Tracy Kilcoyne

Content marketing is a marathon – not a sprint. But when 60 percent of brands add fresh content at least weekly and the broad majority use up to 12 formats, fast and steady and quality “wins the race.” It sounds like a tall order, but consistent, premium output is key to earning and maintaining audience interest. One of Brafton’s clients in the rapidly growing cloud-based phone systems industry, ShoreTel Sky, offers a prime example of how regularly posting relevant content can build influence and win web leads.

“If we had to do content marketing in house, frequent publication wouldn’t have been sustainable.”

– Amber Newman, senior marketing communications manager for Shoretel Sky

When Shoretel Sky was first setting content marketing goals, the company wanted a strategy that not only demonstrated the importance of cloud-based phone systems, but also showed the brand’s expertise and thought leadership in a competitive field. “Our whole industry is growing rapidly, in terms of adoption and technological developments. Because of this, buyers want to know more. This need really lends itself to content marketing,” said Amber Newman, senior marketing communications manager for Shoretel Sky.

Newman realized her company lacked the manpower to fuel a sustainable strategy that could build her brand as a reliable resource for business phone system shoppers.  She and her team were writing blog content internally, but wanted to up the ante. The company also needed a partner that could help it break into new formats. She decided to use daily industry news content to power consistent updates, turning to Brafton content writers in the tech editorial team to provide updates that wouldn’t sacrifice quality for quantity.

It was also important that her Brafton strategists and content writers understood the unique perspective of the ShoreTel Sky brand. The company turned to Brafton to not only increase posting frequency for thought leadership, but also to achieve SEO, traffic and lead generation goals that fit its unique business offerings. 

The Strategy

Newman and the Shoretel Sky team wanted a content marketing campaign to influence online buyers interested in business phone systems. The brand needed regular content to educate prospects about trends around its services, while demonstrating expertise. Its (ongoing) campaign goals are:

  • Building brand authority
  • Enhancing SEO and win more engaged traffic
  • Supporting on-site conversions

Brafton helped create a strategy that allowed the writers to seamlessly incorporate ShoreTel Sky’s keywords into industry news pieces and more in-depth analyses. By adjusting the keyword strategy over time to reflect industry trends, the content stayed naturally focused on terms that would drive traffic and leads to the site.  

ShortelSky news title The strategy commenced in March, and the website gets at least one news article per day, ranging from 200 to 400 words to accommodate the word space needed to adequately cover various topics. The writers also plan longer content (in the 600-word range) for monthly publication. “Early on, I wasn’t confident that Brafton could produce the type and volume of content we needed,” Newman said. “That has never been a problem. We’ve been thrilled with the editorial work. The quality is consistent.”

Brafton is also working with ShoreTel Sky on an annual infographic strategy. To date, the site has published two infographics around industry trends to supplement the news and appeal to buyers who prefer to learn visually. It’s easy for Brafton’s content writers, who keep up with the latest business phone trends, and graphics teams, who understand the aesthetics of Shoretel’s brand, to work together on transforming data from industry articles into compelling visual stories. The first infographic was released in Q1 2012, and the second was published in Q2. 

ShoretelSky infographics

The Results

While it isn’t easy to measure thought leadership, Brafton used Google Analytics to identify site results. Within 6 months of the news content regularly going live on ShoreTel Sky’s site, the company had a more robust SEO presence, with more keywords bringing traffic to the site, organic traffic levels rising and inbounds links up.

In Q3 of 2012, organic traffic was up 50.8 percent over the same period last year, with the industry news hub page serving as a top landing page for the site. More, inbound links to the site tripled in 6 months proving that additional content is being shared and linked to – further establishing ShoreTel Sky as the industry thought leader it is. The volume of inbound links pointing to the site steadily builds as meaningful content is added, with total links rising 7 percent over March 2012 in April, and 181 percent inbound link growth compared to the launch of strategy by September. The links suggest the brand is gaining credibility, but readers’ interaction with the content also proves quality has not been sacrificed for quantity.

Shoretel Sky organic traffic growth

“It’s difficult to quantify thought leadership and awareness, but we think it’s a strong indicator that Brafton’s content has helped us win more traffic and information requests,” Newman says. 

Website visitors who read Brafton news content and blogs from Amber’s team collectively had a 42 percent higher goal conversion rate than other traffic over the course of the first six months of the campaign. Infographic viewers also had a higher goal conversion rate, as well as a 3 percent lower bounce rate than the site’s average.

“It’s difficult to quantify thought leadership and awareness, but we think it’s a strong indicator that Brafton’s content has helped us win more traffic and information requests,” Newman said.

Combining industry news, analytical articles and infographics for consistent delivery allows ShoreTel Sky to have a sustainable content marketing strategy that shows the results the company wants. “If we had to do content marketing in house, frequent publication wouldn’t have been sustainable,” Newman said. “Not having to worry about writing every day has freed our team to become more strategic with our overall marketing and sales.”

The company continues to work with Brafton on executing industry articles on topics that have the most measurable impact on its audiences, testing new content formats and further optimizing content pages for maximum conversion opportunity.