Now is the time for businesses to invest in publications they own and control.
“There’s no one you need to pitch to have your stories placed,” advises Christopher Penn, chief data scientist at Trust Insights, who outlined the decline in mainstream media sites last fall.
In 2019, enterprise software company Nutanix had the foresight to tackle that challenge. With tech media focused on the biggest companies, Nutanix created its own editorial property, The Forecast.
Designed to raise awareness of the Nutanix brand and showcase its experts’ thought leadership, The Forecast helps the company attract audiences it might not reach with traditional public relations and demand-generation marketing.
Since its May 2019 launch, the site has attracted nearly 400,000 unique visitors, 600,000 page views, and more than 1,200 weekly newsletter subscribers. Nutanix optimizes for leads by retargeting visitors to the publication..@Nutanix created The Forecast content site as an alternative to traditional PR and demand-gen marketing. It’s attracted nearly 400,000 unique visitors since May 2019 via @CMIContent @AnnGynn. Click To Tweet
The Forecast earned high honors in the 2020 Content Marketing Awards, landing finalist nods in three categories: Best Overall Editorial – Digital, B2B Branded Content Campaign of the Year, and Content Marketing Launch of the Year.
This behind-the-scenes look at The Forecast’s rise offers useful lessons for any brand looking to build awareness without relying solely on earned media.
The editorial strategy
The initial idea and business direction for an editorial-driven news site came from Ben Gibson, chief marketing officer, Tonya China, now chief communications officer, and Jennifer Massaro, now vice president, global public relations and social media.
The concept, according to the team, is to “(e)xplore ideas and technologies that are changing the way we live and how business gets done.”
As Jennifer, who serves as its executive director, explains, “There are so many great stories to tell from the intersection of technology innovation and human experience. The Forecast gives us an authentic way to chronicle the times, define trends, and interview leaders and changemakers across different industries.”.@Nutanix’s owned #content site, The Forecast, gives the brand an authentic way to chronicle the times, define trends, and interview changemakers, says @Jmoocow via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet
Editor-in-Chief Ken Kaplan leads the editorial strategy and design. The guiding editorial mission is to “inform readers and help them overcome fears or apprehension about cloud computing’s massive impact on businesses, industries, governments, and our daily lives,” he says.
“Understanding why these technologies exist and how they work can help leaders build a better future.”
Taking an industry insider’s perspective and using journalistic storytelling, The Forecast cover tech and business stories, practical advice for tech workers, and profiles of leaders in the tech industry.
In addition to articles, the site also features original video content and provides a home for its podcast arm, Tech Barometer.
The site publishes three to five new stories a week and shares those stories on Nutanix social channels and through a weekly newsletter.
Growing an audience and business
The Forecast’s target audience encompasses IT influencers, company investors, tech decision-makers, and people forging a career in IT.
Between January 2020 and January 2021, traffic from organic search grew from 8 to 21%, which means readers seek and find Forecast content. Social, newsletter, and link referrals contribute about 18% of traffic as of January 2021. More than 450,000 Tech Barometer podcast segments have been downloaded.Organic search’s contribution to The Forecast site traffic almost tripled in 12 months via @CMIContent @AnnGynn. Click To Tweet
While there is an element of paid content promotion, organic search traffic on the site has grown exponentially.
Image source: Semrush
Image source: Semrush
For paid content promotion, The Forecast enjoys 80% lower cost per clicks and more than 300% higher click-through rates than industry averages, according to Michael Brenner of Marketing Insider Group who worked with the Nutanix team to build and implement its content marketing strategy..@Nutanix’s The Forecast enjoys 80% lower cost per clicks and more than 300% higher click-through rates than industry averages, according to @BrennerMichael of @MKTGInsiders via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet
He says The Forecast is the fastest-growing content marketing platform he’s worked on and attributes the success in part to its strong editorial focus on thought leadership, which attracts engaged audiences.
And it is getting attention both inside and outside the company, helping Nutanix raise its profile among industry influencers and beyond.
Beyond the site
Nutanix co-founder Dheeraj Pandey, CIO Wendy M. Pfeiffer, CMO Ben Gibson, and other leaders across the company connect the editor-in-chief with experts internally and externally. This access allows The Forecast to turn thought leadership into compelling articles.
Ken, its editor, also has a presence beyond the site. He has been invited to share The Forecast experiences with content experts on industry panels and in social channel conversations.
“We’re thrilled to see The Forecast grow and be recognized for the groundbreaking work we’re doing,” Jennifer says. “We’ve built an engaging site and now we’re determined to grow by leveraging our audience insights, journalistic instincts, and powerful publishing platform.”
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute