An interview with Monster’s Margaret Magnarelli
[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Margaret Magnarelli is the leading content strategist and editor at Monster and former executive editor at Money Magazine. She has spoken widely about her three pillars of content strategy: “How, Now, and Wow”—most recently at the Content Marketing World event in Cleveland. We had the opportunity to catch Margaret after the conference and talk more about her approach to prioritizing content and marketing activities at Monster.
How did your experience covering the financial industry impact your “content diversification strategy”?
It really drove it in two ways—philosophically and practically. From a philosophical standpoint, one of the key themes we promoted at Money Magazine was the importance of portfolio diversification. By investing in different asset classes (stocks and bonds), you protect yourself from market dips and dives, while also benefiting from market upsides. The same thought process can be applied to content marketing. One of the problems we routinely face with content marketing is that there are many different channels for distribution and their rules change constantly. Just like investing, it’s dangerous to get pinned on one strategy.
From a more practical standpoint, during the launch of Money.com, we learned that you can’t expect people to come to you. We were in a very crowded financial digital landscape and it was not a matter of pulling people to our site, it was about pushing content to our audience. The diversification takeaway is that it’s more than just direct traffic to your website, you must consider the different platforms that you can use to promote your content and get it in front of people.
If you were comparing your content marketing to investment strategy, would you liken it to day trading or long-term investment?
For content strategy it’s a little bit of both. For example, you need to take a long view and think about the things that will continue to perform and give you the greatest return on investment. What are the things people always, always want to know? If you are able to get your content to show on a search page, you will see a great deal of value when that piece of content will drive them to your website and ultimately your product or service.
On the flipside, it’s a good idea to create content that shows that you are current and in the moment. There’s an incredible value in content that responds to what is happening now. We do that quite a bit a Monster. We have a news, or “NOW” team that runs through the daily headlines and decides how to get us involved in the story. The long term ROI might not be there, but there’s an incredible value in participating in current conversations.
You talked at the conference about how front door traffic is dying and side door traffic is multiplying. Can you elaborate further for us?
Sure. What I mean is, you can’t count on people coming to your homepage, especially if you are a small or new business. So you have to think about how you pull them in. And you have to think about the balance of onsite vs. offsite publication. A person coming to your homepage is a more qualified lead, and content should be catered to them. At the same time, think about the channels outside your site that might reach potential customers.
Another strategy that I’ve seen work is to “create once and publish everywhere.” This is a tactic that could be beneficial for smaller businesses because it maximizes the value of the content you’re creating without spinning your wheels for every platform.
Of the different channels, which do you see provide the best return?
Right now we split our time between search, email, social, and syndication. With our website’s domain being one of the earliest in existence, we have a lot of search equity to take advantage of. Getting into search results pages for the right keywords helps us introduce our brand to new people as they are in the key decision points around job search.
Next to that, email is a great channel for us. That’s because the people getting our emails know us. They have already signed up through our website.
Social provides us with great engagement, allows us to participate in existing conversations, and lets us reach people where they are—on social platforms.
And then there is syndication. Right now we syndicate our content through Fortune, Fast Company, and Mic.com. This is less about conversion and more about the brand exposure we gain through free, earned media.
You talked about diversifying your content into “How, Now, and Wow.” Could you talk about each, and which channels they work best for?
The “HOW” answers what the reader wants to know. I think primarily of this working for SEO and email. On the search side, we take a look at the keywords that do well and create content pieces that incorporate those into our metadata and copy. In terms of email, we try to provide content that asks questions or provides answers to something the reader didn’t know they were looking for. It’s about utilizing catchy headlines.
The “NOW” channel is a way we can capture the news. It is also a way that we can create our own news by digging into our enterprise data. For example, we use the research our company has collected on a certain job sector— say augmented reality—and we will publish it in a blog when something like Pokemon Go makes headlines again. NOW content works well for social media and our syndication partnerships.
The “WOW” content is what we create for social engagement. It’s an area where we can showcase our voice, humor, and emotional side. We try to make this content shareable, ranging from funny GIF’s to more heartfelt stories.
If you were limited in time and resources, where would you focus your efforts?
I would say SEO—capturing the people who are at a decision point or actively looking for your product. Second to that would be email. I think about content as an extension of your brand’s voice. Email is the best opportunity to speak to and send that content directly to your customers.
Any parting advice for a smaller organization looking to make the right investment in content marketing?
As a small company, you have to prove ROI very quickly and make revenue to prove your worth. You’ll get better value from promoting your content rather than spending your money on advertising. Content builds a stronger relationship than advertising by providing immediate, relevant information to the reader.
I also think it’s important for small or medium-sized businesses to expand their content beyond what they do. Even if you only produce one specific product, it’s good to be involved in what’s going on in the industry as a whole. This is going to help build your audience and position you as a thought leader.
Also, many companies are really frightened to cite other brands’ or publishers content in their own work. As long as it’s a non-competitor, I believe it’s worthwhile to aggregate other publications, studies, news, etc., and add value by incorporating your brand’s voice or perspective to what’s already out there. By doing this at Monster, we have turned ourselves into our own media outlet and have built many partnerships—plus you then often get these other sources sharing your work in social. So I’d say, don’t be afraid to tackle the stories that are not necessarily your brand’s stories.
Lastly, mine your company’s data. By publishing your data you have the advantage to turn your results and statistics into stories. Getting your findings out there can help position you as a thought leader and create valuable conversations.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]