This is NewsCred’s 3-part series on integrated campaigns for content marketing. In Part 1, we built the business case for an integrated approach to content marketing. In this follow-up, we offer you the NewsCred perspective on campaign best practices for content marketers. Next time, 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.
Let’s begin with a quick refresh: by now, you know that an integrated campaign is a strategic marketing framework that delivers on multiple fronts and is characterized by:
Having a tactical plan that maximizes content utilization and delivers a unified (i.e. consistent) message.
Resulting in a process that encourages collaboration, uniting teams around a shared mission.
Being a proven way to deliver a seamless experience for today’s customers across multiple channels.
But what makes an integrated campaign successful? In part 2, we’re diving into best practices, focusing on six key hallmarks of building an integrated campaign. These are our top tips for content marketers (or any type of marketer, for that matter) embarking on the journey to implementing seamless, omnichannel campaigns.
1. Set a start and end date
There is a common misconception that campaigns can be timeless or “always on.” This is not a campaign, this is a publishing cadence, and while it’s important to have a steady stream of content feeding the engine and keeping your audience coming back for more, it’s not the purpose of a campaign. The role of a campaign is to reach a broad audience in a short amount of time. They require a bigger investment and resource effort, should be strategic in terms of timing, theme, or trend (whether that be cultural or industry-driven), or should be able to communicate an important brand message. As such, every campaign should have a start and end date, and then be integrated into the rest of your evergreen efforts.
Identify your key campaigns for the quarter or year and ensure they have a clear start and end date. But what about recurring campaigns (e.g. MasterCard’s “Priceless” and LinkedIn’s Sophisticated Marketers Series)? These should contain a start and end date based on versions, ensuring that improvements can be made between relaunches so that the campaign remains refreshed and optimized.
2. Invest in campaign briefs
A marketing campaign brief is one of the most underestimated — yet necessary — tools for an integrated campaign. As the foundation of any integrated campaign, we consider it to be a key element of successful campaign planning. Why? A great campaign brief not only provides transparency and visibility to the lifecycle of a campaign, but it also acts as a tool to reinforce governance and hold stakeholders accountable. Marketing campaign briefs (not to be confused with creative or content briefs) need to strike a balance of being — well, brief — while still covering the critical details around objectives/goals, target audience, brand guidelines, teams, budget details, and measurement.
Don’t get put off by the seemingly time-consuming nature of creating a campaign brief — a well-written one actually fast-tracks the campaign process. How? It sets the stage for your integrated campaign plan, and once finished and disseminated, helps everyone to move quickly and with clarity. Campaign briefs often result in higher quality campaigns. Acting as an anchor to align and focus your team, they provide a clear trail of accountability and enable the organization to assess campaign performance against predetermined goals and KPIs.
3. Apply your taxonomy
According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), only 14% of content marketing organizations have a taxonomy. A taxonomy (for a content management system) is a universal language, labeling, and classification system that determines the hierarchical structure in which content is authored, tagged, and made accessible to a multifunctional organization. A content taxonomy serves many purposes when it comes to campaigns. It aligns your execution efforts with elements of your content strategy, such as pillars, themes, personas, journey stages, etc. Tagging content assets also enables you to slice and dice analytics to uncover deeper insights to inform future content and campaign planning.
Another benefit of a meta-tagging strategy: when coupled with a robust content library, it’s a great way to ensure that your content is findable and reusable, preventing duplication and promoting content utilization. Furthermore, when powered with the right AI tool, a taxonomy can also increase campaign performance by targeting specific moments or personas, creating more meaningful interactions through recommendations and/or personalization. Where possible, use this best practice to ensure that your campaigns and their surrounding content are tagged consistently for greater effectiveness.
4. Offer the right visibility
It’s important to provide campaign visibility to all levels of the organization — it enables people to make quick decisions, mitigates content chaos, and prevents doubling up on work. But while everyone has the same shared challenges including driving growth, maintaining transparency, and executing with speed, not everyone has the same information requirements.
More often than not, marketing leaders require a clear line of sight into key campaign initiatives, timelines, approvals, budgets, resourcing, and performance to ensure that the organization is moving in the right direction, by being operationally efficient and making a positive business impact. On the other hand, channel owners and content creators may need more detail around tactical elements relating to workflows and production to ensure that campaigns are implemented effectively, accurately, and on time.
By offering up degrees of campaign visibility, you’re able to provide an overview of marketing initiatives to those who need it, as well as more a granular view for specific stakeholders. This allows for a certain level of agility, particularly around responses to ad hoc work requests and optimizing existing campaigns.
5. Align to clear business goals
Every campaign should be tied to an objective that helps to further the business. Having clear objectives helps you to vet which activities are worthy of dedicating efforts and resources, and aids in managing the performance of a campaign.
A successful integrated marketing campaign is one that aligns with a full-funnel approach, which gives marketers the opportunity to select the right channels and assign relevant KPIs to their campaigns. Marketers should customize the approach, the creative, and the channels for each distinct stage of the funnel (i.e. awareness, consideration, decision). For example, the role of campaigns at the top of the funnel is to grow a business or brand over time by driving awareness, salience, and developing a stream of new prospects (e.g. P&G’s Always “Like a Girl” campaign.) For campaigns targeting the bottom of the funnel, (e.g. Coca Cola’s #ShareACoke campaign) the goal is to influence and convince prospects to complete a desired action. There are also campaigns that target more than one stage of the funnel (e.g. GE’s #BalancetheEquation campaign, which built the brand and also drove talent acquisition) or focus on retention (e.g. Apple’s There’s More to iPhone campaign served to help maintain their position as the top smartphone brand.) By understanding the role of a campaign at each stage, marketers can manage expectations on performance and determine where the campaign fits into the overall business goals.
6. Adopt an omnichannel approach
When we talk about campaigns, we’re referring to integrated campaigns, and that means taking an omnichannel approach. Before you dismiss this as just another buzzword, hear us out. An omnichannel approach to marketing is when a brand provides customers with a unified concent experience across all channels of a campaign (keyword: seamless). This is a true marketer of integrated campaign success. It is often confused with multichannel, where a customer can engage with a brand on a variety of platforms, but the experience is not necessarily consistent. BIG difference.
It’s important to think about the customer journey (and the channels) as a whole, rather than as separate entities. This means understanding each channel’s purpose and potential, and how they fit together. When it comes to channel selection, focus on quality rather than quantity. We recommend taking a 70:20:10 approach to channel investment: taking your target audience into account, we recommend investing 70% of your budget on channels that you know work, 20% towards channels that you think have potential, and 10% towards any wild cards.
Finally, don’t forget that marketing is both a science and an art and that creativity and relevancy will be your best partners for amplification. There are also some innovative offline and digital examples, like New Balance’s recent #BeTheException campaign that fused outdoor advertising with AI software and traditional PR tactics.
Best practice checklist
At their Marketing Symposium 2019, Gartner reported that marketing execs spend 25% of their time on planning, but over half of it is wasted. But this can be remedied if you ensure that you’re adopting best practices when it comes to campaign planning and execution.
So, before you launch your next integrated campaign, use the following checklist:
- Is there a clear start and end date for your campaign?
- Is there a documented brief?
- Have you applied meta-tagging against your taxonomy?
- Are you providing the right amount of visibility based on role, function, and seniority?
- Are you set up for success by clearly articulating your goals and associated KPIs?
- Is your campaign truly integrated?
If you need to build your business case for integrated campaigns, check out part one of this series.
And if you’re ready to learn how to plan and execute integrated campaigns, sign up for our upcoming webinar.