This guest blog is written by Bert Carelli, Director of Partnerships at TrendMD, a partner in the Silverchair Universe program.

Discovery graphic

Scholarly publishers have become increasingly more comfortable with the fact that to survive and thrive in our current environment requires adopting some of the marketing practices used by successful commercial companies. Content marketing – the creation and development of unique stories and informative pieces, strategically disseminated through blogs, social media, webinars, podcasts, and videos – has replaced traditional advertising in nearly every industry. Scholarly publishers have a unique advantage in adapting to this trend, since the product itself is rich with content that can capture and hold the attention of a clearly defined audience and inspire them to action.

However, there is one problem that needs to be solved in order to turn scholarly content into a marketing asset: discovery.

With over 2.5 million scholarly articles published each year – more than 8,000 each day – how can a publisher ensure that their content reaches the right audience, leading to more subscriptions, sales of additional products, or higher quality submitted manuscripts? While discovery is usually considered to be a researcher issue, from the publisher’s perspective it is also a business challenge. If publishers are to take advantage of the biggest asset – their unique and compelling content – success depends on the ability to find the right audience. Content marketing consists of leveraging their most compelling content to build awareness, engagement, and lasting relationships with those sought-after readers.

Highlighting your high-value content

Most scholarly journals have “Most read” and “Most cited” lists containing articles that have gained significant attention due to findings that move a practice forward, extend the science into adjacent disciplines, or address timely issues of the day. There are also those few blockbuster articles published each year, including annual statistical reviews and guidelines for treatment, which naturally receive attention for their influence on standards of practice.

Another interesting opportunity has emerged with recent papers related to the COVID-19 pandemic. While coronavirus has been studied extensively for decades, the current crisis has created an urgent demand for solid scientific information on this subject, even if only as a way to break through the noise and misinformation flooding the popular media. Publishers can participate in this surge in interest by promoting their collections of articles related to this subject; not only to insure that solid science gets the attention it deserves, but also as an opportunity to demonstrate and promote their journals and the communities they serve.

Using your content to effectively drive readership

What is the best way for scholarly publishers to use their content marketing assets to take advantage of these trends? Blogs and social media, certainly, but reaching target audiences among researchers and authors may require a more specialized approach. TrendMD, in a similar way to Amazon and Netflix, looks at what a user is reading, plus data on what they have read in the past, and what other users like them have read, to recommend articles that readers are most likely to find interesting. In this way, the TrendMD recommendations widget enables publishers to use their content to gain new visitors and generate additional pageviews.

How effective, in terms of getting targeted users to take a desired action, is TrendMD’s approach as a content marketing strategy? This study, published in the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, documented the results of a 12-month randomized controlled trial that demonstrated how articles promoted through TrendMD achieved a 50% increase in mean citations relative to control. 3,200 articles, randomly selected from the top 20 journals in 5 subject categories, were tracked over the 12 months, with half of them (1,600) promoted through the TrendMD recommendations service among 4,300 participating journals. (Since the study was completed, the network has grown to more than 5,000 journals.)

TrendMD has helped more than 300 organizations - including many members of the Silverchair community, most recently Duke University Press, University of California Press, and OUP - to promote their content, and by doing so, develop their audiences, get more citations, downloads, and pageviews.

To learn more about adding this valuable tool to your content marketing strategy, talk to your Silverchair PDM or visit

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