Cabela’s Pitches Its Content At The Top Of The Funnel

Cabela'sOutdoor gear retailer Cabela’s has a fairly straightforward approach to content marketing: “If it doesn’t add value, then we don’t produce it,” said the brand’s SEO manager, Jesse Farley.

But the content landscape itself is anything but simple, and one of the core challenges is figuring out what’s relevant and how it’s resonating before even embarking on content creation.

For that, Cabela’s turns to content marketing platform BrightEdge, whose technology continuously crawls the web, indexing existing content cross-referenced with how people are reacting to it. All of that information – billions of data points around topics, keywords, subject matter types, likes, shares, clicks and link backs – is amassed into a repository that BrightEdge refers to as the Data Cube and then combined with an advertiser’s own web analytics and first-party CRM data.

On Tuesday, BrightEdge announced two additions to its product offering – an intelligence layer called Data Quant that sits on top of its data storehouse, and anomaly detection, which acts as a sort of alarm to alert advertisers when a particular piece of content is either unexpectedly doing really well or suddenly not performing as planned.

“We’re looking to create a map of the entire content battleground,” said BrightEdge CEO Jim Yu. “Brands want their content to drive performance, but they also know that every piece of content they create has to compete for a consumer’s attention.”

Cabela’s, which positions itself as a “concierge” to the outdoors, isn’t going for the hard sell with its content, turning to microsites like Camp Cabela’s and Cook with Cabela’s to educate consumers during their research process.

How-to articles, videos, product reviews, safety tips, advice on camping destinations and the like are created for every tier of experience, from novice to expert. Before producing a piece of content, most of which is done in-house and with its agency ClearVoice, Cabela’s uses the Data Cube to research what kind of content is already out there, including the competition.

Having established that there’s a demand, Cabela’s also uses the BrightEdge tech to validate its KPIs.

“Did we own search? Did people share? Did we reach the right consumer with our content? How many pages per visit were there? Did it ultimately lead to sales? These are the kinds of questions we’re looking to answer across owned, earned and paid,” Farley said.

Non-branded organic search pointing to Cabela’s properties is up 34% year over year, Farley said. Sales typically trickle in 30 to 90 days after a user engages with the brand’s content, returning between two and six times before deciding to make a purchase.

In addition to its O&O, the brand works with a number of display partners, including Carbon Media Group and OutdoorHub, both of which focus on outdoor enthusiasts, to syndicate its  content.

Although Cabela’s does some retargeting based off of which of articles people are reading across the web, it keeps that to a minimum.

“We’re talking to the top of the funnel,” Farley said. “So it’s less about ‘Here’s 50% off a tent today!’ and more something like, ‘There are many types of tent out there. We’ll explain what they are and when you might need different ones.’”

Cabela’s also taps BrightEdge to help predict and capitalize on trends right as they start bubbling up. It’s not always intuitive.

Take elk hunting, for example. Elk hunting season doesn’t start until November, but Farley, an avid elk hunter himself, is already doing his research even though it’s only June.

“We’re looking at transaction data, our own customer data, interest data, what worked best last year, what’s trending – a lot of things,” Farley said. “And with all of that in mind, we’re able to gear up with content and merchandising at the right time, even if it’s six to eight months in advance.”

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