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Branching Out: Moving From B2B Marketing Campaigns to Programs

As marketers, we’re used to producing kick-ass content and amplifying it. When our campaigns are running, we’re generating leads and things are great. But then the campaign ends, our focus shifts, and it’s on to the next campaign. We’re sitting here asking ourselves: why does it just end instead of cycle?

Campaigns are Built to Be Disposable

Marketing campaigns are crafted to move the needle towards a larger objective. They propel the habit of checklist marketing with their predetermined budgets and lifespans. They allow for tweaking if a campaign is underperforming, but lack the flexibility to completely change and adapt if necessary.  As such, success is more often measured in what got out the door rather than what was learned or achieved.

From Marketing Campaigns to 'Always On' Programs

When it comes to effort vs. results, marketing programs get you further than campaigns. With no end date, a program runs as long as it still meets your strategic objectives. It gives your team ultimate flexibility to support the objective. Divide scheduled quarters or months into smaller chunks (sprints) and use that time to try new things with content or experiment with a new tactic. Did something breakthrough? Then pivot and run with it. Is something not working well? You don’t have to wait until next quarter to scrap it. The next sprint is just around the corner. With an ever-growing pool of data, this is all about learning and improving.

Programs Enable Your Team to Think Agile

Agile marketing means something different to everyone these days. What matters is that your marketing is a circle, not a straight line. A core team, which is often interdisciplinary, works together to bring in all the pieces of the program. You’ll probably have a content expert, a data junkie, and a strategic lead all working on evolving the program every cycle.

Pick a cycle timeframe based on how your team operates. It could be every two weeks or every quarter. Just start somewhere! Gather data on how your content is performing and dig deep into the why. What common factors can you link between the most consumed content? What new topics are on the horizon that you need to start talking about? Are you reaching enough or the right eyeballs with your content? Iterate on your approach and start the next cycle stronger.

Programs Give Your Audience Ultimate Control in Content Consumption

With a campaign approach, your team decides what content to offer up and when. Why not hand back control to your audience? Bring all of your content (i.e. written, video, PDFs, and even social) together in one place. You might have an idea of what they want to consume, but let them self-select using different categories or filters. You can even leverage AI-based recommendations to guide them deeper into content, making data-driven suggestions based on past consumption patterns.

Amplification Through Digital Ads

Content amplification is where programs really shine over campaigns. Instead of promoting only the latest content, set up one always-running ad group that promotes it all. Ad platform algorithms will automatically serve ads according to what users are most interested in. This removes the guesswork. It also extends the life of your best content since no content is prematurely pulled due to a schedule. Ads are only retired automatically via the algorithm due to lack of uptake, or by you pausing them due to seasonality or relevancy.

This method ultimately lets your users select what they want to read or watch. The data is better for it. Say 'so long' to spikes and lulls in traffic, and 'hello' to a strong, ever-improving baseline of data for even better performance evaluation.

Focusing on Programs Pays Off

A program energizes your team and gets them focused on one big idea. They’re working smarter to generate better results and uncover new insights.

We’ve seen programs work incredibly well firsthand. Syngenta Canada’s Soy Masters program, powered by Uberflip, left its subsequent and simultaneous campaigns in the dust. The click-through-rates on ads for this program were more than double those of its traditional campaigns and traffic is way up. We were seeing trends in the data after just a month of sprints. Now that we’re three months in, we’re rolling out this approach to other areas of their business. We’re taking what we’ve learned and applying it across the board. And we’ll keep doing that throughout 2018.

Want to see other trends in B2B marketing? Check out this infographic.

About the Author

Sarah Rosenquist is a Senior Account Manager at Stryve, a B2B digital marketing agency in Kitchener-Waterloo. With the rest of the team of full-stack digital marketers, Sarah provides advanced B2B digital marketing services to supercharge her clients’ sales.

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