Mention the term “content marketing” and, for the most part, you’ll probably think of three things – web content, social content (tweets, Facebook updates, Google+ posts, etc), and good old fashioned blog posts.
You can also add video marketing and white papers into the mix. All things considered, content marketing has been the word on pretty much every marketer’s lips for the last 12-18 months.
The problem is, once you move away from the type of rich content found on blogs (written, spoken or otherwise) and native social updates, content marketing can get a bit sterile. Think of the last white paper you read, for example – did it leave you inspired or nonplussed? After all, there’s only so many times a straightforward PDF can grab your attention…
To counter this, as well as help brands and agencies (as well as bloggers) ramp up their content marketing efforts, software platform Readz is looking to make it easy to create the kind of content that’s shareable, measurable, and usable.
The Readz Goal
The goal of Readz is simple. In their own words,
At Readz, we believe content marketing is more than a website, a blog, or even social activities. Content marketing touches every single piece of content that marketers use to communicate with prospects, customers and partners. We believe that PDFs are a poor tool to do marketing. They are not responsive, do not offer SEO, no detailed analytics etc. So many of the qualities we see in good website and blog management tools are lacking in PDFs. We believe better tools are needed to bring a better experience to customers and a higher conversion to marketers.
To enable this goal, the Readz process is pretty straightforward:
- Create an account;
- Create your content. This can be either articles or PDFs uploaded to your dashboard, or pulling in content via RSS;
- Publish through Readz;
- Share your Readz brand URL. This creates a responsive landing page that can be read on any browser and is hosted on the Readz site;
- Measure using Google Analytics integration, optimize, rinse and repeat.
The solution itself is optimized for all browser settings, so it doesn’t matter if your customers are desktop-based or mobile-based (smartphone or tablet), the experience will remain consistent.
But as you’d expect from a company looking to boost your content marketing efforts, there’s a lot more to the Readz experience than simply creating a cool way to share content and measure its performance.
Branding the Experience
Because the Readz solution drives visitors to a Readz URL versus one that’s part of your existing website, keeping the feeling of brand continuity is key. Thankfully Readz offers various options to ensure your Readz landing page ties into the design, look and feel of your internal landing pages.
Better yet, the drag-and-drop interface enables all levels of expertise to be able to create a seamless transition (although, obviously, skilled designers will make the platform perform more than your average Joe).
Optimizing for Search and Performance
Perhaps one of the areas where Readz really shines is that of search engine optimization (SEO) and the analytics that can be gleaned from that. In addition, you can see how your campaign is performing, thanks to Readz’s integration with Google Analytics.
On the SEO front, any blogger or content marketer responsible for the SEO of their content will recognize the ability to optimize titles, descriptions and tags with any Readz-powered content. Because the content is hosted online, versus a downloaded PDF, the SEO juice from these options can help a brand find a fresh audience.
On top of that, running your campaign through Google Analytics will break down the performance of a particular piece of content, including views, traffic flow, demographics and much, much more.
This can either be set up as a special campaign in Google Analytics, or a brand new UA. This type of integration helps you optimize not only the current campaign, but give you insights into the type of content you should be creating as you move forward.
Other features include responsive design for all campaigns, no app downloads needed, and integration with your existing marketing solutions like MailChimp, Infusionsoft and other platforms.
The Readz Experience – A True Bigger Picture
However, while the features are comprehensive, it’s not until you start getting into the Readz experience that you really begin to see the benefits this platform can offer, compared to the static white papers and PDFs the company is looking to oust.
Because the platform enables rich media as natural inclusions, what was once a straightforward PDF now becomes a fully interactive and far more immersive experience. Take the 9LIVES “Town of Runners” campaign, for example.
Highlighting the story of the Ethiopian town of Bekoji, the Readz version of the original documentary takes the reader into the inspiring story of the incredible athletes from this part of the world.
As you scroll through the storyboard, you can click on certain action points, as highlighted by the image above. These can expand into little speech bubbles, or text boxes, or similar, to offer more information on anything you wish to have the reader interact more with.
As an education resource, you can see the benefits this option could offer – FAQs could become far more immersive, and cheat sheets could be more than just a line of text.
It’s not just these little calls to action that stand out, however. Because of the way Readz creates content (either from an existing web URL or a dedicated file upload), you can embed video directly into the Readz presentation.
In the example in the screenshot above, you can view the official trailer for the documentary directly within the Readz content. Not only that, but by clicking the call to action, you can buy your copy directly there and then, keeping the reader on your content while buying your product.
For any marketer using content to promote their services and/or products, this level of interaction is a great way to control the message while retaining your audience. It’s not just marketers, either.
For example, consider the benefits to an independent book publisher or self-published author. Let’s say you give a free chapter to anyone that pre-orders your book. In addition to the chapter, the reader could also receive a unique Readz piece, that has the author reading a chapter from the upcoming book, as well as a special thank you message, all in embedded video within the free chapter download.
Or let’s say you’re an indie singer/songwriter or band. Anyone that pre-orders your new CD could receive a free song download – but on top of that, you send them an exclusive Readz link, where they can read about the creation of the album, see an embedded video performance, etc.
As you can see, the potential is there for anyone that uses content to connect with their readers or fans, and not just limited to marketers.
Readz – The Verdict
The features highlighted in this post are just a few of the options available to you. Depending on the type of content you create, Readz can be used to transform multiple publications into more immersive experiences:
- White papers;
- Annual reports;
In addition to the tools, Readz also offers a wide collection of best practices and guides to help you understand how to get the best from the platform, including higher converting white papers, guides on technologies for digital publishing, and glossaries of marketing terms for mobile consumers. When it comes to support, Readz definitely has you covered.
However, there are some areas where I feel they could improve.
As mentioned earlier, Readz can be integrated with Google Analytics to show you how your content is performing. However, this is another step to add and many smaller businesses may be uncomfortable using multiple Google Analytics accounts.
Instead, it’d be great to see native analytics within the Readz dashboard. This could show you not only the standard metrics from Google, but also the behaviours of subscribers to your Readz channel.
- What kind of content gained the most subscribers?
- What kind of content was the most acted upon for ROI, versus the most popular?
- How do audiences behave when interacting via Readz versus comparative pages on your own web properties?
This kind of data would be hugely useful to have as an embedded part of Readz, versus relying on a third-party provider.
Speaking of embedded, currently Readz doesn’t support embed codes – it simply creates the URL for your particular campaign, and you drive traffic to that. While this is primarily to help Readz keep your brand experience consistent, it does still drive traffic away from your own domain.
Instead of just offering the current URL option, it’d be great to see the ability to embed a Readz campaign on your own landing pages. This would allow you to hook into your existing analytics package, as well as understand the changes you need to make to your own portal versus one operated by Readz (mobile optimization, for example, or rich media versus text).
In fairness, the CEO of Readz, Bart De Pelsmaeker, has indicated that the embed feature is already under development for the next update, which will be a great addition to the platform.
Apart from these current quibbles, there’s not really a lot to “dislike” (for want of a better word) about the Readz platform. While building your first campaign content can be daunting, the guides and support is excellent and helps you change your mindset on how a publication is created.
Pricing starts at $25 per month for up to two content pieces/whitepapers 10,000 page views, going up to $300 per month for 50 whitepapers with 100,000 page views.
There are also one-off payments as well as simple turnkey options. To see if Readz is right for you, you can request a free demo here, and there’s also a free, 30-day trial for brands and publishers.
This is a sponsored post on behalf of Readz – however, all opinions are my own.