Editor’s note: Venetta Linas Paris is a finalist for 2018 Content Marketer of the Year. We’ll share insight from CMY finalists in the blog before the winner is announced at Content Marketing World in September.
We talk a lot in content marketing about how stories can engage, educate, and win over audiences. Yet 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 (such as traffic or social sharing) won’t cut it. Marketing-qualified leads (MQL) and conversion rates aren’t part of the mission 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 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 volatity 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 designed to further demonstrate the business goal and reflect the role of a team of expert advisors. With analysis and guidance from expert sources across Aon’s global team, the digital publication covers three key topics:
- Capital and economics – a wide, macroeconomic view of the world, focusing on the interconnectivity of the global commercial system
- People and organizations – issues relating to demographic shifts and the impact they will have on people’s lives, particularly focused on health, retirement, and investment needs
- Risk and innovation – emerging trends, new technologies, and potential threats that could impact your business, the global economy, and society at large, with an emphasis on preparing for possible changes
“We designed The One Brief as a champion of brand journalism that helps the company better articulate a storyline across varying points of view to give our audiences insightful perspectives on important topics,” Venetta explains.
Aon has 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 bridge these gaps.
“By investing in content that tackles broad issues and connects to our specific perspective, we are able to shift from general awareness – who Aon is – to understanding the breadth of what Aon does and the impact we make for our clients and society.”
Match measurement to 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 tied to these specific objectives for The One Brief:
- Increase the understanding of Aon: Use journalistic content to showcase the expertise of colleagues and partners rather than selling specific products or solutions.
- Decrease costs by centralizing content creation: As a global content platform, The One Brief acts as a center of excellence and a reusable content asset so solution line marketers can repurpose in campaigns and local marketers can translate instead of produce new.
- Unite the firm: By pairing cross-functional points of view, the platform aims to unite the 50,000-plus employee base around a shared understanding of Aon’s capabilities.
As not all content is produced 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
- Are we representing a firmwide point of view on critical issues?
- Are we considering various geographies to ensure global relevance?
- Audience engagement
- How are our executive leaders leveraging this content?
- How are our client teams leveraging this content?
- How are our audiences across email and/or social media engaging with this content?
- Marketing reuse and efficiencies
- Is the content being translated into additional languages?
- How are teams reusing this content in local campaigns?
- How are we delivering this content to internal and external audiences?
- Media interest
- Which pieces have garnered the most interviews?
- Are publications interested in reusing the content – as bylined articles or just picking up quotes?
- If so, what backlink options exist?
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 multidimensional points of view generally yield greater reuse, resulting in fewer one-off content pieces.
Look beyond the content team
Venetta oversees The One Brief (and was the first employee dedicated to it) from the firm’s Chicago office. Aon’s managing editor of global publications works from the London headquarters. This arrangement helps create a balanced geographic perspective.
Beyond the two full-time employees on the core content team, the weekly content effort also involves:
- Freelancers and an agency for interactive content production and writing support
- Subject matter experts from business teams across all regions
- Global marketing and communication leaders representing 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 consistent messaging across owned and earned channels, and pitch repurposed content to media outlets
Build on your results
Though she can’t share specific measurements, Venetta says The One Brief continues to exceed her and the team’s expectations.
By optimizing 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 investments 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 pilots, 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 proxy for overall brand impact. Audience engagement with the publication’s content serves as a bellwether for the audience’s understanding of Aon’s full suite of business offerings.
While The One Brief has been instrumental in helping to unify 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 collaboration and achieve cost efficiencies. Centralizing content creation already has increased content reuse and repurposing, so less content languishes in silos.
And, as more teams add their points of view to the site rather than creating their own content, Venetta expects cohesion 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 surprise 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 perspectives in the marketplace while building credibility by focusing on a specific area of expertise.”
To find out live who is named the 2018 Content Marketer of the Year (and lots of things to help your content marketing program), register today for Content Marketing World Sept. 4-7 in Cleveland, Ohio. Use code BLOG100 to save $100.
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute