Great Content Doesn’t Happen by Accident
Content strategy is the connective thread of all marketing. And it has the power to transform your business. The brands that get this right will get ahead – scaling brand awareness, building engagement, strengthening consumer trust and driving sales. Understanding how to craft value in an interactive and always-on environment is essential.
To stand out, marketers must develop new skills and a new creative process: one in which the rules are evolving at the speed of technology and regulation, and the turnaround time from concept to launch is often compressed to days or even hours. That’s a massive departure from the traditional marketing model, but brands today must adapt fast – creating content in real-time, with cultural relevance and global scale.
Leading content brands have a documented content strategy and a person or team with the authority to execute. Getting there requires a solid understanding of the ROI and the ability to build a business case to support this new approach to marketing. Content marketing is not a tactic; it’s a long-term strategy. Much like the creation of all great publications, content marketing takes planning, discipline, creativity, and commitment.
Defining a Content Strategy
The best content strategies start with the end in mind. In order to understand how to set the objectives and KPIs for your content marketing, it is important to start with a solid understanding of why your business exists. For example, if you want to be known as a lifestyle brand for Millennials, you should begin by measuring your brands share of that conversation (social + online). Then seek to grow that share overall. Defining a baseline at the beginning will help you iterate your strategy moving forward.
In order to create content that is authentic to your brand, and resonates with your audience, you need to lay down the foundation of your brand strategy and target audience.
Building an Efficient Team and Workflow
Joining the conversations of the moment calls for a level of nimbleness and flexibility that have rarely been applied to marketing before. A new set of skills is required, one more commonly associated with newsrooms than with traditional marketing agencies. The skill-set needs to have overlap across team members – no more copywriter and art director silos.
But what are those skills exactly? And what does the perfect content marketing team look like? Required team structures include an overall Managing Editor who is responsible for ensuring the brand content hub is publishing content your audience wants to consume and share. That person also ensures that your efforts are reaching your stated objectives and will be accountable for your distribution and measurement strategy.
Content marketing is an ongoing experiment, and team members must be willing to treat it as such. The days of developing a single, precious concept have been replaced with multiple, real-time content activations – both niche and at scale. You need people who can work with minimal oversight and direction, who are comfortable taking risks and having their ideas killed. Social network half-life and consumer expectations for authentic content make for a terrific Petri dish. It’s no longer just about what is right for the brand, but what’s right for the person.
Before anything else, it’s important to make sure all stakeholders know the overarching purpose of the content. Why are we doing what we are doing? Without a clear answer agreed upon by everyone, each piece of new content will run through an old gauntlet and risk destruction. The difficulty is in allowing the purpose to manifest according to consumer expectations and not to force a preconditioned content structure.
The approval process often has a way of slowing down the publishing process, making it hard to react in real time. This can be a challenging hurdle. The back-and-forth between clients, agency partners, and legal counsel that used to take place will need to be redefined.
Understanding who needs to sign-of on content ahead of time, and leveraging technology to automate that entire process is a great way to get ahead. For example, if all content needs to be approved by the CMO and Legal, a platform that allows you to send content across individual stakeholders without back-and-fourth emails will ensure that you can always publish content in a timely, easy way.
Case Study: Global Reach, Just One Click
Image: Pepsi Pulse
Pepsi partnered with NewsCred to create a platform that would enable them to reach their customers in every corner of the world. Through Pepsi Pulse, Pepsi fans from Australia to Zambia can log in for the latest content on music, sports and entertainment. So when Pepsi has an exclusive announcement or event that they want to share with the world, they can break the news with just one click.
The Biggest Name in Entertainment
Beyonce is a celebrity among celebrities – she seems to have the world in the palm of her hand and all of its inhabitants watching her every move. Which is why it was so surprising that she was able to secretly record a new album, along with 17 videos, and release it overnight without a single leak. Her fans exploded with excitement. What’s more impressive than that? In an unprecedented move, she did it all over again the following week. Working with Pepsi and NewsCred on a top secret assignment, Beyonce unveiled her 18th video, ‘Grown Woman’, exclusively on Pepsi.com.
