Content marketing example: IFX Forum gets focused

Oct 23, 2017 | Case Studies

In a recent article, I outlined how content marketing works for software companies. One part of the article that got more positive feedback than anything else was its brief content marketing examples from the software industry.

No matter what industry you’re in, looking at real-life experiences is always an instructive way to learn. So this week let’s take a much closer look at one of those examples: IFX Forum.

Lots of content but no framework

IFX Forum is a well-established software standards development organization (SDO) serving the financial services industry. They offer a detailed technology specification that banks, credit unions and credit card companies around the world can use to design and manage financial applications.

IFX already had lots of content – technical white papers, an extensive web site, recorded webinars and more. But what they lacked was a framework to make all that material work effectively to their benefit.

What’s more, they needed to head in a new direction to keep pace with their industry, yet their existing content library and corporate image weren’t focused on that initiative.

IFX Forum as a content marketing example

As a content marketing example, IFX isn’t that much different than any other established company. They’d built their marketing materials over time, but needed to pivot their overall messaging and give it a new focus – preferably without throwing out everything they’d already created.

In order to make this move, IFX decided to use content marketing to re-launch and reposition their organization. And, they decided to use the CM Startup Framework™ to guide their efforts.

It started with strategy

Before creating any new content, IFX laid a solid strategic foundation by refining their value proposition and defining their ideal buyer personas.

A committee made up of financial industry veterans distilled their knowledge about software architects, project managers, banking software executives and other players in their space. That resulted in three primary personas that encompassed both user and champion buyer roles.

Messages and questions

Digging deeper, the communications committee developed core messaging for each persona that took into account likely thought processes and attitudes at each stage of the buyer’s journey.

Finally, the committee developed a list of qualifying questions that would help IFX Forum members identify a prospect by both persona and buyer stage.

Although this strategic process took considerable time and effort, it gave the organization the insight it needed to aim their content at the right people, with the right message, at the right time in the buying process.

Content marketing example: Website re-launch

One outcome of this strategy was a clear plan for re-launching the IFX Forum website.

A large portion of the organization’s existing content library was already connected to its website. But the site’s technology, design and functionality didn’t make that material easily accessible to visitors, including the newly defined personas.

What’s more, changes to the website took too much time to implement, leading to outdated or missing content.

A site map and content map were developed to solve this issue and give more focus to the new messages that had been developed in the content planning phase.

The new website was designed, written and re-launched using WordPress, a popular and effective content management system (CMS).

Content-centric website elements

A number of new elements were put in place on the new site to support the content strategy.

Tagline

The first refreshed element was a new tagline on the website’s home page.

While standards organizations often have a stodgy, slow and “trailing edge” personality, IFX Forum was on a leading-edge trajectory with a fast-to-market timeframe. Their new tagline (“The world’s most agile financial standard”) supported that livelier image and set the tone for the rest of the content on the site.

Featured items

Another home page element gave top visibility to the most up-to-date and important messages from IFX Forum. Using a “featured post” category tag, IFX was able to give prominence and focus to its most impactful news and announcements.

Thought leadership

IFX Forum had long relied on news releases and public relations to position itself in its market. The new website supported that, but added a separate blog (“Insight”) to give voice to the organization’s leading thoughts, ideas and opinions.

That allowed both fact and future-think to coexist within the site’s content without one being confused for the other.

Organized content

A new Resources page on the site pulled together the library of existing and new content and made it easier to navigate.

High-priority resources, including new content focused on the company’s new direction, are featured at the top of the page. Clear categories for Learning, Analysis, News and other content types brings organization to the extensive material and aligns the content with the needs of the website visitor.

An ongoing process

IFX Forum has already seen a very positive response to their new content and messaging from Forum members, subscribers and prospects. But they recognize that content marketing is an ongoing process of communication with their audience. Fortunately they now have much of the strategy and infrastructure they need in place to carry them forward.

Future plans include:

·      Continued development and refinement of persona definitions

·      More persona-specific content

·      Automated email sequences based on content consumption

·      Landing pages targeted at specific buyer journey stages

·      More content to improve existing customers’ experience

Your own content marketing example

How does this content marketing example relate to your own experience and needs? Is your company just starting out, or do you have a body of content that you can leverage like IFX did? Have you tried some of the strategies and tactics outlined in this example?

I’d love to hear your story. And, if you’re willing, I’d love to share your story with this community!

Let me hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments below. Thanks!

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