Writing good articles on Seeking Alpha will grow your Marketplace service more than anything else.
Content strategy may sound like modern web jargon, but at its essence, it's about writing good articles for your subscribers and for other readers.
We discuss a few examples of effective content strategy and would love to hear other ideas.
By Daniel Shvartsman
A good content strategy is key to success in the Seeking Alpha Marketplace. I call it the growth engine. Good content strategy a) earns you new followers, who may eventually become subscribers, and b) keeps you in front of your existing followers. Content strategy also helps you build a reputation and establish credibility on a given topic. It also ensures you maintain a high quality service, keeping them excited to be a part of your Marketplace community.
Get on the train and ride it. Source: YouTube
Before I go further, let me share a table:
# of articles/week
# of new subscribers/week
# of authors
This shows how many new members sign up for Marketplace services, sorted by how many articles they publish on Seeking Alpha, based on the past 30 days as of late July. There are some small sample size issues, but every time I pull those numbers, I get roughly the same curve - authors who publish at least one free site article a week and no more than 10 articles a week gain more new subscribers than authors at either extreme.
There are likely some spurious factors in there. My theory is that authors who publish more than 10 times a week overlap with authors who are on RSS feeds and, therefore, aren’t as active directly on Seeking Alpha, so there’s some less organic and consistent content in that group. And authors who are publishing less than once a week will include authors who are just less active on Seeking Alpha as a whole, so I can’t pin slow growth specifically on articles.
But there is still enough evidence to make a good case that authors need to write new articles if they want to gain new subscribers. And that a thoughtful, Seeking Alpha-specific content strategy is important for both attracting and retaining subscribers.
Think of your content strategy as having three pillars:
Marketplace service articles - what you publish for your paid subscribers. While you can offer other features on the service - an active chat room, price alerts, a portfolio, etc. - articles are usually a key component of a successful service. You want to make sure your subscribers are getting full value out of these.
Blogs - best used as a bridge between public articles and what you do for your subscribers. I won’t spend too much time here, as Robyn has covered this very well.
Free articles - the articles submitted to our editorial team and published on the website. As mentioned above, this is the growth engine of your service. This is also the focus of this article.
I mention all three because the free articles don’t exist in and of themselves. Each time you post, you should aim for two things:
Write something of value for free users. They should be happy with the article.
Pique their interest in your Marketplace service. They should become aware that you are doing more good work on your Marketplace service.
Authors can do that in practice with their content strategy in a number of ways.
For example, Rida Morwa has what I think is a slightly unorthodox approach. I say that because he primarily publishes new or updated ideas to the website. In theory, the ideas you post should be the bread and butter of the service, and you don’t want to give these away. I am not a fan of a content strategy overly reliant on republishing marketplace articles on the free site with a short lag.
But it works in this case for a few reasons:
On the Marketplace side, the service offers other features - a portfolio, market outlooks, an active chat room - that carry real value to users and never leave the paywall.
Subscribers still get an early look at ideas and updates, so there is a feeling of exclusivity and taking care of member interests.
People read Seeking Alpha for new ideas. It’s one of the top uses of the site. So, this is preserving plenty of value for paying members but also providing something that will be of interest to new readers, so they might say ‘hey, I want to learn more about that author,’ or hey, I like that!
Because there is more to offer on the service, it’s easy to market the service itself without cheapening the experience in reading this article.
JD Henning achieves a similar balance between free and paid articles, but he does it in a more quantitative way as suited to his Marketplace service. Every week, he publishes a Breakout Forecast and shares two of the eight picks he is making for subscribers. It makes it very easy to see how he approaches his investing and also very easy to see what the user is missing out on. There’s something useful here to the right reader - two ideas, and more that is useful if the user wants to take the next step - six more ideas like this.
A third approach I can share is what Alpha Gen Capital does well. They write strategy type articles that are useful for anybody interested in their approach - themes like retirement, income, and asset allocation come up often - but that also gives you a sense of the author’s investing philosophy. The articles don’t always give direct ideas such as we are buying XYZ or selling ABCD or whatever, but they orient the reader in Alpha Gen Capital’s approach and help readers solve real investing problems. The in-article marketing text we allow at the bottom of the article does a good job of connecting the articles to the service to see how Alpha Gen Capital can further help readers solve those problems.
I would make a quick aside to point out that in-article marketing text, which you can fill out on the marketing step of the submissions process, is really important. It gives you a space to tell readers - who have presumably just read and enjoyed your article - that there is more out there that they can consider signing up for. You don’t want to be obnoxious or annoying, but a simple mention and link is a must here. I would suggest the in-article marketing text make clear:
That you're grateful readers have finished the article
That you have a Marketplace service
What the key value is of that Marketplace service
How that relates to what they just read. So, if you wrote a review of Apple’s earnings, you might say “I did a preview of Apple’s earnings on My Awesome Service, and chat regularly about it and 15 other tech stocks we have on our watch list.
Mention any key reason they should consider the service now. It could be a free trial, a special offer (specify the timing on this), or articles or ideas you’re working on.
Back to the content strategy: each of these examples shows an author publishing regularly on the free site, writing about things relevant to their investing approach and Marketplace service and also telling people that the service exists. The authors do a good job responding to comments and interacting on Seeking Alpha. That serves as a way to connect with new readers and readers who may have been considering their work over time, and thus as a potential source of new subscribers. They also preserve the value of their core Marketplace service for subscribers.
Content strategy can sound like a web 3.0 overused marketing phrase to put a new suit on a simple concept. That’s probably true. At its heart, content strategy in the Marketplace context is about showing what you do, doing a good enough job so that people like it, but also reminding them that you do this same thing or something like it for members of your Marketplace service as well.
Though the concept is simple, it is not necessarily easy. I hope this helps you in tackling your content strategy. If you have other approaches, questions, or thoughts, let us know below or as always, get in touch with us at premium authors at seekingalpha.com.
Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.