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Quad Digital is a content marketing agency. We blend creative, SEO, social and PR to build profitable audiences for brands.
Our content strategies drive engagement and nurture clients' customer relationships from prospect to sale, and on to return purchase.

Quad Digital is a content marketing agency. We blend creative, SEO, social and PR to build profitable audiences for brands. Our content strategies drive engagement and nurture clients' customer relationships from prospect to sale, and on to return purchase.

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Aims, objectives, strategies and tactics

Content marketing seems to be an endless source of confusion, but I think we’ve finally cracked it!  Our intern, Emilia, did a great training session recently about developing aims, objectives, strategies and tactics – and it struck me that this is where most of the confusion lies.  So for the record, this is what we think, and this is what most trained marketers would recognise – and the hierarchy is really important:

  • Aims, big-picture goals – usually these are the aims of the business.
  • Objectives – these are the outcomes that represent the achievement of these goals. Importantly, these are things you can observe and measure, so you can work out whether you have achieved them or not.
  • Strategies are the action plans you’ll execute to meet the objectives.
  • Tactics are all the little things that you’ll do to make up the strategy.

So where does content marketing fit?  Well content marketing is a strategy – it’s about using deep brand stories to better engage consumers in a world where they are becoming less receptive to traditional strategies, such as advertising.  Ultimately, as some strategies die others step in and this is exactly what’s happening right now with content marketing.

A clever brand needs a mix of strategies that can be scaled, as they are measured vs. objectives.  The problem is that a number of digital people don’t really get this.  It’s primarily because the set-up of most brand teams in digital is very objective-oriented: a social team, SEO team, digital media team etc.  Digital in such a scenario is itself a tactic of bigger objectives – certainly in a lot of eyes.  The next issue is around the tactics that make up a content marketing strategy – and here there is a lot of cross-over with social and SEO.

Take SEO for example. Assuming someone sits down and says our objective is to get more traffic from organic search, then cool our strategy should be SEO.  To do SEO well, you need content and off-page signals. Content marketing does this. Right OK, but what is really happening here is that this is very siloed thinking and the reality is you end up with lowest-common-denominator work that does nothing for brand. At some point, someone’s going to question the value and either stop or be clever enough to realise that they could work with the people responsible for the brand and put a feather in their cap.

So where does the value sit? Well if done well and implemented across the right teams, with the people that have the leverage to get things aligned in charge, content marketing will work. When it becomes a tactical implementation for a very specific objective, it won’t.  So my message is simple – unless you are thinking about this strategically as a solution online to a host of objectives, then you are not starting well.

Or if you want to talk to some people who can help you get it right, come and talk to us.

Learning how to pull with Quad Digital

My first blog post for Quad! I’m Emilia and I’m working as PR intern here.

I’m a recent graduate in PR from the London College of Fashion and have a passion for strategy and communication.

I first got into PR when I was 16 and have worked with many clients since, from start-up designers to high end fashion brands.

Alongside work at Quad I run a brand consultancy. I found a gap in the market for brand development services for smaller fashion brands and set up a business to meet this need. I love being able to take a brand from research to idea and on to the execution of a campaign.

The reason I decided to enter the digital communications industry was to expand my knowledge of online content marketing, especially now some traditional marketing practices are becoming less and less effective.

The link between digital content marketing and PR is an undeniable one. PR practitioners need to ensure they are embracing it to enhance and amplify their clients’ connections with audiences.

The difference between PR and content marketing can be confusing to a novice. The two are often compared to push versus pull. PR has a push mentality – pushing a new product or campaign toward an audience. Content marketing meanwhile creates a pull effect by drawing in audiences through trusted content.

I guess you could say that while here at Quad Digital, what I hope to learn about most is the fine art of pulling!

Our mission to remove confusion from content marketing, or how to sober up an astronaut

Recently we’ve discussed at some length the confusion that exists around content marketing and what exactly it means. We certainly know what it means to us. I’ve blogged about this before, just as I’ve also blogged about the many companies out there peddling other content marketing solutions and given some advice on how to pick one, which I hope has been useful.

For today’s post, however, I thought I’d look at how the confusion about the specifics of content marketing is being perpetuated and have a gentle dig at the industry conferences that have tacked a content marketing panel on to their annual events.

