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The value of evergreen content in building a content to commerce offering

“If there’s one takeaway from my talk today, it’s that the future looks good for publishers - no matter what’s happened in the past,” began Dominik Grau, Chief Innovation Officer at Ebner Media Group, Germany, in an energising presentation on day one of the FIPP World Congress in London (10 October).


Dominik Grau Congress 2017 ()


Using the story of the 200-year-old Ebner Media Group's transformation, Dominik took the audience through the brand’s step-by-step strategy for converting content into commerce.

Part one: stay people-focused

“Moving beyond our products and understanding our audience was the starting point,” explained Dominik. Ebner therefore has a team dedicated to audience development, which explores how Ebner’s expertise in niches can be built upon to reach a wider audience.

By building personas based on different consumption habits, they identified target groups and asked questions - what devices do they use? What content and topics do they care about? - in order to gain insight into the lives of this potential audience. “Think about the audience you want to reach, not your product,” advised Dominik.

Part two: Minimum Information Units (MIUs)

As part of the content to commerce strategy, it’s important to think of content as a sum of its parts, not just as a whole, and to take account of the different ways in which it can be atomised and distributed accordingly. “Every piece of content is a huge collection of small pieces of content,” said Dominik.

Within one interview, for example, one could break down 10 different MIUs:

  • Four main text modules
  • Four abstracts
  • One checklist
  • One interview

These can then be optimised for social media or other platforms.

Part three: the Channel Matrix

Next, Dominik explained that it’s useful to map MIUs onto a grid to see how they can be used variously across platforms, and to capture the essence of one’s target group.

“Think of it like a lego brick strategy,” he said. “It’s a set of pieces you assemble and dissemble as you see fit.”

Part four: Evergreen content

Next, Dominik revealed a fascinating statistic: that just 843 articles on one particular Ebner website drive 84.6 per cent of traffic. This, he said, is a trend echoed at US media groups, too, and demonstrates starkly the importance of Evergreen content.

“Certain topics and posts drive traffic,” he said. He has also gleaned information from the audience data: average reading time is 3.29 minutes on Evergreen content, while the rest of the content on the same website averages at 2.11 minutes.

Part five: utilise open-source tools

Finally, Dominik highlighted the utility of open-source tools such as Magento, CRM, and Salesforce to drive e-commerce business such as webinars and events. After these have taken place, Dominik advised, it’s important to make available post-event, on-demand content such as videos, recordings, and presentations.

Ebner also creates Commerce Information Units - widgets that link directly to Ebner content, curated manually by the team. Using a common algorithm, widgets will connect and link to other relevant stories, with an impressive conversion rate of 17%. “We’re not an e-commerce company - we’re a publisher,” added Dominik. “So to have 17% buy a product as a result of clicking, that’s really high.”

Applying the model to other brands

Ebner now uses its content-based conversion methods in partnership with other brands. “We can identify the Evergreen content of other brands and show them how to utilise that for e-commerce conversions,” said Dominik, emphasising that what’s known as “predictable traffic” is the best for optimising for conversions.

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