As the publisher of one of the most impressive thought leadership centers in the industry and a 2015 Content Marketing Awards finalist, Aimia finds itself ahead of the content curve. But while the success and scale of the company’s efforts are fascinating, what might be even more interesting is how Aimia got there.
As a data-driven marketing and loyalty analytics company, Aimia has always been focused on making customer insights clear and actionable for marketers and C-suite executives around the world. Based on that helpful approach, the company has been able to build the kind of trust that drives conversions.
With a long sales cycle, content serves to bridge the gap between generating brand awareness and making the sale. However, a couple of years ago, the company realized that only relying on traditional content marketing methods—like producing 20-page white papers—wasn’t going to cut it. With audiences starting to consume more mobile content, Aimia needed to diversify and expand its B2B marketing operation.
That challenge prompted the company, in partnership with Contently, to launch Aimia Institute, a groundbreaking subscription-based digital content platform that uses longform articles, infographics, video, and op-eds from leading experts to inform senior marketers worldwide on how to build stronger customer relationships.
“Contently fulfilled a very strong need. In fact, they upped the ante. We moved from a relatively tight individual network to forty thousand people worldwide,” explained Aaron Dauphinee, general manager of Aimia Institute. “Now we can not only rely on North American writers, but we can step up the game and get a writer in the United Kingdom… We could get a writer potentially in Singapore. Now, we can easily access local writers who help support our business units better because they understand the nuances of the regional markets. It was a breadth and reach that matched and mirrored our global operation.”
The Aimia Institute offers everything from full-blown consumer research reports to interactive facts, presenting a comprehensive view of the data-driven marketing and analytics space. Impressively, all of this was accomplished with a content team that had been scaled down from nine employees to just four.
Aimia’s in-house team now works with more than a dozen freelance writers, designers, and researchers at any given time to fill the site with high-quality content in a variety of formats. For instance, one monthly consumer research study can lead to more than 10 different pieces including longform articles about key findings—like “Putting the Long Term Back Into Loyalty“—with accompanying infographics, slideshow summaries, and video assets.
Aimia also uses Contently to organize and manage a robust editorial calendar. “To manage more than 1,400 pieces of content, which is approximately what we have published on our digital platform in just over two years, requires more than a spreadsheet,” Dauphinee said.
As for weekly content, Aimia Institute teams up with subject matter experts in business and academia to produce opinion pieces. And 10 times per week, readers can check out “Views on the News,” curated posts full of the top industry stories with Aimia’s own perspectives on their relevance to marketers.
Additionally, other business teams at Aimia are leveraging Contently’s research services to turn first-party consumer research and data into fascinating reports and insights.
With such a nuanced content program in place, Aimia Institute subscribers have increased 5x over the last year. Additionally, Aimia is now surpassing its peers on the Contently platform across most metrics including average engaged stories per person, average finish, and average attention time per person, which is at four minutes—16x the average attention for a web article.
“Without measurement, you really can’t be effective,” Dauphinee said. “Contently enabled us to do that in a way that I feel personally is more accurate than Google Analytics.”
He noted that the key difference is Google Analytics counts any site visit as a true pageview, which can skew results, whereas Contently Analytics only counts individuals who spend at least 15 seconds with the content as engaged readers.
“With Contently, we’re getting a really accurate understanding of when people come to the site and read our content, so we have more certainty on what’s working or not,” Dauphinee added. “And if it isn’t working, we’re able to tweak it. And if it is working, we’re able to create more and more.”
The major goal for Aimia Institute is to establish a two-way conversation between marketers and consumers—what Dauphinee calls a “utopia” for most content marketers. “It couldn’t just be a means for us to sell our products and services,” he said. “It had to allow for a forum where marketers could come to learn and be educated about topics that are meaningful and of interest to them.”
Moving forward, Dauphinee hopes to keep building on the company’s momentum by ramping up efforts in distribution, webinars, and video tied to live events.
“You need to have the fortitude to be able to evolve your strategy when it comes to content,” he said. “The audience is both king and queen here. You need to flip the lens and say, ‘What is going to meet their needs? What is going to provide a solution that makes their lives easier?’ And if you start with those pain points and structure your content from there, you’ll have a strong path.”