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Where There’s a Goal, There’s a Way: 4 Strategy-Led Content Programs

This much-repeated mantra bears repeating: You can’t succeed at content marketing unless you know what goals you’re trying to achieve.

It’s not easy to distill the potential benefits of content marketing into one laser-focused goal. Yet, nailing down your driving purpose makes it easier to explore new possibilities to achieve it.

Nailing down your #content’s purpose makes it easier to explore the possibilities to achieve it, says @joderama via @CMIContent. Share on X

Want proof? Look no further than the accomplishments of the 2022 Content Marketing Awards strategy category winners and finalists.

These examples illustrate how strategy-led campaigns can amplify a brand’s persuasive power, excite its audience, and achieve goals at every stage of the buyer’s journey. Though their industries, audiences, investment levels, and creative approaches differ, each offers a lesson to guide your content marketing efforts.

Goal: Brand awareness

Brand: Glenfiddich

Media partner: Forbes

Approach: Distill data, storytelling, and multiplatform distribution into a content cocktail that shifts audience perceptions.

Single-malt Scotch whisky is a strong drink strongly associated with powerful pop culture characters like Mad Men’s Don Draper, Anchorman’s Ron Burgundy, and Parks and Recreation’s Ron Swanson.

But does the liquor’s strength give it the power to win the preferential attention of high-net-worth individuals and discerning spirit connoisseurs? That was the goal Glenfiddich, a luxury whisky distiller, aimed to achieve with an integrated multimedia campaign built around the 40th anniversary of the Forbes 400 list.

The compelling pitch for their novel premise? It’s time to redefine what it means to be wealthy and successful.

Glenfiddich kicked off the campaign with an original research study, Professional Success in America: Personal Priorities and Social Misunderstanding. It probed U.S. attitudes on the characteristics that define success. The brand created its inaugural #Richest25 List, profiling influential achievers who embody those characteristics.

@GlenfiddichSMW conducted an original research study as part of its #ContentMarketing plan to capture a wealthy and successful audience, says @joderama via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Share on X

The resulting stories were published and promoted across media partner Forbes’ ecosystem. Assets ranged from premium branded content and editorial stories on the Forbes website to social media ads and a print sponsorship of the Forbes 400 issue. That included ads that raised thought-provoking questions, with an overlay of Glenfiddich’s stag logo as illustrated in the image below with the phrase, “Title or respect? Ask yourself, what’s next?”

The key concepts and related imagery were incorporated into Glenfiddich’s website content and product pages to tie everything back to the brand’s Scotch whisky.

Results: According to Forbes, the integrated program garnered over 20 million cross-platform impressions. It also changed perceptions: Glenfiddich saw a lift in brand awareness (18%), identification as a luxury brand (60%), and association with the stag logo (25%).

The content features received nearly 300,000 views – over 2,700 came through organic search. Further, the magazine Fortune 400 issue reached over 3.8 million readers, with 77% taking action after seeing the ad creative.

This project won the Most Innovative Content Distribution Strategy category.

Goal: Increase reach

Brand: McCain Foods

Media/agency partners: Food24, New Media

Approach: Combine print and digital technology to forge a personal, long-lasting connection with consumers.

While brands commonly scale their reach and engage new audiences in the digital space, don’t overlook the power and appeal of old-school techniques like print. They can help you forge a more personal and tangible connection with consumers.

Then again, why not blend the storytelling advantages of both mediums? That’s the idea behind the creation of McCain Family Cookbook Brought to You by Food24 – a first-of-its-kind direct-to-consumer cookbook delivered through a print-on-demand platform.

Frozen foods brand McCain approached South African foodie site Food24 to drive reach among family meal decision-makers. Food24 (with help from its content marketing agency, New Media) answered the call by developing a personalized cookbook creation tool. Shared with the Food24 audience on its website, the tool was promoted through social media, newsletters, and additional articles and video content.

As explained in the campaign video above, the Cookbook Creator tool lets users upload six favorite family recipes, along with notes and photos. Then, they chose a recipe category and named their book. Top recipes from Food24 and McCain were added to round out each collection. Each book was printed and delivered to the consumer who created it.

