At my own company we’ve used content marketing to grow more than 1,000% over the past year. Potential clients find our content, find value in it, and by the time they contact us they’re already convinced they want to work with us. We don’t have to engage in any high pressure sales tactics, it’s merely a matter of working out details, signing an agreement, and getting started. The trust that usually needs to be built up during an extensive sales cycle has already been created before we know the potential client exists.
As the U.K.’s largest tech company, Sage specializes in financial software that enables small and medium business owners to run their companies on laptops or mobile devices. Sage's mission is to help these organizations and entrepreneurs flourish in the face of harsh statistics – like the fact that half of all new businesses fail within their first two and a half years, according to Sage’s EVP of Digital Marketing Neil Morgan.
“Content is the emotional and informational bridge between commerce and consumer. Building that bridge requires more than a budget, editorial calendar, and vision. It requires people who care, who love content, and what it can do for people. Not just what it can do for revenue, but rather how it helps people live their lives.” – Jay Baer, Convince & Convert
A valuable asset that often sets off discovery and awareness for potential SAP customers, FCEC is clearly dedicated to producing high-quality content that drives leads – without pushing sales pitches. Instead, Hatch puts audience needs and interests first, with articles that are timely and relevant to industry executives and the field at large. As a result, her team continues to cultivate loyal readers. The FCEC newsletter has 5,000 subscribers and an approximately 22 percent open rate each month. And pageviews are on the rise, as well, with an entirely organic 20 percent increase back in 2016.
Through content that brings that ethos to life, Clif Bar has nurtured legions of fans. Recent stories include a profile of two Clif Bar-sponsored athletes who set out to raise $100,000 for Bears Ears National Monument, an article on Clif Bar employees achieving 100,000 hours of volunteering, and a big rock piece of content about The Great Trail, a 15,000-mile network of trails across Canada.
"From a marketing standpoint and strategy, it is absolutely a content-first one…We want people to learn and engage through storytelling – and branded content is a big piece of that, both from the original branded content that we are creating, and the ones where we are partnering with publishers to do it in a native format," says Liz Matthews, Senior Vice President of Global Brand and Creative at Dell Technologies.
EXAMPLE: Insurance company Liberty Mutual built a content platform – Master This – dedicated to helping people solve home and life challenges – to build skills and worry less, as the brand describes it. While Liberty Mutual’s ultimate purpose is to drive insurance sales, the content focuses not on insurance products but on information the audience will find educational and helpful. It also has expanded access to the educational content by partnering with HowStuffWorks and Amazon’s Alexa to provide educational content through the voice-activated device.
Content marketing has helped the company reposition itself. It still faces challenges as industry revenue continues to falter, but the company has weathered the storm better than PepsiCo, Cott, and other producers. Sales have started to pick up this year, and Business 2 Community author Hephzy Asaolu has said that there’s strong data proving that growth in revenue is strongly associated with content marketing efforts, which have helped Coca Cola to engage with customers all over the world.
All Coke did was print individual names on cans and bottles and suddenly everyone was identifying with the product. In this campaign, and in all of Coke’s marketing, it built a foundational shared experience that almost everyone has with its product and made it shareable. In the next phase, customers could customize bottles with all kinds of names and titles for a super interactive, one-of-a-kind product.
EXAMPLE: TD Ameritrade produces its print and digital magazine thinkMoney for active customers – those who can make trades as often as hundreds of times in a day. In its early days, TDA put the program under review to determine whether it was worth continuing to spend money on the magazine. The leaders persevered and, after approximately two years, received confirmation of its value: Subscribers and readers of the magazine traded five times more than non-subscribers. Simply put, those who subscribed to this magazine became better customers for TD Ameritrade.
Founder and CEO Clay Collins knew they had to be scrappy to be able to compete against VC-funded giants like Hubspot and Infusionsoft, given LeadPages were a bootstrapped company since inception. Instead of spending $10,000 on customer acquisition as some of their competitors did, Collins developed a growth hypothesis based on the idea that “a content team of four people could outperform an 80+ person sales team at most companies.”
