Nowadays, there are endless media channels through which brands can share content with their target audience. The digital revolution has opened doors to numerous new opportunities; brands not only have their own websites, but also their own blogs, social networks and video channels to reach out to consumers.
Along with a business’ advertising and PR efforts, these platforms help to facilitate business-to-consumer engagement. And, as the PONBE model highlights, they can also lead to the creation of earned media, where a brand gains publicity through consumers generating and sharing its content.
Nevertheless, when it comes to launching marketing campaigns, brands have several decisions to make: Which channels should be used, and when? Where should the campaign start? Where should it end? Answering these questions is essential, particularly if the campaign is segmented in terms of budget and, as is sometimes the case, agency.
For both direct response and brand awareness campaigns, an effective channel strategy means getting the sequencing right. And this will require brands to take an iterative approach, leveraging results from one channel and feeding them into all consecutive channels.
However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to sequencing and the order in which you implement a campaign will depend on a range of factors – your brand values, your audience, your overall goal, for instance. If you approach your campaign iteratively, what happens in your first channel will inform how you approach the second, third and fourth channels, and so on.
In its recently-launched YourPrimer marketing app, Google proposed a ‘minimum viable content’ approach. The search giant recommends that brands start by sharing simple, short-form content via social channels, such as Facebook and Twitter. Then, they should identify the posts which generate the most conversions and highest levels of engagement, and integrate them within long-form, ‘hero’ content across other channels.
Another framework, dubbed the Groundswell strategy, is ideal for brands with highly-engaged, superfan communities, such as video gamers. In this approach, content is seeded to superfans before reaching the public; this enables brands to identify which content generates the most hype, so they can use it within their official campaign. A good example would be sending video game trailers to superfans, which is a tactic previously deployed by Electronic Arts for its game, Battlefield, which was named the top social brand of 2013 in the Social Brands 100 study.
When superfans share and write about this content, the less-engaged fans are able to read about it online, which creates more opportunities for brands to target them with SEO and paid social campaigns. This exposure, created by the consumer, is hugely beneficial for brands.
Ideally, all channels will work together to help brands deliver a seamless, cross-channel experience to consumers. Eurostar’s Stories are Waiting content campaign was a classic example of content working iteratively, as well as brand storytelling. The campaign started with UK bloggers sharing their stories of their time in Paris, which Eurostar used to inspire its own customers to share their experiences. The brand identified the best stories and used them to recreate its advertising campaign, all while continuing to share stories through its other channels.
What is great about Eurostar’s campaign is that it not only shows how iterative content marketing can achieve campaign goals, it also highlights how storytelling – the core of all great content – is based on brand advocates and case studies of people’s own experiences.
Regardless of which channels brands use, or in which order, they key to success is in creating iterative content. What happens in that very first channel determines what you do with the second and the third; and that third channel may even determine what changes you make to the first. Taking an iterative approach, you will be left with a stream-lined, highly-targeted campaign where each piece of content complements, and feeds into, the next. In essence, you will create a narrative.