With around 60% of marketers admitting to creating at least one piece of content per day, the big bang campaign remains prominent. The idea remains one of the most effective ways to generate brand awareness, to support growth in organic means, and to generally position the site and brand better to help achieve marketing goals.
Content marketing is an all-encompassing term that covers formats such as guest post articles, infographics and listicles, to bigger interactive, 'wow' factor pieces. Whatever form it takes, campaigns in this sense require time, resource, and most importantly buy in - particularly from the client.
From an agency perspective, we understand the purpose of campaigns on a large scale; we are a part of the ideation process, working behind the scenes to bring the idea to life, better supporting the overall objective. The client, on the other hand, is not privy to this level of information, which is ultimately why they can be reluctant to commit to such a huge investment.
Achieving buy in to any campaign is vital, as is the continuation of trust and belief in a project, throughout the process. It is the agency’s responsibility, mainly the Client Service role, to sell in the idea and to keep the level of interest high throughout the creation and delivery of the campaign.
The biggest fear is that creativity will be hampered, delays taking place and the original idea becoming so diluted that it doesn’t have the desired impact. The need for an elaborate idea calls for thinking outside of the box and often pushing clients out of their comfort zone. The way this is described and sold in can be the difference between approval, or retreating to the drawing board.
There have been instances where clients lose sight of that end goal and make so many tweaks and edits throughout the creation process that the result turns out very differently to the original concept. To prevent this situation, clients need to be kept in the loop, to know every small detail, the timeline, the overview of each stage to maintain awareness, but more importantly, continued belief. The best way to do this is the creation and regular update of a campaign plan, a complete document that outlines the targets, sections, hourly breakdown, and more.
Creating campaigns in line with objectives
Why do we create bigger content campaigns? How do they help? This is dependent on the overarching objective, something both client and agency need to be constantly mindful of, ensuring time, resource and activity are going into a campaign that will have the impact it needs.
“When planning, we will make sure there is a consistent flow of activity meeting KPIs. This will usually include functional content for depth and relevancy for rankings, hygiene blog posts targeting long-tail for organic search, guest articles for link acquisition for rankings, blogs and interactives for engagement and hero ideas for awareness. Dependent on KPIs we will use a mix of these over the campaign period to help each of them.” Abbey, Zazzle MediaCampaign planner
This starts with the ideation process, looking at the content required, the audience being targeted and again, constantly considering the objective. But what is it that clients need to see, to really buy in to the idea?
“Ideally, a step by step guide to how you envisage the campaign will pan out over time, starting with how an interactive piece could look, an outreach and distribution plan, timeframe and aims.”Tracey, PayPlan
This is where a detailed pitch and campaign brief comes into play. This is designed to detail the idea itself and more importantly how this ties in with the campaign objective. The campaign brief should include the following elements:
The idea: what does this involve?
The assets: what will we be creating?
The mock ups: what could this look like?
The technical bit: will this sit on the site? If so, what will the developers need to do?
The audience: whom are we targeting?
The back-up: what supporting content will we create to support the campaign?
The placements: where will this be distributed?
The reasoning: why are we doing this and what will it achieve?
Offering this level of detail will help the client to really understand the concept, while producing mock ups and examples of creative assets will bring it to life.
This can be the difference between achieving buy in for a more creative, bigger campaign, to having to dilute an idea because the client is unable to grasp its very nature.
This is an effective process, and one that worked well within a campaign created and delivered for the Debt Management company, PayPlan. Diagnose Your Debt was designed to increase brand awareness, while generating links to boost associated rankings. The project covered a number of content formats, including an interactive debt barometer, allowing consumers to ‘diagnose their debt’ and supporting content pieces in the form of features, data cards and blogger engagement pieces allowed us to effectively target the diverse demographic.
Securing links back to the site and using PR angles to increase the awareness surrounding the brand was the main principle behind the distribution plan.
Through the detailed brief we provided, sign off was achieved early on which led to an easier process throughout the undertaking of the Diagnose Your Debt piece.