For one thing, without content, SEOs would have nothing to optimize for search engines. The metadata they add to posts is an attempt to help robots like Google and Facebook wrap their digital heads around the complexities of the content they're indexing. Every link earned by every marketer points to a piece of content, and the keywords that people type into search engines are an attempt to find—yep—content.
You also need to “translate” captured content into content that’s appreciated by your audiences. And, last but not least, you need a way to manage the content you have and unlock it by making the link between content management and information management on one hand (typically not the role of marketing) and your content marketing team on the other.
Podcasts. Michael Hyatt, author of the best-selling book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, practices what he preaches. His “This is Your Life” podcast is downloaded 250,000 times each month. As Hyatt elaborates on his blog post 4 Reasons You Should Consider Launching Your Own Podcast, “A podcast gives you visibility in a completely different world—primarily iTunes. I have had scores of new people say they had never heard of me until they stumbled onto me in iTunes.” Hyatt gives valuable information and advice in his podcast--all for free. But that podcast leads to more sales of his books, signups for his courses, and requests for him as a speaker.
While this is certainly the case (and no one ever claimed content marketing was now) and while Joe Pulizzi picked the term ‘content marketing’ among several others he launched, deciding to use the term that worked best, the definition debate overlooked what distinguished content marketing – no matter how it can be called tomorrow. One of the pioneers in content marketing, Doug Kessler, expressed this very well in an interview.
You may be thinking, wow that seems like a lot of writing! Don't worry, there are other forms of content marketing outside of print. Another example of content marketing is video. Have you ever searched for information about a particular product and found a video that was so wonderful it convinced you to buy? That is another example of content marketing! The content in the video was most likely informative, engaging, and relevant. This persuades you to purchase the product or service from the company that presented the video.
Let me quote the people of Arketi Group: “Today’s prospects are much more in control of the information flow, relying on trusted online resources and solution providers’ websites far more often than sales reps to identify solutions, evaluate options and develop short lists for further consideration. The role of today’s BtoB marketers in this new environment is to offer the right content, matched to the individual prospect’s level of interest”. That’s using customized content for lead nurturing, in function of your customer’s offline and digital footprints and where he is in the buying cycle.
When it comes to companies that lead with their values, Ben & Jerry's has long been at the forefront. It's not afraid to take a stance on pressing political issues, including racial justice, refugees, climate change, voting rights, and LGBT equality. Its content hub reflects the company's commitment. Amid posts about ice cream recipes and new flavors, there are regular stories that align with Ben & Jerry's values, like "10 Things Trump Gets Wrong About Refugees," "QUIZ: How Much Do You Know About Climate Change?" and "7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism Is Real."
It is used across the customer journey and customer life cycle but doesn’t start nor end with the customer in the strict sense. Internal customers are crucial in an integrated approach as well. Content marketing further serves several business functions in a consistent, integrated and continuous way. It looks at the customer from a connected and customer-centric perspective and takes into account the content requirements of anyone serving and engaging prospects and customers.
Wistia, a video hosting platform, does that particularly well by sharing visual content on Instagram that lifts the curtain on its people -- and dogs. It not only aligns with its brand -- after all, the company does provide technology to businesses that want hosting solutions for their visual content -- but it’s also just smart. Among its other advantages, visual content can help boost a viewer’s retention of things like brand information.
Since then, Marriott has delivered on that goal, with many of its brands releasing bespoke films dedicated to further their reputations and drive revenue. The 2015 short film, "French Kiss," for example, drove more than $500,000 in Marriott bookings in less than 60 days. Renaissance Hotels has released two seasons of "The Navigator’s Table with Andrew Zimmern," which highlights the chef meeting with tastemakers in different cities. Courtyard by Marriott showcases its status as the official hotel for the NFL through a video series that has racked up more than 1 million YouTube views.
