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How to shape Content Marketing ROI on a global scale

By Dave Chaffey 24 Oct, 2017
Content marketing strategy

Interview: Rachel Cooper, Director of Global Content Strategy and Editorial at GSK

Ahead of Digistrategy - London World Forum 2017 in December, we interviewed Rachel Cooper, Director of Global Content Strategy at GlaxoSmithKline, to find out how she manages effective content on a global scale and how she assesses ROI.

Rachel one of many senior keynote speakers at Digistrategy 2017, London on December 14th. Rachel

Effective content on a global scale

1. As the Director of Global Content Strategy & Editorial at GSK, how do you ensure the quality and effectiveness of different types of content at a business with your global scale?

The primary aim of our global content and editorial team is to simplify and strengthen our storytelling. We do this through building relationships and providing guidance on storylines and editorial development.

Our global content flatplan – held by our team – outlines content priorities, themes and campaigns by week and month; and maps out the content we’ll share to support those priorities. This is shared with communications colleagues so they can align content behind these themes.

We have developed editorial principles for our key channels which provide guidance on the type of story for each channel; and the tone of voice, style and visuals which you should consider for each channel. These principles are designed to drive consistency and quality.

Each content manager is aligned to one of our three businesses. They collaborate with communications colleagues to co-develop and deliver content. Content managers effectively act like editors by crafting and refining content so it is right for the channel and audience.

Beyond our global channels, there is a network of regional and country channels. Through forums such as regional content hubs, we support our local communicators on their content development and delivery.

Marketing communications plans

2. What is your view on the value of having a content marketing or audience engagement strategy and plan for each business area. Should this be defined as a separate document to achieve focus, or integrated into other communications plans?

Content development, content marketing and audience engagement strategy should absolutely be integrated into other communications plans. Digital is only one part of the story so it’s vital to consider it in parallel with other channels. This integrated approach is also essential to ensuring consistency and coherence of message across your communications. At GSK, we collaborate with communications colleagues to co-create and deliver content – rather than the digital team developing content end to end. So it’s vital that everyone with a comms objective considers how digital can help to achieve it – and has the support to do so.

The power of storytelling

3. I believe you’re a strong believer (that’s a lot of belief) in the power of using digital media for storytelling by brands. How do you empower your staff to use this technique?

Digital channels offer an unparalleled opportunity for businesses like GSK to take our message direct to patients, consumers, healthcare professionals, current and prospective employees, and the wider public. We can tell our story in our own words.

And there are so many brilliant stories at a healthcare company like GSK – from the scientist who spent 30 years researching a potential malaria vaccine to how we put the stripes in toothpaste. Our digital channels give us a fantastic platform for bringing these stories to life and taking audiences ‘behind the science’. It’s our job to make sure that other communications colleagues feel as excited about this as we do.

There are processes we have put in place to achieve this. Monthly content hubs with communications colleagues from each of our three businesses are a forum in which we can co-develop and plan content campaigns. They are a chance for us to brainstorm the stories we want to tell and how we will source and develop them.

Data also helps. By sharing insights which show that powerful storytelling generates stronger engagement, we can encourage and empower people to use this technique. And the more we create great stories, the more other people want to get involved. For example, our #FacesOfGSK series – which profiles the amazing people around our company – has prompted people to get in touch with their fascinating tales.

Content Marketing ROI

4. As the focus on Content Marketing has increased there has been more discussion on how to achieve ROI from Content Marketing. What guidance do you give your teams at GSK as to how to assess Content Marketing ROI?

Within communications at GSK, given we operate in a highly regulated industry, ROI is about reputation and perception, not about driving sales. This is challenging to measure but a combination of global stakeholder surveys, campaign measurement and digital KPIs can help.

Our insights colleagues have developed a framework which encourages communicators and content managers to set clear objectives for a content campaign and KPIs for each piece of content. There are four measures – familiarity, engagement, conversion, and advocacy – which are built into our content plan templates. This compels people to analyse why they are developing a content campaign and to interrogate what each piece of content is designed to achieve.

By aligning content and insights this way, we are gradually encouraging our communications colleagues to consider the value of what they are creating – and the return on investment. Hopefully, this moves us away from “developing content for content’s sake” and towards developing content that brings value to our audience and our business.

Digital Centre of Excellence

5. How do decide which digital marketing activities are best to centralise (for example in a Digital (Content) Marketing Centre of Excellence and which are best for skills to be developed in brand and product marketers?

Our global digital communications team operates like a ‘centre of excellence’. We set direction on content strategy; we govern the channels and ensure they incorporate the latest technological advances; we gather and analyze data, and we champion digital skills development.

The skills which we look to develop in communications and marketing colleagues are those attributes which will help them to deliver compelling content. So we look to strengthen their skills in copywriting and visual development for digital; as well as building their understanding in how to capture and use metrics. We also encourage communications colleagues to get more audience-led in their planning, and to plan further ahead.

Disruptive technologies

6.Which disruptive technologies are you evaluating which you are most excited about applying to content marketing across GSK in the future?

I’m not so much of a content marketer – I’m a journalist by training and trade! But, I am excited by the potential of immersive technologies which enable audiences to participate in and shape a story. It would be fascinating to see how this could be applied in a healthcare context.  The increasing sophistication of targeting is also exciting. Behavioural targeting enables us to be more efficient in our targeting, and drive breadth and depth of content engagement.

Learn more

To learn more about content marketing and ROI and long-term marketing strategy Rachel Cooper is one of many keynote speakers at Digistrategy 2017, on December 14th.

DigiStrategy brings those at the forefront of digital strategy & innovation together for one day, providing an outlet for thought sharing, leading to change & growth!

You can expect to hear from leading minds at Google, Twitter, Microsoft, Eurostar, The Economist, GSK, BBC, Unilever and many more!

View the speakers here

Topics discussed include:

  • Digital Strategy
  • Digital Innovation
  • Digital Transformation
  • Audience Growth
  • UX Strategy


  • Access to all keynote presentations & panel sessions
  • Access to workshops
  • Catered breaks & lunch
  • Access to videos & slides after the forum
  • Delegate list

... and even an open bar at the end of the day!

By Dave Chaffey

Digital strategist Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of Smart Insights. Dave is editor of the 100+ templates, ebooks and courses in the digital marketing resource library created by our team of 25+ Digital Marketing experts. Our resources are used by our Premium members in more than 100 countries to Plan, Manage and Optimize their digital marketing. Free members can access our sample templates here. Please connect on LinkedIn to receive updates or ask me a question. For my full profile and other social networks, see the Dave Chaffey profile page on Smart Insights. Dave is a keynote speaker, trainer and consultant who is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Digital Marketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing.

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