22 minute read
Consumer Expectations Are Changing: A Blockbuster to Netflix Style Shift
Successful content marketing doesn’t take more blog posts. It takes smarter use of the work you’re already doing.
In 1977, NASA launched the Voyager I spacecraft. Its mission was to explore Jupiter and Saturn. But, thanks to Carl Sagan, it carried something else on board.
Something no other spacecraft had taken off our planet.
Voyager carried — and still carries in interstellar space today — a gold-plated record.
Yes, the kind our parents placed on turntables and “grooved” to.
This 12-inch gold-plated copper disc contains 115 images, natural sounds, music from various cultures, and a greeting in fifty-five languages. From snapshots of a DNA helix, to a Mozart recording, to the sound of a mother kissing her child, the record was carefully assembled to tell the story of our world to extraterrestrials.
That is, if any extraterrestrials ever stumble upon it in the void.
What does this have to do with content marketing?
Well, most content these days is a bit like that golden record.
It’s thoughtfully conceived and painstakingly crafted. It’s a mini-masterpiece of valuable snapshots...and still drifting, untouched and unheard, into the interstellar reaches of our internet. Most content never connects its intended audience.
But that doesn’t have to be the case. What you’ve made — and what you will make — doesn’t have to drift.
This article covers:
- How current content marketing is like a production hamster wheel
- Where content marketing is shifting and what it means for you
- How content repurposing addresses some of your biggest challenges (like drifting content)
- Examples and opportunities for the B2B and B2C world
The Hamster Wheel of Write, Publish, Rinse, and Repeat
Content marketers say their number one struggle is generating leads and ROI. Their number two and three challenges? Attracting traffic and resonating with a target audience.
Simply put, we’re not sure how much of our hard work is reaching anyone. Bueller...Bueller?
Goodness knows this isn’t for lack of production activity.
If you’re a content marketer, you:
- Build strategies that balance multiple stakeholder goals
- Spend time vetting, hiring, and mentoring quality writers
- Have countless conversations to secure notable podcast guests
- Make detailed creative briefs for various types of projects
- Provide thoughtful edits that improve content, podcasts, and webinars
- Publish and publish and publish some more
And, of yeah, that’s just on Monday with one of your three team members out of office. Being a content marketer is, in a word, hard.
This production hamster wheel may burn calories...but it’s not going anywhere
Coming up with new ideas, filling a content calendar, executing, and doing it all over again — this is the production hamster wheel.
The trouble with hamster wheels, though, is they never go anywhere.
“people are burnt out. People are tired...thinking about ‘Oh my God, I did 10 new blog posts this month...I cannot keep creating brand new content."
Amanda Natividad, Marketing Architect at SparkToro
Wheels keep you busy, and they burn plenty of calories. But they’re all speed with no velocity. They’re motion without forward movement on quarterly goals or KPIs.
Like most big hairy marketing problems, this production pain occurs for a few different reasons. Limited resources, tight budgets, internal squabbles, and a misunderstood role (who said this job was “easy,” again?!) to name a few.
But one of the biggest factors turning that hamster wheel over and over, week after week, is this: we’ve over-emphasized content creation and under-emphasized distribution.
The phrase “content marketing” has become 90% focused on content — and only 10% focused on marketing.
For more successful strategies, and golden masterpieces that reach eager ears and eyes instead of the far reaches of the internet galaxy, teams need to revisit what the marketing piece of content marketing looks like in today’s world.
Where content marketing is experiencing a Blockbuster → Netflix style shift and what it means for your efforts
When I was growing up, my family would pile into the car every Friday evening and drive over to Blockbuster. We’d spill into the carpeted fluorescent-lit aisles, browse headlines, read catchy descriptions, and try to guess which one might be fun that night. Most nights, a decision didn’t take too long. There were only so many movies on the shelf and only so many of those we hadn’t seen.
In the Blockbuster era of content, your audience could do the same. They could pull up Google or Internet Explorer (oh yeah), browse results and, if you had a catchy enough headline and meta-description they hadn’t seen, you’d draw them in.
After all, there were only so many articles on that topic and only so many marketers who knew how to show up as a search result. Besides, what other option did readers have for finding that stuff?
But these days, we’re producing something like 4-7 million posts per day. 89% of teams rely on organic search for distributing that content. And, on top of that, readers want to consume content in more places and more ways.
If you prefer listening to podcasts instead of reading, you might like this episode of the 3C podcast I recorded with Brett McGrath.