Food brand @mccainfoods let consumers create personalized cookbooks, uploading six of their family recipes and adding ones from the brand and @food24, says @joderama via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Share on X

The effort helped position McCain as a mealtime thought leader while providing Food24’s audience with an innovative and exciting interactive feature. Further, the printed cookbooks brought the McCain brand into people’s homes, creating a lasting physical touchpoint.

Results: According to the agency New Media, the effort received 1.4 million banner impressions (far exceeding its target KPI of 400,000), reached 4.3 million consumers on social media, and achieved a 13% conversion rate.

This project won the Best Use of Technology as Part of a Content Marketing Program category.

Goal: Lead nurturing

Brand: Epcon Communities Franchising

Approach: Deliver a targeted, print-based pitch – with a customized digital twist.

B2B brand Epcon Communities Franchising provides designs, expertise, and sales support. It enables real estate developers to capitalize on an underserved demographic – buyers 55 and older looking to downsize their homes and enjoy life among a community of their peers.

Franchised adult communities are a fast-growing industry sector, but they are a relatively new business model for builders and construction companies. Many of Epcon’s prospects may have little experience with these projects. That challenge, when combined with the development time and financial investment involved, makes overcoming customer reluctance difficult.

To establish credibility among this B2B target, deliver helpful education, and accelerate its path from qualified lead to converted customer, Epcon launched a unique video mailer campaign.

Knowing consumers often throw away traditional print mailers without reading them, Epcon gave the mailing an eye-catching digital upgrade. A 5-inch video screen turned the average brochure into a deeply immersive storytelling vehicle, as shown in this image:

Using an account-based marketing strategy, Epcon sent the mailers to select high-value prospects. It also customized the audio and visual content for each recipient.

Upon opening the brochure, prospects could click play on the screen to view four installed videos. They included critical company information, testimonials from franchise builders and home buyers, and interviews with company leadership.

Results: Through this persuasive, immersive, and educational campaign, Epcon put the right content in front of the right prospects at the right time. After its launch, the company achieved an 84% follow-up contact rate with prospects and exceeded its franchise builder sales projections by more than double.

This project was a top finalist in the Most Innovative Content Distribution Strategy and Best Use of Technology as Part of a Content Marketing Program categories.

Goal: Customer satisfaction and loyalty

Brand: ServiceNow

Approach: Combine email automation with behavioral modeling to deliver the best post-purchase guidance.

Good content marketers address consumers’ informational needs at each step of their buyer’s journey – from initial awareness through final purchase. But great marketers reinforce their brand’s value by delivering relevant, helpful guidance long after the purchasing checks have cleared.

Enterprise software provider ServiceNow efficiently fulfills that promise through its telemetry data-driven digital customer journey (DCJ) program. The platform delivers the precise information and assistance each customer account needs to implement their purchases more quickly, optimize their usage, and maximize their brand satisfaction.

ServiceNow uses automated behavioral marketing to deliver personalized email content across a broad range of finely targeted audiences. Those segments span the three stages of Service Now’s post-purchase lifecycle – initial onboarding, activation and deployment, and renewal and expansion.

For example, ServiceNow analyzes product usage and applies telemetry data and modeling to categorize mid-cycle customer accounts into groups defined by usage level: no use, low use, medium use, or high use. ServiceNow uses its marketing automation system to identify and deploy the appropriate email content for that account. It also automatically pauses email delivery until the customer completes the call to action from the previous campaign.

Results: ServiceNow reports excellent email performance metrics, with global open rates of 53% to 61% and click-through rates of 10%-16% across all digital customer journey campaigns in 2021. More importantly, these targeted accounts use their products 70% more than ServiceNow’s baseline (non-targeted) accounts.

This project was a top finalist in the Strategy – Best Content Marketing Program, Best Content Marketing Program in Technology, and Content Marketing ROI/Measurement Program categories.

A clear strategy opens up endless possibilities

These four brands achieved remarkable outcomes by remaining focused on a goal and using a combination of creativity and tech ingenuity to fulfill it. Don’t have a documented content marketing strategy on hand to guide your brand’s efforts? Check out our strategy hub for all the insights, tips, and tools you need to create one.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute