It’s hard to believe, but 2017 is already underway. Expectations are high that your marketing program will deliver an impactful ROI to your organization. To get your program off and running this year, here are three best practices to help drive business growth:
- Bulldoze silos once and for all
Integration efforts between PR and marketing are still falling short because too many silos remain. If you do nothing else in 2017, make it your goal to increase cross-channel promotion of thought leadership content historically limited to earned media channels. Burns & McDonnell has found success with this approach by sharing major news not only via press releases, but also through social media like LinkedIn Pulse. Their clients appreciate hearing the news straight from the source because it comes across as more personal.
Another technique is to serve up earned media (PR) content as sponsored content (advertising) on social channels like LinkedIn or Twitter. With this approach, companies reap both PR and marketing’s benefits by having their compelling content promoted to key customers. For an added boost, thought leaders at your company can share the article or provide fresh commentary on it, further expanding its reach.
Don’t forget that PR content should always include SEO keywords. SEO rewards high quality content on high quality sites, so having your keywords infused into your PR content will not only mean consistency with brand messaging but also boost your search rankings.
- Stop navel gazing
An alarming volume of B2B marketing content is still too product-focused and not customer-centric. One way to improve storytelling is through more humanized messaging. Leading with product features and benefits no longer cut it because, well, it’s not about you. If your company won’t speak to customers’ need states, then they’ll find a company that will.
It’s not just about what you say, but where you say it. For better marketing and PR integration to truly work (best practice #1), storytelling efforts must cover paid and earned media. We’re helping our clients incorporate humanized messaging into their PR and marketing campaigns. One example is H.B. Fuller, a multinational adhesives supplier. Rather than talking about an adhesive’s features, the company focuses instead on how a product enables benefits like innovative packaging designs, reduced breakage or fresher, longer-lasting food. All of these benefits can help reduce food waste, a major global issue. By virtue of reframing its messaging, H.B. Fuller has positioned itself as an ally to and packaging thought leader on the cause.
- Embrace data-driven PR
The rise of digital and social channels means PR and marketing are more measurable than ever. Whether it’s clicks, likes or bounce rates, it’s important for marketers and PR pros to monitor meaningful stats, then unpack them to figure out how users consume content. What time of day do they interact with your content most? What types of headlines and hashtags boost engagement? What content gets the most clicks? Testing these variables helps vet out what is and is not effective, so you can optimize future content to increase engagement and effectiveness.
Data-driven PR presents a big opportunity to prove ROI and campaign success. Tools like bit.ly and Cision can provide data (clicks, social media engagement, etc.) that helps demonstrate PR and marketing’s value. And don’t forget old standbys like gated content. Gating valuable content, like Stratasys Direct Manufacturing did with its 2015 3D printing trend report, can provide direct correlations between marketing and PR efforts to leads and sales. Proof: In under four months, the report generated 1,322 new leads, with 26 converting into sales.
Are there any 2017 best practices you’re excited about? Any that we missed? Tweet us @Inprela with your answers and suggestions.