How a content spin makes integrated marketing soar

Learn how financial services leader Wells Fargo boosted results by rethinking traditional marketing strategy.

BY James Meyers
Founder, President and CEO, Imagination

If you’re not convinced yet about content marketing’s effectiveness at reimagining traditional marketing strategies, consider how a content-driven take on integrated marketing is disrupting the status quo—even as it drives stunning outcomes.

Every marketer is familiar with the basic precepts of integrated marketing, as developed back in the early 1990s. Led by the advertising agency of record, it targets specific audience segments, typically with an overt sell of a product or solution. Messaging is driven out in a coordinated fashion through traditional advertising channels such as banner advertising, direct mail, “offer” emails and brick-and-mortar promotions.

That sales- and product-driven orientation is losing its effectiveness, though, particularly in the business-to-business space. That’s especially true in business sectors with a complex path to purchase, little differentiation among brands and a healthy amount of customer distrust and skepticism.

Sounds like financial services, right?

Recognizing such barriers is leading some of the most creative brands in this space to respond by reinventing what integrated marketing campaigns look like.

How Wells Fargo benefited

Take our client, Wells Fargo, for example. The company’s campaign around its Business Plan Center has had a tremendous payoff.

In tangible measures, the campaign has substantially boosted traffic to an already heavily trafficked site, and the content has been proven to be hugely sticky: Audiences are visiting substantially more pages and taking far more time on the site than before the campaign. And bounce rates are down as well.

True to the content take on integrated marketing, the campaign has been grounded in a different philosophy. It’s not at all about the traditional “buy now” message, steering customers and prospects to the new account center. Instead, the value has been the advice and help that Wells Fargo can provide small business owners about business planning, articulated in 50 new pieces of informational content.

"Creating the kind of content that engages and delivers value to the audience forces better interaction among business units, their marketers and traditional marketers."

James Meyers
Founder, CEO and President

The campaign uses different channels, too—more content-focused and experience-rich. While paid advertising was a key driver of campaign success, traffic and engagement continued to grow even after that aspect was completed. The emphasis was on content and value, not promotion. This meant new content pieces—articles, videos, infographics—paired with tools to activate the education the content provided. The content and tools also were integrated within and regularly promoted on the Twitter handle for the content hub.

The content hub is critical to this take on integrated marketing. The best such hubs underscore how a brand can help customers navigate a given journey around a need and provide not just actionable information but practical utility as well. Wells Fargo’s Business Plan Center, for example, offers up success stories and helpful tutorials on the process and also gives small business owners the tools to create their own plans and assess their competition.

Building trust—and not just with customers

Integrated campaigns with content marketing at the core serve organizations well by reinforcing the trust and credibility that are integral to a strong business and brand.

But there’s a bonus, too, you’re not likely to get it from traditional integrated campaigns: breaking down internal organizational silos. Wells Fargo saw this, and others have, too. Creating the kind of content that engages and delivers value to the audience forces better interaction among business units, their marketers and traditional marketers. That improved communication can only be for the better.

If there’s a roadblock to success with this take on integrated marketing, it’s this: This strategy demands that brands’ agencies also integrate their efforts to get the job done effectively. And that may actually be the more difficult challenge.

This is not the old days, when the ad agency of record ruled the roost. Today’s content-led strategy requires a stringent delineation of responsibilities, set down and unflinchingly adhered to by the client, to ensure each component is executed effectively. Wells Fargo does this well, and its agencies work well together. But such a process can be pretty messy for those still working their way through this changing world of marketing.

published: October 19, 2016

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