What really winds me up is how much the notion of expert speaker and panel reminds me of this quote from Alan Shepard, the first American in space. “It’s a very sobering feeling to be up in space and realise that one’s safety factor was determined by the lowest bidder on a government contract,” he said. Only in our business, perhaps it’s often the highest bidder.

Why do I say this? Well, because I have been inundated with invitations to speak at events that have been closely tied to sponsorship requests.

Now, I’m not naïve, but in a relatively new sector it’s a sobering thought to know that the brands attending these events are being advised by the person who paid the most to get their attention. You might think then that these panels are dominated by the big agencies but I’ve rarely seen their people speak in this environment. Almost invariably it’s a software provider and this just makes matters worse.

I genuinely feel this is confusing the content marketing agenda and I intend to make it my mission to expose this and pick holes wherever I can.

What are we going to do about it? One thought was to do some content marketing that really gets to the nub of the issue. This would be totally in line with our belief in educating and informing our audience. But our audience also includes some of our competitors and I prefer not to educate them at all.

So we’ve settled on a new approach. It’s based on Facebook’s talent for newsfeed manipulation, interwoven with a hint of subliminal messaging. You may see it, you may not. But one thing you’ll definitely be compelled to do is contact Quad Digital to find out more. Doing that is easy. Call us on 0207 353 7570, drop a line to iminterested@quaddigital.co.uk  or tweet us. We’re @QuadDigital.  Oh and then there’s Facebook too  https://www.facebook.com/QuadDigital

Quad Digital expertise supports literacy campaign

With the National Literacy Trust’s Books about Town campaign about to begin, we at Quad are buzzing with excitement and anticipation.

From next week, you’ll be able to follow a trail of open book-shaped benches across London, each featuring the cover of an influential novel or children’s book, painted by some of the UK’s leading artists. We volunteered to build and design the website for the cause, since its aim of improving literacy is a subject close to our heart.

As a content marketing business, we feel passionately about the art of writing and were keen to take part in a campaign to encourage the public to read for pleasure. To our delight, Books about Town dedicated a bench to us. Painted by Mandii Pope, it celebrates one of my favourite childhood books, Lewis Carroll’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. We love our bench and can’t wait to pay it a visit once the campaign gets under way.

Up and running from July 2, the Books about Town website – which features parallax scrolling and children’s book illustrations – has lots of exciting content, including a downloadable map of the bench trail  which weaves its way through Bloomsbury, the City, Riverside and Greenwich. There’s information on exciting family events, activities and quizzes – a great way for anyone to discover London’s literary connections throughout history and fall in love with reading all over again.

The website will also include beautiful book designs from much-loved old classics – such as Peter Pan, Mary Poppins and Sherlock Holmes – and Information on the talented artists who participated in the project, including Ralph Steadman, Axel Scheffler and Cressida Cowell. Follow the journey with us on Facebook and Twitter 

Why artificially building links is a tired and risky strategy

I’ve written a number of posts hoping to demystify content marketing and hopefully highlight what brands should look for in a content marketing agency, writes Ben Dickens, Quad’s managing director. But I thought it would be valuable to take a good hard look at the notion of links and why both brands and agencies seem to equate content marketing with link building.

Let me state my position on links:

Artificially building links – read paying for them – is a tired strategy based around short-term gain.  For every link built this way, you are actively increasing the risk that at some point in the future you will be caught out by a search engine which will penalise you for breaching their guidelines.

Content marketing should never be focused on building links – it’s about engaging an audience earlier in their journey to build trust so when they come to spend some money they do it with you.  The only time I would advocate tracking links is to assess the quality and effectiveness of your content.  Sure, you need to drive some awareness of your content, but if it’s not being linked to and shared naturally it’s not engaging your target audience and, in my opinion, it’s therefore failed.

However, this is where it becomes tricky. It’s very easy to artificially create these signals and put the awareness budget to use by developing links and shares using content to link to. But such a strategy is  doomed to drag you into a link-building culture because you’ll probably look at your content and say, well nobody naturally linked or shared but what I spent on artificially creating these signals kind of worked.  In future, you’ll let your content standards slip as it’s all too easy to build those links. There are loads of sector-specific bloggers who’ll link to and extol the virtues of your content for a fee – and you’ll see the results in a rise in organic traffic.

