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.
On Instagram, Taco Bell posts original illustrations and photos commissioned for the brand. On YouTube, Taco Bell has a number of fan-inspired series, like "For Here or To Go," which shows how to take menu items to the next level through creative ordering in-store or easy cooking hacks at home. On Twitter, Taco Bell often retweets or responds to fans' posts. In addition, Taco Bell uses Twitter to drive people to its presence on other platforms, like Snapchat. (Speaking of Snapchat, you may remember that on Cinco de Mayo 2016, Taco Bell released a filter that turned users' faces into giant tacos. It was viewed more than 224 million times that day – and no, that's not a typo!)
In addition, video is big for Lowe's. Beyond the popular how-to content on Lowe's YouTube channel, the company has invested in more complex, entertaining storytelling. Take, for instance, the video series "The Weekender," which is in its third season – the first season pulled in more than 3 million views. The 15- to 20-minute episodes feature DIY expert Monica Mangin who helps homeowners transform a problem area. Guests are young and hip, and episode pages highlight the projects and products featured on the show.
The design is clean, modern, and features large, beautiful images, audio, and videos. A story about Patagonia, for example, includes stunning visuals of the Perito Moreno glacier, Torres del Paine National Park, and penguin and sea lion colonies – complete with sound effects! Calls to action, to book travel on KLM.com, are subtly embedded in images at the bottom of each story.
So did they break it? Almost. Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya missed the mark by just 25 seconds, still beating the previous record for the fastest marathon by an incredible two and a half minutes. More than 13.1 million people watched the race as it streamed live across Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, and an hour-long documentary special about the race (produced with National Geographic) garnered more than a million and a half views – a notable achievement in itself.
Stitch Fix is also a social media powerhouse, especially on Pinterest. Its Pinterest account has more than 1 million followers, but it finds a lot of value in encouraging users to create boards of their own as well. In fact, following customers on the network helps the Stitch Fix stylists to get insights about the looks that its customers like most.
It's content that helps people find you. It might even be content that makes people fall in love with you a little. But discovery-level content is not usually the last touch before a big sale. There are many more layers of content that usually finesse that conversion. (More on that when we discuss how content can represent various stages of the funnel in ch. 3.)
Everyone wants to produce more great content, whether that means blog posts, videos, podcasts, ebooks, or even social media content that's engineered to get lots of shares. And while Skillshare has some amazing classes on each of those topics taught by people like Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Rand Fishkin, where things get murky is when you try to put them all together.
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.
Burberry’s latest digital venture is the fashion chatbot they launched at the London Fashion Week last month. It complements their entry into the “see-now-buy-now” trend made popular earlier this year by Tommy Hilfiger. The Facebook Messenger based chatbot lets the company sell their latest collection as soon as it hits the runway. Viewers can watch shows real-time, interact with the bot to inspect a collection more closely and even request a connection to a real human to help with the purchase.
Ebooks are the next step in the inbound marketing process: After reading a blog post (such as this one), visitors might want more information. This is where calls-to-action (CTAs) come into play, directing people to a landing page where they can submit their contact information and download an ebook to learn more valuable information for their business. In turn, the business producing the ebook has a new lead for the sales team to contact.
Who are the buyer personas and what are their content needs and preferences? This questions looks at the type of information different ‘archetypes’ of buyers seek during their buying journey and maps the customer touchpoints, preferred communication channels, and – to some extent – the content formats, although that’s a question for the content strategy too. Buyer personas haven’t been invented for content marketing. They are used for an overall marketing strategy. But in a content marketing strategy you take a more complete look at them.
10. Betterment: Finance and investing content goes interactive. Investing service Betterment has a great blog and resource center with useful content for investors. But I’m especially enthusiastic about the interactive content Betterment creates — the best being quizzes to test one’s knowledge of finance and investing, as in this example. Quizzes are definitely not just for BuzzFeed; even financial services can get in the game.
So while we don’t recommend abandoning blogs completely -- after all, written content is still vital to SEO -- we do emphasize the importance of diversifying content formats. Marketers who incorporate video into their content strategies, for example, have seen 49% faster revenue growth than those who don’t. And remember that tip to “keep it human” we mentioned earlier? That’s a great thing about live video in particular -- it can help portray brands (and their people) as candid and genuine.
Content may be king, but many content creators (and purveyors of fine content) often struggle to show the value of content marketing. This is because the types of content (blog posts, guides, webinars, etc.) that most people think of as content marketing all fall in the "discovery" part of the marketing funnel, which is several steps removed from conversions.
Another reason? People are just not that into ads. According to Nielsen’s Global Trust In Advertising report, people trust text ads less than any other content medium, especially on mobile. What’s more, on the list of trusted mediums, editorial content outranked ads on all traditional channels, including TV, radio, billboards, newspapers and magazines.
The best part of a strategy is being able to track it and see it work. Think about how you can track success every step of the way -- from traffic to engagement to conversion. What tools will you need? Google Analytics? If so, will you need to set up goals in Google Analytics? What about link tracking and UTM parameters? Also, will you need dedicated landing pages?
Of particular note is Coca Cola’s new content strategy, called “Content 2020,” which the Content Marketing Institute praised for its originality. Coca Cola has publicly stated that it’s committed to using content to boost its brand as much as possible. Jonathan Mildenhall, VP Global Advertising Strategy and Creative Excellence, believes content is instrumental in boosting the company’s brand:
But why would NextView want to create an entirely separate blog that isn’t even on its website? Well, it’s an exercise in creating off-site content: the material you own but doesn’t live on your website. When executed correctly, it can give publishers a huge boost in discoverability, variety, and quality, especially when making use of a highly popular platform like Medium.