The world’s arena
Pepsi has an absolutely stellar lineup for their 2014 all-star soccer team. Rather than just posting a roster and directing their fans to check it out, Pepsi used the Pulse platform for an innovative roll call. Each player tweeted their fans to announce their involvement, directing them to Pepsi.com. Each player was a puzzle piece in a large team photo. Over the course of two hours, as each player made their announcement, their piece of the puzzle was added to the delight of their fans.
A flawless execution
Anyone who has launched a global marketing campaign can tell you that its not easy. But Pepsi was about to pull this of with global scale by defining stakeholders early and automating the approval process. Final assets, approved by the Pepsi management team, were uploaded into the Pepsi Pulse CMS, powered by NewsCred, With no margin for error, the marketing team was able to preview the video and its accompanying article, confirm that everything was perfect, and launch the premiere to every single market around the world. Beyonce and soccer fans, who are in no doubt Pepsi fans as well, rejoiced.
Delivering the Content Your Audience Craves With an Editorial Calendar
When planning your editorial calendar, keep the following in mind:
- Perform a content audit: reuse & repurpose existing assets.
- Make room for SEO: build content ideas around valuable keywords.
- Plan ahead, but prepare to be reactive to real-time events.
The calendar will help you define end-to-end processes. It should be a combination of your daily scheduled content, as well as upcoming events so you can arm yourself with the necessary resources to create content in realtime.
At NewsCred, we use our editorial calendar for the following:
- Licensed content (daily scheduled posts)
- Each day, our Managing Editor curates content for our blog and schedules the posts for that day.
- Writing assignments (evergreen content & real-time content)
- Our managing editor assigns stories to our freelancers which is then trackable through the calendar. This is a great way to see which content is launching and make sure that content is evenly planned across days.
- Social posts
- Our social media strategist is able to easily schedule posts across social channels based on what content our Managing Editor has commissioned or curated.
- Our marketing team keeps track of all relevant events within the calendar, including ones that we participate in and just industry-related events. This helps our Social Media Strategist and Managing Editor plan content accordingly, as well as monitor social conversations relevant to us.
Just as a news team meets in the morning to discuss the latest news, a brand must designate a time to mine conversations of the moment. It’s up to this team, capability agnostic, to creatively connect the events of the moment to the brand. The team should have a ready set of filters that help them translate their concepts to the brand strategy on individual channels.
Establishing the rigor of cadence and of mining, meeting, creating and revising is important. It ensures the team is tightly integrated and sets up expectations for the new creative process.
Learning From Your Audience in Real-Time
Just as it was important to develop a deep understanding of your audience in the beginning, it is essential to constantly evolve and deepen that understanding over time. Constantly looking at analytics to understand what resonates with who will provide great insight. Investment will be required in people and technology to leverage real-time data and deliver content in an engaging way across all the formats your audience is using.
Measure the Results so You Can Evolve Your Strategy
Setting key KPIs in the beginning is essential. Keeping a close eye on these metrics will be key to you hitting your goals. There are a million metrics you can track, yet the three that matter most are reach, engagement and conversions (or sales). You can use the following table to track results on the fly and constantly tailor your strategy to match realtime insights.
The best way to measure content marketing is to look at reach, engagement and conversions. Each individual metric will shine a light on whether or not your content strategy is reaching the right audience, resonating, and driving real impact. By monitoring these in real-time you can evolve your strategy on the fly to push your marketing forward.
- Define your brand mission, content strategy, and useful distribution platforms based on your audience’s preferences.
- Build a team that understands the value of content as well as the basic tenets of editorial and marketing.
- Create a workflow between teams that eliminates wasted time and effort so you can easily respond to cultural moments in real time.
- Meet with your team regularly to strategize on content concepts and themes.
- Measure, analyze, and iterate until you reach your content goals and can justify your spend!