How to Successfully Utilize Branded Content

A product marketing professional shares her secrets to leveraging branded content within strategic marketing campaigns.
Written by Isaac Feldberg
December 20, 2021Updated: December 20, 2021

If you’re in marketing, media, or publishing, you’ve likely heard the term “branded content” more times than you can count. And yet, defining what this marketing strategy is can be a little tricky within an industry as fast-evolving as tech, which is investing in branded content like never before. 

Marketing professionals generally agree that branded content can be a powerful tool for reaching an audience; beyond simply generating clicks, it aims to engage audiences in a conversation. The best branded content shares its brand’s overarching message with consumers, familiarizing them with its products and fundamental goals. Uber, for example, wants audiences to know that its mobility-as-a-service offerings can get them where they need to go. Ultimately, through strong and succinct storytelling, branded content aims to convert those it reaches into loyal customers.

Kelly Carmody, director of product marketing at SilkRoad Technology, knows the secrets of successful branded content. Under her leadership, this world-class HR software and services company has changed the face of human capital management, prioritizing people through a suite of cloud-based HR technology products that primarily cater to employees rather than organizations. We spoke with Carmody about the best ways to successfully utilize branded content in order to fulfill a company’s goals.

 

Kelly Carmody
Director of Product Marketing

 

From a marketer’s perspective, what are the key strengths and weaknesses of using branded content as part of a campaign?

Branded content enables organizations to expand their reach and credibility while providing value to the end consumer. Branded thought leadership can provoke questions and insightful conversations about tackling today’s challenges or further developing or articulating a given framework or subject matter. It can also position your organization as an authority or thought leader, giving you more leverage and relevancy in prospective or current client relationships. 

Branded content does require resources and planning to ensure any integrated effort achieves its desired outcomes. Because our environment keeps changing, it’s become harder to execute broader campaigns effectively, as they may not always land as intended — especially depending on the industry and client base. 

As such, we’re likely to see brands pivoting to smaller, more succinct and targeted campaigns in 2022, provided they haven’t done so already. Branded content does need to be surrounded with other tactics and enablement at the right part of the client or prospect’s journey — and sustained over time to ensure they progress through that journey. Too often, individual pieces are evaluated on their own instead of within the context of a broader campaign effort.

 

What’s one story you’ve been able to tell using branded content?

In early 2021, we conducted research with OnePoll on a Full-time Flexibility survey. We surveyed 500 executives and 1,500 office workers about how their organizations supported them during the pandemic and if they felt their employers could still onboard employees effectively while aligning them to the organization and its culture in a digital environment. 

We uncovered that two in five employees were considering leaving their job because of their organization’s response to the pandemic. This was an early warning sign of what’s now being termed “The Great Resignation.” Research indicated that 63 percent of workers took on new responsibilities or roles during the pandemic. Of those, one in four received no training or support to cope with their new duties. 52 percent of new hires felt they didn't receive enough training, and 56 percent still had unanswered questions about their role. 

These insights illustrated that business-as-usual tactics and strategies don’t work in our new normal and that organizations need to invest in digital onboarding and the employee experience. We were early in identifying impactful workforce changes and trends, which positioned SilkRoad Technology as a trusted, data-driven advisor.

 

What are the keys to a successful branded content campaign?

The best branded content campaigns start with a piece of pillar content that can be repurposed into smaller, bite-sized iterations — similar to the GaryVee content model. This takes time, effort and resources but has a discernible impact on the campaign’s success. It provides the opportunity to deliver an integrated message, using a multi-channel approach to effectively and efficiently reach the market. 

Content is only effective if it captures someone’s attention, is consumed and provides value. To start, you need to determine where your desired audience’s attention is and how and when they consume content. To accomplish this, you’ll need to understand your buyer personas, identify ideal customer profiles and leverage intent data to ensure that what you create and deliver will be both impactful and relevant.

Understand that you may need multiple pieces of content for different personas and different stages of the consideration and buying cycle. It may also make sense to segment audiences and personalize content to earn share of mind in certain consumers or to drive conversion — that is, to turn consumers into clients. Most critically, you have to give the campaign enough time to work before evaluating its efficacy — especially if your sales cycle spans several months. 

 

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