Consumer Content: The Breakdown Of Media Silos And Converged Marketing
As consumers engage with content across multiple platforms, brands need to realize the importance of converged media. Columnist Jim Yu discusses some ways you can meet this challenge within your own marketing teams.
The silos that once separated different channels and types of content are crashing down. Customers are not interested in viewing and interacting with the content a brand produces on just one channel. Instead, they will be engaging with you on a variety of platforms.
For companies to be successful, they need to be able to anticipate this need. They need to provide a brand experience that is holistic and consistent regardless of where the customer finds them.
The Convergence Of Online Marketing Strategies
As customers have moved beyond the content engagement silos, so must strategies employed by the brands to reach them. Businesses once had separate job descriptions, and even different departments that handled various aspects of the brand’s online marketing strategy.
For example, different groups orchestrated paid media or owned media campaigns. There were also people who worked exclusively with search optimization or social media.
This old strategy will no longer be successful, however, because it does not reflect the optimal user experience.
As customers have matured in their online behavior, these job descriptions have begun to converge. This has resulted in changes such as social media experts being forced to understand search optimization and those who work with paid media suddenly finding themselves working with content development.
It has become increasingly clear how the different aspects of online marketing work together and influence each other. Paid, owned and earned media have converged in multiple ways.
Brands now regularly use paid advertising on social media networks, where earned and owned media once dominated. They regularly ask followers to Like and Share content, thereby enhancing their earned media statistics, extending their brand reach.
Paid and earned media thrive when the owned media — the content itself — provides the value and engagement that customers seek.
A similar convergence can be seen between search, social and content. With content again forming the cornerstone, brands can improve the performance of their material by leveraging the other two areas of online marketing.
For example, when you promote content on social media, you can help drive more readers towards the content, boosting engagement metrics and increasing the number of backlinks.
These measurements then signal to Google that your content is worth paying attention to, raising your ranking on search. Finally, as your content rises on SERPs, you increase the odds of people organically finding your content and sharing it even more on social media. The trifecta creates an intricate wheel that can help drive strong content higher.
These convergence trends have produced changes in how companies have approached their production and usage of content.
Consider the rise of native advertising. With this form of marketing, brands produce targeted, valuable content that is published on third-party sites to help drive brand awareness and engagement.
While it can be argued that this form of marketing does not perform as well as organic content, it does represent the clear shift toward a holistic approach to online marketing.
How Brands Can Face This Challenge
As brands recognize the importance of converged media in their own marketing teams, the questions arise about how to bring these new strategies into the content production process.
Content is at the heart of all omni-channel efforts, so successful brands must focus first on creating talented teams of content developers who understand the end goals for their material. They must be able to see how the different areas of online marketing work together and how they influence brand reach and reputation.
Employee education programs can be wonderful tools for bringing employees up to speed on these trends in the online marketing world.
Consider the example of Marriott (Disclosure: client). The company had long been perceived as just a hotel chain — and thus largely interested in filling rooms.
The brand wanted to develop Marriott Traveler, a branding and content initiative that would transform their enterprise from being “just a hotel company” into “the world’s favorite travel company.”
To begin creating the content they needed, they defined their approach and how they would accomplish their goal. Marriott looked at who would handle the project, what their content and distribution strategies would look like, as well as the technology and KPIs that they would use to gauge success.
They knew that they wanted to shift brand perception toward a travel brand, so they focused on key cities and teamed up with content creators to begin developing the material they needed. As the teams created the content, they focused on the experience customers would have as they read it.
The teams wanted the content to broadcast a certain cool factor, enticing people to come and experience the city the way a cool local would. The brand then leveraged owned, paid and earned media to get their content in front of their intended audience.
These efforts resulted in some incredible statistics. The company saw more than 400 bookings within a 14-day period, which was particularly interesting since conversions had not been a main goal of the campaign.
The quality of the content campaign, however, was able to link customers interested in booking with the brand, leading to the strong conversion rate.
The campaign also saw that almost 70 percent of their users were on mobile, which gave them a clear indication of who was reading their content.
5 Ways To Win With Content And Converged Media
To take advantage of converged media, there are a few steps you can follow in your own organization.
1. Determine your destination.
Before you work on any other steps, you must first know exactly where you want your marketing campaign to take you. Consider the reputation and emotions you want to elicit from customers and how you want this marketing campaign to affect customers’ perception of you.
The project should then be led by a clear owner and project manager. Content marketing always comes with surprises, and this person can help keep the project on track and serve as the final voice when decisions need to be made.
2. Know how you are going to get there.
Once you know where you want your brand to go, you then have to determine how you are going to get there. Make sure you know the answer to questions like:
- What is your content strategy, and who will be leading the content creation process?
- What is your plan to distribute the content across paid, owned, earned and shared channels? What will the content calendar look like?
- How will you define success? How will you measure it?
- What forms of technology do you need to accomplish your objectives?
- Who is the leader for this project, and who will be involved in it?
3. Develop content that is rich and can be repurposed across multiple channels.
Content should be written to provide customers with an intended experience. You want to use plenty of images to attract attention.
You also want to develop topics and themes that can be used in more than one way, such as short-form and long-form articles or an article and an infographic. The content should then be distributed over a variety of channels, leveraging the convergence of the different marketing silos.
4. Know when you have succeeded (KPIs).
As you build your campaign, make sure you are constantly measuring your success with KPIs. These need to be customized to the campaign so that they accurately reflect what you want to accomplish.
Marriott saw their campaigns produce strong statistics, such as over 61,000 site visits within 30 days, as well as more than 2,000 social instances.
5. Listen to feedback from users, and use the insight to modify your approach.
As you refine your campaigns, the most important step you can take is to listen to feedback from your visitors and customers and use it to modify your approach as needed. Ask readers if your campaign has helped change their perception of the brand and whether or not your intended audience is identifying with the content you produce.
As you serve these customers, you can inspire them to be brand advocates, increasing your earned media potential.
The online marketing landscape is changing, and the different silos are rapidly converging to create a holistic brand experience for users as they come across the company.
For brands struggling to make the transition to this omnimedia form of marketing, the examples of industry leaders can help companies see how to create the impact they seek.