But you risk producing content simply for the sake of having it there, and you’ve totally missed what you set out to do which was properly engage an audience and improve your chances of getting more people to spend more money, more often with your brand.  Sure, you’ll see a bit more traffic but nearly all these people will be at the preference and purchase end of the sales funnel, so again you’ve missed the point of engaging them earlier, and all the time the black cloud of a penalty will be growing ever larger.

This trap is very easy to fall into. Everyone wants results yesterday and sometimes a quick win is what’s needed to keep a client or boss happy.  That’s why we advocate content marketing as a top down strategy that needs to permeate through almost all areas of marketing. The way content marketing is delivered naturally aligns the various silos that exist – in most businesses, the problems occur when content marketing is thought of as a replacement for certain aspects of marketing, particularly SEO where most link addicts hang out.

I know full well that search engines work on links, and acknowledge their importance for organic traffic. But equally, I’ve seen how tricking the system has played out and it’s not pretty.  Perhaps, this is where I roll off a long diatribe about the web and the founding principles etc etc.. but hey they don’t pay the mortgage.

In a nutshell, don’t get obsessed with links. It’s not where to channel your energy, and be wary of anyone who isn’t focused on creating a great site that people want to experience, share with their friends and link to.  I think Matt Cutts said something similar!

So give Quad Digital a call. We’ve got the correct blend of publishing expertise, consumer understanding and technical knowledge to deliver measurable results through your content marketing. Find us on 0207 353 7570, drop us a line at iminterested@quaddigital.co.uk or tweet us. We’re @QuadDigital

Between a rock and hard place, or what to look for in your content marketing agency

There’s a huge amount of confusion at the moment. Why? Because content marketing agencies are suddenly everywhere – and they often offer widely differing services.

Broadly, however, these offerings fall into three distinct camps. What follows will help you better evaluate the skills each camp possesses and how they might remedy the problem you want to solve.

Firstly you’ve got the old school contract publishers producing branded content in deep formats. Their background is rooted in publishing and they’re responsible for in-flight magazines, supermarket publications and the like. In recent years these agencies have done more and more digital work, either reshaping existing content for online consumption or producing standalone digital titles. Their real skill is publishing very high quality content on behalf of brands.

Read more…

Three steps toward a better content marketing strategy

You know you ought to be doing more marketing but you’re not really sure where to begin. Viewed from afar, there’s a lot to get on with. A blog, social media updates, an advertising campaign; it can really stack up. But whatever you do, your content marketing strategy should always be your starting point and guiding light.

Here are three questions to ask before deciding what strategies to pursue.

1. Where’s the revenue coming from? You’re in businesses to earn money. When you’re not raising capital there are two places to get it from, attracting new customers and keeping existing ones. But that doesn’t mean you should split your marketing budget 50/50. Depending on your business, keeping your current customer base happy may prove more profitable than pursuing and acquiring new customers. Once you’ve found out where to focus your efforts you’ll have a better idea of what to do next.

Read more…

Audience building for Books About Town

If you’ve been following us on Twitter, you may have heard we’re working with Books About Town, a collaboration between the National Literacy Trust and Wild In Art to encourage reading for enjoyment. Based in London, the Books About Town plans include a series of sponsored BookBenches, designed by top artists and celebrating stories linked to the capital. The benches, shaped to resemble open books, will start popping up around London this July.

Image courtesy of the Books About Town website.

Image courtesy of the Books About Town website.

Books About Town came to Quad Digital looking for a website that communicated its concept. We worked with the project to build something we’re extremely proud of.

What’s more, it’s a great example of one of the first creative steps we take when building audiences for our clients – building an infrastructure.

What you’ll be able to see on the site right now is a project in development; there are still placeholders for benches.  From July, however, it will feature pictures and stories about each of the completed benches in the city. And, at the end of summer, the benches will be auctioned in support of the National Literacy Trust.

Building Books About Town a great website gives the project a head start in building its audience. A web space that communicates its key messages and engages its visitors will create more buzz. It also gives the project’s audience somewhere to live and grow within.

We’re honoured be involved with Books About Town, The National Literacy Trust and Wild In Art to bring this ambitious work to life. And we can’t wait to see the benches around London. If you’re interested in sponsoring a bench, head to the Books About Town site.

Want to give your audience a home and somewhere to grow? Get in touch with Quad, a London based digital marketing agency. Call us on 0207 353 7570, send us an email to iminterested@quaddigital.co.uk or tweet us @QuadDigital

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