How to Develop an Integrated Content Marketing Strategy That Drives Business Results

Knowing how to develop integrated content is vital. The purpose of this blog is to give you the steps to creating an integrated content marketing strategy for your company. Ultimately, it should help your company stand out from the competition, engage with customers on a deeper level, improve brand awareness, increase web traffic and convert visitors into customers.

What is an integrated content marketing strategy? 

Integrated content marketing is simply a way to use several different marketing channels to ensure that your company is successful at reaching your target market. It is how you create relationships with your customers, and it is a powerful tool to increase brand awareness and customer interest. 

A great example of implementing successful integrated marketing is the “Compare the Meerkat” campaign by Compare the Market, which has been ongoing for almost 8 years. It combines a variety of channels, such as social media, search, television, and other media, as well as genuine meerkat dolls as gifts, to maintain the market’s brand awareness constant.

Step 1: Set realistic goals for your integrated content marketing strategy

The first step in creating an integrated content marketing strategy is goal-setting. Determine the goals for your content marketing and how you will measure them.

One way to do this is to set up a content marketing funnel with a goal for each stage. A content marketing funnel is a process used to turn prospects into customers. It is designed to help businesses use content to attract their prospects, convert them, and retain them. To create a content marketing funnel, you will need to:

  • Identify your target customers and segment them. One of the most popular methods is the customer segmentation method. It categorizes customers into groups based on their characteristics, which are then used to develop marketing strategies. For example, the customer segmentation strategy could involve dividing customers into groups based on their age, income, occupation or other factors. This allows you to create the marketing strategy that would be most effective for each group of people. 
  • Find their pain points. You can discover what customers want to see changed in a number of ways: use a survey, ask your current customers directly, or start a business blog and post a survey link. 

If you decide to use a survey, make it short and simple. Ask three questions: what they want, what they need, and what they would love to have.

  • Create content that addresses those pain points. It might be an interesting blog post or an informative video. Whatever it is, remember that you should provide them with a solution they can’t find elsewhere.

Use the content you create to attract new prospects and convert them to customers, and then use customer retention strategies to keep them coming back. 

Step 2: Build your persona and construct their buyer journey

The second step in developing a great integrated content marketing strategy is to build a target persona and understand their buyer journey. This will empower you to create content that resonates with your buyer.

Awareness stage

Once you have a persona in place, you can create integrated content that addresses pain points and fears associated with the purchase. By doing so, you will fulfill their needs at the awareness stage. It’s important to attract your readers in this stage by solving their problems with educational content.

The ideal channels to distribute the content for this funnel stage are:

  • Blogging (through educational content).
  • Social media marketing.
  • Search engine marketing.

Consideration stage

At this stage of the buyer journey, you will want to show your target customer your services or products while demonstrating how well they meet the customer’s needs and the benefits they offer. It’s important to build trust between your brand and audience.

For the consideration channel, we recommend taking a closer look at these settings:

Decision stage

The decision stage is the final stage of the buyer’s journey. When you have made it this far and it is time for your target customer to decide whether to buy your product or service, you will want to let her explore all the available information and answer any final questions that may arise. 

We think these are the perfect channels for the consideration stage:

  • Knowledge base. 
  • Email marketing.
  • Remarketing.
  • Live chat.

Last but not least, you may consider the buyer journey not as a linear process, but as a wheel. This means you can target multiple stages across all of your chosen channels simultaneously. 

Step 3: Identify the ideal communication methods 

Some of the best ways to communicate with your audience are email, social media, and blogging. 

Email campaigns

Email marketing is the best way to reach out to your customers and prospects. It is highly effective, economical, easy to use, and flexible. You can target your prospects based on their location, interests, and other details. One of the greatest advantages of email marketing is that it’s cost-effective. You don’t need to invest much money in it to see results.

Social media marketing

Social media is a great way to communicate with customers, particularly to find out what their concerns are. If they are not happy with something, you can address it quickly. 

It also allows you to show customers what you are doing and reach out proactively. You can share events, new product launches, or even feedback through social media. You can post photos, videos, and other content they may be interested in. It gives you an opportunity to tell your story and let customers look into your business.

Blogging

As many as 95% of B2B product and service customers say looking at content is a great way to evaluate any business. Content creation is an excellent opportunity to answer your audience’s questions and present yourself as a thought leader.

The best way to create an integrated content marketing strategy is to develop an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar helps you plan each piece of content you will publish, on what channel and when. Using this tool, you’ll be able to stay on track, grow your audience and increase your chances of success.

Step 4: Define key promotional channels

Another crucial step in creating and developing an integrated content marketing strategy is defining what promotional channels to use. You’ll also want to define your goals for each channel and the steps you need to take to achieve them. 

