Content marketing has been, and continues to be, a growing trend for both B2B and B2C companies. Budgets dedicated to content marketing efforts are increasing, and at the same time, media spend is also rising.
We’ve found that the efforts of media and content strategy are inextricably linked, and work better in conjunction with each other. Effective messaging and coordinated content distributed across paid, earned and owned channels increases the frequency with which messages reach target audiences and can lead to higher conversions.
In this webinar, we shared actionable steps to integrate your content marketing and media efforts, detailed the specific goals these efforts can help companies achieve and the benefits of optimizing content for the channel in which it is served.
Hello, everyone. My name is Christine. I want to thank you for joining Troy and I for our webinar today. I see a few of you have already logged in. You're ready to go. Hopefully, you're able to hear me okay. If you can't, I guess I won't know, will I? We're going to give people a few more minutes to get logged in, get settled. We'll plan on starting right around two o'clock. Again, thanks for being here and we'll be back shortly.
All right, we want to make sure everyone can hear me clearly. I know some of you would like to test your microphone. So, we're testing, testing. Hopefully, that's working for you. And again, we'll be back in just a minute.
Hello again, thank you for joining our webinar today about integrating media and content strategy. I am Christine VanTimmeren. I am a content strategist and content team lead here at DDM. And I'm joined by our digital marketing manager, Troy Boehm.
Hey, guys, this is Troy. And thank you all for attending our webinar.
Before we start, we'd like to give a shout-out to our current clients that are here listening in. We hope that you walk away from this webinar learning maybe something new about how we can possibly further our relationships with you. And we're also thrilled to see some new names join us, and we hope that you learn something, not only about media and content but also about DDM Marketing & Communications in general and all of the services that we offer. What you can expect today is about a 20-minute presentation from us about how we integrate media and content at DDM, and then how you can replicate this within your own organizations. And as we go along, you can feel free to type your questions into the Q&A portion of the presentation. We can see them, but we'll hold them until the very end. You can feel free to save your questions for the end as well. We'll reserve about 15 minutes or so to answer those after the presentation.
Then, we are also going to be sending all of you a follow-up email after the webinar that will have Troy and my contact information. And then the webinar replay and slides will also be posted on our website within the next couple of days for you to go back and take a look, and we will send you that link as well.
All right, let's dive right in. Again, I'm Christine and I have a bit of a unique background in that, before coming to DDM, I was a news anchor and reporter for 10 years. So, my background means I have a passion for digging for stories, telling stories, finding different ways to present stories. So, I help our clients do that. I lead DDM's content department and manage our social media efforts both for clients and for DDM.
And a little background about myself, I've been with DDM for over seven years now, and I work with a number of clients in the B2B and B2C space to help them create and manage their paid media strategies. Prior to DDM, I worked at Global Forex Trading, managing their global paid search campaigns.
And here's just a little bit information about DDM, for those of you that might not know us. But we're a full-service marketing and communication agency, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We're actually celebrating our 30-year anniversary this year, which is a pretty great accomplishment for any marketing agency. We have about 55 employees. And while we work with many companies local to Grand Rapids, we do have a national and an international client base. This slide shows a quick outline of some, well, the main services we offer, along with a few notable clients we work with. Having all of these marketing functions internally really helps us to take a holistic approach to almost everything we do.
This outlines our agenda and talking points that we're going to cover during this webinar. As Christine mentioned, we're planning on covering these topics in about 20 minutes, then open it up to questions. But feel free to type in your questions throughout the presentation and we will get to those when we finish. We are also going to be emailing all of you a copy of this presentation, along with our contact information, in case you have more specific questions about your company.
All right, let's dig right in. We are here because Troy and I wholeheartedly believe, and we have seen, that there is power when media and content marketing forces combine. And when we say media, what we're talking about is digital and traditional advertising. So, your digital ads, native ads, boosted social media posts, print ads, billboards, etc. That's what we mean when we say media. And content and media efforts really have the most impact when they're intertwined and when our teams work together through paid, earned, and owned channels.
