Marketers need to create a continuous narrative for their brand that resonates with audiences. But how can they best achieve this?
It’s no longer enough to send out sporadic messages and hope for the best. Your audience is many places at once, and you need a multichannel promotional strategy that continuously provides fresh content over time.
“Today’s buyers are exhibiting a high degree of cross-channel behavior – particularly in mobile, where 80% of time is spent in apps,” says Ken Wincko, SVP of Marketing at PR Newswire. “To drive demand for your business, you can’t limit buyer exposure to your owned channels. You need to progressively interact with them in context using a synchronized mix of earned, owned and paid media based on consumption preferences.”
However, synchronizing promotion over multiple channels is complicated. Besides knowing how to align your promotion across the requirements and restrictions of each channel, you also need to make sure you’ve mapped out an appropriate mix of content.
Follow these eight steps to ensure your program’s content is ready for promotion.
Step 1: Set a timeline.
After selecting your content goals, establish a timeline that all promotion channels can commit to. If your team can’t plan a year in advance, consider developing a strategy at least a quarter or six months out. Operating on a month-to-month basis may cause you to miss out on larger trends.
Step 2: Catalogue your current content offerings.
It’s important to understand whether or not your brand’s already existing content speaks to your buyers’ different needs.
Ultimately, you want an assortment of content that provides a variety of topics and formats for each audience persona and compels prospects through the funnel to become customers and loyal advocates.
Organize your content so you’re able to pair resources and upcoming projects efficiently. Start by cataloging your content according to each piece’s topic, the sales funnel stage and audience persona it addresses, any multimedia assets and tracking links that accompany it, and content author/subject matter experts featured in it.
Step 3: Identify gaps.
Because you want a program that appeals to consumers at different stages of the buying journey, you need to make sure you have the right quantity and quality of content.
While cataloging everything, flag content optimization and development opportunities for future planning.
Topic and persona gaps are easy wins you can start addressing right away; however, you also want to dig deeper and note gaps along the sales funnel as these could prevent your audience from completing the conversion process.
Step 4: Examine the data.
Now that you’ve inventoried your content program to get a feel for the resources you currently have, take a look at the past performance of each piece of content. A six- or twelve-month view is ideal as numbers tend to vary month by month. If you have prior year performance, include it as a baseline to gauge future efforts’ effectiveness.
For each piece of content you plan to use, list out the following:
- Buyer persona(s) targeted
- Product line(s) supported by the content
- Which channels promoted this content in the past (and when/how often)
- Influencer/earned media attention received
- Landing page views, content downloads and other success metrics
“It is absolutely critical to have the right KPIs for your content marketing efforts,” says Ken. “At PR Newswire, we have shifted the focus on what we measure from basic activity metrics such as clicks and downloads to impact metrics such as elasticity of content performance (how it converts vs views), velocity (when and how it is consumed, along with next steps taken) and contribution to pipeline and revenue. Doing so has allowed us to optimize our content marketing approach and improve conversions by over 40x.”
Step 5: Determine channel bandwidth.
Meet with your team to determine how many pieces of content each channel can promote per month.
Some channels may have more bandwidth than others; build a plan that allows for the channel with the largest capacity to give the smaller channels something to build towards.
List content in order of priority so you can guarantee the top-priority content is promoted across all channels.
Step 6. Select content for inclusion.
Like a good stock portfolio, the content you select should be a combination of proven winners as well as a few experiments, dependent on your appetite for risk.
Once you’ve determined a realistic volume, say four pieces of content per month, create a calendar that breaks down each month’s promotion. Record the topic, funnel stage, persona, channel commitments and other notable considerations for each piece of content.
Step 7: Meet with your stakeholders.
The last stage of planning is to present your strategy, goals and performance data to your invested stakeholders – including your CMO, interested leadership and channel leads.
Sift through the data you gathered during step four and pull out highlights and action items that may positively affect future outcomes.
Don’t set anything in stone until you open up the discussion to all team members and stakeholders, who have unique insights, ideas, and feedback you aren’t able to uncover during your research. A lot can be said for brainstorming.
“Establishing a forward-looking vision for your marketing strategy, along with associated benefits, is important for gaining the trust and support of your colleagues,” says Ken. “KPIs that are relevant to key stakeholders will enable you to demonstrate the incremental impact of your marketing initiatives. Once your program is implemented, you need to provide regularly scheduled performance updates to keep your stakeholders engaged and continue building momentum for your program.”
Step 8: Schedule regular check ins.
Keep your data current to help you monitor your content map, diagnose issues and adjust as needed.
“Monitoring and analyzing channel and content performance will help you to identify new opportunities for optimizing your results,” explains Ken. “At minimum, this should be done on a monthly basis, and ideally, on a weekly basis so that you can refine your strategy as necessary.”
You can hear more from Ken about demand generation and content mapping during next week’s MarketingSherpa and #FlipMyFunnel conferences. Check out the presentation schedule below for more information.
MarketingSherpa Summit 2016
Session: How PR Newswire Created an Innovative Demand Generation Engine That Increased Engaged Leads by Over 20% (February 23, 10:30AM)
#FlipMyFunnel B2B Marketing and Sales Conference
Session: Building an Inbound and Multi-channel ABM Demand Generation Engine (February 25, 2:00PM featuring Ken Wincko and Adam Needles, Chief Strategy Officer and Principal at ANNUITAS)
Author Annemaria Nicholson is a solutions & customer lifecycle marketing manager at PR Newswire. In addition to designing integrated marketing programs for PR Newswire and CNW, she’s responsible for promoting the companies’ content and multimedia distribution, reporting, and e-commerce solutions. You can contact her via LinkedIn.