Through a disciplined and well defined approach. CEB’s HR practice now publishes content that has more impact for its members. Here’s how they did it.
When it comes to research content, CEB has an enviable reputation.
Every year, CEB publishes insightful research that highlights trends and best practices and guides the decision making process of executives around the world. CEB is the smart business voice behind smart business decisions.
Being in this position, CEB leaders often found they were viewed at times as “stuck in an ivory tower” and less relatable to its executive members. There needed to be a balance in their approach.
Enter the delivery of “short and substantial” and relatable content. Based on a business magazine approach, whereby publishers strive to engage readers for three to five minutes per article, content that pulls from CEB’s massive archive of research studies can be whittled down to thought provoking pieces that re-engage the member audience while also appealing to a broader audience of market influencers.
Strategic Communications Group (Strategic) had the opportunity to work with CEB’s HR practice in 2015, during which time we developed a methodical approach to distill and deliver the power of CEB research that was less ivory tower, more business impact.
We approached our work with three goals in mind:
- Define the conversation to make the CEB voice heard
- Leverage creative formats to engage outside the CEB firewall
- Promote content with pipeline generation in mind
Define the conversation
Our partners at CEB saw a troubling trend in the market: CEB studies being quoted by other consulting firms in support of their own products and services.
So, although the quality and reputation of CEB insights was undisputed, the long form research content was becoming merely a footnote. CEB studies were quoted more often than CEB executives in national and trade media.
As we began our work with the HR practice, we tracked media coverage of relevant corporate stories and partnered with CEB thought leaders to articulate a unique angle and subsequent response.
For example, when the New York Times featured a story on Amazon’s “bruising workplace,” the existing angle was that of a corporate policy gone wrong. To create a different angle, our partner CEB author proposed, “Amazon’s approach works for them, but most likely will not work for others. The question we should be asking ourselves is: What should I be doing to build the culture that my organization needs to become successful?”
By publishing a rapid response to this popular media story, CEB was able to define the conversation in a new way, one that drove interest in existing content on performance management and presented CEB as the provider of a path forward rather than a mere data source.
The Amazon response piece drew 800 page views on the CEB blog, as compared to the expected 300 views for posts not connected to current media stories.
Leverage creative formats to engage outside the firewall
The CEB approach to research delivery is immediately recognizable: the detailed graphs, the delineated processes to describe best practices, and the benchmarking data to support management decisions.
To make those images and narratives appeal to a digital audience, Strategic worked with existing research to create graphics to briefly tell a visual story in a way that distilled the lengthy narrative form.
For example, we created a black and white, New Yorker inspired approach to create a Profile of the New High Performer.
Infographics makes CEB content more engaging and reader friendly.
Although simple, this short and substantial approach engaged readers to take a deeper dive into CEB research on Enterprise Contributors, with the help of a call to action that offered more access to blog content and the opportunity to become a member.
The infographic Profile of the New High Performer drew over 1,000 views on the CEB blog, vs. the expected 300 views for prose blog posts.
Promote content with pipeline generation in mind
Many corporate blogs measure success as a combination of content generation and page views. Although that methodology may be a helpful indicator of engagement, it does not necessarily provide a direct connection to sales pipeline and revenue.
As we worked with CEB’s HR practice to plan and produce content to align with market timing and the demand for creative formats, we also looked at ways to partner with CEB Product Marketing to include a simple call to action with each piece, andto track the path of the new readers we were attracting. and how they could Ultimately, our goal was to move readersto the pipeline.
When we tracked the link between content and leads, within three months we saw a pipeline number that was 2x the cost of our program.
Said another way, or efforts to define the conversation and leverage creative formats to engage outside the firewall not only paid for themselves, but delivered a path to profit for the company.
To learn more about the methodology developed for your colleagues in CEB’s HR practice and to assess how it potentially applies to your content strategy, contact Marc Hausman at Strategic at firstname.lastname@example.org or (301) 538-8100.