The problem: your audience doesn’t want to drive anywhere to pick up your content
Netflix ensured we don’t have to leave our couches to access a mountain of documentaries, shows, and movies any time we want entertainment. Thanks to their algorithm, we don’t even have to think about what we want to watch — Netflix suggests it for us.
This is the era of consumption we all live in. And your readers? They don’t want to leave their “couch” on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Spotify, Youtube, email, or wherever else they are, to get value out of your content.
Meaning, the strategies content teams used in the Blockbuster days of content aren’t going to cut it in a Netflix era of consumption.
It’s no longer enough to make a great post, optimize the title and headers and hit publish. It’s not even enough to queue up three tweets in Buffer mentioning that post’s URL.
Why? Because none of us hop on Twitter between meetings to find a link to a 20-minute read or a 40-minute podcast. Rather, we’re looking for value in a format that’s native to the platform. On Twitter, that means we’re hunting for takeaways and entertainment in 280 characters or less. On LinkedIn, it’s 700 characters, on TikTok, three minutes.
Doing content effectively these days increasingly depends on repackaged distribution — not just SEO-optimized creation. You may have been hired in the Blockbuster mindset, but you’ll need to think like Netflix to drive ROI. Just look at headspace (the #1 sleep and meditation app) and the series on sleep they released for Netflix.
“When I first started in marketing I thought that content creation needed to be the priority. Write more. Create more. Publish more. Now I realize that the true power is in distribution. Create one amazing asset and spread it one hundred different ways. That’s how to win.”
– Ross Simmonds, CEO Foundation
To hook the modern reader, develop quality asset you can repackage
To be clear, I’m not saying quality is no longer important. Your golden records are valuable, and you’ll need to create more of them to succeed. Otherwise, you’re putting garbage into repackaged distribution and you’ll get garbage out.
But on the other hand, creating a masterpiece doesn’t do either you or your customers any good if it silently drifts through the internet without ever reaching someone.
So, how do you balance both?
When it comes to navigating creation, distribution, and the gray areas in between, Jay Acunzo has a useful framework for thinking about this:
- Develop an original, high-quality asset
- Repackaged that asset in repurposed bit and pieces
- Spinoff related ideas as extensions
Let’s look at those first two.
Developing an original, high-quality asset
Good content is, at its core, a valuable asset that resonates with your audience. It is, according to Jay, the thing that helps “you speak to the soul of your audience” and stand out from the noise.
Kyle Denhoff, Senior Manager of Acquisition Marketing at HubSpot explains content this way: “every asset you’re developing...is an investment from the company. That is an asset the company owns and you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of that asset.”
Repackaging an asset in repurposed bits and pieces
But again, an asset needs to reach your audience to generate a return for your company.
Jay argues repackaging (or, in his terms, “merchandising”) is one way to approach this.
For example, if you’re Lucasfilm producing Star Wars movies, repackaging the original movie asset looks like Luke Skywalker Halloween costumes or partnerships with Ruggable. (You, too, can sit on the Millennium Falcon.)
If the asset is a podcast or webinar, repackaging is show quotes pulled into social media graphics. If you’re producing a how-to piece of content, repackaging is a checklist template you share on LinkedIn.
In short, you make an amazing thing, you isolate small useful pieces within the original asset, then you take those standalone assets and present them in a new context.
And it works, too. 61% of content marketers say updating and repurposing existing content is the most efficient content marketing tactic their team uses — and that’s up 10% from 2019.
How this approach helps solve your top content marketing challenges
We call this process of taking value and repackaging it into more value content atomization (you may also hear it referred to as content repurposing or content repackaging). Every piece of valuable content is chock-full of smaller bits of value — kind of like how atoms are small bits of matter that make up, well, everything.
Each time you splice off something valuable from a larger content asset and distribute it in a new context, you produce an atom.
This is a powerful way to alleviate some of your biggest pain points.
When SEMrush surveyed over 1,500 content marketers, they found the top 5 challenges content marketers face are:
- Generating quality leads
- Attracting more traffic
- Resonating with the target audience
- Improving SEO performance
- Finding ideas for new content
We can sort those pains into three buckets:
- Moving the right audience to action
- Getting in front of more human eyes
- Fueling future content efforts
Here’s how atomization — creating a great asset then repackaging and repurposing it for various channels — helps alleviate each of them.
1. Moving the right audience to action
You’ve heard “if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around, does it make a sound?” You can ask a similar question for content. If you create something amazing but your audience doesn’t see it...does it matter?
