The Content Strategist

Contently Case Story: How Cox’s NE Region Built a Digital Content Business in Less Than a Year

Creative abstract communication media and television business concept: stack or pile of old retro color wooden home TV receiver sets with antenna isolated on white background; Shutterstock ID 187815023; name: Deb Wenof; Client: TCS; Publication: TCS; Story ID: Cox Case Story

Contently case stories is a series highlighting some of Contently’s most successful clients, and telling the stories of how we worked together to produce great content and great business results.

Content marketing is all about giving your target audience an experience that they can’t get from any other company. If you’re the third-largest cable provider in the United States—servicing 6 million people across the nation—narrowing it down to the local level is a great way to make that experience manageable—and scalable. And that’s exactly what Cox Communications‘ Northeast region is doing.

Local engagement is built into Cox’s core product—it’s one of the only cable companies that still provides original, localized programming such as college sports coverage. In order to truly lead the conversation on these community-based events, Cox needed to pair its cable offerings with digital content that could be accessed by anyone—not just current customers. It also wanted to help their sales team use custom content as a crucial asset.

The answer, Cox realized, was an online magazine—one they’d build with the help of Contently. The result was CoxHub, an online destination filled with local sports and news coverage built expressly for Cox’s New England audience. As CoxHub’s Twitter account states, the online destination is built on “showcasing communities, organizations and people in a way that nobody else can.” The site features articles, podcasts, and video interviews that focus heavily on local sports news items affecting college and high school teams. It also provides original programming, such as the Women and War documentary, and livestreams of local championship matches.

The new venture didn’t come without hurdles. As a broadband and cable provider, Cox’s strength was rooted in television video production. In order to provide content for the web, the company needed to shift gears—and they needed the right partner. Contently provided access to local writers who could nail the right voice for the company. Using a mix of internal and external resources, Parris supplemented his team of five core writers with three more go-to writers from Contently.

“We didn’t have that kind of expertise in-house, so obviously that whole aspect of finding writers was foreign to us,” said John Parris, director of field and channel marketing at Cox Communications in Rhode Island.

In just a little over a year, CoxHub has already produced over 1,200 blog posts.

“We have kind of repurposed our internal producers—who used to produce a lot of local TV shows and local games—to focus on online content,” Parris said.

Equally as crucial, Contently also provided a platform that made it easy to organize Cox’s editorial workflow. “We use Contently to manage our content calendar, projects, and stories,” Parris explained. “The ability to add existing writers and add people that we work with locally here into the process has been really valuable.”

CoxHub publishes roughly two posts each day, with that number increasing during the heat of basketball season. To distribute the content, Parris turns to organic and paid social media, pay-per-click marketing, and display ads. He also works with Contently to distribute content through Outbrain.

Measuring the performance of this regional initiative often depends on the type of content Cox plans to offer. For example, a live hockey game that’s pay-per-view will be measured based on revenue and eyeballs. On the other hand, if CoxHub is promoting a local event, the marketing team wants to make sure they’re helping their event manager hit the right metrics and lift awareness in the community.

In the last year, Cox saw a 75 percent increase in landing page submissions and quadrupled it’s audience engagement.

“We’ve always had a web presence, but in the last year we’ve been able to really grow that fairly significantly looking at a really targeted audience,” Parris said. “As far as working with Contently, it’s been a really good partnership helping us manage our content. This is a really new initiative for our team, so the learning curve was steep for a lot of people, and having tools like that in place have really helped us.”

As CoxHub gains momentum, the company’s online publishing efforts are growing more ambitious. Recently, Cox used to Contently to help launch the original web series “Get a Job with Carson and Ted,” featuring Providence College basketball players Carson Desrosiers and Ted Bancroft on a job hunt after graduation. After Desrosiers and Bancroft tweeted that they were looking for some short-term work, Cox reached out with an opportunity: The series would follow the grads as they went on interviews at local businesses. In the first episode, for example, they take their talents to the Elmwood Dodge dealership.

Cox’s Rhode Island customers aren’t the only ones served by the company’s marketing efforts; local brands are catching on as well, creating content partnerships that that have helped monetize Cox’s online content efforts.

For instance, when Narragansett needed an awesome content marketing plan to celebrate the beer company’s 125th birthday, Cox and Narragansett launched “Made on Honor“, a video series that riffs on the beer’s motto (“Made on Honor. Sold on merit.”) by showcasing local craftsmen, artists, and businesses doing cool things in the community. For example, the video below takes us inside stylist Lulu Locks’ two companies, Suite Tart Salon and Providence Pinup.

“[Narragansett] is a company that just had an understanding of the value of content marketing,” said Anthony Finucane, producer at CoxHub and director of the series. “They’re a small group—there’s maybe six guys that work out of the office. They truly know who their customers are, and they’re close to their customers. The people that are being profiled are the people that drink their beer.”

In terms of engagement, Finucane has already seen an overwhelmingly positive response on social media. Now, the goal is to take what they’ve created with Made on Honor and CoxHub, and use it as an example of great content for their sales team to show potential clients. After all, Cox hasn’t just succeeded at creating content for their own brand—it’s also become a new source of creative projects for local companies as well.

“Now that we’ve got that under our belt, we say, ‘This is what’s working for us. Let’s double down on that,'” Parris explained. “How do we expand our reach? How do we expand our engagement, and, more directly, how do we take this audience that we’re growing and tie it back into our core company goals?”