Planning, Implementing and Measuring a Successful Topical Marketing Campaign

Each month, the team at ON24 puts together Insight50 – where we provide fellow Webinerds with 50 minutes of expert insight and answer the questions that are important to you.

This time, the theme was topical marketing. Given recent news events, we focused on Brexit as a case study as to how marketers can align with themes of note.

The below is just a brief wrap up of insight from Laura Flandin at Euler Hermes, Matt Owen at Spire Healthcare and Rina Patel at Contentive – and of course, you the viewers! If you didn’t manage to see it, view it on-demand here.

Creating content around current events is a good way to create engagement amongst your target audience as well as set your company up as a thought leader. But how frequently are marketers running such campaigns?

When participants of our latest webinar were asked if they were currently taking advantage of topical marketing, 59 percent said they were using topical marketing. More than half of those – and 37 percent of attendees as a whole – have used Brexit as a theme.

Here are a few key points that were discussed by our panel, all of whom have been practicing topical marketing.

How do you plan for a topical marketing campaign?

When it comes to the question of planning, Matt shared some keen advice — “Don’t confuse topical with unplanned. You can always plan to put messaging out and it will give you a huge advantage over the unplanned.”

The majority (67 percent) of webinar attendees said they do plan their topical campaigns out up to a couple of weeks in advance, while 44 percent said they react to same-day topics and events. The same percentage plan out their topical campaigns a quarter in advance, yet none planned out a year in advance.

As revealed by Laura Flandin, Euler Hermes does yearly planning – but their schedule is fluid enough that it can be adapted to what is in the news or for topics that have created a lot of engagement. Euler Hermes tries to build into the schedule for the inevitable occurrence of unplanned content, with 80 percent of their content planned and 20 percent available for topics that come up unexpectedly.

Rina Patel from Contentive spoke about another part of planning — blending long-term content with the opportunities that arise.

“There is the planning within the editorial teams, and our editors will put a 12-month calendar in play. However, they can obviously forward plan only so much, because you can’t predict everything that happens in the world. So they will always have a calendar with enough room to work with, which will then allow us to work on the key pieces that are coming up within the industry.”

Is there a single most effective method to deliver a campaign?

One of the biggest questions of the webinar was if there was a single most effective method for delivering a topical campaign message. It might be disappointing to hear that all three panelists had a decisive answer of “No”.

Matt Owen from Spire Healthcare explains that there is not one individual channel that will get the reach marketers are wanting:

“I think it would be difficult to nail down to a single channel that will definitely get you the most responses. I guess a lot of it is around your audience, who you’re trying to reach. A lot of it goes back to timing and planning as well. Which channels do you have access to? How can you get that message out quickly? What sort of processes do you have in place?”

While Rina agreed, she expanded into the importance of understanding the different ways audiences consume your messaging.

“Everybody likes to consume content in different ways. Some people like to watch webinars, some people like to just read, some people are very happy just having the quick social media update. So, one size definitely does not fit all.”

Another question to consider is that just because a topic is in the news, is it necessarily topical and important to your audience? As Laura explained, it’s important to know who you’re talking to and if it has relevance to them.

“Is it really what your people and the people you’re targeting want to hear about? What are the angles? What do they want to hear?”

How do you measure campaign success?

Measuring the success of a topical marketing campaign is not unlike measuring the success of any other campaign. It is really about measuring on the metrics that matter to the people or department you need to prove the success to.

For topical campaigns, generally, Matt and Laura both agreed that reach was a metric they measured success on. However, Laura pointed out that leads and new business generated was what mattered to Euler Hermes’s finance department.

“When I talk about reach, they kind of wonder what I’m talking about. So what they want to see is new business.”

For Rina, her clients are interested in seeing the number of leads a campaign generates but it isn’t necessarily that straightforward.

“I think, that there are two different methodologies. There’s your brand awareness, being a thought leader, and then there’s the lead generation, MQLs and that side of things. So, when it comes to the success of a topical campaign, I think the key thing is how many people have consumed it? The whole point is you want people to read and understand the content and that’s the reason that you put it out there.”

Hear more on our Insight50 session

The quotes above are just a small sample of what was discussed and answered on February’s Insight50 session. Make sure to register to watch on-demand and strengthen your topical marketing campaigns for the year ahead.

What Is Topical Marketing and How can It Drive Engagement?

Our upcoming Insight50 session will be exploring the issue of topical marketing – and in particular, using Brexit as a case study for how to tie your message to key events. Sign up for the session to get your questions answered, with expert speakers including Leanne Chescoe of Demandbase, Joel Harrison of B2B Marketing, and Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing.

Great marketing is delivered to the right person, at the right place, at the right time. That’s something all marketers learn early in their career. But capturing attention never easy.

However, when a theme is on your buyer’s mind, you can get them to listen by aligning your message with their thought process. And while customer journey maps help map out the questions they will likely be asking, that’s not everything that they will be thinking of on a given day.

Topical marketing is one way of getting that alignment between what’s on their mind and what you can offer.

So what is topical marketing?

We’ll discuss more of this on the session, but essentially it’s talking about a particular theme happening at a particular point in time.

While news cycles provide a steady feed of hooks on which to hang your message, topical marketing doesn’t have to be limited to that. Some examples include:

  • Particular events, such as trade conferences and summits
  • Holidays
  • Deadlines for regulatory change or compliance
  • Major market events, such as M&A, IPOs or updates from central banks and finance bodies
  • For sectors with a fixed season (such as higher-education or even sports and fashion), key calendar dates
  • Even editorial calendars for major publications within your industry

How can topical marketing drive engagement?

If a particular theme will be on the minds of your target audience, creating content and campaigns based on this theme can help satisfy their need for information when it’s top of mind.

Another benefit of topical marketing is how it can potentially fit into a variety of time scales. Some events will be planned or known about for years in advance, allowing you to establish a share of voice in that space.

For topics that emerge rapidly, a fast approach to getting a message out can help you cut above the slower-moving competition when it’s otherwise hard to stand out.

How can webinars help with topical marketing?

A key benefit of webinars versus other content is that they allow you to have two-way communication with your audience. As such, they can be used at any stage of your topical marketing campaigns.

For early-stage topical campaigns, webinars can help you test the water and understand what questions matter to your prospects. Panels and Q&A sessions can elicit this feedback. Determining what assets get the most engagement can also help you figure out what’s working.

Later on, webinars centered around taking direct action can bring your prospects closer to conversion. For example, if one of your topics involved an upcoming regulatory change, an engaging session that answers questions from specific customers can be converted into sales conversations and follow-ups. Demo sessions can lead on strong calls-to-action to take out a trial, while those aimed at existing customers can look to increase retention or upsell activity.

To find out more, make sure to sign up to our topical marketing webinar.