Derek Gleason answers, “If it doesn’t have a distribution channel, nothing else matters.”
Atomization helps you distribute your content more effectively. But more than that, it helps you distribute in a way that makes sense for each channel.
“If you were creating a great case study, of course you want people to go to your website and read it there, but not everybody's going to do that,” Amanda Natividad (refresher: she’s Head of Marketing for Growth Machine) explains. “Ultimately what matters is that that piece of content gets read...if somebody can get most of the value — or at least half the value — from your case study on the Twitter thread, then by all means do that.”
This allows you to drive more leads or, in high-touch settings, nurture potential leads with multiple, valuable impressions. It gives all your hard work a chance to resonate.
For example, Kristen LaFrance’s Resilient Retail podcast is growing at 2x the rate it did in season 1 (how’s that for momentum?). Her high-quality asset and the way she repurposes it is a big factor in that growth.
Each of the original interviews Kristen hosts with direct-to-consumer (DTC) ecommerce founders is an asset. And each asset has valuable takeaways Kristen can atomize and repackage in Twitter threads, a newsletter, on Youtube, or other places.
As Kristen does this for each episode, she’s able to drive more engagement, more interactions, and, ultimately, more listeners.
Disclaimer: For Season 2 of Resilient Retail, Kristen started using Procket to repackage her podcast content and share valuable takeaways native to each platform.
2. Getting in front of more human eyes
There are two types of factors that influence content SEO performance: direct factors and indirect factors.
“A direct SEO factor is something that feeds into Google's algorithm,” Bernard Huang, co-founder of Clearscope, explains. “Things like backlinks and user engagement signals (eg. click-through-rate) directly influence how Google ranks your content.”
Indirect SEO factors, on the other hand, are things that influence direct factors.
People engaging with your repackaged content on different channels is an indirect factor. “Google isn't going to trust Facebook or Twitter engagements because it has no control or access to that data,” Bernard says, “However, social media engagements can drive SEO factors because more people start searching for your brand, the idea that your post tried to convey, or influence your click-through-rates.”
This is why Bernard is a fan of content repurposing, even though it’s not a direct SEO factor. First, it’s effective. He notes, “different channels require different approaches to unlock its potential. What works well on LinkedIn might be short 1-2 sentence paragraphs, whereas that would look lousy for an SEO article. Same goes with sharing a bite-sized chunk of information on Medium.”
And second, “by driving more engagement across different channels, you're likely to be rewarded with more impressions and engagement with your brand which is beneficial for indirect SEO.”
So, atomization helps with impressions, leads, and SEO. It also helps you figure out what to put on that content calendar in the future.
3. Fueling future content efforts
When you repackage something valuable in a format that’s native to the channel you’re distributing in, you’ll often generate conversation with customers or prospects. These conversations are a rich source of additional ideas, or what Jay calls extensions.
Extensions explore the original asset (or parts of it) in further detail. Let’s use Star Wars as an example again. If you’ve heard of the Disney+ hit The Mandalorian, that’s an extension of Lucasfilm’s Star Wars universe. This extension now has its own atoms in the form of baby Yoda toddler shirts (on my neighbor’s kid) and a special Adidas sneaker.
If you’re a podcast, extensions could be the spin-off shows customers request. For example, the “Resilient News” segment of Kristen’s Resilient Retail podcast. This is an every Friday episode that dives into hot topics, large trends, or current event retail news. It’s also something listeners specifically requested when they engaged with Kristen in season one.
Thanks to the quality Kristen was putting out there and the way she was distributing it, all she had to do was listen to her audience to find new content ideas that’d resonate.
For any brand producing content, this process of creating assets, extensions, and repackaged atoms starts to look like building a hub and spoke model. You have the original asset and its atoms, plus the extensions and their atoms, all branching off the original high-quality asset.
Ultimately, you wind up with an entire network of valuable content that’s resonating with your target audience(s), in multiple ways, across multiple channels. You create a network that (wait for it) drives network effects. As you repackage and redistribute your content, you make it easier for others to interact with it and re-share with their networks. This is the network effect: As the number of folks interacting with the asset and its atoms grow, the value you receive grows, too.
Note that this isn’t just a seriously powerful feedback loop — it’s sustainable.
“It simply costs too much money and it takes up too much time to write or pay for five brand new blog posts per week,” Amanda admits. “It's just a lot more efficient and sustainable to...spend a little bit of extra care repurposing that content into Twitter threads, into podcasts, episode topics, or upcoming webinar topics.”
