Content Strategy versus Campaign Strategy might not be the debate you thought you’d be reading about today, but quite often, when we analyze inbound marketing programs with our clients, we find that they have tons of content that’s underperforming.
Just as individual instruments can sound great on their own, true transcendence, harmony, and scale occur when instruments come together in an ensemble (or better yet, an orchestra).
Soloists vs. orchestras isn’t a debate just for music lovers but actually demonstrates the core concept of content strategy vs. campaign strategy.
Tactic-based execution has existed historically as the strategic focus du jour, but we see more opportunities and wins with campaign-focused strategy & orchestration.
Table of Contents
What is Content Strategy?
“Content strategy” or “content marketing strategy” is a marketing effort that aims to use content (written, visual, audio) to achieve business goals.
Traditionally, we think of content marketing as a practice that includes blogging, premium content creation (e-books, guides, white papers), educational videos, podcasts, more blogs, and other digital content.
While content marketing is not the same as search engine optimization, content marketing often aims to use digital content to reach an online audience, including those seeking information via organic search. A great content strategy will also be needed for other distribution channels or teams: email marketing, customer education, social media, sales…the list goes on.
Content has become an essential component of getting found online. Digital marketing efforts without good content are just about impossible. In fact, one of the primary benefits of your content strategy is to feed your other marketing efforts.
Content marketing is a good thing but it’s not the only thing for a successful marketing mix.
Here’s a familiar story:
A Potential Pitfall of Content-Focused Marketing Strategy
As teams start creating content, they often fall into routines of content production that add and add over time. Years ago, in SEO, more content was more - the more you wrote about something online, the better chance you had at getting found. For marketers who are passionate about their brand, embracing more content is easy.
But that can also lead to situations where organizations have tons of content and don’t know how–or if–it’s performing for them. That story sometimes goes like this:
Company A discovers that there are many potential customers asking questions about their area of expertise. They realize that they can answer these questions to attract these prospects and engage them with their brand. Company A understands that blogging can be a great way to do this.
With this in mind, Company A starts blogging twice a week and starts seeing an increase in website traffic.
Six months later, the head of customer success approaches the head of marketing and asks about starting a podcast. This presents both a customer marketing and education solution and also might be appealing to prospects. The podcast starts and the customer success and marketing teams record one episode per week.
The next month, a new sales manager mentions her team is answering many of the same questions during the sales process. The blog answers some of these questions, but she thinks videos might be more palatable to leads. With that in mind, video production efforts commence.
In the scenario above, the marketing team is producing a high volume of educational content aimed at answering questions and educating customers–amazing!
At the same time, the marketing team is now responsible for producing 3-5 fully-formed content pieces per week, some (like video production) that require a large amount of effort… and we haven’t tied all of these efforts back to specific business objectives yet.
They’ve focused on tactic-based execution, which may or may not be serving their goals.
When Company A stops and assesses performance, the team finds that 4 blog posts have been big hits and are now responsible for half of the company’s monthly web traffic. The rest, though, have gotten very few views given how much effort the team has put in. And the four blogs that are successful aren’t the ones that are helping to generate sales-qualified leads.
In this example, the strategy looks something like this:
While content can be used at every stage of the buyer’s journey, a content marketing strategy doesn’t always include the essential conversion points for decision-stage leads or bottom-of-the-funnel needs.
Producing content about products or services isn’t enough to generate interested leads; you need an orchestrated effort that helps bring your content together and lead prospects through the buyer’s journey.
Enter: Campaign Strategy.
While campaign strategy is far from the only way to orchestrate marketing content, it’s often a logical way to align content efforts and business goals. For organizations that already have a breadth of content, organizing that content into logical campaigns helps maximize performance.
In short, you’re moving from the graphic above to one that looks like this:
What is Marketing Campaign Strategy?
Campaign strategy focuses a variety of marketing activities (including content marketing!) around a centralized focal point.
Campaign strategy, like content strategy, should also be aligned with business goals. For inbound marketing practitioners, the centralized focus is often a pain point, question, or need specific to one of your buyer personas.
Brigette Fahl, Impulse Creative’s Director of Client Strategy, says,
“I’ve always thought about campaigns as the central way to create and distribute content. It’s the best way to align your marketing efforts with real business goals across multiple channels.”
How Content Strategy fits into your Marketing Campaign Strategy
Remember: content is a key component of your digital presence.
In order to “amplify” your campaign, you need to ensure you have foundational content. Of course, different kinds of content align well with different stages of the buyer’s journey. A good campaign strategy makes these considerations – and more – in its structure.
It could look like this:
- You record an interview with a subject matter expert (SME) to learn about this specific focal point. This gives you a jumping-off point to build a theme that informs your buyer's journey, messaging, and keyword alignment to build your campaign strategy.
- This interview can become the foundation or brief of written content like blogs or pillar pages adding in other sources and referencing your other content for attracting visitors organically.
- This exercise gives way to connecting conversion opportunities within your buyer's and customer journeys.
- From this additional research and writing exercise, you solidify your brand position/campaign message on this focal point and align it to a specific product or service you offer.
- You can start pulling quotes and key statements from your original interview and written content for email campaigns and social posts.
- You can always come back to that first interview and build out thought leadership and personal brands with byline articles, press releases, and other PR strategies. Or go lower effort and convert it to its own podcast episode or video.
- And in all of this planning, strategy, and final execution, you are linking and building these ideas and touchpoints to create not just a few pieces of content, but a story that is connected and promotes each individual piece as part of the larger narrative.
Where to Start with Campaign Strategy
We realize shifting to campaign strategy from content strategy is not just going to happen overnight. It requires changes in team member processes and collaboration. You may need to revisit and redefine your buyer personas and KPIs. You may not even be able to start until you get executive-level buy-in.
We want to help no matter what stage you are in when it comes to campaign strategy. Our free, downloadable campaign planner can be a conversation starter for leadership or the first tactical planning of your approach.