Successful integrated marketing allows each individual to сhoose the time and channel to consume desired information. Here are the most common promotional channels:

  • Direct marketing: This type of marketing can deliver a customized message to your audience through online adverts, database marketing and emails. 
  • Email marketing: The benefits of email marketing include being able to reach a targeted audience in a less expensive way with a high conversion rate.
  • PR: PR is a great way to get more exposure for your brand, and as a result to reach new potential customers.
  • Digital marketing: Digital marketing helps you connect, convert and retain customers with the help of the internet and online technology such as web pages, email, apps and social media.
  • Social media: This channel lets you promote your content while engaging with your audience. By using social media to communicate, you can share your content and promote it on your own social media pages (paid options also available) as well as in related groups. 

It’s crucial to your integrated content marketing strategy that you choose the right channels. Remember: only by targeting the right digital channels will you be able to generate significant results.

Step 5: Take advantage of other valuable resources

If you want your content to be read and shared, you need to produce high-quality, valuable information within it. But you might find this time-consuming and realize it requires a skilled team of content producers. You also need the right SEO strategies to make sure your content will be discovered by potential customers. 

For an integrated content marketing strategy that performs well, you may need to enlist the help of a valuable outsourced partner. Tempesta Media’s managed service solution offers full digital marketing services as well as access to an expert writing team. These benefits will streamline your content production.

Step 6: Analyze the results and improve

Another action to take when you’re looking to create an integrated content marketing strategy is to figure out the best way to analyze your own results. This way, you can determine what you need to work on to improve. You’ll want to focus on the metrics that matter the most to your company. A potent way to measure your results is to use key performance indicators (KPIs)

You can use these metrics to measure everything from how many  sales you’ve generated in a specific time period to the number of website visitors or social media followers you’ve gained. It’s important to take into account what has worked and what has not and adjust your integrated content marketing strategy accordingly.

In summary 

A clearly defined strategy is one of the most important elements of a successful content marketing campaign. In this article, we provided a step-by-step plan to create an integrated marketing campaign that generates the best possible results. 

Tempesta Media can design and execute an integrated content marketing campaign that is customized to your business and delivers the results you want. If you need help creating and developing an integrated marketing strategy, contact us.

