Content marketing…is the art and science of attracting an audience toward a brand and it’s website, then inspiring that audience to take action. This is done through the publishing, promoting and measuring of content. The form of the content is often written text, but may also be video, audio, diagrams. The function is often educational or useful, but may also be entertaining. Content marketing contrasts with advertising, which seeks to interrupt or distract an audience with a brand’s message. – Andy Crestodina, Orbit Media
Similarly, USAA launched “The Money Drill” podcast in 2016 as an experiment to attract younger audience members while delivering financial content in an easy, engaging way. It was worth it; the program was met with almost immediate success, and, nearly two years on, draws 24,000 plays per month. "The Money Drill" also gave USAA's content marketing team a major internal win.
Content marketing is different than traditional product marketing efforts like sales collateral and other product-specific info. Content marketing includes things like educational articles, e-books, videos, entertainment, and webinars that answer specific questions people have and provide them with something they can’t get somewhere else. It’s the best way to turn your product, no matter how common, into something that is not like everyone else’s.
24. Hansens: Surfer’s guides to everything. San Diego surf shop Hansens seeks to inform surfers of every ability. Check out this infographic guide to buying the right wetsuit and blog post about making sure your wetsuit fits properly. Hansens understands that surf gear is a big purchase for the average consumer, so equipping him or her with adequate knowledge is the first step toward conversion.
Director of Content John Collins first joined the company four years ago as Managing Editor, taking the helm of Inside Intercom. Since then, he's built a content marketing operation that put out 230 blog posts, 46 podcasts, and three beautifully designed books in 2017 alone. Intercom is totally transparent about its efforts, too, with experiments and successes often documented on the blog and beyond. The team's work has garnered Intercom a fiercely loyal, engaged, and growing audience (who often opt to share their email addresses or other personal details to download assets like e-books).
1. Hipmunk: Traveler’s Guide to Tipping. Travel booking site Hipmunk creates a wealth of content to answer common traveler questions and conundrums. One blog post called Traveler’s Guide to Tipping is a fantastic resource for tipping practices in countries around the world. It includes guidelines for restaurants, taxis, and hospitality. Other excellent posts from Hipmunk include How Travelers Can See the New Star Wars Movie Two Days Early, 48 Things to Do in Asia, and How Much Does a Disney Vacation Really Cost. The takeaway is simple: know your demographic and answer their questions. None of these posts are interactive or flashy, but they provide important and relevant information.
That top-of-funnel position doesn't mean it's impossible to demonstrate the value of content. It just means you need to build a more complex model to understand and show how content really contributes to your conversions. These models can provide a good estimate of the value of your content, but they are, at best, an estimate, so keep that in mind before you tell the boss that if you can get the funds for one blog post it'll bring in exactly $1200 worth of leads.
On the internet, content marketing campaigns involve publishing custom content on specific destination sites the target audience respects and visits often. During the campaign, the advertiser creates custom content that is tightly aligned with the publisher’s website and editorial mission. The goal is to provide prospective customers with an integrated user experience (UX) that encourages engagement and interest in the brand. The challenge is to ensure the content is topically relevant and meets the audience's needs. If the content is simply a thinly veiled sales-pitch, it risks turning the buyer off.
24. Hansens: Surfer’s guides to everything. San Diego surf shop Hansens seeks to inform surfers of every ability. Check out this infographic guide to buying the right wetsuit and blog post about making sure your wetsuit fits properly. Hansens understands that surf gear is a big purchase for the average consumer, so equipping him or her with adequate knowledge is the first step toward conversion.
Use a diverse content marketing strategy as part of your overall content strategy and split test to continually refine your approach. For example, Product A might see a good response to video marketing, and Product B might sell more through an infographic. Specific types of content might work better for lead generation or instant sales while others might work best for improving follower growth. Look at your various products and services and ensure you have a multifaceted strategy to use content in an effort to sell each. Test a variety of strategies to see which options work best.
According to Content Marketing Institute, 65 percent of the most successful content marketers have a documented strategy. A simple content marketing assessment can help companies identify their primary goal and design a successful content strategy to meet it. As strategy becomes more important, companies will need the right tools to align priorities and document their plans.
My husband was in this camp until he told me about a newsletter that covers trends affecting financial markets. He looks forward to receiving it each day. He explained that the newsletters didn’t have anything to do with the funds the broker was selling, but the information was solid and valuable – and it was useful research for the investments he makes. 
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