So, let's start by talking about why content marketing. It's because of reasons like this. A 2020 survey done by SEMrush found that 91% of businesses are using content marketing as an approach. Pretty strong statistic. A 2018 study found that 72% of marketers believe having a good content marketing strategy was the key to their success. Pretty compelling. And then finally, this last statistic, which is cited across content marketing certification courses, conference presentations, that says most of your buyers, 90%, are more than halfway through their decision journey before they reach out to your company. So, the target audience that you're trying to convert is going to places like Google, social media, blogs, online publications looking for someone like you. And if they find you on those channels, you have a pretty good chance of being in the running. If they don't find you, if you're not playing the content marketing and media game, so to speak, they're reaching out to your competitor, who is. So, all of this is really good ammunition for convincing stakeholders why content is so important.
This diagram illustrates the basic ecosystem of content and media. So, when we talk about paid, owned, and earned tactics that work in coordination with each other, this is what we're talking about. And that sweet spot, so to speak, right there in the middle, converged media, is when one piece of content can be used in all three arenas. But really, each of these efforts on their own has their own value and purpose and tactics, and content can be repurposed across all of these efforts.
So, let's start by explaining to you what earned is. Traditionally, this is thought of as media coverage that you earn for free, from TV, newspaper, radio, but your organic search and your social engagement fall into that as well. When we talk about owned, we're talking about the content platforms that you own, manage, and control, things like your content marketing, your website, your social media platforms, your email. And finally, paid is pretty self-explanatory. It's the content you pay to distribute things like paid search, paid social, TV, radio, print, things like that.
I'm sure at some point, you have all seen a marketing or advertising funnel similar to this one that shows how users move through the funnel, where tactics at the top are aimed at driving awareness. Then as you move down the funnel, you increase engagement and ultimately, drive action. While this methodology can still be useful to identify which tactics are aligned with awareness, engagement, and action, it's important that advertisers start looking at the entire buyer's journey, and align their media strategies with other earned and owned communication channels.
As you do that, you will start to see that the marketing funnel, or buyer's journey, in today's media environment stretches well beyond one tactic and is really nonlinear, meaning there's no one path the user takes to become a lead or a customer. Because there are so many channels and media outlets that customers can consume content on, it's essential that as advertisers, we're aligning the content and user experience within each channel. This helps increase the frequency at which users are seeing consistent messaging, that helps elevate your brand, your product, or your service. And it's not just seeing consistent messaging, it's all about seeing messaging that's appropriate for the channel they are consuming it on. The more you understand your customer's buyer journey, the better aligned your tactics and messaging will be.
Then from an analytics standpoint, as you incorporate content strategies into your paid advertising efforts, you will start seeing an increase in engagement or click-through rates among your ads. Increased click-through rates usually lead to higher conversion rates and then ultimately, to more leads and customers.
So, here is where I get super excited about marketing because I can put my journalist hat on, exercise those muscles, think about what is the story here. But let's back up and summarize where we've come. So, we've covered why content marketing is important. We know how content marketing partners with media. We know that these efforts are situated along a marketing funnel or a buyer's journey. We know the paid, earned, owned ecosystem and the tactics associated with each of those. So, we're left with, what the heck do we have to say or tell people what really is the story?
The vice president of content marketing for Gartner, Heather Pemberton Levy, was quoted in a 2020 MarketingProfs article saying that "the stories have the power to engage prospects with an emotional hook that endears them to a brand." Your stories really do have that power. So, dig for stories that motivate, inform, illustrate a concept or a feeling.
And a response I get time after time is that clients underestimate the power of the stories they have to tell. They think what makes them stand out in the market maybe is boring. They think their case studies are a little bit predictable. They don't think their blog works, or employees don't realize how valuable their expertise is. So, to start, think about your differentiators. How does what you provide your target audience make their life easier? There is a reason they hire you and buy your products over someone else's, right? So, make sure you're telling those stories. Or better yet, have satisfied customers tell that story. Your audience wants proof that you've worked with people or companies like them, so share that from the perspective of your customers.
And then think about your overall key marketing and brand messages at the high level of your organization's marcomm marketing strategy. What are you trying to communicate about who you are and what you do? Then think about content you already have at your disposal that maybe you can repurpose or refresh, so you don't have to reinvent the wheel completely. And then finally, your audience wants to know about your culture, your inspiring employees. They want to know if you give back to the community or invest in sustainable practices or advocate for social causes. You might take that for granted, but your audience certainly will not.
