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February, a strange month marked by freezing temperatures* and the first appearance of chocolate eggs.
This isn't strictly true, with some sightings of Easter eggs as early as Boxing Day, but now seems like a good time to catch up with British chocolate company, Thorntons.
We spoke to John Alexander Rowley, Content Marketing Manager, to discuss life marketing confectionery.
*apologies to anyone reading in the Tropics or the Southern Hemisphere.
How do you integrate marketing efforts across channels and track in‐store uplift?
When we launch a new marketing campaign at Thorntons we always try to ensure it’s represented across the most appropriate channels, both online and offline.
For example, our recent campaign around the relaunch of our Continental chocolate range included a microsite, in‐store sampling and an experiential event.
Of course, there are always some things that might work well offline but don't translate well online (and visa versa) which requires a bit of extra thought to come up with a solution.
Since the content creation process is closely aligned to overall marketing campaigns, our online content is able to tie closely into other touch‐points.
While tracking in‐store uplift isn’t easy, we use a combination of control stores and checkout buttons to record the uplift from specific marketing and content campaigns.
Thorntons' Continental microsite
What purpose does content serve for Thorntons? Is it SEO, engagement on social, or as part of a broader campaign?
Whenever we produce content we try to think about our customers' interactions with the Thorntons brand across all channels.
This often includes digital, retail stores and FMCG partners in order to give our audience the best possible brand experiences.
An example of our objectives when producing content would be:
- Driving traffic and footfall to our ecommerce website and retail stores.
- Increasing overall brand visibility & equity, both online and offline.
- Providing customers the best possible experience through relevant channels including search, email, affiliates and social.
Your customer demographics must be fairly broad. How does this impact your content creation?
You’re right, everyone loves the occasional chocolate! As our customer demographic is so broad we use a mixture of data insights coupled with Thorntons unique qualities to explore concepts and develop our content schedule.
For Easter this process combined our customers' interest in our chocolate factory with the heritage and craftsmanship of Thorntons Easter eggs.
The end result was our ‘Ultimate guide to Easter eggs’ which included an interactive chocolate factory.
As Easter is the second biggest chocolate season after Christmas, it’s a time where seasonal relevance for Thorntons is at it’s peak, so it’s important that we create the right type of content which resonates well with our audience.
Sometimes it can be difficult to ensure the content creation process meets customer expectations, but spending enough time during the research stage minimises this risk.
Thorntons chocolate factory interactive content
How will you be tracking the success of your Easter content?
The Christmas gift finder we launched in November 2015 had a direct relationship with ecommerce sales (so proving a positive ROI was simple).
With content such as our ‘Ultimate guide to Easter eggs’, providing a positive ROI is a little trickier.
Our Easter content’s success will be measured through a number of metrics including online traffic, engagement and brand visibility across various channels.
Search performance is an important element of our content marketing strategy too, with year‐on‐year organic visibility and sales helping to define the return on investment of this content.
Can social media be more than simply a customer service channel?
Absolutely! We think that engaging with customers for all purposes through social should be a fundamental part of any digital marketing strategy.
For Easter we created a suite of highly‐shareable micro‐content which we’ll be revealing across Easter.
It’s important for us to communicate with our audience where it’s suitable for them, so choosing the correct social media channels to match customer needs is important.
Different social platforms play different roles, both from the audience’s and company’s perspective.
At Thorntons we use social as a way to build relationships with fans (and influencers) through unique dialogue and content marketing as well as customer support.
We believe there’s a place for internal communications through social, too.
Where is Thorntons on its digital journey?
We’re proud of the experience that we provide to our customers who choose to browse or shop online, but we’ve got big ambitions for the future.
Our ‘Ultimate guide to Easter eggs’ and interactive chocolate factory is the largest piece of content we’ve ever created, and with content marketing playing an increasingly important role in our online strategy, it’s just the start of things to come.
If you're interested in learning more about content marketing, why not browse our training course pages.