With a plethora of products to choose from, it’s no wonder today’s customers are research-driven. The competitive landscape is standing room only. If you want to be center stage, you’ve got to have a game plan.
In this complex marketing world, your marketing approach has to reach the right customers at the right time. Successful companies take an integrated content marketing approach to ensure every effort, from blogs and infographics to social media posts and videos, ties back to the business.
But in the throes of these multi-faceted marketing efforts, keeping it all connected isn’t easy. We’ll let you in on the five-pronged approach we take to keep our clients in the spotlight.
1. Strategize, Strategize, Strategize
Your strategy is the road map to an integrated content marketing program — without a proper up-front strategy in place, you’re bound to get lost.
It informs everything, from the content types you create to the channels you choose to promote them on. And like a road map, charting the most effective path starts with answering two questions: Where are you now, and where do you want to end up?
On your up-front strategy to-do list:
- Conduct brand, market, and customer research (this includes stakeholder interviews, competitive reviews, and customer analysis), and use this information to create buyer personas.
- Perform website, SEO, and content audits.
- Set goals and benchmarks for when to check in on your progress.
This information should thread through every piece of content that follows. In short: Don’t lose your road map.
2. Make Great Content
So you know where you’re headed, and you’ve got a sound plan to get you there. The next step: Make great content.
Content is the information that people want, such as product details, thought leadership, industry insight, tips, and trends. We’ve wrangled an award-winning team of editors and brand journalists, and their job is to create content that’s meaningful to each client’s unique audience and inspires them to take the next step.
Paired with a team of best-in-class designers, we create blogs, magazines, ebooks, podcasts, and more, and every piece is tailored to the unique business goals (see: strategy) of our clients.
3. Be Seen
To connect content with the right audience, the next step is to amplify.
Things we consider in this phase of the cycle:
- Which social media channels make the most sense for our client’s audience?
- Is email marketing a fit?
- How about influencers?
- What makes the most sense for this client in terms of paid vs. organic promotions?
One other thing here: Don’t forget the importance of SEO.
There are about a million ways to amplify your content, and though it’s no exact science — this phase involves a good amount of trial and error — a proper strategy should help paint a picture of which channels make the most sense for your unique audience.
4. Make Improvements With Optimization
I said there’s no exact science, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t constantly experimenting to find ways to improve our efforts.
Optimization is the part where we refine our strategy to make sure we’re setting our clients up for the best possible results. When a piece of content leaves our hands, we’re far from finished: We monitor, track, and report on the progress of everything that goes out the door so that we can make improvements and keep marketing efforts in the right lane.
Some important parts of this phase:
- A/B testing
- Social listening
- CRM integration
- Engagement and conversion metrics
Sometimes data can take a back seat in marketing because the quantity of data is overwhelming, or because the technology can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.
Data encircles everything we do. It runs in the background, in the foreground, and informs our recommendations and content execution. With the right data, we can find our clients’ most valuable customers, understand how they behave, and recommend the best way to personalize content to their interests as they move through the purchase cycle.
We Practice What We Preach
An integrated content marketing program is key to driving customers to act. Want to know how we know this is true? Because we use this same program to promote our agency.
Kate Crouse, our director of digital media strategy, puts it this way:
“We promote ourselves in an integrated fashion because even if we put great content out there, without these other components working together, our efforts will fall flat,” she says. “We don’t want to write content for the sake of writing content or amplify for the sake of amplification. We create content in line with the overarching strategy and business goals. Then, we build the amplification with that same goal in mind. All of the things we do are working toward our No. 1 business goal: building a relationship.”
Earning and retaining customers is just as important to us as it is to your business. We practice what we preach so we can be sure today’s businesses are positioned to achieve their marketing goals.
“Marketing ourselves serves as the ultimate testing ground,” Crouse adds. “If we see there’s traction around something, then we can leverage that for our clients. By the time we bring it to our clients, we know it really works.”