At Idio, we’re always looking out for great examples of content marketing, and we love American Express’ Open Forum.
Content Marketing to attract small business owners
For those of you who aren’t aware (shame on you, it’s been around since 2007!), OPEN Forum is an online resource and social networking hub for small-business owners and entrepreneurs searching for practical information and tips for industry experts. Part of the support is in the form of collaborative social interactions with other SME owners in Connectodex (OF’s private social network), however informative content written by experts in the IdeaHub section is the major reason for the site’s success.
The site’s content is primarily centred around “powering small business success”, and whilst the commercial goal is to increase brand awareness and sign-ups to AmEx products, American Express intentionally do not publish self-promotional bumpf but instead give customers content that they want and need.
Popular topics within the IdeaHub include personal productivity, business management and finance – these are all topics that AmEx can legitimately have a voice in – without looking opportunistic – and are issues close to the brand’s values and services. More importantly, rather than obliquely trumpeting product-specific content around American Express cards, content marketing has meant that AmEx:
- Becomes a trusted authority on the concerns of small business owners
- Develops long-term relationships with prospects even when they are not currently in the market for an AmEx product
What have been the results of adopting a content marketing proposition that supports the needs of US business owners?
The stats speak for themselves:
- In 2010, Jason Rudman (Content Strategist for Open Forum) was quoted as saying, “We’ve grown the traffic on OPENForum.com roughly 350% year over year. That’s unique monthly visits in 2008 versus 2009. We have more than 8,100 Twitter followers and over 9,000 OPEN cardmembers with profiles OPENForum.com”.
- As of March 2010, Open Forum passed passed 1 million monthly unique visitors.
- As of 2010, 85% traffic comes from unpaid sources as readers share the content with their own social networks, bringing back more visitors:
“Earned traffic generated through OPEN Forum sharing saves marketing dollars…Roughly 85 – 90% of our traffic comes from organic means. Not advertising. People are coming to us because they search on an article. They read it, they share it through their Facebook friends or their followers on LinkedIn” – Scott Roen, VP OPEN Forum
Although Roen is reticent to say how much marketing dollars they have saved, it’s clear that pursuing an owned media proposition is credible strategy over AmEx’s traditional paid media approach.
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