This year’s AMBIT deadline is fast approaching! If you haven’t put your award submissions together yet, there’s still time to dig through your data. But first, we talked to a couple of last year’s big AMBIT winners to hear what happens behind the scenes of their award-winning marketing campaigns.
Our interviewees are Erin Moloney, Marketing and Content Manager for Tension Corporation, and Lauren Hipp, Senior Connections Manager at VMLY&R. Tension Corporation won a Gold AMBIT in 2019 for Organic Search with their agency partner emfluence, and VMLY&R was the 2019 winner of Consistent Achiever for Bayer’s Animal Health Search-Driven Content Campaign, Most Bang for the Buck for Mars Wrigley Confectionery Ecommerce Campaign, and four Gold AMBITS.
Here’s what Erin and Lauren had to say about AMBITS and the award process:
How did you decide which campaigns to nominate for an AMBIT?
LH: The first year, I wanted to submit the Bayer Animal Health campaign purely because the results from getting a content strategy off the ground were really positive. The second year gave us time to build a process and be more data-driven, so there was a more robust and collaborative content story I wanted to tell. Plus the results the second year were even stronger, which made a compelling submission for KCDMA’s Consistent Achiever award.
EM: We have been involved in the KC marketing community and had a fairly new blog. We knew our results were good and it was time to submit. emfluence also encouraged us to do so, and helped us with the submission process. Overall, it was really nice to see our combined efforts come to fruition when we won a Gold AMBIT for “Organic Search Engine Marketing”, and the award has further strengthened our partnership with them.
What were you looking for as you compiled the results for the nomination? Are there any takeaways you could share or best practices on how to approach the data and results?
LH: First and foremost, we looked for the heavy-hitting metrics that were most impactful to our channel and to the client to figure out if there was a foundational story. Beyond that, we looked for opportunity to break down the data by the stage of the journey that fit the client space. For example, we didn’t just show “conversions”, we looked at two levels of conversions to better tell a story about how our content influenced a bigger picture. We also looked for results that could speak to a process we built. Did you increase your speed to market? Did you grow your client’s content inventory? Those process-oriented results can help round out a more compelling data story.
EM: We wanted to illustrate our story with the best possible results, so once we set our campaign objectives, we reviewed data from that time frame and searched for the most meaningful representation. In this case, we grabbed a trend that showed the largest growth in our blog traffic as an overall picture of our story. Then we showed some qualitative results of specific things we set out to achieve, such as schema and answer box wins for the keywords we focused on. Next, we selected year over year metrics to show comparison of “before” and “after” examples of what our efforts had accomplished. And finally, we summed our the 3 biggest take-aways as what we learned from the entire campaign – this is a great thing to add to help your audience understand how you met your objectives.
Did you set KPIs before launch? How did you determine which KPIs to track?
EM: Because our blog was new, we didn’t have blog metrics for comparison – just general website traffic. Our goal was to establish a blog presence, understand our baseline traffic, and then improve upon it.
How important was creative to your story? How did you approach creative for campaigns that weren’t creative-heavy?
LH: If you have a campaign without creative assets (like paid or organic search), it’s easy to think that screenshots will suffice – and sometimes they can! Elevating your data into visuals though can set your submission apart and help connect the dots for the judges. My approach was to translate raw analytics into clean, compelling data visualization thanks to colleagues in analytics and the help of our in-house creative services team. Using Excel charts or other data visualization tools can be a great way to achieve this with fewer creative resources, too.
EM: In our case, creative wasn’t a heavy focus in the traditional design sense. Our creativity comes across in our writing; using humor and painting pictures while educating readers about envelope specifications is much more digestible than a boring definition. We also used creative in our SEO strategies, and this was a team effort from our marketing team and entire digital team at emfluence – we worked together to identify opportunities to improve (e.g. if this SEO tactic worked well in one area, where else could we deploy it?) and ways to blast those learnings across our blog. Creative SEO strategies helped us form a new and successful MO for our entire blog.
How did you frame the story? What are some tips you can share to others about not just gathering the data but presenting it in a compelling story?
LH: The data behind a submission is key, but here’s the thing with awards – no one would submit their campaigns if they didn’t have the results! How you tell the story is what sets you apart. Highlight the complexities of the client industry or their organizational structure. Showcase a process that you had to build for your work to thrive. Speak to the various disciplines that had to be a part of the campaign, or the collaborative data points used to achieve your results. If you show the behind-the-scenes work, you show the judges your strategic thought process that can ultimately set your submission apart.
EM: We submitted our blog for an AMBIT, as well as some other awards in the KC marketing community. Our digital team at emfluence submitted our AMBIT, yet I can speak to how an AMAKC Fountain Award we won: We framed our story just like we approached any other writing project we do – we created an outline that included an opening (e.g. a background about the company to set the stage) and set our objectives. As we wrote the objectives, we described the things we wanted to accomplish as we launched our blog, such as keyword focus, and then about the things we learned as we improved upon our blog. Overall, we knew these objectives could eventually be tied to strong metrics to support them:
- Keywords – integrate high-search volume keywords throughout blogs to improve SEO.
- Develop a blog dedicated post for high-value keyword – focus on a keyword with good ranking potential and strong search volume.
- SEO enhancements to blog – incorporate SEO updates on a high-potential post to further boost traffic.
- Repeat across all blogs on the site – once we had a winning formula, we could apply our learnings to other important content topics.
Why did you submit for an AMBIT? What does winning an AMBIT mean for your team?
EM: We submitted for an AMBIT because we knew our results were good, and they were something that our digital team at emfluence were equally proud. Submitted and eventually winning was really nice 3rd party validation of what we thought was a pretty great thing. It also demonstrates how the things we’re working on are similar to what our other KC marketing colleagues are working on, which provides opportunity to share stories and help each other/our community improve as marketers. It’s also been good recognition internally and from leadership, hopefully when we seek out budget for new projects.
What’s one thing a first-time AMBIT submitter should know about presenting campaign results?
EM: I’d encourage any new-time submitter to check out what works – previous winners! See how they presented their results (e.g. is there a digital and physical entry format?) and especially the metrics and supporting evidence that was used.
Thanks, Erin and Lauren! We look forward to seeing more submissions from your teams in 2020!
Erin Moloney, Marketing and Content Manager for Tension Corporation
Lauren Hipp, Senior Connections Manager at VMLY&R