There’s no debating content marketing’s critical role in driving revenue and ROI. However, to get the most out of your investment, you can’t create content for content’s sake.
Marketers and PR pros are called on to strategically develop content that resonates with audiences’ fluctuating needs.
While evergreen content is useful in establishing a strong foundation, you must balance it with real-time content that’s responsive to the trends and topics currently making waves in your industry.
During our recent video livestream Marketing Transformation: A Real-Time Adventure, Ken Wincko, SVP of Marketing at PR Newswire, hosted Deirdre Bigley, CMO of Bloomberg LP, to discuss how they’ve built real-time marketing programs that are connecting audiences with the content they crave in the moment.
From how they organize their teams and strategies to the way they use reporting to prove success and inform future content, here are tips you can use for your own brand’s marketing transformation.
Build a Content-Centric Team
To more effectively leverage their industry’s expertise, progressive marketing departments are developing teams of content contributors, both internal (across their company’s various departments) and external (third-party influencers and customer advocates).
The diverse perspectives and areas of expertise these contributors bring to a company’s marketing can be immensely valuable.
However, there’s also a downside.
When trying to create and promote relevant content, a multi-layer approval process across many different teams can turn your once-relevant content into old news.
Both Ken and Deirdre expressed the need for an efficient workflow that enables teams to collaborate and carry out their content strategies without delay. Creating real-time content without the right processes, people, and tools in place will result in only one thing: frustration.
When discussing Bloomberg’s early attempts at collaborating on real-time content, Deirdre said, “We had multiple departments working on projects separately. When we had something real-time to respond to, it was very hectic. Our company decided to join these teams together so they can strategize and communicate quickly and effectively.”
If you find your company in a similar situation, Ken recommends creating a clear vision for what your core messages are trying to achieve, and then building and enabling your team of contributors around that vision.
There needs to be an overarching brand narrative and team leaders in place in order to effectively create and promote content that is in line with your overall strategy.
Ken explained, “A good analogy is that your marketing team is the point guard calling the plays — in this case identifying the key messages — for the organization. Our marketing team creates the core set of topics we want to build content around for specific audiences based on monitoring and analytics. Then, we help coordinate how and when our contributors develop and promote content across channels.”
Build a Real-Time Content Strategy
Real-time content can help your audience connect with your brand, but only if it’s tied to your overall marketing strategy.
Just publishing a one-off article responding to your industry’s latest trend isn’t going to have the same influence on your audience as real-time content whose themes intentionally connect back to the evergreen, cornerstone content that’s helped establish you as a trusted source of information.
Consider how a piece of real-time content promoted across multiple channels can encourage audiences to interact further with your evergreen content.
“Throw some breadcrumbs of content out there,” said Deirdre, “so it sparks their interest and they come back for more.”
A primary goal of your strategy should be to not only capture audience attention, but also create an ongoing relationship.
Ken added, “In order for us to establish long-term relationships with our clients, we created a customer lifecycle approach that defines the informational needs of our prospects and customers based on their role, organization and what stage of the journey they are in so we can provide content that is valuable and relevant to them — and ultimately helps them enhance their programs.”
Measure and Optimize in Real-Time
Ken and Deirdre both urged gathering a core set of metrics that prove the success of your marketing strategy.
As with any content you publish and promote for your brand, you need to constantly keep an eye on which pieces of real-time content worked and which didn’t.
Many topics wax and wane in popularity. You don’t want to be caught creating content about a trend your audience has moved on from.
“Through our analytics we know what is working best, which topics our audiences seem to be most attracted to and where most of our hits come from,” Deirdre explained.
Ken stressed the importance of what he calls “impact metrics” – how content directly contributes to pipeline and revenue — as the most informative measurement versus activity metrics such as downloads and visits.
“Through impact metrics we know what type of content ultimately leads to purchases. These insights help us to prioritize our investments and demonstrate tangible outcomes from our content,” he said.
These metrics will not only help you prove the success of your marketing program, they will also make it easier for you to develop and optimize content that creates a long-standing relationship with your audience and guides them to a purchasing decision.
Because PR Newswire has focused on impact metrics, Ken explained, “We can tell which topics are working for specific audiences in which channel at any given time, and from this we are able to optimize our program strategy on a weekly basis.”
Introducing a real-time content initiative into your marketing strategy may seem like no easy feat. But with a team built on collaboration, a well-thought out strategy, and metrics to help optimize your plan, you can enrich the interaction you have with your audiences.
Ken Wincko and Deirdre Bigley are two examples of marketing leaders who set out with a vision to revamp marketing organizations in well-established companies. To hear more of their expert advice, check out the on-demand recording of their conversation.
Author Danielle Ferris is happiest on the beach, an avid spinner, and marketing coordinator at PR Newswire.