What is episodic content? And how can it turn leads into conversion?
Content marketing decision-makers are always looking for the next big thing, and with the industry continuing to grow every year, there are more people than ever hunting for a silver bullet to take their ROI to the next level. The truth of the matter is that there’s no secret method to instantly improve the quality of your traffic or cement a place as a thought leader in your sector.
There are however, a few strategies that many expect to drive great content marketing results over the next year or so. One of the most important is episodic content, and that’s what we’ll be exploring in this article.
What is episodic content?
A recent article from Medium singled out episodic content as one of the 5 Strategies that Will Dominate Content Marketing in 2017. The piece pointed out a host of different benefits that come with drip-feeding your audience pieces of high-quality content, but before we get to those, it’s worth defining exactly what ‘episodic’ means in a content marketing context.
The simplest definition is that episodic content consists of several components, all connected by a common thread. Some examples follow a very rigid part one, part two structure, which is great for enticing an audience to return for more information after enjoying an article, infographic or video.
Other examples are more loosely interconnected – like our own Friday Recap series -, building on what’s come before to keep your audience coming back for more information on a topic they are interested in.
Regardless of which type of episodic content your business is posting online, there are all sorts of benefits that regular posting of interlinked articles can bring.
— Castleford (@castlefordmedia) July 14, 2017
The benefits of episodic content
Before you even post your first piece of episodic content, committing to this type of strategy forces you to think more clearly about your overall plan and strategy. As Medium explains, episodic content “puts more focus on how each piece of content fits into marketing efforts as a whole, leading to better and more successful campaigns.” Of course, being able to plan better is one thing, but as with all forms of content marketing the ROI from pursuing an episodic approach is best measured by how it helps a business meet its specific goals. For example, some brands may be looking to boost their profile within a specific industry, creating loyalty amongst customers and keeping their name on everybody’s lips. A long-running series about an important area of your industry is a great way to do this, developing trust within your audience that the next article is worth checking in for, as previous pieces have proved the value of doing so. In turn, this approach can boost other conversion objectives such as encouraging people to sign up for your emails. However, if this fan base building is what you’re trying to achieve, it’s worth remembering that you’ll need to ensure every piece of content is as good as the one that preceded it. “The level of commitment demanded of a serial is a double edged sword. It builds loyalty but makes it difficult to win back someone you’ve lost,” explains Forbes.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
In addition to the impact episodic content will have on the people visiting your website, we also know that regular posting of high-quality material is great for SEO. However, what separates episodic strategies from other types of articles that may be regular, but aren’t interlinked, is that earlier instalments will remain relevant for far longer. If somebody comes into the series halfway through, or at the second half of a two-part article, they’re far more likely to revisit the first pieces of content. As Medium lays out…
Episodic content links together, which is ideal for SEO. Search engines also view the patterns of return users keen to view the next piece of episodic content.
Alrighty then. It’s clear that episodic content has some real benefits, but what are some real-world examples that businesses can look to for inspiration?
Star Wars ✔ Yoda ✔ All @mlb teams ✔ . Is the Force strong with you? Click link in bio to shop the #StarWars x #Fanatics collection! A post shared by Fanatics (@fanatics) on
How to: Episodic content
Fractl has compiled a fantastic list of Long-Term Content Marketing Case Studies, and from the results the company found that: “While one piece of content can create strong returns, publishing and promoting a series of content over time yields even greater results and a stronger foundation for lasting success.”
One of the most impressive case studies tells the story of Fanatics, an eCommerce site targeting sports fans. Fanatics’ goal was to become a go-to destination for sports lovers, and the prime tool for this was developing a great blog.
By posting high-quality content regularly, and grouping this content into both loosely and closely connected series, Fanatics saw a whopping 1,100 per cent increase in organic traffic, along with features and reposts on much bigger sites, such as MSN and Yahoo Sports.
The episodic structure used by Fanatics focused around specific points of interest for different sets of sports fans. Some would tune in every month for the latest instalments in the ‘Vintage Teams’ series, while others would be back every week to find out what had been happening in ‘Football Across Europe.’
While sports will always draw a rather rabid fan base, the lesson here is that tuning into the wants and needs of your audience – a must for any form of content marketing – and regularly scratching that itch can pay huge dividends.