In an increasingly competitive digital marketing services environment, Gannett’s Central Group of media organisations recognised a need to be much bolder in the way it positioned itself from a B2B marketing standpoint.

A key pillar of Gannett’s value proposition is integrated marketing expertise. To demonstrate this capability, the company needed a way to overcome the misperception of being print-centric and be top of mind for local businesses looking for digital marketing solutions.

In early 2013, a strategy was put together to develop a proof of concept in one key market. There were two main components to the strategy:

  1. Increase search ranking around key digital product offerings. 

  2. Demonstrate the ability to “walk the walk” by developing robust B2B thought-leader content for Web, social, and blog channels.

A vast majority of purchasing decision makers were conducting extensive research online when looking for a marketing services provider. It was paramount that local businesses searching for digital products could find Gannett’s local media property and that, when they did, the property was positioned as an expert in the space.

Next came the tactics. First up was reworking the pilot market’s B2B Web site, focusing the content and site structure to be as search engine friendly as possible while still maintaining a positive customer experience.

The site restructure allowed the opportunity to dramatically beef up content, specifically around the numerous digital product offerings. Each product was given significant real estate on the site, and content was developed and tested against a keyword strategy to make sure each page was hitting the right notes.

Once the foundation of the B2B site was in place, the Gannett team began to focus on making sure its online presence was reflective of a digital marketing services company.

A thorough audit was conducted of business listings, directories, social platforms, etc., and updated. Just making these simple changes produced a noticeable spike in site traffic due to search engine optimisation.

Finally, an aggressive search engine optimised cadence of original B2B content was developed with a focus on Gannett’s digital products and marketing expertise – blogs, social media, video, and infographics.

Initial results after six months in the test market were unbelievable. Unique visitors to the market’s B2B Web site increased 278% YOY with organic site traffic increasing 1700% YOY. Results of a pay-per-click campaign yielded a 387% ROI and increased B2B social following exponentially in both total followers and levels of engagement.

The success of the pilot programme has prompted Gannett to scale this strategy to additional markets in its Central Group. Leads generated from online sources and focused on digital products have increased significantly month over month for the last year.

In addition, Gannett has received feedback from several current and potential clients that either read a blog post or received an e-mail about the campaign and were motivated to act as well as educated by the thought leadership.

So, it’s true what they say. Advertising works. Gannett’s case study is an excellent example of the need for media organisations to take heed of their own advice and invest in digital marketing to grow their own business.