Taking the corporate blog to the next level

Blogs have been around for a long time. The world’s first post was written in 1994, with the first corporate blog following less than a year later. Considering how quickly the digital world grows and changes, two and a half decades is a very long time. So long, in fact, that the debate is already raging far and wide whether blogging, especially corporate blogging, has had its day.

Google any iteration of ‘is corporate blogging dead?’ and you’ll quickly see what I mean.

But despite all the Google hits for questions like these, blogging as a means to market your brand and communicate with customers is far from passé.

In actuality, it’s becoming an essential content marketing tool for more and more of the world’s most prominent companies. Don’t agree? Have a look at corporate blogs among this year’s Fortune 500 companies – they’re up by 11%.

Beyond the blog

There is, however, a strong case to be made for the need for this kind of digital communication to evolve. The internet has come a very long way in the past 25 years, after all, and digital marketing and brand-awareness strategies need to follow suit.

For this reason, an increasing number of business-to-business (B2B) as well as consumer brands (B2C) are turning to content hubs instead of blogs to engage clients, consumers, potential additions of both – and web users in general – more effectively.

Content hubs can do a number of things very well. They house your content in a centralised website environment where people – and, more importantly, customers and potential customers – can find anything and everything from branded and curated content to product information, whitepapers, downloadables, podcasts, videos and social media content.

Thanks to this wide spectrum of possibilities, a content hub allows a brand to tie all of its content together into a coherent whole, and – done right – provide a user journey through that content that will keep people engaged for longer, enjoying a better experience with the content.

A better experience with your content means a better experience with your brand, of course, and there are numerous case studies to prove how that ultimately produces more lead conversions.

Putting the idea into action

John Brown South Africa recently completed one such content hub for Old Mutual Corporate, a division of the pan-African investment, savings, insurance and banking giant Old Mutual plc.

Over more than a year of close consultation, in-depth research, planning and execution, the team gauged strategic and project goals, got to grips with the different audiences, investigated touch points and determined content requirements. From here, trends and competitor offerings were analysed, followed by an audit of the content that would or could be featured on the site. Audience personas were drawn up and the content was arranged into distinct categories tailored towards what different types of users would enjoy engaging with, using easily navigable and site-friendly names for each category.

The end result was a content-rich website showcasing a wealth of thought-provoking, inspiring and informative articles, videos, podcasts and research produced from 2017 to date, on topics ranging from business news and investment insights to workplace and personal health and wellness. It hosts expert opinions from inside and outside the department, news and insights in the retirement and disability space (Old Mutual Corporate’s core business) and it pays attention to both corporates and small-business owners/entrepreneurs.

What’s most important is that, for the first time, it allows Old Mutual’s audience to find all of this thought-enriching content in one easily navigable place. While they are there, it offers them multiple opportunities to subscribe to receiving more of this content directly to their inbox, and browse through Old Mutual Corporate’s products.

Hosting this breadth and depth of content and delivering this kind of brand experience on a blog back in 1995, or even today? Well, that sounds almost completely unimaginable.

Charles Thompson, deputy editor for digital and print at John Brown Media in Cape Town, was content lead on the project.