In content marketing, credibility is king. Building an owned audience only works if your readers trust you. That trust is hard to earn, but it’s all too easy to lose—especially if your content marketing is more marketing than content.
In a 2014 survey by Kentico Software, 74 percent of respondents said they trust “content from businesses that aim to educate readers about a particular topic.” But once a brand inserts a single product pitch—even at the end of an otherwise objective article—readers’ trust tumbles nearly 30 percent.
Walking this very fine line can be a challenge for many marketers. After all, pushing products and services is what marketing is—or at least what it was. But earning and maintaining the trust that’s so critical to content marketing requires a departure from the traditional advertising mindset. It’s not a challenge that can be solved by analytics, partnerships, distribution channels, or any other tool in the marketing toolbox. It can, however, be solved by one simple addition to a marketing team: a great editor.
Great Stories Matter Most
As Contently’s Senior Managing Editor, I help publishers work with experienced professional editors. These editors are responsible for much more than catching the occasional dangling participle. These are seasoned, strategic editorial leaders whose experience spans from startups to major digital media outlets to Fortune 500 companies.
They’ve spent years writing headlines people will click, delivering stories audiences will share, and helping writers create articles that readers find useful and engaging. But editors who work with brands have skills that extend beyond just journalism—they understand content marketing’s most valuable commodity is trust, and they know trust comes when a brand publishes outstanding stories.
But for audiences to trust brands, those brands need to trust their editors. This often means marketers have to release control and rely on editors to keep content free of product pitches and brand mentions. Striking this balance between church and state isn’t easy, but it’s oh so necessary.
It’s Harder Than You Think
When I speak with marketers about the value of a great editor, most are immediately receptive. A few, however, remain skeptical. Some think they can do it themselves. Some just don’t want to relinquish control over the content they produce. Whatever their reason may be, they inevitably cock an eyebrow and say: “How hard can it be?”
The answer: really, really hard.
At Contently, our editors guide the ideation process with writers, plan the editorial calendar, root out topics and trending stories, and handle all the organization and project management that comes with producing content—and that’s just the beginning. They devote hours to each piece before the content reaches the brand publisher. There aren’t many marketers who have the unique skill set—or the time—to complete the same amount of work with the same quality.
Consider American Express OPEN Forum, often regarded as the gold standard of content marketing. [Full disclosure: American Express is a Contently client]. It’s a massively popular—and massively useful—brand publishing site that’s built a loyal and engaged audience in a very short time. Much of that success is due to its phenomenal editorial team, many of whom work for OPEN Forum via the Contently network. Without their large and talented team of editors, it would be nearly impossible for OPEN Forum to publish the same caliber or quantity of content that’s made them so successful.
The same is true for IBM, GE, Hubspot, Red Bull, and virtually every major brand publisher out there. Of course, the editors can’t take all the credit. To get the most out of their content teams, brands need to provide the necessary strategy, infrastructure, and support. Brands who produce the best content have committed to investing in robust content teams, and now they’re reaping the rewards while others race to catch up.
Great stories are the key to content marketing, and no one knows how to create great stories like a professional editor. Their skills and expertise can elevate your content, gain credibility for your brand, and build an engaged and enthusiastic audience. It isn’t easy, but for great editors, it’s all in a day’s work.