High Time For Digital Marketing To Enter The Content Laboratory
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High Time For Digital Marketing To Enter The Content Laboratory

Kevin Plumberg, Head of B2B Content Marketing, Bank of the West
Kevin Plumberg, Head of B2B Content Marketing, Bank of the West

Kevin Plumberg, Head of B2B Content Marketing, Bank of the West

Producing effective and engaging content requires heavy doses of creativity and innovation. However, when it comes to distributing online content, why does the process often turn into a content conveyor belt?

Engaging Online Audiences is Not Like Making Widgets

A business stakeholder typically hands a brief to a creator. The creator produces something. The content then gets sent to digital marketing teams to figure out how to plug it into a media plan. Everyone crosses their fingers and hopes the content performs well. If not, then more content arrives down the assembly line to try again.

Sometimes this process works, but many times it doesn't. Seven-in-ten (71%) decision-makers say that at most half of the thought-leadership content they consume provides them with valuable insights, according to Edelman and LinkedIn. Is that because something is wrong with the content or how it was distributed? With the assembly line approach, it's difficult to tell.

The stakes are high. Some70% to 80% of B2B buyers say they prefer to make purchase decisions based on online research rather than face-to-face interactions. The pressure is on to show that marketing can get ahead of this long-running trend. Both content marketing and digital ad spendare expected to grow in 2022.

“A key metric measuring return target account traffic climbed several percentage points, and has continued to rise in 2022”

Leave the Factory Floor Behind and Enter Content Laboratories

Instead of the assembly line, a better model is closer partnership between editorial and digital marketing functions. Editorial can help interpret content performance trends and digital can recommend how to optimize content for better performance.

This isn’t exactly a science. But collaboration between editorial and digital should lead to testing, learning, refining tactics, and ultimately better business outcomes. That’s why digital is crucial, because of the function’s ability to measure performance in real-time and to provide actionable data to stakeholders. Call this the content laboratory approach.

How to Use Partnership to Optimize Content Performance

In 2021,B2B digital ad spend at Bank of the West increased significantly, and thought leadership content was a big part of the program. So, my team came up with a content strategy to show how the company is a leading sustainable U.S. bank, with unique industry expertise.

Our paid media strategy involved driving traffic to our thought leadership content hub.

Early in the campaign, we thought having multiple creatives in market on one content theme would perform well, rather than covering a lot of ground with multiple themes. But – and this is the important part – we treated this as a hypothesis to be tested. Our ad agency, digital team, and content team met regularly to review performance.

Half way through the campaign we concluded that, first, our initial hypothesis was wrong! Content performance was stronger when we had multiple themes in market at the same time. Second, in addition to a diversity of content themes, a wide variety of content types (blogs, whitepapers, podcasts, etc) also contributed to better performance. In other words, by increasing the variety of our content themes and formats, we could optimize our campaign.

In the latter half of the campaign, we doubled the number of visitors to our content. A key metric measuring return target account traffic climbed several percentage points, and has continued to rise in 2022.

None of that would have been possible without a strong partnership between editorial and digital marketing teams. We are all content scientists now.   

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