Making Content Marketing Work
Content marketing. Every marketer has an opinion on it. Some say it’s the future of marketing. Some say it doesn’t work. Others see it as the necessary but largely useless filler for any sales-oriented campaign. But what is the truth?
If a company doesn’t do its content right, any of the above could be true. The old formula of good content = good results is no longer applicable. In a marketing world where every company from your neighborhood lemonade stand to Microsoft has a company blog, simply writing an attractive and informative piece does not guarantee readership. In order to really stand out, marketers must combine good content pieces with cutting edge distribution, whether through well-timed drip campaigns, lead nurture campaigns, or social media. Thus, the new content marketing strategy is this: great content + smart distribution = great results.
But before examining the future of content marketing, let’s look at content marketing right now. It is well known that agencies are the best option when it comes to content marketing due to their creative expertise, industry insights, and manpower, and in the past few years, content marketing has very rapidly become a key tool for these marketing agencies representing clients in any industry. Content marketing is a very effective branding tool, and it allows a company to interact with potential clients outside the realm of sales. The money behind content marketing is a testament to its success: companies spent $43.9 million on content marketing last year, and 61% of marketers use content weekly in their campaigns (Social Media Explorer). What these numbers really mean is simple: content marketing is everywhere, so agencies and businesses must stay ahead of the curve to stand out.
Cutting Edge Content Marketing for Agencies and Marketing Service Providers
Traditionally, agencies and MSP’s have viewed content marketing as separate from more direct, sales-oriented marketing efforts. The Internet is full of sites and blogs dedicated to content marketing strategies, but the reality is that a “content marketing strategy” can never stand alone. Content marketing must instead be a piece of a broader marketing strategy, not a separate entity with its own niche strategy. By redefining content marketing as a tool rather than a strategy, marketers are able to distribute content in far more innovative ways. Content is excellent as a compliment to traditional marketing techniques in any sort of campaign.
The goal of any marketing agency or MSP is to represent and improve its clients’ chosen brand image while visibly increasing revenue from sales. Content marketing, as mentioned earlier, is an easy and inexpensive way to develop a consumer’s brand image, but with so much content already out there, it can be difficult for a business to see much tangible value in incorporating content into their marketing strategies. This is the reason why so many businesses turn to agencies to run marketing operations. They know that agencies have the expertise, creative resources, and industry insights to find a good balance between effective branding and sales revenue. Thus, the agencies that are best able to integrate content marketing with traditional marketing techniques see the best results and the largest revenue streams. This process of combining many marketing techniques across several marketing channels with the goal of touching the consumer in many places at the same time is known as media convergence. Media convergence is a great concept that offers an innovative way to distribute content, but its implementation can be difficult without the proper tactics.
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Content Marketing and Cross Channel Marketing Automation
The best solution to the media convergence implementation dilemma is marketing automation. Marketing automation is software that allows an agency or business to carefully plan and monitor marketing campaigns while simultaneously allowing that campaign to effectively run itself. The clever insertion of content into automated campaigns is excellent for maintaining contact with interested customers who are not yet ready to buy, as well as developing and strengthening brand image with previous customers. To better illustrate this type of campaign, consider the sample campaign below:
A Sample Campaign
The Prancing Pony Steakhouse, a small restaurant chain, has always produced its own content on a blog and distributed it via email, with goals of driving more “special occasion” loyalty for events like birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. They also hope to develop deeper customer profiles to learn what types of events (cooking classes, wine tastings, etc) their clientele responds best to. After years of unimpressive results from these efforts, the chain’s marketing team decides to contract an agency with experience in building content strategies that use marketing automation to manage & distribute the content for help. The agency, seeing the high quantity content but lackluster results, decides to implement a cross channel, media convergence campaign using a mix of content and traditional marketing techniques. Using a list of past customers compiled by the chain over many years, the agency plans a scheduled drip campaign. Using their marketing automation software, they schedule a series of drips, as well as sets trigger campaigns to go off when a past customer clicks through an email or fills out a landing page form. The opening drip will be sent via mail – the least expensive channel. It will be a newsletter containing interesting and appealing content pieces about the food’s sustainability and healthiness. The email will include a personalized link to a microsite, allowing a given consumer the option to learn more if he so chooses. This content will be developed according to the content strategy and content map that the agency and brand marketers developed. They will build it from some content internally generated by the brand’s marketers and leadership team, and thought leadership pieces developed by the agency. Here the agency will use its combination of staff writers and outsourced freelancers who specialize in developing re-usable, web friendly content. Since the agency has invested in a marketing automation platform designed to accommodate each of its clients, the automation strategy becomes an inherent component of the entire content development process, and the automated campaigns are planned out well in advance.
After the first drip, the automated campaign will have two possible paths. One is the triggered lead nurture campaign, which automatically starts when a customer accesses the microsite from the email. This extra interest designates certain consumers as leads, and initiates a campaign that more directly tries to persuade consumers to stop by for a meal. The second option is a continuation of the drip campaign. Consumers will continue to receive helpful and interesting content pieces through both email and direct mail, with an occasionally mixed in offer or explicit advertisement. As with the very first drip, when a prospective customer shows interest, she will trigger a personalized lead nurture campaign designed to get her into the restaurant. At the conclusion of the campaign, the chain will have successfully filled its tables through the more effective use of content marketing and marketing automation. To learn more about content marketing in the restaurant industry, click here.
This campaign structure allows a business to maintain contact and develop its brand presence with a consumer whether or not the consumer is ready to buy. The slow stream of engaging content will quietly stay in touch with consumers until they reach a high enough interest level to trigger lead nurture campaigns. In turn, the lead nurture campaigns will use their more sales-oriented tone to finally convince consumers to buy. Using content in this way is the most effective means of continued customer engagement, and agencies and MSP’s utilizing marketing automation realize this. And the best part for the agencies is that once the content is written and the drips are scheduled, the network of interrelated campaigns very literally runs itself. Agencies and marketing service providers that can capitalize on this strategy, particularly within the burgeoning small business content marketing space, will see significant revenue increases in coming years.
And this is where Boingnet comes in. Boingnet is the leading lightweight marketing automation software provider to agencies, marketing service providers and small businesses. Our software combines drip marketing and lead nurturing with landing pages, microsites and direct mail integration into one easy to use platform – perfect for distributing content marketing pieces in cross channel content campaigns. Boingnet gives agencies and small enterprises the ability to run highly effective, responsive, and personalized campaigns without any help from IT. And on top of all that, our product is extremely affordable. We designed this product for small to mid-sized businesses and their agencies, so we priced it for them too. We are confident that our product is the superior marketing platform for SMBs and their marketing agencies, and we invite you to try our free 60 day trial below.