This is the first of a 3-part series on integrated campaigns for content marketing. In this article (Part I), we build the business case for an integrated approach to content marketing (and why it’s important). In our follow up (Part II) we offer you the NewsCred perspective on campaign best practices for content marketers. And finally, (Part III) we’ll provide you a ‘how to get started’ guide, answering your most frequently asked questions such as how to obtain buy-in, collaborate with new teams, establish the right processes, and much more.
We recently called 2019 the year of integrated marketing, but what does this mean for content marketers?
When it comes to content creation, the best content marketers recognize that it’s not just about what you produce, it’s also about how you produce it. But what’s the ideal content planning model? And how do you create a repeatable process that is cost-efficient, impactful, and sustainable?
The answer lies in delivering a unified experience through content — and that starts with integrated campaigns.
An integrated campaign is a series of coordinated, omnichannel marketing activities, designed to elevate the performance of marketing by breaking down internal silos and creating a unified brand experience through content.
As an industry, we’ve come a long way. We created content to engage with ad-avoiding customers. We launched multi-channel content in various formats to ensure we’re reaching audiences in the right places. But, it’s time to evolve and adopt a new framework — one that brings all of these elements together.
Here are 5 reasons why you should adopt an integrated campaign approach to content planning.
1. Content connects the customer journey
It’s hard to refute the importance of brands delivering a powerful, unified customer experience — one that starts (and ends) with content. A study from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) shows that consumers viewing a consistent message across a variety of channels can improve purchase intent by 90% and brand perception by 68%.
Because content touches on every channel and department, content marketers have to lead the charge when it comes to keeping brands relevant in today’s competitive media landscape. Each piece of content should serve a purpose in the customer journey and be seamlessly connected to campaigns spanning multiple channels.
This is where adopting integrated campaigns as a content planning model can help to build a connected customer experience. The reality is that the journey for the modern consumer isn’t linear — audiences will view and engage with multiple assets across multiple channels at inconsistent times before they take a desired action. By taking an integrated approach to your content, it helps to create 360-degree storytelling, amplifying a narrative beyond just one blog post and weaving together each individual touchpoint.
Simply put: integrated campaigns are the best way to produce content at scale while ensuring a seamless experience for your audience.
2. Content planning at scale should be the norm
Modern marketing best practices demand that marketers shift from ad-hoc content creation to streamlined planning — a strategy that is far more impactful and efficient than one-off content efforts.
Many content marketers have chosen the path of least resistance when it comes to content planning models, opting to either create one-time content assets or at the most basic level, standalone evergreen blog posts. More sophisticated marketers will choose to develop one major asset (big rock) such as a video, research paper or event, and then create supporting derivative assets. An integrated campaign goes a step further: necessary assets are determined from the outset, helping to ensure content is unified by a consistent creative idea and customized for each channel.
The conventional thinking that large-scale campaigns are not sustainable or worth the investment is flawed (much like the view that some channels are better investments than others based purely on CPC.) The benefits of integrated campaigns are twofold: they result in an immediate network effect, where a ‘campaign’ message is amplified across multiple channels. In doing so, they also result in a repeatable, sustainable, and scalable planning model.
3. Evergreen isn’t enough
Don’t get us wrong, evergreen content production is still important — but marketers need to take it to the next level. Adopting a campaign approach actually makes relevant, timeless content work harder.
Evergreen content, defined as valuable content that isn’t time-bound, helps to keep the content engine running, creating a steady stream of engagement. These always-relevant pieces (ie instructions and tutorials, how-to’s, answers to frequently asked questions) are the foundations of any content program. Publishing a valuable bank of evergreen content on a consistent basis means audiences know they can regularly turn to your content, helping to position you as a trusted source of information and build engagement with your audience.
Campaigns, on the other hand, are timely and opportunistic. They have a shorter-term purpose, such as building awareness of a certain promotion, event, launch, etc., and driving conversions. Unlike one-off, evergreen pieces of content, an integrated campaign that includes various assets (blog posts, social posts, infographics, and so on) turbo-charges campaign efforts to achieve the greatest reach, to acquire new audiences, or to boost conversions in a shorter period of time.
So, what is the right mix between evergreen and time-based content?
The ideal scenario is to publish sustainable, timeless content to supplement a cadence of time-specific content that focuses on a key theme, initiative, product launch, event, etc., and serves as part of a broader integrated campaign, with an aim to deliver on campaign-specific goals (ie engagement and conversions). This way, your content program works double-time: attracting attention by tapping into ‘moments‘ and current campaigns for relevancy, while earning trust with audiences by providing a rich repository of reliable, evergreen content.
4. Marketers are operating at a deficit
Organizations are putting increasing pressure on content marketers and their teams to do more with less, produce content at scale (and at speed) across departments and geographies, minimize costs where they can, and work faster to get their messages out to consumers. Why? Because there is an alarming trend toward content waste.
Marketing waste happens when teams are investing in content, assets or tactics that have no strategic purpose or business impact. You know the type — the content that offers little value to the customer, is poorly executed, or even the results of a duplicated effort. Marketers can’t afford to waste resources, time, and content because of a lack of coordination.
A SiriusDecisions study revealed that 65% of the content that teams produced is unused. Furthermore, the ANA reports that only a quarter of CMOs’ digital media investment reaches target audiences, resulting in excess of $20 billion of marketing waste. The content that does go live is often failing to deliver results. As Buzzsumo reports, a mere 5% of content accounts for 90% of engagement, revealing that the vast majority of published content is failing to engage audiences.
With time and money being as precious as ever, laying a strong business case for integrated campaigns and getting the most out of each piece of content is crucial for marketing success.
5. Thinking bigger comes with its benefits
Shifting from the mindset of one-off campaigns to planning content for integrated campaigns can provide both company-wide and professional benefits. Think: elevating content marketing in your organization, increasing your budget, and raising your own personal standing.
Extending your reach beyond your immediate team and being more inclusive with your channel approach will foster participation and drive awareness from different parts of your organization, and perhaps even management. Evangelizing content isn’t easy, but if you position it to other departments as the common currency for engaging the same shared customer, you’re likely to get buy-in.
This brings us to the next benefit: unlocking budget. While traditional advertising has an (expensive) role to play, content marketing is especially effective for sustaining conversations and nurturing audiences through the buyer journey, especially if there is an omnichannel approach. We already know that content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates 3 times as many leads. So if you’re able to amplify your content efforts by bringing in different channels and teams, and can prove the (inevitable) positive business impact, it’s likely that your company will consider adding and/or reallocating budget for you to create compelling content for campaigns involving multiple teams.
Lastly, we would be remiss not to mention the personal benefit that delivering on an integrated campaign can provide: clout. Commandeering integrated campaigns will show that you’re a risk-taking leader, are able to break down silos, and can rally the organization around a common goal. These types of qualities will catch the eye of higher-ups who are looking for leaders with the ability to drive performance while being operationally efficient. The old adage “the greater the risks, the greater the rewards” rings true here. So while there is significant effort involved in transitioning to an integrated campaigns model, the payoffs can be exponential.
Albert Einstein once said, “Problems cannot be solved by thinking within the framework in which they were created.” And while Einstein certainly wasn’t talking about content marketing, this sentiment can be translated into the way content marketers operate today.
Taking an integrated approach to marketing content will ensure that every bit of content has a purpose, and ultimately deliver a consistent, engaging customer experience that connects the buyer journey. As we move into the next evolution of content marketing, the ability to collaborate and execute integrated campaigns will be key to high-performing teams.
Now that you know why you should invest in integrated campaigns, read Part II for best practices for executing an effective, omnichannel campaign.