Courtesy Google and the digital marketing rage, integrated content marketing is receiving utmost attention, of all marketing departments. Integrated content marketing (ICM) is the Web 2.0 version of Internet marketing which is a combination of SEO, SEM, social media optimization, social media marketing etc. Organizations are consistently increasing their marketing budgets on ICM and are developing strategies to deploy the same successfully. Content marketing is also used across customer life cycle to attract, serve, engage, convert and retain customers, by deploying relevant content marketing strategies.
Let’s take the example of Snickers campaign ‘You’re not you, when you are hungry’. Snickers team successfully deployed ICM strategy across various marketing channels worldwide like social media, search engines, television etc. They decided the central theme and consistently marketed the concept. Since the launch of the campaign in 2010, it has effectively achieved growth in sales as well as visibility. The campaign saw an 18000% increase in search results on YouTube.
So let’s look at the following points on how to develop a successful integrated content marketing campaign.
Step 1: Define target market
More often organizations develop a common content marketing strategy for customers across segments. However each customer has a distinct requirement which must be acknowledged separately. Start by identifying different customer segments the organization plans to cater to. Further identify their interests, behavioral patterns and what keeps them engaged. Without clearly defining this step, an organization’s content marketing strategy could easily fail. Example, use the following chart to create your customer segmentation:
Step 2: Align content to serve requirements of the customers
Once the customer segments are well-defined, start aligning content to serve requirements of each segment. Identify the type of content that attracts and engages the target segment. Often organizations emphasize only on blog posts. However content like infographics, audio or video clips could be more relevant to the organization’s brand. Develop a variety of content which is highly useful, engaging and entertaining that results in high value to the customer.
A 2011 study on content marketing at marketingprofs.com shows challenges in ICM strategy and it displays the importance of producing customer engaging content.
Avoid low quality content as it harms the organization’s brand. Also as the customer moves across the life cycle of a product, different forms of relevant content should be marketed to them. Example, Tata Nano effectively used audio content in India during its launch phase, to position its brand among middle class families. The company conducted series of audio campaigns on the Internet and on radio, which focused on driving a car instead of a bike. As a result the campaign was a huge success among its target customers.
Step 3: Make available and optimize content
While starting ICM strategy, organizations must keep their content ammunition like messages, website, collaterals, mailers etc. ready. This step comprises of curation of ideas and themes, creating original content and repurposing the same across various media like audio, video, images and distributing them on various channels to reach large number of customers. Themes help in developing a focused content marketing strategy on a monthly or quarterly basis. Example, the theme can revolve around a major festival or event, or the launch of a product etc. Further identify the keywords and headlines, related to the theme, which will help in generating higher visibility of the content. Once the original content is developed, repurpose it into various media. Example, a blog can be used to create small videos for each pointer, images from tag-lines in the blog or an e-book from all the content created on a particular topic. This helps the organization to achieve more from the limited content available.
Step 4: Use the right channels to distribute and promote the content
American Express launched ‘Small Business Saturday’ campaign to support offline shopping and support smaller stores. It integrated Facebook with Twitter interactions that allowed customers to talk about their favorite businesses and for businesses to publicize them. The campaign shows how a single piece of content can be distributed and promoted across multiple channels effectively. This saves on time and cost for the company to keep generating original content every time. Content marketers should focus on 5 types of media:
- Owned media. Example: a company’s blogs sections
- Earned media, where others have written or spoken about the organization. Example: online news
- Media shared by the organization on community forums like LinkedIn or Facebook groups
- Media paid by the organization like Google ads
- Converged media where everything gets connected in integrated perspective. Example: eBooks
Depending on the organization’s budget, a target set of customers can be selected for content marketing. There is a large spectrum of free tools available to promote and distribute content, such as YouTube for videos, ShareThis for link building etc. For an Integrated Content Marketing strategy to work well, it takes an effort of over 4 to 6 months, post which an organization can see the results. In some organizations ICM is managed and controlled by an independent department. However a team working together with an integrated strategy gives best results.
Decentralize content planning but have a centralized content owner for the activity to be successful.
When integrated content resonates with other marketing departments like sales, it can then be termed as a winning integrated content marketing program.
In our upcoming blog we will share a set of innovative tools which can be used for ICM strategy. You can connect with us at email@example.com.