This is NewsCred’s 3-part series on integrated campaigns for content marketing. In Part I, we built the business case for an integrated approach to content marketing. In Part II, we offered you the NewsCred perspective on campaign best practices for content marketers. In this article, we’ll provide you a ‘how to get started’ guide, answering your most frequently asked questions such as how to obtain buy-in, collaborate with new teams, establish the right processes, and much more.
If you’re a believer of integrated campaigns but are unsure of where to start, you’re not alone.
We know that the ideal state is to employ a best-practice planning model for creating and implementing coordinated campaign calendars across the marketing organization, which will help to better identify opportunities for repurposing assets, sharing creative ideas, and streamlining approvals. But, applying this across an entire marketing organization can be challenging.
So, in this final installment of our 3-part series, we’ll be giving you a tactical playbook for integrated campaigns success — a 7-step process that will help you on your way to unified, omnichannel campaigns.
1. Assemble your tiger team
What is a tiger team? A tiger team was conceived and coined by NASA, who wanted to set up an integrated tech team consisting of scientists and engineers from all of the NASA centers to solve engineering and safety problems outside of their usual teams. In terms of marketing, tiger teams are cross-functional teams that represent various functions of a marketing organization. They’re typically comprised of leaders and/or executives, as they need the credibility and influence to lead organizational change.
The goal of a tiger team is to create a shared and standardized approach to breaking down silos, encouraging collaboration through shared goals and a single vision. This cross-functional team of leaders should be committed to implementing integrated campaigns and driving the agenda forward. If you are leading the charge, your job may be to build a business case and educate your peers, arming them with the knowledge and proof points to turn them into champions and evangelists for an integrated approach to marketing. As a reminder, you may want to explain how investing in integrated marketing campaigns will help to:
- Improve operational effectiveness and efficiency across the marketing organization
- Break down silos and encourage collaboration and efficiency
- Champion omnichannel marketing in the organization
- Position content as an asset that should be managed like all business assets
- Adopt a more strategic and sophisticated approach to enterprise marketing
- Create a seamless and consistent experience for the consumer
2. Pilot your new process
Your first task as a tiger team is to create an integrated campaign pilot.
Think of a campaign that is coming up that you can all collaborate on and can test your new way of working. Where possible, review your existing annual and/or quarterly marketing strategy for inspiration for campaign ideas.
Once you’ve settled on an upcoming initiative, it’s up to your tiger team to execute on the following steps to best implement an integrated campaign. We call this first attempt a “pilot” for a reason — expect to have some hiccups, but ultimately use this as an opportunity to learn what works well for your marketing org, what doesn’t, and how you can improve your processes for future campaigns.
Pro tip: Check out our framework for executing an integrated campaign from start to finish.
3. Develop a documented governance
Once you have formed your silo-busting tiger team, you need to establish the ground rules, shared vision, and goals and decide how you’re going to work together. Another word for this is governance. Governance will provide a structured approach to setting up your processes and workflows to best enable your team to execute campaigns and content on an ongoing basis. Essentially, it should provide the systems and structure needed to move from silos to a streamlined operation.
Governance is at the heart of content operations and can be broken down into three categories: people (stakeholders and decision makers), processes (guidelines and policies), and platforms (the technologies and systems required to execute flawlessly.) It’s unique to every organization and should take into account existing skills and resources. Taking the time to establish clear governance sets teams up to deliver on their goals more efficiently, while managing risks, reducing costs, organizing infrastructure, and increasing engagement by creating a heightened customer experience.
To document governance for campaigns and your overall marketing efforts, you should have shared calendars, taxonomy, workflows, objectives, guidelines, and tools. Having a standard structure for creating integrated campaigns will have a positive impact on:
- Resources: Allows teams to tap into a much broader pool of resources than they could on their own
- Agility: Helps increase the frequency of live campaigns and makes it easier to make ongoing refinements
- Accountability: Ensures that local markets are adhering to brand values and standards
- Efficiency: Provides a standard way to increase speed-to-market, work more efficiently, and safeguard against duplicated efforts
4. Plan proactively
Planning proactively means making a content plan that supports your integrated campaign efforts, rather than creating reactive, one-off pieces of content.
Your tiger team or center of excellence should implement annual and quarterly planning sessions. Annual planning will allow your team to align on priorities or key themes for the year. These themes will ladder up to the broader focus of the business and will align with overarching marketing goals for each quarter. The output should be a calendar overview of key campaigns, complete with individual briefs that identify the purpose, theme, stakeholders (and workflows), and allotted budget. Not only will this help to inform content needs, but it will also provide the essential line of sight for both executives and the broader marketing organization.
