How to Run a Smart Content Marketing Campaign
Content marketing became all the rage around 2010. So much so that Google famously changed their search algorithm (the Panda update) to wipe out “content farms” that sucked up traffic with useless results. Since the goal of search engines is to answer your question in the best possible way, spammy results suck. So search engines now specifically address the searcher’s intent — what are they really looking for? And the way search engines know how to respond is a wild cocktail of factors, including things like “the words on the page”, the popularity of the page, and the popularity of the website containing the page. And that’s what makes executing a smart content marketing campaign more important than ever. It’s a long-term strategy that works, as shown in our examples. Your digital plans should include some of these ideas.
What Makes a Smart Content Marketing Campaign
We won’t claim to have perfect strategies, although we’ll share some helpful guidelines to get better results from content marketing.
First and foremost, content marketing should be brand relevant and authentic. If you’re looking for long-term impact, you’ll want to stay somewhat in your lane. Yes, you may see some successful eccentric/experimental content that isn’t brand-related, but you risk absolute failure. That’s not to say you can’t be creative, but we’re urging you to think about how you want your brand perceived over time. Gimmicks may work quickly, but they’ll fade with time.
Smart campaigns are more like novellas than articles. Storytelling is a great long-tail strategy. It builds your brand, it plays well with audiences, and it gives you more ways to deliver your message.
You should also be goal-driven. Is the point of the campaign to drive more traffic? Get more leads? Sell higher margin products? Re-engage lost customers? It’s wise to start from the goal and work backwards to everything else, since the message and story drive the action.
And content marketing campaign goals & results should be measurable. Do you want more clicks, views, submissions, downloads, and/or revenue? Think long term.
Great content isn’t the end game, though. Promotion of your content is essential. You have dozens of digital channels available, including email, social media, cross-promotion, and affiliates. But you can also try analog — direct mail or events — to get the message in front of your audience. And promotion may involve some experimentation, including the use of split-testing, to see what resonates.
To summarize, smart content marketing should be authentic, goal-driven, and measurable, with emphasis on storytelling and promotion to connect.
Examples of Smart Content Marketing Campaigns
Let’s explore some content marketing campaigns to see what makes them successful.
Newsletters: Oren Klaff
Oren Klaff, author of spectacular books “Pitch Anything” and “Flip the Script”, is easily one of the most assertive presenters you’ll ever encounter. And he writes like he speaks, pushing you back in your chair, melting your face. Oren sells books and classes. His free newsletter teases you into his methodology using wildly colorful anecdotes of the million dollar deals he regularly closes. You can’t read just one, because they’re like Ian Fleming dramatic action scenes. A hero? Check. Action? For sure. Intrigue? In spades. Every one is a spellbinder, and the hero wins the deal. Oh, and the books and courses are good too.
Lead Magnets: Hubspot
HubSpot is one of the leading companies in Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and they strongly rely on content marketing. Dozens of searches in CRM will drop you into a Hubspot landing page, where you can enter your details to download something. Hubspot drives traffic with a hub & spoke model around keywords and lead magnets that relate to their marketplace. “Content Marketing” — Hubspot has a playbook. “Social Media Marketing” — download a white paper. Content can include many different digital assets: white papers, case studies, infographics, presentations, They build small pillars for SEO topics like these, and that all adds up to giving them strong domain authority in their industry.
Video Blog: Wistia
Wistia is a specialized video platform, typically used by corporations who need more control and measurement than YouTube provides. What better way to lure the audience than teaching them how to make their own great content? From what is the best value for a microphone to innovative backgrounds to how to make good videos with your phone. They deliver links to their lessons via a newsletter, or you can watch them if you land on their site’s blog (vlog). As a result, their business has grown steadily.
Easily the most useful training source for SEO is Moz.com. They teach SEO methods through blog posts and videos, offering numerous courses that explain best processes. But Moz isn’t a training company — they’re a tool vendor. Taking a couple of courses led Webapper to become a user of Moz Pro, a subscription service for tools that help with on-page search engine optimization, keyword research, local SEO, and other ranking options. The data drives their engine, with content marketing campaign methods building their domain expertise and ranking.
Free Trial: Canva
As a perfect example of “engineering as marketing”, Canva offers a free trial of their illustration tool. The goal is to show how easy it is to use (a familiar, slick user interface), get you invested in making something for yourself (new brochure? new infographic? new presentation?), and then collect your email address if you actually want to use the result. Yes, for the low, low price of your email, you get Canva. But wait…there’s more… Canva Pro anyone? So Canva is a try before you buy, free to use for basics, but upgradeable software as a service (SaaS) product.
Infographics: Cloud Academy
Cloud Academy offers a training platform for enterprise multi-cloud infrastructure, like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. It is in their interest to capture any and all parties looking around the cloud. So showing how big the cloud is works. That’s why they regularly release infographics showing trends in cloud computing. How much market share? How many zettabytes? What kind of applications? You see, this kind of content gets shared, included, and referenced by other sites. This social currency helps build the reputation of Cloud Academy, and ultimately contributes to their domain authority.
How to Run Smart Content Marketing Campaigns
If you look at the strategy and examples, you’ll find some outstanding techniques that have worked for quite some time. Granted, past performance does not guarantee future success, but for now, these methods work. Execution is paramount, and any effort surpasses zero effort. At least you’ll learn something. And you’ll read it in nearly every marketing article we produce: do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. That is, experimentation with content marketing is a process, and if you have success, double or triple down. After all, a smart content marketing campaign is…well…smart.