Richard Pattinson

One of the biggest challenges for marketers in the past decade has been navigating the transition to a digital-first marketplace. Companies who were already practitioners of print-based content marketing have sometimes struggled most.

Take one provider of nutritional health solutions. For many years the company relied on a monthly magazine as a primary platform for disseminating its marketing information in the form of feature articles.

And it was serious business. The company ran an in-house editorial staff that produced in-depth articles on health and wellness topics. These articles were intended to engage the reader with helpful information and insightful topics. At the same time, they were designed to promote the company’s plant-based system of healthy eating.

Going digital

Two major forces of the early 21st century – the “Great Recession” and the eruption of digital publishing – adversely impacted this business. The company began to outsource its marketing and publishing campaigns, with limited initial success.

The online preference for short-form blog articles – rather than the longer-form, feature-based content that the company had been known for – proved difficult. They burned through a number of outsource partners.

“People had a hard time moving away from what marketing used to do and moving online,” said the company’s CEO, acknowledging that other businesses were able to adapt faster to digital than his own.

Coming back strong

At last things are looking up again. A rebranding exercise and continued investment in online content marketing have created a renewed sense of purpose and confidence at the firm.

Guest posts from experts in the field helped the company’s blog gain recognition as a top online health blog.

Its core messaging and brand voice – so clear in the days of the print magazine – are re-emerging online. The thought leadership of previous years is beginning to return through guest blog spots showcasing experts in the field. The company’s blog was recently recognized as one of the top health blogs online.

There’s still much to learn and master. Some content performs very well, while others get less engagement. Understanding these trends and planning for the creation and support of strong performing content remain key.

You reap what you sow

The transition from print to digital is a complex phenomenon that has disrupted marketplaces and thrown entire business models into disarray. Newspapers – let alone print magazines – already feel like relics, airbrushed out of existence among the dazzling lights of modern devices. Meanwhile, lead proponents of digital content provision such as The New York Times readily admit they have yet to fully crack a digital-only revenue model.

What’s clear is that monetizing digital is not a straightforward proposition for content producers.

For this health solutions provider, it took time. But like any investment, you reap what you sow.

Yes, the infrastructure cost of building and maintaining an engaging website can be offputting for some. And yes, producing the content needed to keep the site fresh can feel like an expensive imposition, particularly for companies that are not in the mindset of content creation and promotion.

But content marketing needs to be given serious priority and weight within any company’s marketing budget for the fullest chance of marketplace success.

This article was co-authored by Richard Pattinson, CEO,  and Tressa Sloane, Senior Manager of Editorial Development.