The key word here is “valuable.” It’s what changes this definition from one that could describe almost any form of advertising or marketing. You can tell if a piece of content is the sort that could be part of a content marketing campaign if people seek it out, if people want to consume it, rather than avoiding it. So was VW’s 2014 “Game Day” commercial, which has been viewed on YouTube almost 18 million times as of the writing of this post, an ad, or content marketing? The answer is it’s both, depending on how it’s received by each individual who is exposed to it. The same will apply to any piece of content marketing you create, depending on whether the recipient received value from it or not. Of course the goal is to provide as much value from your content marketing to as much of your target audience as possible. At this point, despite this definition and explanation, you’re probably still wondering what exactly content marketing is. We can get more clarity by considering a few examples.
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.
Go back and read the content marketing definition one more time, but this time remove the relevant and valuable. That’s the difference between content marketing and the other informational garbage you get from companies trying to sell you “stuff.” Companies send us information all the time – it’s just that most of the time it’s not very relevant or valuable (can you say spam?). That’s what makes content marketing so intriguing in today’s environment of thousands of marketing messages per person per day.
With stories ranging from converting brain waves to operate prosthetic devices to the rise of the smart apartment, the coverage on Perspectives is quite broad. However, the common thread is looking at the world through a technology lens. To help drive visitors to the content, Dell Technologies enlists influencers ranging from YouTube creators to small business mavens and entrepreneurs to share their stories.
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.
Some of the brands covered here are newcomers to the market, while others are household names that have been around for more than a century. However, they all have one thing in common: they recognize the value of creating great content to engage their audience and generate new leads. Get inspired by their examples and use their success to fuel your own content marketing efforts.
A simple checklist can significantly improve your content quality. It’s a tool that should be in every marketer’s toolkit. By creating a quality checklist as part of your strategy, you and your stakeholders will determine a set of standards that align with your content marketing goals. By committing them to writing, you’ll have benchmarks to which you can hold your work. By distributing the checklist, you’ll ensure that contributors know what you expect from them. And by sharing the checklist with others in your organization, they’ll understand what you’re looking to achieve with your content.
Last year, Valerie-Ann Leary, Marketing Manager, Client Marketing and Demand Generation, wrote about the reception of a new e-book that they created—The Future of Digital Engagement: 10 Thought Leaders Share Predictions for 2014. Leary said that Live Pearson generated enough exposure to win the Killer Content award from Demand Gen Report for the Best Influencer Campaign. However, while winning an award was a nice affirmation of the success of their content marketing strategy, the real reward was all the new exposure that they generated, which presumably translated into many new leads.
Content marketing can be delivered through a variety of media, including television and magazines, and take a lot of different forms, including articles, infographics, videos and online games. The strategy may be referred to by several different names, including infomercial, sponsored content or native advertising. Whatever the label, content marketing is often integrated in such a way that it doesn't stand out from other material served by the host.
To make sure content (yep, even that top-of-funnel stuff) gets the credit it deserves, use multichannel tracking (also called attribution modeling). That's a way to set up your analytics platform so it allocates a part of each conversion to each of the channels touched by the customer on their happy path to conversion. For example, at Moz, we find the average relationship has seven to eight customer touchpoints before 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.
Use pivot tables to your advantage here. If you haven't learned how to use them before, now would be a wonderful time (here's a pretty decent video primer). They're a wonderfully powerful tool for this sort of data analysis, allowing you to compare large sets of data to each other. With a bit of skill, you can make Excel (or Google Spreadsheets) do the hard work for you, giving you (for example) a list of the average traffic for each topic category you'd assigned.
In recent years and due to the success of the term and the growing awareness of marketers that relevant content is necessary and undervalued, the term content marketing is used for many purposes and tactics in the digital and social marketing context, ranging from social content and search engine optimization to even online advertising (so-called ‘native advertising’).
Take advantage of the availability of off-site content platforms. As my colleague, Sam Mallikarjunan, writes in “Why Medium Works,” it can take up to six months of consistent publishing on your company’s blog before it gains significant traction. (And we’re not discouraging that -- stick with it, and find ways to supplement those efforts.) But off-site content diversifies your audience by engaging readers who might not have otherwise found your website.
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.
“It put content marketing, as a program, on the map for USAA, where it had never been before,” says Mollie Walker, Lead Marketing Manager and Content Strategy Lead, USAA. “Over time, we hope to show that the more we grow our content marketing as a program and discipline, the more we can save on the awareness media that we have to purchase. We’re filling that gap and telling a story in between awareness and buying stages.”
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?
“We’ve always made really deliberate design decisions to break the stigma and peoples’ misconceptions about meditation,” says Chris Markland, a Senior Creative and Artist at Headspace. “The mind is often an overwhelming and scary place [and] illustration has been a really useful tool in breaking that down to people in an engaging, fun, and relatable way.”
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.