An “Agency in Reverse” (and why it works): Q&A with Eric Jones of R2integrated

by Jenna Sindle

With so many social channels and digital platforms for sharing content, it can be deceivingly difficult to make yourself heard in a crowd. There are endless considerations and factors (who to publish for, where to publish, what to publish, etc.), that must go into building a proper content strategy, and that’s not even counting the data that is sometimes overlooked or misunderstood.

R2integrated (r2i) is a digital marketing agency that specializes in content strategy, search, social media and CMS technology. Eric Jones, VP of Digital Strategy at r2i, will be presenting at the upcoming Inbound Marketing Summit (IMS) in Boston. We had the pleasure of talking with Eric about what goes into a successful, well-rounded (but still complex) digital content strategy, and why businesses shouldn’t just “take off running.”

Eric_Jones

What is your role at r2i?
I lead the strategy for our large enterprise clients and work with individual members of our digital marketing teams, which include paid and organic search teams as well as social and content teams. My role is figuring out client-specific business problems and how digital tools can be utilized to solve them. I also navigate the ins and outs of paid search and organic search to drive solutions in the market. All of this relates back to content, social or email marketing, as well as the analytics. I have to make sure that all of those pieces come together.

R2integrated has a pretty large service offering (including content marketing technology, digital assets, social & digital marketing and analytics & reporting). How do you ensure all of these elements align together as part of a cohesive strategy for your clients?
The biggest piece of the puzzle is coming up with a specific process. For us, that begins with understanding the client’s target audience; lots of discovery goes into this. We have to look at how digital will help reach these targets at the right time with right message and during the right point in the decision-making and buying process. You have to resonate with the audience you’re trying to reach. We strategically examine how to use digital at a comprehensive level to solve problems and drive income revenue growth, awareness, lead acquisitions, and conversions at higher rates. From there, we break things down to the specific channels that will be best in specific industries.

A thorough discovery session is incredibly crucial to ensure an understanding of business objectives, business model and what will be established as key performance indicators. This allows us to be able to optimize the services we’re providing and identify additional areas of opportunity for our clients.

r2i_logo_DMT_CMYKWhat are the biggest challenges and most important considerations when piecing all of this together?
One of the most important considerations is during the discovery phase in which we focus on asking the “right questions.” If a company is in need of social services, they may be focused on using Facebook and Pinterest as their channels, but we focus on first learning about their audience, their social competitors, their content (what exists and what needs to be created), what they hope to achieve, their business priorities and how their social strategy will integrate with their other online channels and marketing strategies. It’s almost like taking a step back before getting started; you’d be surprised at how many people don’t consider the implications of running along a path without a plan up front. With that, one of the challenges we face is educating a client about why what they think they need is not actually what they need based on our findings.

The other important consideration is on the analytics side of the discovery phase. We position ourselves as an “agency in reverse,” which means that we tend to look at the metrics, KPIs and analytics before we start to look at ideas and tactics. If we understand what the end goal is (like more qualified leads, more traffic, better search rankings, more followers), then we are in a better position to implement measurable tactics. We work to tie analytics to everything we do – from strategy, to social to web design and development. This helps to ensure that best practices are put in place with any design, campaign or content that goes out.

Can you give us a little preview of what you’ll be talking about at IMS Boston?
Our Chief Technology Officer, Chris Chodnicki and I will be discussing the Power of Small Data. We have both of our “brains” presenting on this topic so that we can address data both from the standpoint of how and why it’s collected to how and why it can be used to drive different marketing strategies and content.