The annual calendar should then be leveraged to inform quarterly content planning sessions, which will limit ad-hoc pieces of content in favor of sustainable pieces that can be reused throughout the lifecycle of a campaign. These quarterly sessions should be scheduled before the next quarter begins, allowing ample time for both planning and execution, and should be a forum for brainstorming specific ideas that align with the broader integrated campaign initiatives identified during the annual planning session. All planned content should be made visible on a shared editorial calendar.
A planning model will help you establish a cadence and rationale for publishing content with the consideration of upcoming campaigns. Planning sessions, whether weekly, monthly, quarterly and/or annually, are extremely helpful — and encouraged — for establishing a consensus across the marketing organization on upcoming efforts and achieving stakeholder buy-in in the process.
Pro tip: When planning your content to support integrated campaigns, be sure that your strategy incorporates a range of formats and channels, is scalable and cost-efficient, utilizes the right type of content for the right channel, and most importantly — produces a unified customer experience.
5. Build your campaign toolkit
Having a successful plan for executing integrated campaigns requires you to create a series of documents for accountability. What are some of these supporting tools? Consider creating the following documents to ensure all stakeholders are following the right processes and are aligned to a shared vision. We recommend first creating a template or reusable document for each so you won’t have to create one from scratch for every campaign.
- Campaign brief template: A document that ensures all content has a strategic intent, and show how content is mapped to goals, personas, pillars, channels, and buyer stages. All campaign-related content should have a clear CTA and measurable outcome.
- Universal taxonomy: A documented campaign and content taxonomy — the hierarchical structure of your campaign program — supports meta-tagging and a shared understanding of the relationship between campaign elements. Having a reference document with tagging rules and a shared language can help ensure consistent taxonomy.
- Brand guidelines: An overview of the brand’s history, vision, personality, and key values. This should include the brand message or mission statement, tone of voice, logo usage, and color scheme for design work. Consistency across all elements is key to unifying an integrated campaign storyline and having all of this in one place will make it easier when it comes to writing a brief for creative campaign assets.
- Content policy: The editorial policy covers a definition of all content types — blog posts, infographics, videos, podcasts, etc — and how that content is formatted, developed, and presented. It also includes how to brief freelancers and agency partners for all deliverables, defines the roles and responsibilities of your cross-functional team (the owners of each content type), and serves as a guide for your brand’s writing style and best practices.
6. Develop integrated workflows
Workflows are one of the most underestimated processes of operations. The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) states that this was a key differentiator between top-performing content marketers and their less successful peers — where 70% of the top-performing B2B marketers rated their flow as excellent or very good, compared with 14% of the least successful.
Once you have identified your campaign approach and have your brief, the next course of action is to identify the steps to streamline operations. Your tiger team should focus on designing workflows that guide the execution for both the overall campaign and for each asset you are creating in support of your campaign. Workflows should be documented and shared to give your team the confidence to execute quickly without second-guessing the steps in the process. Some workflow design considerations are:
- Do the workflows account for different use cases and the entire journey of the asset or campaign created (including the people responsible for key actions)?
- What are the important milestones in one workflow that may be the gateway to other workflows (in other words, potential roadblocks)?
- How are team members being notified when it’s their turn in the workflow? Do you have the technology in place to give visibility into which steps of the workflow have been finished and to notify the next step-owner?
Overall, your workflows should take into account the different tasks and asset types that are needed for a campaign, as well as the approvals and processes that need to be followed before anything gets pushed live.
7. Assess pilot campaign success
Since your first integrated campaign is a “pilot” campaign to test the new model and its processes, it’s the perfect time to set the foundations for assessing campaign success. It’s likely you’ll need to make iterations based on the successes and (inevitable) challenges that come with executing an omnichannel campaign.
What does success look like? That will vary depending on the campaign type and the organization, but here are a few guiding questions to help you determine what worked, what didn’t, and how you can improve your next integrated campaign:
- What were the biggest roadblocks? Did your team have trouble with communication or cross-functional collaboration?
- Was the campaign process more efficient from planning to building to execution? If your pilot campaign lacked efficiency, was it because your marketing organization wasn’t working in a centralized platform with shared calendars, visibility into campaign tasks, and a place to store campaign assets?
- Was the messaging consistent across each channel? Were you able to repurpose content for multiple parts of the campaign?
- Did you hit all of your target KPI’s? Were you able to be agile and make iterations to the campaign in order to reach your goals?
If your marketing org struggled with any of the above during your pilot campaign — collaboration, content management, visibility, measurement — request a demo of NewsCred’s CMP to see how our platform can solve these challenges.
Lieu Pham is VP, Strategy and Creative Services at NewsCred.