Contently Case Stories is a series highlighting some of Contently’s most successful clients.
In early 2014, SodaStream made waves in the news when CBS banned one of its Super Bowl ads, allegedly because the spot criticized Coke and Pepsi, both of which were also sponsors of the big game. The decision had a huge impact on SodaStream’s future—not only did coverage of controversy lead to 6 billion PR impressions, but it also shifted the way the company thought about the role of content in its marketing efforts.
Earlier this year, the Israeli company, which sells DIY products that let customers turn tap water into flavored carbonated beverages, decided to launch a blog, The Stream, in partnership with Contently. SodaStream knew that a product-focused blog would have trouble attracting readers; covering the beverage industry, specifically carbonated water, has its limits. But it didn’t take long for SodaStream to find a solution. First, it crafted an audience-first content strategy, focusing on science, health, and DIY tips to save the environment. Then, it invested in Contently’s Smart Distribution services to spread those stories to its target audience through paid channels.
In the first three months, SodaStream was able to attract 97,000 readers, 94,000 of whom came via paid channels. Leaning so heavily on paid distribution does come with risk—marketers have to worry about the quality of the traffic and need to pay attention to how long readers are spending with the content. But in SodaStream’s case, that traffic was composed of high-quality and premium readers. Engagement rates exceeded 90 percent, and the average attention time jumped over two minutes.
Perhaps most importantly, the average finish per engaged story hit 87 percent, which Itai Bichler, Head of Global Digital Marketing at SodaStream, found particularly impressive. “Our finish rates are great, which speaks volumes about the quality of the content we’ve been able to create through Contently,” he said.
To Bichler, finish rates are the “holy grail” of metrics when it comes to CPG content marketing: “It’s really about how many people get all the way down to the end of the story.”
SodaStream’s chief goal with the publication was to drive brand awareness, and the health, environment, and DIY angles proved to be a hit. In addition to dozens of recipes, readers can check out “How to Quit Soda in 7 Steps,” “Don’t Trash It, Transform It: 8 Stylish Ways to Upcycle Common Items,” and “How to Create Your Own Natural Household Cleaners.”
The Stream’s stories were meant to bring consumers in at the top of the funnel, mostly by offering actionable tips. The brand built a team of writers from scratch, sourcing the appropriate talent through Contently’s global network, and used the talent and resources to produce a steady stream of blog posts and infographics in a short amount of time.
When it came to distribution, Outbrain was the channel of choice. Outbrain’s model effectively drives traffic by serving readers relevant links when they’re in content discovery mode on top sites that include the likes of Time, CNN, Mashable, and Slate. If those links lead to premium content, visitors turn into loyal readers, who then—if all goes to plan—turn into customers.
So far, SodaStream’s distribution campaigns have had a clickthrough rate (CTR) that consistently hovers around 0.4 percent, which is double the rate of any of their display campaigns.
“With Contently’s distribution offering and services, SodaStream is able to confidently amplify content to target audiences,” Bichler said. “We’ve seen high-quality audience segments engaged five to eight times longer on the U.S.’s top publications, and all with a reduced CPC.”
With engagement like that, SodaStream no longer has to worry about being beholden to major cable networks. The company now has a much more balanced publishing output and is in firm control of its own messaging and distribution.
“Contently has quickly become our end-to-end solution partner for content creation and distribution on a single platform,” Bichler added. “And that’s a game-changer for us as we expand aggressively across the North America market.”
Amanda Weatherhead is the Distribution Manager at Contently.