Note: In the two sections below I’ll break out a few more examples of content repurposing in the B2B and B2C world. I’ll point out some opportunities a few brands have to improve, but I don’t do this to pick on them. These brands are doing many things well, including building and marketing successful businesses, which is no small feat.
Content repurposing examples and opportunities for B2B content marketers
Twilio is impressive. They’re one of the fastest-growing SaaS companies, have navigated a successful IPO, and have fostered a near-religious fan base in the last decade. If you’re a Twilio fan, you live and breathe it (case and point, Connor Cirillo, my co-founder at Procket won’t shut up about how cool they are).
But one thing Twilio could do better? Moving some of their fantastic content out of silos.
Take their webinars. Twilio webinars are timely, valuable, and often evergreen — take the “Guide to Personalizing Customer Experience” example below.
The problem is all the good stuff in the webinar...stays in the webinar. This is Blockbuster-style content. To get value here, fans have to set aside a specific amount of time, at a specific time of day, in a specific channel — all of which Twilio has pre-chosen for the fan.
That’s problematic because this seriously limits who can extract value from the webinar. Assuming they’re not afflicted with Zoom fatigue, busy professionals don’t often have time for yet-another-pandemic-webinar — let alone the bandwidth to set aside an hour of their day (in the middle of a work day!). Plus, a webinar is the first thing they’ll drop if a meeting or task comes up.
Remember, in the Netflix era of consumption, we want asynchronous content. We want to be able to access value when we want it, how we want it, and our own terms. I’ll put when Tiger Woods tees off in my calendar because I want to experience it live. But a webinar? No way.
In this specific scenario, Twilio has many opportunities to repackage:
- Threading the most useful takeaways on their various Twilio accounts, as well as LinkedIn
- Creating shorter (less than their standard 2 hours) highlights videos for YouTube
- Repurposing takeaways for “The Current,” Twilio’s quarterly online publication
Through these actions, Twilio not only maximizes the webinar’s bottom-of-the-funnel value, they redistribute and democratize value to the top of the funnel as well. One asset working hard across the entire customer journey? Yes please.
Note that these repackaging methods aren’t simply “more work” for the marketing team either. These moves take already valuable (and already produced!) content into channels where the company has proven engagement. It’s working smarter, not harder.
How HubSpot franchises individual assets across multiple platforms
HubSpot is a company that has pioneered inbound marketing and built a $20 billion+ platform off organic search and content marketing. Most of their growth? From content marketing. “Creating remarkable content,” they assert, “is what makes a remarkable brand.”
Creating and, of course, distributing. Which is why they’ve acquired The Hustle, a media company, to more effectively distribute their remarkable content.
HubSpot knows that, in today’s day and age, sticking something valuable in a whitepaper won’t cut it for B2B companies. Customers expect more. Here’s some insight into how they think about atomization, from asset creation to distribution.
“First and foremost, we look at everything like an asset,” Kyle Denhoff (refresher: he’s Senior Manager of Acquisition Marketing at HubSpot) told me. This asset mindset is where their content starts.
From there, they ask two questions:
- What is the objective?
- Who is the audience?
The objective informs the type of asset HubSpot creates, whereas the audience informs how HubSpot speaks to the person on the other end. “Every audience that we work with has their own subcultures,” Kyle explained. “They tune into different shows and consume different materials and spend time on different channels."
So, from there, HubSpot develops the piece and explores different ways they can atomize the original asset to reach the specific subculture they created it for. Here’s how Kyle summarizes this step: "Once that asset is created — say it's an industry report — we say to ourselves, 'Okay, we invested a lot of time and energy into this industry report. How do we get it in front of the marketing audience we're trying to reach? And how do we engage that audience on the channels where they spend their time?"
This helps HubSpot create native content for specific channels and how audiences in those channels expect to consume information.
- On LinkedIn, he said, “we may be able to create a LinkedIn carousel with various stats and data visualizations from the report."
- On Instagram, they may ask someone to provide “a stories commentary around a chapter within the report that they read and tell people to swipe up to check out the full report."
And remember, the engagement HubSpot receives in any of these settings — in the form of comments, questions, and reactions — can inform extensions and future content ideas. For example, questions around stats and data HubSpot shares on LinkedIn may surface ideas for Instagram Q&A or blog posts ideas.
For a tangible example of this, HubSpot has a 5-part video series where various go-to-market leaders share their blueprints for automation.
