lisa Lacy

Written by Lisa Lacy

Lisa is a senior features writer for Inked. She also previously covered digital marketing for Incisive Media. Her background includes editorial positions at Dow Jones, the Financial Times, the Huffington Post, AOL, Amazon, Hearst, Martha Stewart Living and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

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