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The Beginner’s Guide to Collaborative Content Marketing

There’s a famous quote that perfectly describes the amplified benefits your content marketing strategy receives when you team up with a like-minded brand, “if you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Content marketing isn’t a beast of its own design. It is unlike any other marketing strategy in the fact that it is a drip strategy that must be nurtured over time.

Collaboration empowers brands to connect the dots between them and create unexpected opportunities for content marketing success. Want to improve the reach of your content, increase traffic, and grow brand recognition with a new audience, all while having fun with a complementary brand?

There’s a simple equation for that! Great content + collaboration = better, stronger marketing.

What is Collaborative Content Marketing?

Collaborative content marketing entails teaming up with another business with similar goals to accomplish to create a joint content marketing effort that will have a larger reach and impact than either of you would accomplish on your own. By leveraging the power of each other’s resources, you both amplify your success. You’ve heard the age-old adage that two heads are better than one. Well, when it comes to your marketing strategy, combining your brand reach, assets, expert knowledge, and budget with another business can help you both reap double the benefits from your content marketing strategy.

Collaborative marketing is a relatively streamlined process when done correctly and with the right partner. The first step is to put together a “shortlist” of brands that you would be interested in partnering with and would bring a unique benefit to your brand through that partnership. Remember to not choose a competitor, but to pick brands that will complement your brand. The company you choose should have similar marketing goals. They should also have a brand identity that complements yours and an established audience that it would be beneficial to get your brand’s name and content in front of.

Next, start at the top of your list and reach out to that brand and see if they would be interested in a content collaboration partnership. It often helps to have a concept or two prepared, but make sure they know you are open to brainstorming different content marketing collaboration ideas. That’s it! You are now launching your collaborative content marketing strategy.

Benefits of Collaborative Content Marketing

There are a vast number of benefits you reap by creating a collaborative content marketing done correctly. The main benefit is that it is a mutually-beneficial strategy that creates a win-win situation for both brands by helping both to achieve their marketing goals. It can also decrease the marketing budget for both brands by splitting each in half when they collaborate. Collaboration establishes a relationship or partnership between two brands that can lead to future collaboration or potential referrals. There are also a wealth of SEO benefits as any digital content marketing by one brand will usually always create a new backlink for the other website, leading to increased rankings in relevant searches.

What is the Unique Difference Between Collaboration and Co-Branding

You may hear these two words used interchangeably in the marketing world, yet it is important to distinguish between these two similar terms. Co-branding consists of two brands teaming up to create a product that includes and benefits both brands. An example would be McDonald’s partnering with Hasbro Games to create its famous Monopoly campaign. Collaboration creates a genuine partnership that aligns two or more brands, yet doesn’t create a new product.

7 Types of Collaborative Content Marketing

When you build something great alongside someone, you have an instant friend and potential marketing partner. This effective approach to amplifying your own content’s reach doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes a nurtured series of blog collaboration, Quote and Mentions, backlinking, guest posting, and other approaches to collaborative marketing. There are endless ways you can get creative with your collaboration strategy, but below are the seven most popular types of collaborative content marketing.

1. The Quote and Mention

Perhaps one of the simplest ways of collaborating on content marketing, the ole’ “quote and mention” strategy focuses on content sharing in the digital space, rather than full-on co-creation. When you are crafting a blog post, writing an article, or drafting social media content, you simply weave in a relevant quote or piece of information that strengthens the content. When you publish the piece of content on its appropriate platform, you reach out to them to let them know you’ve quoted them and/or their brand. The goal is that hopefully, they will re-share your content with their audience. Even if they don’t, you’ve still opened the door for future collaboration. If you have a collaborator in mind and there isn’t the ideal quote to support your content yet, you can reach out to them directly and ask for a contributor quote for your article.

2. Guest Posting

Perhaps the original form of collaborative content marketing, guest posting is a cornerstone in any content strategy. A guest post features you speaking as an industry expert and it positions your brand as a leader in your industry. Guest posting is also a way to gather new backlinks from authoritative websites, giving you SEO benefits.

Start the process by choosing a business that aligns well with yours and had strong digital authority. To check if a business’s website has good authority with Google, simply check their Domain Authority. A good example would be a salon reaching out to a spa for a Mother’s Day special like a “Treat Your Mom” package. Then, reach out to them (an established contact, marketing director or editor) and recommend a specific blog topic that you could provide a specific take on and that you are an expert in. Additionally, let them know you would be happy to have them guest post for you at all. Guest posting works well because it is a give-and-take marketing strategy.