11 reasons to use customer testimonials in marketing

As connected as we are these days through websites, social media and apps, word of mouth still has a very powerful impact. McKinsey Quarterly says this is because, “…consumers overwhelmed by product choices tune out the ever-growing barrage of traditional marketing, word of mouth cuts through the noise quickly and effectively.” In marketing, this comes in the form of testimonials.
In 2014, WebDAM, a leading digital asset management platform, found that customer testimonials have the highest rating (89 percent) of all types of content marketing. That same year, research by TechValidate revealed that 94 percent of B2B marketing and sales professionals rated customer testimonials as “very effective” or “extremely effective.”
In the Content Marketing Playbook by The Content Marketing Institute, 24 different content marketing tactics are suggested. Testimonials rank in the top 10, above videos and webinars.
When you consider Optify’s B2B Marketing Benchmark Report findings that 80 percent of traffic comes from a combination of organic searches (via search engines) and direct traffic (those customers that type in your URL) it would indicate that customers click through because they already know a little bit about your company’s reputation. Testimonials help build your reputation.
Enough about me, what do you like about me?
If you want to know what customers think about your product or service, start by asking them and allow them to tell you. Testimonials answer the question of “what do you like?” not only for you, but also for other potential customers who may not know about your product or service.
Provided as text, video or audio, testimonials can:
Build trust
When customers rave about how much they benefit from your product or service, they let others know that they, too, can have a positive experience with your company.
Overcome skepticism
Good testimonials help get other potential customers off the fence. Customers that are a considered a “tough sell” can often be swayed by information in a testimonial that indicates how much of a benefit your product or service was to someone else.
Be a true voice
You can write clever copy and you can tell consumers how great your business is, but a testimonial can deliver candid and unbiased accounts via another voice. Your voice can spout how wonderful your product or service is, a testimonial will give examples to back up such promises.
Getting testimonials
If you haven’t already established a channel where customers can offer feedback, create one. Allow them to email directly or post to your website. Use social media to promote this feature and encourage participation.
Social media channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube are a great resources for finding reviews customers have already posted. In addition to asking customers to “Like” you, encourage these reviews. (On Facebook, business pages have a Reviews tab that can be activated.) It is also possible for viewers to add reviews to YouTube.
Smaller business can also find reviews on Yelp, Yahoo Local, CitySearch and other search directories. Websites such as TripAdvisor, Travelocity and Amazon offer the ability for consumers to leave reviews about your service or product.
If a customer has reached out to you privately via email and offers valuable feedback, ask if you may use the content in a publicly posted testimonial. Never use private comments without permission. Consider reaching out to people with whom you have a relationship such as contacts on LinkedIn and past and current customers. Craft a letter that specifically asks for a testimonial, but note that there is no obligation. Explain how their testimonial will be used on your website and other collateral.
Good verses powerful
Having a testimonial declare, “This product is wonderful!” is nice to hear, but hardly helps promote you. Such a testimonial is much too vague. Another customer doesn’t know why the product is wonderful or why it might be wonderful for them.
Just because a testimonial is positive doesn’t mean it is effective. An effective testimonial will:
Explain benefits
Such a testimonial will be clear about why your product or service is great. For example, “This product is wonderful! After just two uses, my stainless steel shines like new.” Or, “After attending the sales workshop, we implemented the practices and our sales doubled in a month.”
Substantiates your claims
A good testimonial will say that you keep your promises and deliver on expectations. For example, “This product is wonderful! As they say, after just two uses, my stainless steel does shine like new.” Or, “At the sales workshop, we were told we would increase our sales if we put into practice what was taught. Our, sales didn’t just increase, they doubled within a month.”
Is comparative
Pitting you against the competition and showing how you win is helpful. It lets prospective customers know your product or service is superior. For example, “This product is wonderful! My stainless steel shines like new. I have tried numerous other products and have never gotten this kind of result.” Or, “In the past, I attended sales workshops by ABC Company and XYZ Incorporated. I did not get anything close to the insight I gained at this workshop. We implemented what we learned and doubled our sales in a month.”
If you reach out to customers to ask for testimonials, provide information on what you will be seeking. Tell them that, if they are inclined to write the testimonial, you’d like to specifically hear how your product or service benefits them, whether you have delivered on their expectations and how you stack up against the competition.
When you receive this feedback, choose testimonials that are most informative and set your product or service apart from the competition.
Credibility
According to FlyResearch stats from 2015, 62 percent of people rely on user-generated content over information provided by a company. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of skepticism out there. In October 2015, Amazon sued over 1,000 people for posting fake reviews on its site. This added fuel to the fire for those who may not know what to believe when they read it online. Thus, your testimonials must be credible. (Obviously, never create fake testimonials. It is fraud and just not worth the repercussions to your company.)
Where you can, provide first and last names, company, hometown or other qualifier that shows that your testimonial comes from a real person and is not fake. Consider adding a photo or a link to a professional bio. Many customers know that celebrities get paid for offering their opinions. If your clientele is famous, be clear in on your testimonials that the celebrities were not endorsed for their participation.
Video testimonials help provide credibility and instantly help your audience connect on a more personal level.
As with all marketing content, be sure your testimonials align with your audience. For example, if your face cream is intended for a 20-something audience, presenting a testimonial by a gray-haired 50-something may not do much to impress your target audience. Additionally, if you wish to promote the benefits of your vacation resort to a senior audience, providing testimonials from parents of young children may send the wrong impression about your venue.
Remember that your testimonials should help similar audiences identify with each other. If they cannot, the testimonial is not beneficial to you.
Additionally, in order to maintain credibility, never edit your testimonials. Do not exclude a comment or add information you believe should be incorporated, even if it is implied. Simply, if do not feel comfortable posting a testimonial “as is,” then it should not go up.
Where to put testimonials
Testimonials can be incorporated into all your marketing collateral. Todd Giannattasio of Tresnic Media, in an article for Business 2 Community, suggests adding testimonials to these locations on your website:

  • Customer stories page
  • Testimonials page
  • Sidebars with quotes
  • On your home page
  • Within landing pages

Including your best testimonials front and center on your homepage and on your sales page is helpful. Neil Patel, co-founder of Crazy Egg and Hello Bar, says, “if you place them in multiple locations, you may see an increase in conversions.” He sites an example with his Quick Sprout membership program: “The check-out page that included a testimonial in the sidebar converted 6.38 percent better than the check-out page that didn’t include a testimonial.”
As with other content, take the time to monitor metrics and consider A/B testing to see the kind of results you get with various placements.
Using testimonials on your website can be one of the most powerful and inexpensive marketing tools available. Use this tool correctly and your customers turn into influencers. As Entrepreneur magazine says, adding testimonials “can multiply your profits–and get your customers selling your products for you.”
If you have a content marketing program, or are planning one, download our ebook:  100 mistakes businesses make when starting, optimizing and scaling content marketing programs.  Learn from the mistakes of hundreds of other companies.  100 mistakes walks you through common and uncommon challenges that they faced with their content marketing programs.

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