We speak a lot in content marketing about how stories can engage, educate, and win over audiences.
Still many of us struggle to measure the impact of the stories we tell.
At a data-driven company like global professional services firm Aon, one-dimensional views of a story’s effectiveness won’t cut it.
Marketing-qualified leads (MQL) and conversion rates aren’t part of the assignment of the company’s brand journalism platform, The One Brief, so they’re not even part of the discussion.
Instead, its Senior Manager for Content, Global Marketing, Venetta Linas Paris, and the team worked with key business stakeholders to develop a scorecard customized to Aon’s needs and objectives for the platform.
The work on The One Brief, which earned Venetta a 2018 Content Marketer of the Year nomination, holds many lessons for enterprise content marketers.
First, understand the goals
Serving as an advisor, Aon’s role is to help clients manage unpredictability and improve performance by making smarter decisions about risk, retirement, and health solutions.
“Aon’s path with content marketing started with a desire to look at the problems our clients are trying to solve,” Venetta says.
The One Brief is planned to further demonstrate the business goal and reflect the role of a team of expert advisors.
With analysis and guidance from experts across Aon’s global team, the digital publication covers three key topics:
- Capital and economics
- People and organizations
- Risk and innovation
“We designed The One Brief as a champion of brand journalism that helps the company better coherently a storyline across varying points of view to give our audiences intelligent perspectives on important topics,” Venetta explains.
Aon has got a strong brand, yet awareness of the global company’s range of capabilities varies among regions and even among clients.
The One Brief aims to close these gaps.
“By investing in content that addresses broad issues and connects to our specific perspective, we are able to shift from general awareness who Aon is to understanding the range of what Aon does and the impact we make for our clients and society.”
Match measurement of objectives
To measure the effectiveness of this approach, Venetta and team developed a unique-to-Aon scorecard that helps determine success across each piece of published content.
The scorecard is limited to these specific objectives for The One Brief:
- Increase the understanding of Aon
- Decrease costs by centralizing content creation
- Unite the firm
Example for illustrative purposes only
Not all content is generated for the same reason, the scorecard helps Venetta measure success across a set of criteria.
The team assigns a score based on factors such as:
- Cross-firm point of view
- Audience engagement
- Marketing reuse and efficiencies
- Media interest
The scores help Venetta make decisions about what kind of new content to create and what opportunities exist to further promote the content that has been produced.
She’s found, for example, that articles with multifaceted points of view generally yield greater reuse, resulting in fewer one-off content pieces.
Look beyond the content team
Venetta has a look on The One Brief from the firm’s Chicago office.
Aon’s managing editor of global publications does work from the London headquarters.
This arrangement helps create a balanced geographic outlook.
Beyond the two full-time employees on the key content team, the weekly content effort also involves:
- Freelancers and a digital agency for interactive content production and writing support
- Subject matter experts from business teams across all regions
- Global marketing and communication leaders describing different capabilities and regions and geographies
- Cross-functional teams that help lead and maintain channel distribution across email and social media, including media relations teams that help ensure persistent messaging across owned and earned channels and erect repurposed content to media outlets.
Build on your results
Though the author can’t share specific measurements, Venetta says The One Brief continues to exceed the author’s and the team’s expectations.
By boosting all of Aon’s owned channels and using no paid promotion, the site has achieved over 250,000 unique visitors between its launch in the third quarter of 2015 and first quarter 2018.
Recent contributions in paid promotion in the second quarter of 2018 have allowed the team to learn even more about how audiences respond to the content.
Based on these trials, Venetta, working closely with Aon’s global digital team, can continue to learn from data and adjust the content to better serve its audience across channels.
Based on the audience growth and engagement The One Brief has seen, the firm is beginning to use the platform as a substitute for overall brand impact.
Audience engagement with the publication’s content serves as a forerunner for the audience’s understanding of Aon’s full array of business offerings.
While the One Brief has been influential in helping to consolidate Aon’s story, Venetta sees more opportunities to centralize content efforts across other channels, including events.
And there’s more opportunity, she says, to promote the association and achieve cost efficiencies.
Centralizing content creation already has increased content reuse and remodeling, so less content suffers in silos.
And, as more teams add their points of view to the site rather than creating their own content, Venetta expects union of voice to become even stronger and more effective.
Never underestimate the power of story
“For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved telling stories,” Venetta says.
It’s no amazement that her advice to content marketers focuses on seeing the story behind your brand’s work.
“Embrace the bigger picture,” she says.
“Think like a journalist and find the story.
Pursuing broad storylines can help create new aspects in the marketplace while building trustworthiness by focusing on a specific area of competence.”