[Note: this article was first published in eContent magazine in December, 2014.]
If you're a senior marketer, you're probably tired of hearing about anything related to content strategy—multichannel, omnichannel, or otherwise. Chances are good that you may have even been asked about this by a C-level manager—it’s become pervasive. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to help ensure your marketing organization is getting the job done.
Do audit the state of your operation—How does your company perform up against two competitors and one best practice company in the primary channels? Do you have the right resources in place to execute a multichannel content strategy? How many existing content assets do you have and which are usable? How much new content do you need to be developing on a monthly basis, and who is going to define the strategy and create those assets? What do your website stats say about popular versus underperforming digital content assets?
Don’t commit to a formal strategy until you’ve done testing—In spite of all the hyperbole, no one really knows what they’re doing when it comes to multichannel content marketing. So keep your boss at bay for 90 days while you do some testing and figure out the lay of the land. Top advertisers with big budgets outspend competitors in every conceivable channel—the rest of us need to do some testing to define a plan.
Do make multichannel content marketing part of someone’s job description—Additionally, you can add a line item in a vendor agreement, with bimonthly check-ins to monitor activities and progress. This could fit neatly into a digital marketing manager’s roles and responsibilities or a public relations firm’s deliverables.
Don’t overspend on technology—Yes, there are plenty of tools available to make distribution easy and measure performance, and you should definitely be using one or more of these, but strategy and talent will dictate success or failure, not the technology. There are hundreds of enabling technologies to choose from, but it shouldn’t cost more than a few thousand dollars during your first year or two of operation to execute a program.
Do pick your battles—You probably don’t have the resources to be a player in every digital channel. Evaluate which are a good fit, and surrender the others (at least temporarily). Most companies need to be active on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but the rest are nice-to-haves, dependent on industry segment and resources. We regularly tell B2B clients to leave Facebook alone until they get their core channels humming.
Don’t avoid Google+—Although it’s not getting much attention these days, many consider it to be molting. Google has never been averse to shutting down failed experiments, but Google+ is too important to its long-term digital domination to abandon. Most importantly, Google+ activity contributes to SEO performance.
Do pursue hidden gems in your niche—Everyone is familiar with the major digital channels, but each industry sector has specialty websites and bloggers that don’t boast monster traffic numbers but are influential and accessible. Examples are Glide Magazine in music and entertainment and Cloud Showplace in technology. Seek out these hidden gems, find out what they’re looking for—original content or modest sponsorships—and assess the opportunities within the overall program options.
Don’t overlook second- and third- order ROI metrics—It’s usually difficult to quantify direct ROI to content marketing efforts, which is what senior management wants to hear about. Packaging content marketing with other digital marketing tactics and creating a website-wide conversion metric is one workaround. Another approach is to focus on controllable metrics such as general digital footprint stats. With careful analysis, you will be able to attach content marketing to new business activities, but it’s not as straightforward as low-funnel activities such as search.
Do make sure a newsletter is part of your strategy—Email newsletters don’t get the attention they deserve in digital marketing these days. Maybe it’s because they’ve been around for so long and have lost their luster. But an opt-in newsletter outperforms nearly every other digital tactic when it comes to maintaining a profile among customers and prospects and direct response. Distributing an email newsletter is a low-effort tactic that delivers terrific results.
Tim Bourgeois is a digital strategist and partner at East Coast Catalyst, a Boston-based consulting firm that help companies employ digital strategies for growth and competitive advantage. Contact him at tbourgeois(at)eastcoastcatalyst.com or 617-314-6400.