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The Converged Media Approach – Bringing It All Together

Marketers have more tactics at their fingertips than ever before–with traditional advertising and outreach tactics still valid, and an ever-expanding digital landscape creating new venues and opportunities to reach customers daily. But knowing what’s available and keeping track of these tactics is only part of the battle.Today we’ll wrap up our series on a Converged Media approach - using Owned, Paid, and Earned Media tactics to publish, promote and share your content - with a look at how to bring these tactics together through a strategic and holistic approach.

Useful and Shareable

Deciding when to promote your content, and what tactics to use, can be quite the process. However, one hard and fast rule can help you eliminate what content not to promote (or at least not to promote as aggressively). Ask yourself one question: is this content useful and shareable?

Now, many marketers will want to answer with a resounding “Yes!”. But it’s tough to be truthful. We have to remember, we’re also responsible for creating product spec sheets and brochures, tutorial videos, features and benefits content, etc. Those types of resources are sometimes not so promotable to the world at large because they’re specific resources that are necessary for the right audience who’s ready to buy. The best content to promote isn’t too product specific and isn’t too salesy.

Your thought leadership pieces, on the other hand, are great to promote. Likewise, any content where you’re solving an audience’s problem(s), particularly for free, are great resources to promote. Make sure your content is truly useful to a wide audience–that it’s solving real problems or giving something of value to others. Value is important - and it makes things like coupons or contests the exception to the “salesy” content rule. People will find coupons and contests useful - so get the word out!

One last thing to keep in mind here - promotable content should also be shareable. Make it easy for users to share your content - embed social sharing buttons within the content - both some generic sharing buttons and then content-specific sharing buttons (like pull quotes for Twitter, or charts for Pinterest). And don’t forget to invite viewers to share with some simple copy like “Like this graph? Share it with your friends!”

Budget

Budgeting properly for promoting content can be tough, especially when you’ve already spent money and time in creating the content in the first place. Other times, you’ll be tasked to think of new and innovative ways to spread the word - only to meet with the “This is the way we’ve always done it.” kind of resistance that often stifles creative thinking.

One way to combat this is to factor promotional efforts into your budgeting at the campaign kickoff. Be proactive in what it’ll take to get the most out of your content. Be intentional about what you’re going to do with your content after you publish it. For marketers who don’t have separate promotion budgets, or even their own social and PR teams, it’s essential to think about what happens next after publishing. Remember if nobody knows it exists, great content is useless.

Also, keep in mind–testing can be your best friend. If you have a limited budget, or you’re trying a tactic for the first time, don’t be afraid to start small and see what’s working before fully committing your dollars.Creating a baseline of the type of results you’ve seen before - even if you’ve never done content promotion before - can be an essential tool to help you prove results and justify your promotional budget. And that starts with good research.

Research

Research covers two critical areas for promotable content - research for the content itself, and then research into creating a baseline and how you’re going to measure results. This topic could be a blog post on it’s own, so we won’t belabor the point here, but: every good content promotion campaign starts with research, before any content is ever created.

Content research includes things like audience research, discovering what questions your audience is asking and what problems they need solved. It should also include media research, looking into trends, social activity and which publications share things like the content you’re planning. It should also include any research into influencers you hope to include, and the time needed to get their critical feedback and participation.

This can give you critical clues on what type of content to create, and how to achieve your campaign goals. If the goal of your content is to drive website traffic overall, you’re likely interested in SEO, earned media, social media, and other traffic driving channels. If the point of the campaign is to increase social activity only (such as growing social followers), you’ll have a different focus. Your research can help uncover the right content and right channels to utilize.

Baseline and Measuring Results

Establishing a baseline can be crucial to proving the success of your content marketing efforts. Just like you’re responsible for your overall marketing budget, and are expected to deliver certain results, so too should your content be held responsible. Each piece of content, particularly your promotable pieces, should have a stated goal that relates back to your overall marketing efforts for the year. Deciding what this goal will be is the first step to creating a baseline for your content promotion efforts.

Setting up a baseline doesn’t have to be rocket science. What have you done before that’s similar to the content you are proposing to create? If you know you want to increase organic search traffic, and your research has indicated your audience likes infographics, then find the infographics that have driven traffic to your website (using your analytics platform of choice).

Using this infographic example, you can pick the top 3 or 5 infographics that have driven the highest organic traffic, and use those to create a goal.

You can also capture all of the infographics you’ve published, and create an average baseline result. You can, and should, control the length of time by which the results are gathered. For organic, a longer-term tactic that takes a while to mature and deliver results, you might decide to look at the first 6 months after launch for your sample. Be sure to record which tactics you used for promotion before, if any.The results of this baselining might look like this:

  • Average Infographic Organic Search Traffic, 1st 6 Months: 1500 visits.
  • Top 5 Infographic Organic Search Traffic, 1st 6 Months: 2250 visits.

If you’ve only shared these infographics over social before (say, Twitter and Facebook), you can plan accordingly and try to forecast some results. You know that if you create an average infographic, you can expect around 1500 visits if you do nothing more than you typically do with your content. Likewise, if you replicate the elements of your best infographics, and do nothing than your standard practices for promotion, you’d expect around 2250 visits.

Based on this, you can decide to invest in a public relations or media outreach campaign to earn some links back to your content, hoping to give a natural lift to your organic traffic. Or you could decide to write a few more blog posts and other supplemental pieces of content to support your infographic. You might also decide to start a Google+ campaign, since Google has publicly admitted that Google+ content factors into its search rankings.

From there, you can record the results of these tactics, and compare them to the baseline you established before. This has two advantages: first, you can see how close you are to meeting your goal; and second, you can adjust your efforts - including budget - for promotion, and ramp up your most successful tactics.

Adjusting on the Fly

Without your baseline, you won’t know what’s working well and what’s not. With it, and the proper campaign tracking, you can also see which tactics are performing better than others.

In our infographics example, you can see which earned articles are driving the most traffic, or which supporting pieces are sending visitors to your infographic. If you’re doing a social campaign, you’ll be able to see which social channels are performing better than others. This kind of information is a gold mine for figuring out what channels and tactics work best, and for how to spend your budget wisely.

If you see your PR efforts are driving better returns, and social’s not working well, you can turn off your social spending, and divert that part of the budget to PR. Likewise, if the social channels are killing it, don’t be afraid to adjust budget and put those dollars in your best promotional tactics.

The lesson, of course, is to work smarter, not harder. Track your efforts to maximize your spend and efficiency. With the right amount of adjustment, proper baselining, and good research throughout your promotion campaign, your content - and you - can become the success story it deserves to be.

This concludes our series on Converged Media. Have questions? Send an email to dustin.clark@elementthree.com. Good luck, and happy promoting!

dustin clark headshot

As the Digital Marketing Director for Element Three, Dustin works with the Element Three digital marketing department to determine the best combination of data analysis, marketing technology, and storytelling for driving our clients' bottom line. His background in journalism, digital communication, and ecommerce positions him as a unique voice in the cluttered digital marketing industry. When he's not writing about the forefront of digital marketing, you can find him jamming with a guitar or at home with his wife and two children.