A Tale of Two Content Campaigns

Content marketing is a big deal right now. Marketers have rallied around the content marketing banner, employing thousands of content writers and creators. Major companies, like Coke, have refocused their strategies around content. There are even hundreds of blog posts written around the phrase “Content is King.”
First, let’s take a look at why content is so effective and such a big deal.
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Why is content so effective?

Content is important to the success of your business, and its role will only increase. Let me explain why.

  • It’s the Information Age.

    The way we transmit information has changed over the last 20 years. Before the internet, if you wanted to research a given topic you had to go to a library or call someone with information. Today, you have an entire world of information at your fingertips.

  • It’s New Age Marketing.

    Education and training are the new form of marketing. The company that shares the best information frequently is seen as the expert or authority in their field. Your audience wants to know how to do things. You can provide them with the content that teaches them through books, blog posts, speeches, videos, etc.

  • It sets you apart.

    Content creation can differentiate you from the competition. Creating the most engaging, high-value content can help you own your industry. Your company can become the standard for valuable industry information.

But just writing content isn’t content marketing.

Now, let’s compare two different content campaigns, and see why content production is not content marketing.

(I’ll go ahead and apologize in advance for the Dickens references.)
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The First Content Tale: An Age of Foolishness

In the first content campaign, the then new Randall-Reilly Vice President of Marketing Julie Arsenault decided that we needed to publish a whitepaper. Julie calls a big meeting to discuss how we would get it done. We decided on a topic, title, and then divided up the workload. A month passes, and we had the final copy written and the design ready. By the end of the next week, Julie published the whitepaper on the website and we moved on to other projects.

Do you see the problem?

What Julie and our team did was actually content publishing, not content marketing. The strategy was to write and design a relevant whitepaper to our industries and then publish it. There wasn’t a plan to market the content to accomplish a win. Instead of using all of the channels available to us, we relied completely on organic traffic to our website.

By just publishing the whitepaper, Julie found that the content’s ROI was unmeasured and will undervalue the possibilities of content.

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The Second Content Tale: An Age of Wisdom

In this second campaign, Julie decided it was time to write another whitepaper. She called another meeting with her team, but this time it was to both plan the whitepaper and to discuss the content strategy. We found a topic, a title, and then planned the ways that we would distribute the content to a targeted audience.
There are a number of ways we planned on distributing the content and generating leads from it:

  • We form-gated the whitepaper on a dedicated landing page with social sharing links.
  • We added clear calls-to-action to our blog and static pages.
  • We initially distributed the whitepaper to targeted lists through email.
  • We created banner ads to be shown on the Google Display Network.
  • We promoted the content on relevant industry websites and newsletters.
  • Finally, Social media outreach was increased with paid and sponsored posts.

This campaign goes beyond content publishing and actually markets the content. Not only did the whitepaper provide value to existing clients, by providing industry specific information to the audience, but it also generated a number of leads for the company. The final tally was around 5 times the ROI.

Do you see why this campaign was better than the first?

The first campaign, if you remember, didn’t include any marketing channels for distribution. It wasn’t published to social media, we didn’t utilize a paid campaign, and our whitepaper wasn’t gated. The content wasn’t put in a good position to generate leads, effectively limiting it’s value.
On the other hand, an entire marketing campaign was developed around the second whitepaper. It included a diverse array of marketing channels, which helped it get in front of the right audience at the right time. This campaign was also designed to integrate these marketing channels. Each channel worked together as a group to funnel prospects deeper into our sales lifecycle and convert them into leads.

Between the two campaigns, Julie found that creating in-depth, well written content is good, but developing a marketing plan around it is better.

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