And remember that good content marketing isn't about how great you think you are, it's about how you can solve the problems your audience has. I'm actually reading the book, Content Rules by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman right now. And they say, "Well, the question you need to ask when creating content is, how can you anticipate and meet your audience's needs so that they start to see you as a trusted source of information they need, and not as someone who just wants to sell them stuff? And that's when you know you've truly got this content thing nailed down.
As Christine noted, it is so important for advertisers to develop relevant content that articulates your company's values, differentiators, or offerings. And as you're developing this content, you want to also think about how or where you're going to be distributing it. 84% of B2B marketers use paid distribution channels for content marketing purposes. And of those companies, 72% are running paid advertising on social media. There's obviously a lot of reasons why companies run paid advertising campaigns, but there are also some specific reasons behind why you should do it. One obvious reason is that paid advertising allows you to specifically target people in your target audience. Especially in digital space, technology allows us to target users based on their geography, gender, age, interests, device through a number of paid advertising channels.
Using paid tactics on social media has become more prominent. The push for advertisers has a lot to do with the evolution of many social media algorithms, specifically on Facebook. They have been prioritizing posts from friends before publishers and place more focus on meaningful interactions. LinkedIn has also been changing how they serve both organic and paid ads to focus more on engagement metrics. Even from a paid perspective, LinkedIn puts more emphasis on conversational, genuine, and meaningful posts before self-promoted type content, which makes it even more important to make sure that any ads you're serving are aligned with your audience.
Promoting your content also provides an SEO value. If you're writing long-form content or using videos, there are many advantages to pushing that content out through paid social, native advertising PR, or sending it directly to relevant publications. The value for SEO, other than generating quality backlinks, is that you're creating longer and higher quality engagement with potential customers that can help increase your brand presence, and also lead it to an increase in your branded search traffic.
We see this happen a lot with clients. They might be producing a lot of really good content. They're posting it on their blogs, pushing it out through social media, but they're not getting a ton of traffic coming to their blogs and they're seeing limited engagement on their social media posts. So, what we do is develop media plans around the content that they're already producing. And as we start pushing their long-form content out through a number of paid efforts, not only are they getting directly in front of new users but over time, we start seeing a noticeable increase in their organic traffic, and page views to their blog posts, and more engagement on their social media posts as well. Which kind of leads us into the next slide about, how do we measure success? And before you start creating content or running ads or really developing strategies, it's important for everyone involved in the planning to understand what your overall goals and objectives are.
It's common for companies to have different teams, people, or agencies work on different aspects of the marketing plan. One person might be handling your social media strategy, while you have a different person or an agency managing all of your paid social media campaigns. However your department is structured, each function should be aware of the origin goals and understand their involvement in reaching those. Almost every aspect of marketing has tools that track performance data related to that area. Each social media platform provides analytics on your users. Google Analytics tracks every aspect of your website. Any paid advertising you run has metrics associated with it. These analytic tools provide great insights and can help you make continual ongoing adjustments within each channel. But it's also important to report on and analyze how all of your media platforms or channels are performing in conjunction with one another. This helps you to tie all of your efforts back towards your overall marketing objectives.
We like to use the Google Data Studio for a lot of our reporting. Some of you are likely using this or familiar with it or have other reporting platforms you rely on. We like Data Studio because it has a lot of built-in integrations, which makes it easy to report on all of our digital and even offline channels in one dashboard. Here's a quick example of some of the different types of reporting features it has. But aside from being able to create one consolidated reporting dashboard for all of your efforts, it's also been beneficial to help cross-communicate this report between internal and even external departments to help ensure everyone is involved in tracking progress and aware of what other departments are doing.
So, good news and bad news here. The bad news is, you cannot expect results overnight. This is about the long game, not the instant success. In fact, the CMO of Chanty, which is an AI-powered team chat app, said that the company used content marketing to grow from zero monthly website visits to 40,000 monthly website visits, but it took them two years. Again, long game, not short game.
And I actually listened to globally-recognized keynote speaker and CMO influencer, Michael Brenner, at a conference and he said that "consistent investment in content over time can lead to exponential results. Because the content you're creating continues to work for you, and can be found by your audiences years after you put it out there." So, if you really want the business case for content marketing, that's pretty much it.
