Great Content Marketing Isn’t an Accident; Great Content Marketing is Data-Driven and Well-Curated

A few years ago, I worked as the Online Managing Editor of a bilingual Latinx publication called “HOLA! USA.” It was the latest venture of the HOLA! family of magazines, a print magazine started by Antonio Sánchez Gómez in 1944, that would continue to stay within the family and still does to this day. The publication centered on royal news and eventually started covering celebrity news as well. It became a staple in many Hispanic households. As a child growing up in the nineties, I vividly remember my mom arranging the large, glossy magazines at the coffee table. There was one publication that stood out: Princess Diana and Prince Charles sitting with young Prince William and Prince Harry beneath a huge tree as if they were having a picnic. Just a few months later, the royal couple of the century would shock the world when they announced their divorce.

Photo by Todd Mecklem on Flickr

For many Spanish-speaking households, HOLA! magazine is interwoven into the very fabric of their lives, mine included. Around 2010, HOLA started to finally see the writing on the wall and decided to turn their publication digital. They started with the UK version of the magazine and launched Years later, they would turn their attention to the US market and launch HOLA! USA, as a web and print magazine.

Coming on board as an SEO Editor and then promoted three months later to the role of Online Managing Editor, in charge of overseeing a bilingual team of writers across various countries (Mexico, the U.S., and Spain) and various time zones, was daunting in more ways than one. The US market would not be an easy one to penetrate, not in the slightest. We had to differentiate ourselves from the competition, and there was (and continues to be) steep competition, from People En Espanol and the (now defunct) Latina Magazine to Univision and Telemundo Online. 

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And there was, of course, the nagging worry of how I could possibly live up to my own expectations of making the magazine of my childhood, the magazine of my mother’s childhood, as great as it was in my memory.

Having a background in Search Engine Optimization helped, to be sure, but the true source of inspiration and success came being able to execute a precise, well thought out and data-driven content marketing strategy. First, we had to understand our audience. Who was our target audience and who was our target market? They weren’t the same. HOLA!, with its tagline “la espuma de la vida” (“The foam of life”), was an aspirational brand. What kind of content should we serve to our audience that would make continue making brand loyalists out of them? Our target audience was successful and career-oriented women between the ages of 24 and up, with an average household income of $85,000 and over, who cared about high fashion, healthy cooking, royal, and celebrity news, and wanted to stay ahead of trends.

Photo by Dimitri Hakke on Flickr

Our target market were those women – and men – who aspired to be like the women we were speaking to in our content.

We looked at the data and our competition and decided to start by creating different pillars of content that would serve different purposes. The pillars were as follows: Royal News, Celebrity News, Lifestyle, Beauty and Makeup, Fashion, and Cuisine/Food. The homepage of the website, however, would cater to the Latinx culture. 

Latinx has been a controversial term, but it has become an all-encompassing one to describe the type of Latino/Latina that lives in the United States. Whether they were born in the United States or not, all that matters is that they live here and they are exposed to both the American culture almost as strongly as they continue to live within their Hispanic culture. It’s a juxtaposition and melting pot of cultures. HOLA! USA needed to serve content specifically catered to these Latinos living in the United States. 

We had to ask ourselves what type of celebrities were most appealing to them. The data found: Jennifer Lopez, Selena Gomez, Shakira, J Balvin, Bad Bunny, Marc Anthony, to name just a few.

We had to ask ourselves which royals were most appealing to them. The data told us: the British Royal Family (specifically Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, even after they quit the royal family!), and of course the Spanish Royal Family (King Philip, Queen Letizia, Princess Leonor, and Princess Sofia), along with other “minor” European royals (like Luxembourg, Monaco, Norway, and Sweden).

We had to find what type of fashion they were looking to find. The data told us: street style from the hottest Hollywood models and celebrities (regardless of whether they were Hispanic or not).

We had to find what type of food and drinks our audience wanted to be inspired by. The data told us: cocktail recipes! All the cocktail recipes!

HOLA! USA had to become *the* authority when it came to Latinx entertainment, news, celeb news, fashion, lifestyle, beauty, health, and food. We had to own the space and become thought leaders in this space. In order to do this, we didn’t just stick to writing short-form and long-form articles; we integrated different types of formats, including video storytelling. We launched a video platform, called HOLA! USA TV, and even created a daily digital series lead by an entertainment reporter (Danella Urbay) who gave a daily rundown of that day’s celebrity, royal, and entertainment news. 

To keep the workflow streamlined, we created a robust editorial calendar that was essentially a spreadsheet listing all the newsy and evergreen stories we would work on a daily basis – in both languages (Spanish and English). This way, the entire international team had a high-level view of what would be published on a daily basis. We used platforms like Google Analytics to help us check how our content was performing. Some of the metrics we looked at were page views, time on page, bounce rate, unique users, and event conversions. On the video side, we looked at how long people viewed the video, where they stopped watching and analyzed the data from that point on.

This would inform our weekly editorial meetings where we made changes to our plan as needed.

A successful content marketing plan is deliberate. It is well-calculated. It is meticulous, it is diverse, it is creative, and it is a lot of hard work. But in this day and age, it is the only way to create content that will resonate with the audience, because attention spans are only getting shorter, and getting someone’s attention, and keeping it, equates to money, to put it bluntly!