No games of chance here

Since the start of 2016, the Mannheim/Germany-based communications agency trio-group has been systematically expanding its content marketing offering. This is also reflected by key enhancements to its personnel. Volker Zeese, who has been Head of Content Marketing since the start of April 2017 and Lennart Hanebrink, Head of Content Marketing and CP, make up the dual leadership of this unit, which uses the Creation, Interactive, and Media Relations departments of trio-group as well as in-house and freelance editors for its projects. trio-group’s strategic focus is on KPI-driven content marketing with ROI calculation. The success of this approach is highlighted by the interest shown by existing and new clients as well as the agency’s current projects, including those for Deutsche Bahn Connect GmbH, Fresenius Medical Care, Huber+Suhner, and Schaeffler.  

CP Monitor talked to Lennart Hanebrink, Volker Zeese, and Jürgen Kütemeyer, founder and CEO of trio-group.  

CP Monitor: Why does the return on content marketing investment feature so prominently in your strategy? 

Volker Zeese: Many companies are finding that the ROI of their traditional online marketing activities is noticeably worsening. They are interested in content marketing, but do not yet know what it can offer them. We aim to clear up this uncertainty with our ROI-oriented approach. In preparation of a project, we start by using an individual measuring concept to show how the relationship between costs, leads, and generated revenue can be recorded and calculated consistently in a pilot project, for example. Then, during the course of the project, we identify existing weaknesses, carry out optimizations, and systematically improve the ROI in order to maximize the potential from one budget. At the end of a test scenario or milestone, we are therefore able to show clients whether and how content marketing has paid off for them.  

CP Monitor: How do you approach the ROI calculation? 

Lennart Hanebrink: This depends on the objectives and scope assigned to us. In some companies, even the use of cookies violates compliance regulations. For projects that primarily aim to increase revenue, however, we essentially focus on key performance indicators such as leads, converted leads, and total cost per lead, where we also take into account the cost/benefit performance of social media channels, influencer activities, and content cooperation.  

The revenue generated by specific content can then be determined by the exchange of tracking data between the company’s CRM and sales systems and Google Analytics. We can thus document the monetary value of content along the entire customer journey. For any leads that have potential but have not yet generated any income, the client has to define the relevant values. 

CP Monitor: And what happens if ROI remains below expectations? 

Jürgen Kütemeyer: Aside from improvements in user guidance and the budget allocation for content distribution and promotion, there are essentially three fine-tuning instruments that quickly have an effect. One of these is the process optimization to reduce costs through the use of integrated planning and production systems or tools for the automated processing of leads, for example. 

We also understand the huge impact of personalized and contextualized content on lead generation in B2B business. The bounce rate drops. This is the second fine-tuning instrument. At the same time, it increases the probability that the user will take the decisive step from information retrieval to purchase.  

CP Monitor: What is the impact of quality in the content offered?  

Jürgen Kütemeyer: This is the third fine-tuning instrument, although I believe that the issue of quality is still addressed somewhat one-dimensionally with the key currencies of attentiveness and relevance.  

This approach still largely excludes the subject of brand, i.e., the complex area of brand positioning, communication, and perception. You can see the results for yourself today: a huge amount of interchangeable content that barely distinguishes a company from its direct competition. This is why we focus on strategic content planning and implementation rather than simply attentiveness and relevance. We also ensure that the content corresponds to the brand promise and the brand expectations of the respective personality. This is where brandsync®, our methodology for emotional brand management, greatly supports content marketing. 

CP Monitor: Much of what you talk about seems to be very digitally oriented, although each of you has many years of experience in CP. What role does CP play for trio-group? 

Lennart Hanebrink: I do not see any contradiction between content marketing and corporate publishing. On the contrary, corporate marketing tools and methodologies can lead to strong synergies in the interaction with print when it comes to topic management and content processing in particular. After all, there are still a large number of printed magazines that clearly fail to achieve their potential because they do not focus sufficiently on the interests of the target groups. We therefore pursue an integrated content marketing strategy that equally takes into account print, digital, mobile, and social. 

CP Monitor: How do you view the future of print in corporate communication in view of the ongoing shift in budgets toward digital? 

Volker Zeese: At the moment, print is not only suffering on account of relatively high production and distribution costs, but to a larger extent because of the inability of the magazine format to reflect the speed of organic or market-driven changes in many companies. Tools that digitally transform print communication, such as those we offer with our e-publishing systems trio red and trio pro, facilitate this conversion by saving time and costs.  

However, the digitalization of print is no longer a printed format. And not every company wants to or is able to do without the specific strengths and reach potential of a printed magazine. This is why I do not believe it is a question of whether or not print has a place in corporate communication. For many CP products, it is much more about analyzing whether they can still fulfil their intended function effectively today. I do not believe that print has come to an end, but that it is in a transitional phase that needs new, clever concepts. In the process, the knowledge gained from our own content marketing products can give key impetus to companies.

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