And you don't have to tackle all the things at once. Find out where you can have the greatest impact. Start there first. Maybe start with optimizing your website content, before you start jumping into paid efforts to get people there. And then of course, don't rest on your laurels. Always look for ways to improve and try something new. Optimize your efforts based on success, and maybe even failures in some cases.
All right, so let's operationalize all of the knowledge we just dropped on you. We want you to walk away with some actionable steps that you can take to build your own media and content powerhouse. Now, at DDM, there's a pretty unique way that we visually align a client's business and customer goals alongside a buyer's journey with content touch points and recommendations. But really, you can do this without our fancy template. Just take the basic buyer journey that you see here, or marketing funnel, from awareness to consideration to decision and finally, loyalty. And think about whether or not you're creating content for each stage of that journey. If there was a stage that you find you're not really addressing, maybe consideration, you don't have a lot of content there, start there. Just give yourself some starting point.
Then incorporate all of those great stories we talked about earlier. Use them to support the goals your target audience has at that particular stage of their journey. But don't just run out and start creating all of the things, all of the videos, all of the blog posts, just because I told you to. Pay attention to that word purpose. Make sure what you're creating has a purpose, that it's useful to your audience, that it drives them to a positive action, and leads them down the road to a decision to ultimately choose you.
And then, find the next area of the journey that needs work. Maybe loyalty needs some work. Go there and do the exact same thing. Our goal is to build lasting relationships with target audiences that stretch across the paid, earned, and owned channels, by creating content experiences that truly matter.
And that brings us to the end. We are going to start looking at the questions that have been submitted to you, submitted and leave you a few minutes to type in your questions.
And we already see some of your comments and so, we'll get to those in just a second. We want to remind you though, if you're a current client, feel free to reach out to Troy and I or your account manager with questions or to learn more. We'd love to sit down with you, figure out how content and media can integrate into the current partnership we have with you. And then for those of you who are new to DDM, we'd love to chat with you too. Just email Troy and or I directly. We'd be happy to set up a call or a meeting to talk further. And if you're interested in any of the other services that you saw listed that DDM offers, we can connect you with those individuals as well.
All right. Let's start with Tim. You had a question, and you said, "Great point about DDM or excuse me, great point about DDM doing this, right? Don't underestimate the power of your stories. Any tips for companies to do something to get outside themselves? Easy for us to miss the forest for the trees, sometimes." I totally get that. I know, just like I said, we hear a lot of clients that say, "Well, when I talk about what we do for our clients, or for our customers, it's really not that exciting, right? Because everyone serves them in that way or everyone provides them that product."
But like I mentioned, there's a reason they go to you, right? Whether it's price, or whether it's the quality of your product, or whether it's the great working relationship that's cultivated, whether you have really excellent logistics, you ship fast. I mean, think about the reasons that your clients say they go to you in the first place, and then tell that story. Because if ultimately, that is what gets you the sale, then that's the story you should be telling. So, that's just an example.
And I know sometimes you can think your company culture and things aren't that exciting either, but at the same time, those who are looking for you want to know that you at least have that. So, if there's a section on your website where you address your company culture, whether or not you feel like that's exciting, someone looking for you may want to see that you have that. They may want to see that you have a set of values that you hold your company to. So, while it may not seem interesting, or it may not seem like, "Well, that's the reason they'll go to us," they're probably looking for that and at least wanting to hear it.
Tim again. "Any tips to flatten or minimize the editorial tree in a company that can have too many branches?" Yes. So, all of the voices that want to be a part of this, right? We find that too, where the stakeholders that are involved all have an opinion and everyone wants a say. And yeah, it can be difficult. I think, in some cases, we say, "Well, let's split up the meetings a little bit. Let's have three people in one meeting and three people in another meeting when it comes to discussing things." Then ultimately, it helps to have a neutral party to ultimately make some decisions. And I think that's where we can come in. We can sort of be that voice that says, "Great point. Great point. I'm glad to hear from all of you. Let's bring that all together and we'll give you our best recommendation." So, I think that's good as well.
Good. It looks like...
We're asking if we can get a copy of your PowerPoint?