However, not everyone has the bandwidth — mentally or physically — to sit through these videos, so HubSpot repackaged, or franchised, the assets from the videos as a download.
This is a good starting point, and HubSpot could franchise these blueprints even further in the ways Kyle mentions above — as social videos, LinkedIn carousels, blog posts, and more.
Content repurposing examples and opportunities in the B2C world
As a result, the direct-to-consumer (DTC) model has continued to flourish. While this gives consumers plenty of shopping options, it presents a challenge for retailers. They’re competing for attention in increasingly saturated markets. It’s no longer what a DTC company sells, it’s how they sell it — and how well they connect with customers along the way.
One route some DTC brands take to stand out is generating expert-led content. Think a nutrition expert discussing the benefits of using a tailored multivitamin or a vet touting the benefits of certain dog hygiene products.
Take Levels health. Levels uses a Continuous Glucose Monitor — aka a wearable sensor connected to an app — to show customers how their bodies react to food and exercise. They’ve raised a $12 million seed round with the selective Andreessen Horowitz (including investors like the former CEOs of Netflix and Twitter) and had an impressive 45,000 people on their waitlist...before they even launched.
With a Stanford-trained MD on staff, and a whole suite of PhDs and MDs serving as advisors, Levels has plenty of opportunities to generate valuable expert-led content — and they do. They have 93 guest appearances on podcasts (plus their own podcast, “A Whole New Level”), several research roundups on the blog, and a suite of medical guides authored by MDs.
The repurposing opportunities here are, if not endless, then pretty darn close:
- Twitter threads highlighting podcast takeaways (think Resilient Retail style, the Kristen LaFrance example we used earlier)
- Short YouTube videos for Levels’s YouTube channel
- Summaries for LinkedIn posts
- Quotes or tips for Instagram posts
- Audio clips for Instagram stories, sourced from podcast appearances
While that can look like a laundry list of distribution to-dos, this isn’t about increasing the marketing team’s task list; it’s about maximizing the work they’ve already done to ensure every asset is atomized and generating as much value as possible for the company.
Repackaging opportunities for the Lively podcast
DTC and financial services reportedly account for over 40% of all podcast revenues thanks to their advertising. And this is likely where you’ve encountered many DTC brands (perhaps Quip?) yourself.
But some DTC brands are going beyond well-placed ads and creating podcasts of their own.
Take Lively, the brand disrupting the Victoria Secret dominated lingerie industry with its comfortable “Leisuree” — bras and undies that blend lingerie, active, and swim. Within four years of founding, Lively had sold over a million products and been acquired for $85 million by Wacoal (who retained the Lively name).
Lively has an engaged community and in recent years, they’ve explored new ways to engage shoppers. For example, a two-season podcast featuring conversations with powerhouse women in an on-brand casual setting. Dubbed “no makeup needed,” the podcast surfaces 30 minute or less conversations with inspirational figures like Tracy Sun, co-founder of Poshmark, and Bobbi Brown, founder of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics.
Much like the Resilient Retail podcast, each episode is a value-packed piece of IP Lively can repurpose across channels. And they did experiment with repackaged insights for their nearly 300k followers on Instagram with engaging quotes and takeaways.
Yet, much like the other brands we’ve looked at, they could go much further here with Twitter threads and inspirational Pinterest posts. What’s more, podcast conversation highlights would be a great fit for the existing “Girls We Love” section of Lively’s blog, which already has a Q&A format and focuses on power-women.
In fact, Lively could still do this even though it’s been a year since they released a new podcast episode. Content doesn’t have to be brand-new to be atomized and repackaged. It simply has to be valuable.
How to repurpose content AND save hours every week
Converge Content found 85% of B2B content marketers think they could do a better job making the most of existing content...but 80% say the reason they don’t is lack of time.
We get it. You’re busy — and that’s why Procket exists.
We take content repurposing off busy content marketer's plates so you have more time for all those other demanding tasks (ideation, recording, setting up interviews…) that only you can do.
Think of it this way: Our processes are a cheat code to unlocking your current content’s potential. Your team takes care of the great ideas and original assets, we take care of repackaging those assets into small, valuable pieces that stop your audience mid-scroll.
Meaning, you don’t have to wonder if your latest work is like Carl Sagan’s golden record, silently floating through interstellar e-space. You can ensure your masterpieces land in the right place, with the right audience, over and over again.
You can get time back in your week while hitting — or, in the case of our current clients, exceeding! — your CMO’s goals.