According to a study performed by the Content Marketing Institute, 88% of B2B marketers continue to use content marketing as part of their strategy to drive leads but only 30% of the content marketing programs are effective.
There could be many factors for the ineffectiveness of a content marketing program, but one would certainly be the way marketing campaigns are often executed. As marketers, we’ve all been there before. In our haste to deliver leads quickly, we blast one-off, undifferentiated content pieces to our audience, adding noise to the already crowded market.
People use the word “campaign” for various purposes. There are sales campaigns and marketing campaigns. Some use the term when referring to sending out a single email, while others when doing a webinar. When we talk about campaigns in this blog post, we are referring to marketing campaigns that have an integrated approach and contain interrelated tactics that help amplify a message. These campaigns use the concept of repetition and consistency to build trust with the audience and increase conversion rates.
Here's an easy-to-follow checklist for B2B startups that want to run integrated marketing campaigns.
Identify Relevant Topics
Before creating a campaign theme that is creative and has emotional appeal, you have to identify relevant topics. In order to do that, you have to know who you are targeting and how you are going to add value to their lives with your product and services. For example, if you are targeting a technical buyer, your outreach strategy, your tone, choice of words, message, visuals and type of content will be different than for a business buyer such as a CXO of a large enterprise. You will also need a deep understanding of your industry, competitors and product differentiators. With this information at your fingertips, you can come up with topics that will be of interest to your audience and increase the effectiveness of your campaigns.
Create Campaign Themes
Once you have identified a high-level, bulleted list of topics, you will have to take the more difficult step of picking one topic and turning it into a theme that is creative, conveys who you are as a brand and appeals to your prospects’ persona. When it gets to creativity and capturing the imagination of their customer, B2B organizations can take a lesson or two from B2C companies. As Larsen.com points out, when creating campaign themes “Think of fresh, fun ways to articulate your message….Use metaphors to jump-start your imagination. Think in images. Exaggerate ideas to ridiculous extremes.” The same article adds, “[Keep your themes] short and sweet. The more concise your theme, the more memorable it will be. Two words have captured the spirit of Mini Cooper enthusiasts. Three words have sold countless pairs of Nikes…. The best themes roll right off the tongue.”
Try capturing the spirit of your brand in your campaign’s theme. No one said it’s easy but it is powerful when you get it right.
Now that you know your message and who you are targeting and why, you can outline the content pieces and assets you will use in your demand generation. For example, for a technical buyer a how-to video might be more useful; whereas marketing professionals who usually react to visuals might like an infographic. Create a spreadsheet list of assets that you’d like to experiment with to increase demand and drive quality leads. The theme of your campaign will repeat across all your assets in both content and design for consistency.
Map Assets to Lead Generation Funnel
Once you have a list of assets, begin mapping them to the demand generation funnel. For example, an infographic or an analyst paper would most likely be an awareness asset that can be shared at the beginning of a buyer’s journey. Whereas a product cheat sheet or paper might fall in the consideration or purchase stage of the funnel. Mapping your content in this way allows the demand generation team to know the order by which to promote the assets.
Outline Your Demand Generation Plan
You campaign plan should clearly outline the steps your team will take in promoting the new asset. Your plan will differ based on the type of asset and the targeted persona. For example, your promotion plan would differ for an industry paper versus a thought leadership e-Book. By bringing in the marketing team including product marketing, demand generation, creative and design, you can come up with the best plan on amplifying your message.
Manage the Campaign
Ensure someone is in charge of project managing your campaign. Identify task owners and contributors and hold them to deadlines. This way you can make sure that a constant stream of content hits the marketplace, promoting your theme and messages to increase brand awareness and conversions.
Don't expect that the first asset you send out or your very first webinar will give incredible results. If you are a startup who doesn’t have brand recognition, your prospects will most likely not know anything about you. You have to gain their trust. Marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Stay focused and give time, but after you have gathered enough data, start analyzing and tweaking your strategy, if necessary.
Measure and Improve
Stay agile. Create reports from your marketing automation system to see what is and isn’t working. Check email open and click through rates. Watch your asset downloads, webinar registrations and overall conversions. If you have a good marketing automation tool, you can map your marketing efforts to sales pipeline results. Constantly try to tweak your content and campaigns to improve for optimal results.
If you take a structured and strategic approach to your marketing campaigns, and build trust with your audience over time, you will see far better results than creating one-off undifferentiated content pieces that, more often than not, are ineffective.