TL; DR: No one likes a hard sell. People tune out ads but hunger for information about a company and its products before they buy. Enter Brafton, a content marketing agency that helps businesses produce branded content that gently steers customers in the right direction. By building proprietary content management and marketing tools to deliver content to their customers, Brafton makes sure that whenever a potential customer comes to your site, they find something fresh, relevant, and timely that builds your trust and credibility.
Amber Newman knew her team needed a strategic, forward-thinking plan to showcase ShoreTel Sky’s cloud-based business phone systems. Amber was thinking big but knew her team didn’t have the time or resources for such an ambitious and additional task long-term.
Instead, the Senior Marketing Communications Manager turned to Brafton, the Boston-based content marketing agency that aims to give customers a competitive edge with top-notch articles, videos, graphics, analytics, and more.
Armed with an editorial team from Brafton and a content marketing strategy to set ShoreTel Sky apart from its competitors, Amber and her team saw organic web traffic grow by more than 50 percent compared to the previous year.
“If we had to do content marketing in house, frequent publication wouldn’t have been sustainable,” Amber said in a case study published on Brafton’s website. “Not having to worry about writing every day has freed our team to become more strategic with our overall marketing and sales.”
In the world of brand management and customer relations, time is of the essence — and that is what Brafton’s team of self-described “word nerds, video geeks, and design enthusiasts” is eager to help you save.
Content Marketing Becoming a Bigger Deal for Brand Development
A few months ago, Brafton’s Vice President of Product Meredith Farley found herself trying to explain the difference between advertising and Brafton’s content marketing.
“If there was a Venn diagram of content marketing and advertising, it’s getting closer and closer to just one big circle,” Meredith said, adding that content marketing started as a small tool toward building a brand. “Now, though, as companies live and die online through brand experience, content marketing is really synonymous with your brand as a whole.”
Content marketing focuses on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract a clearly-defined audience and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer conversions.
“Capstone pieces are a part of a strategy based on our clients’ content needs, their brands, and what their marketing goals are for the month or quarter or year,” Meredith said.
Founded in 2007, Brafton has transformed from a simple content vendor to a strategic partner, according to Meredith. Instead of just pushing out material, Brafton takes a holistic approach to improving a brand’s message and strategy.
“We have a wide breadth of content offerings, which is really important because every client’s goals, target demographics, and strategy is unique,” she said.
Brafton Tailors Services to Customers Large & Small
“We really run the gamut from small, mom-and-pop brands to big, well-known national brands,” Meredith said. “We try to make sure that account is in the appropriate spot to get the exact type of support and service that it needs from us.”
Brafton Tailors Content to Clients’ Industries
Brafton, which has offices based in Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco, has clients in a variety of sectors: health and science, legal and finance, education, retail, lifestyle and travel, and business and technology industries.
“We’ve touched on nearly every industry at this point in the years we’ve been in business, so we definitely have a lot of in-house experience,” Meredith said.
More Than Blog Posts: Brafton Does It All
Brafton’s creative team write, edit, and revise a variety of content types every day. Beyond that, they produce white papers, eBook content, case studies, infographics, illustrations, and videos.
“Previously, articles were short. They were maybe 200 or 300 words long a few years ago, and they had maybe one feature image attached to them,” Meredith said. “Now, nearly all content has inline images, inline videos, inline custom illustration, tweets, or embedded YouTube videos. They’re much more interactive and visually interesting. That’s part of our technology.”
Instead of finding and contracting with many different freelancers with varying degrees of skill and effort, Brafton has all the experts in house:
- Content marketing defines buyer personas and decides which content will resonate best.
- Writing conveys useful information in unexpected, effective ways.
- Graphics catch customers’ attention with infographics, illustrations, and formatting for white papers and eBooks.
- Videos engage and educate customers through animation, live content, broadcast commercials, and video blogs.
- Social media interacts with customers in their native habitat.
- Analytics demonstrate impact and insights on which clients can act and make decisions.
“We manage website redesign so that the right user experience is there,” she said. “The work we’re doing all hangs together, and it’s going to be a pleasant, good brand experience for the user and it also gets the clients the search results that they need.”
Scribe: Internal Tool Streamlines Content Delivery
A great article or infographic accomplishes nothing, however, if clients can’t get it online. In addition to brand strategies and content creation, Brafton developers created Scribe, an internal tool to deliver content to their clients via an API.
“In addition to wider services and stronger strategies, we have enhanced technology to support the deliveries of all of these different content types,” Meredith said of the Brafton package.
Brafton’s editorial and development teams collaborated and brainstormed with various customers for 18 months to determine what functionality Scribe needed. Among the features: a robust search feature that allows writers and editors to track the progress of each of the 1.5 million articles saved in Scribe’s cloud.
Each article goes through several versions: draft, editing queue, revisions, approvals, and live. Additionally, writers have access to more than 190,000 images to use with the articles.
XML Feed & Plugin Integrate Content Into WordPress
For clients on WordPress, Brafton developed a knockout of a plugin. Instead of manually copy/pasting articles into WordPress, Brafton content files are automatically saved to an XML feed. The plugin integrates with the native WordPress update functionality and includes the following perks:
- A GitHub updater to automatically detect updates
- Contact Form 7 to handle forms
- Error reporting system
- Integrates with Yoast SEO Plugin or All In One SEO
Clients’ in-house tech teams can further extend the plugin’s functionality with the API and WordPress hooks.
Arch Premium: Marketing Automation Tool Puts Content to Work
One of Brafton’s first software offerings was Arch Premium, a content marketing automation tool that allows the company to inject custom calls-to-action throughout clients’ websites. This can be done in a multitude of formats with as much or as little effort from the customer’s developers to integrate one or more of the following:
- Conversion landing pages can attract leads and showcase downloadable assets.
- Native or pop-up forms capture contact information from potential customers.
- On-site calls-to-action encourage clicks and action from even casual readers.
Arch Premium sends real-time alerts to the Brafton client for every lead the program generates, enabling the sales team to act quickly.
Additionally, Arch Premium can work either as a standalone tool for smaller clients that don’t use other customer relationship management systems or for larger clients working with marketing automation outfits such as Marketo or Pardot, Meredith said.
“There’s a place in nearly every strategy for Arch Premium,” Meredith said. “If you’re a really small business, our tool essentially gets you everything that you need. If you’re a much larger organization, Arch Premium is a helpful keystone piece in ensuring that the content that Brafton produces is going to be in lockstep with whatever broader campaigns you may be running.”
For example, a Brafton call-to-action could send site visitors to either the Brafton-facilitated landing page or the Marketo page to which the client is seeking to drive readers as part of a specific campaign.
“The reader would come in through Brafton’s article, click on the call-to-action to get the relevant information and ideally be plugged into the right portion of the funnel for what they’re looking for and what the client is providing,” she said. “We can leverage the content that Brafton has provided in many different ways, all to drive leads and help our clients generate more business.”
Brafton Content Enables Customers To Lead The Conversation
For Amber and ShoreTel Sky, Brafton content nearly doubled the number of incoming links and saw readers convert 43 percent more often.
“Brafton has not only made us more confident in our presence on the Web, but it’s improved our ability to market our services,” Amber said in the case study.
Amber was originally worried the technical nature of cloud-based business phone systems would torpedo the quantity and quality of content from Brafton. Instead, the ShoreTel Sky website became a dynamic, useful information portal for potential customers.
“We want to be invited into the social conversation for our industry. Our Brafton content puts us in front of the people talking about cloud-based phone systems,” Amber said. “Now, we’re not just involved, but our content guides the conversations.”