Importance of client communication throughout the campaign process
Although gaining sign off is important, the level of communication needs to remain consistent throughout to ensure client confidence remains. It can become easy for a client to lose sight of the end goal during a long build process, which is why a weekly communication schedule and a live report needs to be in place to offer regular updates against timelines and the delivery of each asset.
“Once the idea has been agreed and work is underway, as a minimum an update is needed on a weekly basis. As the campaign gets underway, this may need to increase in frequency to ensure we are part of all the crucial decision making, and to see if we can offer any ideas.” PayPlan
It is the direct responsibility of the account manager/project manager to keep the campaign on track, and setting realistic timeframes during the initial stages is key.
As we all know, builds often overrun and if this happens it needs to be communicated to the client, immediately.
Typically, the big bang ideas involve considerable resource and have high targets associated. This calls for greater communication to ensure reassurance that we are on track and that the ‘expense’ is worth it. From a client’s perspective, they need to see that the time is being spent wisely and that objectives are in mind when creating and placing content.
With any large campaign, there are several rounds of approvals needed for research, content creation, asset design, and intended site placements. This makes it even more important that the client remains in the loop to prevent delays to an already tight delivery timeframe.
Delivery dates and how to ensure the campaign stays on track
“If we are aware of the deliverables, and the timeframes associated, we will be able to approve elements faster, preventing delays to the campaign overall.” PayPlan
The regular updates and consistent flow of communication during the process will offer greater support in achieving faster sign off and approvals, during relevant stages. Making sure this happens can be the difference between a success or a missed opportunity.
Often, campaigns are produced in line with seasonality and the idea is highly topical.
This calls for fast movement to prevent the campaign from becoming irrelevant. This is a worse-case scenario, but there have been instances where time and resource have gone into a campaign that has been delayed so heavily that it was unable to reach its full potential.
To effectively plan and incorporate the creation and placement of campaigns, particularly big builds, time needs to be allocated accordingly simply so the relevant teams can complete the level of work required.
This is particularly applicable to any level of design and development that is needed, as tasks within these areas are typically time consuming with research and manpower needed. This is why the terms and conditions, as listed above, have to be followed as closely as possible. There must be an element of flexibility, however, for genuine reasoning although as a rule of thumb, conditions need to be agreed and followed to make a success of the deliverable.
The same rule applies when it comes to distribution, too. The pressures of seasonality, other marketing efforts and engagement are still applicable and it is vital that the campaign is distributed at the right time to secure the placements needed to support the end goal. As documented, client awareness is vital and the live report allows them to remain aware of the interim deadlines, again helping to encourage a faster approvals process.
The live report
This is where the campaign plan comes in, detailing each element of the campaign process, including activities, timelines and eventually the distribution results, all housed in one multi-sectioned report.
The typical format of this report can be found as a downloadable guide alongside this post with the following areas typically covered as standard:
The what, and the why, including a brief overview of the campaign to constantly reinforce the premise of the piece.
Objective: What is the goal?
What will this achieve? Whether it is brand awareness, links based for ranking improvements, or to tie in with seasonal opportunities detailing the intended achievements.
Insights: Who are the audience?
Looking at audience insights, drilling down into the demographic that the campaign is targeting.
Team: Internal teams
How many teams are involved in the process and what is the split across each department, including creative, distribution, etc?
Tasks: What are the deliverables?
A full breakdown of tasks that make up the overall campaign.
Targets: What are the achievements?
Does this cover a specific number of placements, an intended Hitwise figure, etc?
“Depending on KPIs this would be measured differently. For engagement, we can look at Google Analytics to see time on site, bounce rate and new users. For depth and relevancy, we can look at SCOT and measure it against the optimum (70% - 80%). We can look at how many referring domains a hero piece achieves. With some campaigns, it may be required to look at individual pieces' performance rather than collaboratively depending on its purpose.” Strategy team at Zazzle Media
This form of reporting again offers the peace of mind the client is looking for, while ensuring that from an internal point of view, everyone is up to speed with progress and the objectives being worked towards.
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