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AT&T boosts Networking Exchange portal with new content

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HOW AT&T USED CUSTOM CONTENT TO BOOST PORTAL Objective: AT&T Business wanted to turn one of its content portals, Networking Exchange, a site dedicated to enterprise customers, into a trusted destination for industry information. Strategy: AT&T contracted with Time Inc. Content Solutions to provide original editorial and multimedia content it could sprinkle into the portal. Results: The new site has become a trusted destination for people looking for information about telephony, networking and mobility topics. Traffic to the site is seeing a “continual uplift,” and click-through rates for the accompanying e-mail newsletter are consistent. Sometimes the best way to serve customers is to provide them with unbiased information and let them make their own buying decisions. AT&T Business had this strategy in mind when it launched a portal called Networking Exchange, which provides targeted and personalized information for enterprise customers about everything from basic telephony to collaboration to networking solutions. Although the site, which was introduced in February 2005, featured plenty of white papers, research analyst commentary and syndicated editorial content, it wasn't as cohesive as Pat Heeter, director-marketing communications for AT&T Business, would have liked. The site needed additional content and commentary, so Heeter, this past fall, turned to Time Inc. Content Solutions to create original stories, articles, videos and audio for the portal. The main reason AT&T did so, Heeter said, was that a custom publisher could provide content that would be difficult to produce in-house. “Custom publishing gives us access to experts that we don't necessarily have access to, like academics and other industry people,” Heeter said. “It helps broaden our horizons.” To determine what her content needs are, Heeter looks at her own editorial calendar and identifies gaps in the content she produces for each of the six subsections of the site: Applications, Managing Change, Managing Risk, Mobility, Networking and Trends. Then she has a brainstorming session with the Time Inc. team, which comes back with a proposal for the best type of content and approach. “It's really a collaborative process,” Heeter said. “For example, a hot topic right now is content distribution networks. Enterprises are trying to understand how to manage their own content. Time Inc. is working on a video series right now that helps enterprises make sure their [Web site] users have a good experience.” The Networking Exchange portal is constantly updated with the new content. Links to audio and video are provided, while articles and text are posted as PDFs—a format that allows AT&T to make use of the information in other marketing venues as well. In addition, Heeter supports the site with an e-mail newsletter that goes out to 200,000 to 250,000 people, highlighting when new PDFs are posted. It is already seeing benefits from the combination of Time Inc. content with the other third-party content. Heeter is tracking both click-throughs from the newsletter as well as unique visits and time spent on the site. All three are on a “continual uplift,” she said. “The program has grown greatly year over year, and click-through rates and download rates have grown consistently,” she said.
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