Why not understanding the difference could be crippling your content efforts
Despite what some may say, not all content is equal. In fact, there is an important difference depending on the goal and categorization of your content. Identifying which content path you are on and where your content belongs are important questions that need to be answered to ensure you’re getting the most out of your content. This guide will help you differentiate between content campaigns and content programs as well as offer tips about how you should be classifying your content for maximum effectiveness and efficiency. To kick things off, let’s get some important definitions out of the way.
A campaign is a coordinated series of content and activities aimed at completing a singular business goal. Campaigns often have clear deliverables, are highly organized and take place in a predefined timeframe. In content marketing, a mix of inbound and outbound tactics in deployed to maximize effectiveness.
Content campaigns are best suited for marketing a new product or service launch or for amplifying a promotional offering. For a campaign you might launch a series of email blasts to your mailing list, coupled with a chain of related blog posts and social updates along with any number of other marketing vehicles that are all centered around that one goal. Those pieces should all work together in an effort to bring new prospects through the conversion funnel and into your sales cycle.
In contrast, a program is a loosely connected series of content, activities and ideas that work together perpetually to drive brand awareness and achieve high-level business goals. Programs are built to drive long-term success, and many content marketing programs have a much higher ratio of inbound to outbound elements.
Programs help propel an important shift in the way your products or services are viewed in the marketplace. Going back to our product launch example, you would likely launch a perpetual content marketing program once your initial campaign expires. This would include blogs, downloads, social posts and other content all loosely tied together under a single theme.
Measuring Content Marketing Success
In the world of content marketing, campaigns and programs often bleed into one another and create confusion, leading to mixed results and frustrated marketers. That’s why it’s important to understand some of the differences when measuring success:
Campaign costs are typically easier to measure because they are usually linear and self-contained. It should be easy to see the cost of labor, materials and other outside expenses over the life of a campaign.
Programs are much trickier to measure as they involve a lot of soft costs and labor costs because assets are typically created over long periods of time and across a variety of different content mediums. Programs can also run indefinitely without allowing you to ever put a final price on the work.
An ideal campaign typically has a single goal–allowing you to measure key performance indicators (KPIs) that affect that goal (To learn more about which KPIs you should be tracking click here). For example, a new product campaign allows you to track units sold or leads generated thereby giving you clear-cut, actionable information and feedback. The data is self-contained in the timeframe of the campaign and revenue can be readily traced to marketing efforts.
Because they are usually more vague in nature, programs are much more difficult to track. As mentioned earlier, many programs rely heavily on inbound marketing, meaning you are at the mercy of search engines and customers to discover your content. This makes it difficult to directly connect marketing efforts to individual sales. Programs are best tracked over long periods of time and the data should be measured through trends.
Given the limited time and highly targeted nature of campaigns, making big changes often isn’t an option. Instead, you must rely on data from previous campaigns to help make decisions beforehand and trust that your previous experience and data will carry the day.
Programs allow for much more robust testing as you can run simultaneous A/B tests that help you make frequent changes over the life of the program. Programs need to be routinely monitored because they should be constantly evolving in order to meet the changing needs of your customers over time.
Classify Your Actions for Better Results
It’s important to identify and classify your content marketing efforts into the appropriate campaign and program buckets. If you treat all your content like it’s campaign-based, you’ll likely give up or change course before your longer-term initiatives have time to bloom. And—if you treat everything like a program, your executive will be stuck wondering how your efforts are affecting the bottom line.
Classifying your efforts will also allow you to build more sophisticated marketing initiatives that allow campaigns and programs to feed off each other. For example, let’s say you know you’ll run a holiday campaign in Q4 that targets a specific market segment. This intelligence can inform your marketing plan in Q1, leading you to create content programs that speak to this audience throughout the year. This gives your campaign a big boost, as the brand lift from your program will aid in attentiveness of your audience.
Content Campaigns vs. Programs: Putting it All Together
For the best results campaigns and programs should be used in tandem. They can work together and help each other out to achieve your business and marketing goals. To help categorize your content marketing ambitions use our FREE Marketing Strategy Planning Template tool.
Red Bamboo Marketing consistently helps brands build smarter content marketing programs and campaigns that focus on genuine growth. If you need help building and executing your own content programs or campaigns, chat with our team to see how we can help you lift your brand, drive demand and convert leads into sales.