Friday, May 6th, 2016 | 5 min read
In Silicon Valley, starting a company in a garage seems like a rite of passage; think Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon.
But long before these juggernauts set up shop in a backyard there was Hewlett-Packard, a company that has come to symbolize American entrepreneurialism and technological innovation. In 1938, armed with $538 and a 12-by-18-foot garage, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard began tinkering with a line of electronic test equipment—the rest is history.
HP grew to be one of America’s longest-standing technology companies, with over 300,000 employees in Q2 of 2015. On November 1, 2015, HP split into two companies: HP Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), with the former focused on the PC and printers business and the latter, enterprise products and services.
An opportunity to launch a brand new company doesn’t come around often, so the digital communications team decided to leverage HPE Matter, a bold, beautifully-designed online technology magazine, to help introduce HPE as a new company.
With Matter, HPE wants to educate and excite IT decision-makers about enterprise technology. It wants to boost credibility and brand recognition by highlighting the voices of thought leaders. It wants to position HPE as a leader in conversations around technological innovation and cutting-edge business trends.
These might seem like typical goals for a branded content hub, but HPE decided to do things a little differently.
Bucking generally-accepted content marketing best practices, which tout a consistent, often daily publication schedule, Matter publishes a new issue during key cultural moments.
Every few months, they push out a large batch of content—from infographics to trend pieces and videos—focused on a specific topic. For example, HPE launched their Media & Entertainment issue in January, tied to the Sundance Film Festival. Looking ahead, they are planning a Sports issue for the 2016 Summer Olympics. They then feature a handful of the issue’s articles on their content hub each week under a sub-theme—as I write this, the theme for the week is “The Future of Advertising.”
“Right now, our content explores topics that consumers can relate to—like children and sports—but through the lens of enterprise technology,” said Sara DeForest, who manages HPE Matter’s content. “It’s actually easier than it sounds, since technologies like the cloud and big data touch every aspect of our daily lives.”
Consistently reshuffling content on the site’s homepage avoids a potential pitfall of publishing quarterly: That the flow of content might seem stagnant. It also ensures that everything they’ve created for that issue gets visibility.
This unconventional approach to digital publishing allows HPE to continually tweak content to drive traffic and leads. Once all their content for the quarter is published, HPE’s digital communications team can focus on distribution and optimization (rather than worrying about the next article that needs to go out).
One of the biggest challenges that content marketers face is sourcing high-quality contributors that are knowledgeable about their industry. Finding and vetting new writers is incredibly time-consuming, and hiring full-time writers isn’t always viable.
HPE solved this problem by partnering with top-tier publishers like Fast Company, The Atlantic, WIRED, and Quartz. This gives them access to seasoned journalists who specialize in the technology space, plus more opportunities for native advertising and content syndication.
HPE deliberately chose a system for optimizing content distribution, called The 50/25/25 Rule of Experimentation. Fifty-percent of their quarterly budget is allocated to tried-and-true, high-impact tactics; 25% is allocated to emerging tactics that are expected to drive ROI; and 25% is allocated to untested, experimental tactics.
“To increase return visitors, for example, we’re using a few different vendors—some focused on retargeting, others on segmentation,” said DeForest. “Looking at the data, we can see which campaigns have promising results, and which aren’t a good fit.”
This way, HPE can meet a benchmark for expected results from its content and still have room to test new ideas.
HPE just published its “Growing Up Wired” issue, focused on what kids’ technology expectations means for businesses.
“Now that the foundation for this program is in place, we’re really excited to take it to the next level,” said DeForest. “Lead generation is a big focus for this year, and continuing to find fresh ways to reach our audiences.”