3. Original Contributor Quote

Unlike the Quote and Mention, this type of collaboration involves reaching out to someone directly that is an expert in their industry and getting a unique, original quote rather than simply mentioning a pre-existing quote published elsewhere. While they may or may not reach back out to you, you are establishing a bond with that person and their brand. This opens the door for more extended collaboration in the future, and it could potentially lead to a referral system if the businesses align.

4. Expert Roundup

Think of it as a digital networking event with all the influencers you want to get to know, and you’re the host. This strategy involves getting insight from multiple industry experts on questions regarding a common topic. The expert roundup is so very popular because it reaps results on two major fronts. First, all audiences like scan-able content (think of how popular listicles have become), especially when it is information or advice coming from experts. Second, by reaching out to these industry experts you would like to get to know and potentially collaborate with further, you are giving them a mini ego-boost while positioning your brand as the thought leader of the group by being the initial creator of the content that rounded up all these experts.

There are two major ways to do an expert roundup:

  • A panel of Experts. A small group of industry experts answers 3-5 questions related to a certain topic.
  • Large-Scale Roundup. A larger group of people share their thoughts about one thought-provoking question. Typically at least a dozen experts are contributing. As a note, the large-scale round-up is beneficial for social media, because it can be repurposed over and over again highlighting a pull quote from a different contributor each time.

5. Case Studies

Case studies are a great collaborative content marketing strategy because they allow you to collaborate with your customers, building a more loyal, long-term relationship with your brand. It’s also a great way to gather statistics that can be repurposed in all your other marketing strategies. People love statistics, why not give them some that benefit your brand’s image?

6. Do a Deep Interview

The opposite of the expert roundup, doing an interview that is a true deep dive helps you collaborate by choosing one person that represents a brand that complements yours and really digging in with a key figure person inside that brand. This will generally require you to pitch them your idea of creating collaborative content. No worries. People are excited to be featured as the expert in an interview and will typically share your final article or blog with their audiences to position themselves as a thought leader. It’s a win-win.

7. Podcasts

A method of the Deep Interview strategy described above, podcasts are a recorded version of the deep-dive interview. Podcasts are a fun way to collaborate in your marketing efforts because audiences get to enjoy a completely off-script, first-hand experience as you and your guest’s personalities come together in a live environment.

Here are the Real Pros and Cons of Collaborative Marketing

Before you invest your time and energy into developing a collaborative content marketing strategy, it’s important to have a good understanding of the pros and cons.

Pros of Collaborative Marketing:

  • Combined industry experience leverages the best of both brands
  • Increases website traffic, garnering SEO benefits
  • Reach new audiences
  • Increase audience size
  • Increase the reach of your content
  • Establishes a partnership with a brand that complements yours
  • Collaborating with the right brand strengthens your brand
  • Lowers marketing costs by splitting with a partner

Cons of Collaborative Marketing

  • Initial time investment can be taxing, there is a lot of communication and back-and-forth needed to launch a good collaborative effort
  • Conflicting ideas/approaches to content marketing
  • Less control of the marketing effort

What to Look for in a Content Collaboration Partner

When considering what brand to collaborate with, you should be looking for a business with a brand identity that aligns well with yours, similar marketing goals, and a well-established audience that it would be beneficial for you to reach.

On the other hand, it can be interesting and attention-grabbing to partner with a brand that doesn’t necessarily align with yours, but that can help you develop content that will really engage readers. A report conducted by American Express found that the most successful dual marketing campaigns came from non-traditional collaborative partnerships by brands from different industries that joined forces. The same research has found that less collaborative businesses have a lower outlook for future performance.

Conclusion: Unleash the Power of a Collaboration

Now that you know the ins and outs of content marketing, it’s time to get started. Ask yourself the basic questions as they relate to collaborative content marketing:

  • Who? Make a list of the top brands you’d like to align with.
  • What? Brainstorm potential ideas for what type of collaboration you would like to do to boost both brands’ content marketing efforts.
  • Why? Outline exactly why this marketing partnership would be mutually beneficial.
  • When? Determine a reasonable timeline.
  • Where? Determine where the content will be originally posted online, any repurposing strategies, and any paid marketing efforts you think would extend the content’s reach.

Viola! You’re ready to start. Two brands collaborating together is a powerful way to leverage a piece of content. It creates fresh, compelling content that your audiences will enjoy. Ideally, it will grow both brands’ audiences and extend the reach and lifespan of the content. Collaborative content marketing is a win-win for everyone involved.