Content Marketing: How HP Generates Articles for its E-newsletters

Where content marketing was once limited to fluffy catalog sidebars and white papers designed to hand-hold business customers along the sales funnel, it’s now a prominent piece of most successful SEO, social marketing and email programs. In the 2012 Media Usage Forecast, 62 percent of respondents said they planned to increase spending on content marketing, making it the most invested-in “new” marketing technology in the survey.

Yet, when it comes time to start a content marketing campaign, many marketers are faced with a difficult problem: Where do you get the content?

During our interviews for the May cover story, HP’s Email at Work, we asked Worldwide Email Marketing Manager Daryl Nielson about the content his team uses in HP’s email programs, and how they create it.

Target Marketing: What content works best for HP’s email marketing?
Daryl Nielson: Usually our best performer is what we call our “sticky content,” like tips and tricks. Some of our best performing have been “How Not to Get Fired,” “How to Optimize Your PC,” tips for career performance—kind of personal tips and tricks. … Another [top-performing article] that was really surprising to me talked about remanufactured toner. The pros and cons of using remanufactured toner was one of our best articles we ever published—how you can save money, or what’s the drawbacks of that if you use refilling toner and it screws up your printer.

TM: How do you create the articles?
DN: We contract most of them out. It depends. Some of the articles come from in-house—that talks about the products. The tips and tricks, personal productivity and so forth are outsourced.

TM: So you have almost your own content creation arm? What are some of the things used to determine what’s good content for the newsletter?
DN: We try our best to be really customer focused. The big challenge we face is how do we keep the customer focus and not talk about HP too much. The challenge is to make it more conversational and help them. We use the term “love me HP” when all our articles focus only on our products instead of talking to the customer needs and how they can use the products. That’s the ongoing struggle we face getting the tone of the customer needs … The product manager wants to tell you how wonderful their product is, but it’s really making that transition [that’s important]. And we’ve made some strides over the years, but we still have some work to do to make it more relevant to the customer.

Thorin McGee is editor-in-chief and content director of Target Marketing and oversees editorial direction and product development for the magazine, website and other channels.
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