Way, way back in the day when I first got my start in digital media I was at WTOL in Toledo. One of the sections I helped in developing was the “Ask the Expert” sales vertical.
Inbound Marketing before it was cool…
The goal of Ask the Expert was to provide a convergence package between TV and the web. Clients received a TV commercial that directed people to the station website where potential customers could learn more about their business and ask questions.
The solution was great, the client received great television exposure and was able to generate leads through the station’s website. For 2001, that was an awesome partnership and revenue channel. The sad thing is in 2013 the program has evolved little, even with the latest craze in inbound marketing, and Google craving high-value relevant content to boost SEO. A few stations appear to have figured it out. Many have not.
Before I call out a few examples below … let me get the disclosures out of the way… (I worked for WTOL-TV from 2001-2004 a Raycom Media Station. I worked at KRIS-TV from 2004-2007 a Cordillera Communications station and finally worked at WISH-TV from 2007-2012 a LIN Media Station. All of these stations are currently or were part of the World Now CMS.)
Let’s take a look at some examples:
WBAY-TV This is a textbook example of how the program hasn’t evolved.
The station provides a landing page with 180px wide image that links to a simple landing page or directly to the client’s site
Back in the day, I was guilty of doing of all of this. Back then the focus was just getting that link on the high-value site, which TV stations provided.
Great for 2007, but not 2013.
Let’s drill down to a specific client: Todd Wiese Homeselling Team.
The client link is framed into the WBAY site. There’s absolutely no SEO juice from this link since search engine bots tend to ignore framed content from an external URL. All of the videos WBAY produces for this client provide no SEO juice. In fact, a site specific search for WBAY.com and Todd Wiese only return two links.
I wouldn’t speculate what their current Ask The Expert rates are but I’m going to bet it’s several thousand a month.
Bottom Line: This is a great TV package only. I think it would be safe to assume Mr. Wiese gets his leads from his TV appearances, not the digital counterpart.
WOOD-TV Across Lake Michigan is a site managed by a great digital pioneer Dave DeJonge. He’s been the digital manager at WOOD-TV since my days at WTOL. His site has been a market leader for over a decade.
He’s been able to keep his Expert vertical alive by keeping the client pages alive with updated relevant content.
There are no direct links — all clients have their own landing page which then links off to individual clients or the client’s website.
WOOD also takes it one step further. They’ve integrated their Expert program into their daily lifestyle show EightWest.
Again, let us drill down to a specific client: Thomsons Auto Repair
No iframes here. As mentioned above, there are no direct links to the landing page for that client. But the page isn’t just static. Each TV segment is posted as their own story and has actual content with that story with a link back to the client’s website. A site search for WOODTV.com and Thomsons Auto Repair returns 108 individual results.
One bonus, that isn’t being taken full advantage of is all the videos from WOOD-TV and eightWest are syndicated to YouTube. The descriptions for these segments could be optimized for the client’s SEO.
Another great advantage for eightWest is they get out of the studio for their segments. They’re compelling videos that people actually might want to watch! So many of these segments are two talking heads on the noon news with a couple of full screens. Easy TV to produce but boring as hell.
How can broadcasters succeed at Inbound Marketing:
I think broadcasters – especially in television can grab digital inbound marketing dollars if they just implemented a strategy that required someone to take ownership and help make the product succeed.
- Create an inbound (vertical) marketing manager and team. A station isn’t going to be able to pull this off on their own. It really needs to be a corporate team or a service provided by the content team by the site CMS vendor to get a return on investment.Your newsroom content writers are too busy doing the news and account executives are too busy getting the sales in the door. Even lifestyle show producers are not concerned with SEO and writing for the web.
- The inbound marketing team should include at the minimum a content writer and project manager. These people are experts in SEO and Inbound Marketing. I’d want that project manager touring the local markets helping AE’s close new business by showcasing what inbound digital marketing and television could do for their business.
- The inbound marketing team would need to create content and help manage the customer’s content channel on their company websites. Yes, I’m talking about the company blog. Journalists still have this negative connotation towards the word blog. I personally like the idea of a content channel instead of blogs.
- The project manager works with the clients to come up with new articles (blogs) at least twice a month, for the client’s website. Then that material then becomes the topic for their next television appearance. After the TV segment airs, the station website posts an article under their expert section pointing back to the client’s blog.
- Once the segment airs, the inbound team should optimize that video for the client including links to the original blog — then be syndicating that content to YouTube.
That’s just the basics, but the next logical step includes sending it to the client’s social media channels.
As long as traditional media continues to butter their bread with banner ads and mobile display — they will continue to lose digital revenue to the pure play SEO companies who generating meaningful digital leads for their clients.