We recommend you document only as much as you need to in these guidelines. If your entire staff was magically whisked away to Tahiti tomorrow, would it matter to your company that the next group of writers properly respected your trademark? Probably. Would anyone care that you prefer the spelling "advisor" over "adviser"? That probably depends on whether the word is at all relevant to your business.
I’ve been super impressed by GoDaddy’s recent content marketing campaign up here in Canada with Toronto Raptor’s player Jonas Valanciunas. They’ve been running great and funny TV ads pointing consumers to https://ittybittyballers.ca where they’ve set up a fictitious business and GoDaddy-powered eComm site with all proceeds going to charity. Brilliant!
People are asking questions and looking for information via search engines like Google, and you want your business to be at the top of the search results. Answering people’s questions via blog posts, e-books, videos, and other content assets is a key way to make this happen. Of course, showing up is only the first step, but it’s essential if you want to reap the benefits of content marketing.
3. Interviews: While many media companies use interviews as the core of their content offerings, take a page from Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart, who specifically extends his on-air interviews to be used as unique web-only content....Consider talking to key people related to the topic. For many businesses, this means your employees, as well as outside experts.
"The other guy is doing it" seems like a terrible rationale, except that showing off the shares and attention a competitor is getting for their content can really help prove your point with someone who still doesn't see the value in content marketing. Just be ready for what sometimes comes next - "Do exactly what they're doing" - which is not the way to win at content marketing.
However, like video, you’re probably thinking you need all sorts of specialized gear and skills. And while yes, audio is a whole other beast, you can get started with just a little bit of effort. In his class Getting Your Podcast Off the Ground!, Neil Patel, host of The Indian Startup Show (the #1 tech podcast in India) runs us through the basics of podcasting.
Unlike other forms of online marketing, content marketing relies on anticipating and meeting an existing customer need for information, as opposed to creating demand for a new need. As James O'Brien of Contently wrote on Mashable, "The idea central to content marketing is that a brand must give something valuable to get something valuable in return. Instead of the commercial, be the show. Instead of the banner ad, be the feature story." Content marketing requires continuous delivery of large amounts of content, preferably within a content marketing strategy.
To help you build your content marketing strategy for next year, I teamed up with Skillshare to curate a list of their top online classes that’ll teach you how to build a content marketing strategy from the ground up. They were even generous enough to offer us all two free months of access to their 17,000+ online classes (normally $8-15 a month) so you can get a jump start on building your content marketing strategy (and more) in 2018.
This information should come partly from doing the steps above. If you’ve determined your audience is primarily on LinkedIn, then they might like in-depth articles, whitepapers or slide decks. If they’re on Facebook, then video and list posts might fit their style. If they spend a decent amount of time on Medium, long-form storytelling might be a good fit.
Over the 179 years of its existence, Hermes (Brand value in 2016: $11.7 Billion) has become synonymous with a commitment to design and impeccable taste. This extends to their content as well. La Maison des Carrés or House of Scarves is an online destination dedicated to their most iconic accessory, the scarf. The website is a delight to browse through as every click brings you closer to each creation and leads to a seamless purchase experience.
You know you need a plan and strategy if you want to succeed as much as possible with content marketing. In fact, your boss expects to see a copy of your team’s plan so that they can evaluate whether it will be worth the upfront cost, and to verify that you have some actual way of carrying out content marketing. The tricky thing is, you’re not sure what to include in your plan, or how to go about creating one. Taking a look at some content marketing plan examples and templates can help you get an idea of how to put together your own.
Webpages. What’s the difference between a normal webpage and a webpage that is content marketing? Consider The Beginner’s Guide to SEO from Moz, a provider of SEO related tools and resources. This resource, offered for free, has been viewed millions of times, bringing in countless customers who otherwise might never have stumbled across Moz and the services they offer. Or take a look at a case study from the design firm Teehan+Lax. Most case studies are boring. Their case studies are fascinating. That’s the difference between simply putting content on your website, and content marketing.