Case study:

How American Kennel Club Increased Traffic 30% and Thrived With a Small Team

Challenge:

In 2020, the American Kennel Club (AKC) noticed an important trend: interest in dog ownership went way up. As people spent more time at home, they were looking to pets for comfort and companionship during stressful times.

That presented an opportunity for the AKC, which has been around since 1884 as a trusted authority on purebred dogs. Prospective pet owners had questions that needed to be answered, and that meant expanding AKC’s content marketing program. The organization had been using digital content for years to offer expert advice and resources to longtime dog lovers. Now, it was time to grow.

AKC has three full-time employees dedicated to content. The small team is responsible for collaborating with subject matter experts, publishing articles and infographics, and distributing their work on social media. They used to publish a few articles per week. Yet despite limited bandwidth, they were looking to produce even more canine content so they could connect with a younger audience.

In the dog world, content aimed at millennials often comes across as superficial, like blog posts titled “10 Cute Pictures of Fluffy Dogs.” AKC wanted to stay away from that trend and focus more on high-quality stories.

“Being able to reach someone looking for a puppy in a way that relates to them, but still come off as the expert, that’s what sets us apart,” said Miranda Carney, AKC’s digital content editor.

The biggest hurdle at first was organizing the content. In the past, AKC relied primarily on email, which led to long back-and-forth threads with writers and internal experts. The team wanted a more efficient system, especially as they were looking to scale their content creation efforts.

Plus, AKC was trying to strike a delicate balance—how could they publish content aimed at a new demographic without veering too far from what the core audience expected?

Solution:

Ditching email to manage content creation on the Contently platform has led to a creative breakthrough for AKC. “It was hard to maintain a regular scheduled cadence,” Carney said.“But now with Contently, we’re producing about 10 articles a week.”

The organization set out to build a roster of reliable freelancers who could help the in-house team. They now have a core group of 15 go-to contributors who pitch stories on the platform throughout the year. Carney estimates she’s four times more productive now.

The improved system has led to more in-depth stories and a bigger emphasis on multimedia content. For example, AKC launched a popular series on the history of dog breeds. And they’ve invested in a few infographics to complement their articles, like this visual titled “How Old Is My Dog in Human Years,” which corrects the myth that one dog year equals seven human years. When they added the visual, the original article quickly became one of AKC’s most viewed pieces of content.

To maintain their brand standards across all the new stories, AKC adjusted its workflow as well. Not all of the new writers were veterinarians or dog show specialists, so the content team ran everything by internal experts who have been with AKC for decades. Best of all, reviewers received a notification from Contently when a piece of content was ready for their eyes.

“The off-platform review has been huge for us,” Carney said. “It saves me so much time not to have to email our Chief Veterinary Officer and ask, “Can you review this by next week?” Rather than losing track of everything over email, it just does that automatically through the workflow.”

Today, AKC’s content team continues to punch above their weight. Traffic has increased 30 percent year-over-year, much of it coming from both new puppy owners and seasoned dog-lovers. According to Contently’s Content Value Tracker, AKC has generated $26.6 million in search traffic value, an incredible number that should continue to rise since their educational content has evergreen appeal.

“People with pets want to make sure what they’re reading is the best out there,” Carney said. “We care about you and your dog. We’re friendly, but we’re still the number one resource.”

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