Brand Case Studies

January 30th, 2012

Contently Case Study: Rackspace

Founded in 1998, Rackspace, a cloud computing and web hosting provider, found itself on the forefront of one of the biggest internet business trends in recent years – data hosting.

An industry leader, Rackspace provides data storage and services, competing with powerhouses like Amazon and Google.

The San Antonio-based company, has more than 180,000 clients. Its 4,300 employees, called “Rackers,” work to provide customers with the flexibility to run anything they want – from a Java website, to a Ruby on Rails app, to a .Net application.

The Challenge

Since Rackspace offers a highly technical service, it’s been difficult for the company to accurately communicate the value and services they can provide the average business.

Many business owners and managers who venture into e-commerce understand the value of reaching customers through the internet, but not all are familiar with the advantages and drawbacks of hosting their data offsite. Even if they are sold on the concept, the company still had to convince them why Rackspace is the right choice for their company over some of the other better known brands.

“We’re just trying to be relevant,” said Rackspace Marketing Director Angela Bartels on the brand’s marketing challenge.

To break through that barrier, the company needed a layered content plan that included an educational campaign — one that would explain the nature of cloud services and emphasize the return on investment that Rackspace could offer businesses.

The goal was to reach more potential customers, but also fully communicate the nuances of the services and financial benefits that Rackers provide clients. This required a team of knowledgeable and experienced writers, so Rackspace turned to Contently.

These were the goals Rackspace was looking to meet:

  • Boost its content footprint across the Internet
  • Establish relevance in the cloud marketplace
  • Increase market share

The Solution

“We started realizing that as the demand for content increased it made sense for us to outsource for experienced writers,” Bartels said.

Contently editor Sam Slaughter assembled a team of writers who had cloud knowledge and assigned them to work on a variety of cloud-focused articles in coordination with Rackspace’s own team of writers.

“I like the way our teams look at Contently as a part of our own writing team,” Bartels said about the collaborative process.

The articles ranged from consumer-facing content to a weekly wrap-up series that was published by cloud computing journals.

“As they evolved and their content needs evolved, we were able to put different teams in place that solved those needs,” Slaughter said, adding that Contently’s story production for Rackspace grew from five to 10 stories per month to about 40.

Through Contently, Rackspace was able to execute the following:

  • Launch a series of stories – written by cloud technology journalists – explaining the cost benefits of using the cloud, especially with Rackspace
  • Engage Rackspace experts with Contently journalists who could turn ideas into content
  • Produce content that was picked up by journals and cloud-computing websites

The Result

With the help of Contently’s team, Rackspace has promoted its brand and gained recognition within the growing – and increasingly competitive – cloud industry.

They did this by providing expert-level content not just on Rackspace’s blog but also on third-party sites where Rackspace’s expertise went on display for thousands of new viewers.

“It raises awareness for our brand,” Bartels said. “We have to have high-quality, fresh content across the internet – not solely on our site.”

The monetary gains from this campaign could start to be realized in about six months, Bartels said, but even now the efforts have established Rackspace as an authority on cloud services to a broader audience.

Bartels said Contently’s editorial platform was extremely helpful, because it allowed Rackers to follow the articles’ progress as they were created.

“I’ve worked with a lot of content managers, and none of them have had such an easy platform,” Bartels said. “It’s super easy and intuitive.”

Results from Rackspace’s Contently projects:

  • Perception shift: Solid branding of Rackspace as an authority on cloud administration
  • Time savings: Ease and flexibility of working with Contently’s network of professional writers and using its editorial platform
  • Anticipated longterm increase in revenue

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