Yep, we'll be sending that through when we're done. Either today or tomorrow, we'll send you a copy of the PowerPoint and the webinar. We have another question that says, "Somebody worked in the healthcare industry and are all about patient success stories in marketing. And are we seeing hospitals investing more in content development as opposed to true advertising?" The answer is both. So, what we're seeing and we've actually worked with a client here that has really great stories to tell, and so, they had a video about a patient success story that was a really, really great video. It portrayed a lot of aspects about their hospital, what they're doing. And rather than just taking this one video and putting it on their website or using it in a silo, we really expounded out from that, and took that same story and concept and applied it to many, many different tactics.
Just like we talked about, the paid, earned, and owned, we incorporated this story through all of these tools, all of these channels to really create a holistic campaign. So, part of that was through true advertising where we advertised, but it all related to this story. And so, that's when we talk about understanding, aligning your content with a buyer's journey, but also with the channel of how they're consuming content, knowing when to use videos on social, how long they should be versus where do you use long-form videos, and what kinds of calls to action do you have, as you're advertising for this or as you're pushing it out through your email or other paid, earned, and owned channels. So, it's really a combination of both because we do like to take stories like that and use them as advertising because that's where you create that engagement, that's where you can connect emotionally and pull them in.
It's a balance as well. I mean, when we listed, what's your story, and all the different things. And some of the things were, yeah, sometimes you just need to communicate that your organization has an expertise so that you're the best in something. Sometimes, that message needs to get out and sometimes, you can tell that message through a patient success story. Sometimes, it has to live on its own. So, I think when you have a patient or a person who can add that emotional hook to a story, you're always going to get better engagement and more interest from something like that. But it is a balancing act of needing to get out your key organization's marketing messages and then also telling that emotional story.
Yep. Got another question from Jeff, "Curious how you integrated Google Data Studio as a master analytic stack? Was there a lot of custom development to complete?" Yes and no. So, Google Data Studio, it has a ton of built-in integrations. It links to all of your Google Analytics, Google Ads, DV 360, any of your third-party ad-serving platforms. There are some aspects that you can pay to link to other things.
And it also has a couple of built-in integrations to different CRMs or just kind of more data warehouses. It also integrates and pulls in directly from Google Sheets. So, what we've done with some of the offline data, whether it's a tool that exports something into a CSV or there's just data house somewhere else, we either, through an API or manual, in some cases, which is not ideal, but we can link that and upload it all into a Google Sheet that then gets pulled in automatically into a Google Dashboard. So, there are some development aspects of it to complete and again, it kind of just depends on what tools you're using and how robust and how much data you want to have live there and report on.
And we'll address too the how long should you expect to wait for results? We tell our clients that six months to a year really should be what they look at. I mean, obviously, we are looking at data and optimizing continually during that time frame. But I think to truly see the overall business impact of your efforts, you need to wait six months to a year to truly have that holistic view of everything.
All right. "Can you provide some examples of the types of content to use further down the funnel in the consideration and decision-making phase?" Yeah, there are a lot of studies that show sort of what content is best for that particular stage of the journey. Whereas, a blog may be good in one stage but maybe not another. And I think there's some content that kind of crosses all of the stages.
Yeah. And this comes from Curtis. Thank you, Curtis, for that. What we kind of see, especially from what I do in paid media, we start talking about farther down in the funnel. And really, the way things are going, it's becoming less and less direct response, but it's more so becoming that the direct response is changing. So, the type of content we use is a little bit more subtle. Meaning, if we're trying to get somebody to buy something, it might be farther down the funnel. We're just having them sign up for our email newsletter versus sending them directly to buy something. So, we're trying to capture as much information, and just continually work them down into the funnel, versus leading with a stronger call-to-action that's kind of lower in the funnel that typically 5 to 10 years ago, it would have been more effective than it is now. So really, it's the call-to-action within the content that you're pushing is changing. Now, again, just to kind of capture, I want to say that lead, but capture as much information about that person as you can and ease them into your sales process, whatever that is.
All right. If no one else has any questions, we will probably start to wrap up here. Again, we would love for anyone to reach out to us individually or together if you have any additional questions. We'd love to meet with you. We'd love to talk about how we could assist you with your content and media efforts. And again, like I said, if there were other services that you saw and thought, "Wow, that's interesting, I'd like to learn more about that," we can connect you with those who can give you that information as well. Thanks again, everyone, for attending. We really appreciate it and we will be following up with you guys with the webinar replay and the slides in probably the next day or two. All right. Have a good rest of your day.