A winning strategy succeeds when technology and people work together. Automation and semantics can help to filter, facilitate and uncover hidden treasures, but it is the human touch – thoughtful selection and consideration of content – that will create a truly new and engaging brand experience for audiences to discover, enjoy and share. Kelly Hungerford
Your content is only as valuable as its ability to attract audience members and compel them to engage with your business on an ongoing basis — as subscribers, customers, evangelists, or, ideally, all three. Once you have an addressable audience, your content efforts will help increase sales, gather valuable customer insights, and activate your most ardent followers as brand advocates.
It goes hand in hand with content sharing, social content marketing, social media, copywriting, visual content, you name it. Storytelling is also closely related with word-of-mouth, recommendations and the simple act of sharing and connecting, since long before digital marketing, let alone content marketing even existed. We know why: storytelling is one of the most human ways of passing along knowledge and traditions, mesmerizing audiences and, in fact, human nature as such. What does storytelling mean in a content marketing context? Below are a few resources on storytelling and content marketing.
18. Nasty Gal: Behind the scenes on the Nasty Galaxy blog. Nasty Gal is the glamorous and unreasonably hip fashion brainchild of #GirlBoss Sophia Amoruso. Its blog, Nasty Galaxy, takes fashion fans behind the scenes of company parties and even photo shoots. Guess what lurks behind the scenes of this cool company? Even more enviable coolness, increasing affinity and likelihood to purchase even more.
But the messaging remains relevant, even among the hint of silliness. After all, CB Insights designs technology for people in the VC space, so it’s tasked with creating content that will appeal to a broad audience: customers, prospective customers, tech enthusiasts, and investors. And so, under such subject lines as “so sad: tough to have a VC dad,” it includes relevant data. Yes, gifs are hilarious -- but in some contexts, they’re also worth $147 million.
In recent years, content marketing has exploded, with 89% of B2B marketers currently using content marketing. The reason? The internet. The shift to online media, and more recently, to mobile, means that audiences are consuming content in new and savvy ways. This has led to brands big and small developing comprehensive content strategies with allocated marketing budgets.
User-Generated Content: Soliciting reviews, comments and content from avid online users and social followers cycles fresh ideas into your content production schedule and presents a more genuine relationship between your brand and the public. UGC allows followers to speak on behalf of your brand through digital vehicles like contests, giveaways, hashtag campaigns, video stories and other visual means.
The Farmers Insurance Inner Circle is a super customer-friendly resource that it created to empower the audience to become better educated about topics that, for a lot of us, go right over our heads. Farmers Insurance provides people with useful, practical information. It offers a huge variety of articles about things like taking care of your house and your car, how to prevent identity theft, what you need to know if you’re going through a divorce — basically how to deal with anything life throws at you.

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 Ones features stories celebrating artists, skaters, musicians, designers, and inspirational creatives who embody the scene. Other stories, like "Meet Stan Smith" and "Who Is Chuck Taylor" share the backstories of the people behind today's iconic kicks. Embedded within the stories are modules that let readers shop the sneakers referenced or endorsed by subjects.
You know what? 87% of B2B marketers practice content marketing to produce more qualified leads. And 78% of marketers are preparing to spend more money on content marketing. But according to my experience, the consistently producing quality content brings more traffic to a website. It also improves engagement with targeted audiences. Not least but using images in post increase audience engagement up to 30% more than plain text.
Businesses focused on increasing sales through content marketing should look at traditional e-commerce metrics including click-through-rate from a product-page to check-out and completion rates at the check-out. Altogether, these form a conversion funnel. Moreover, to better understand customers' buying habits, they should look at other engagement metrics like time spent per page, number of product-page visits per user, and re-engagement.
When you think of social media influencer marketing, your first thought is probably not General Electric. However, GE provides one of the best content marketing examples for B2B brands. Rather than highlighting their consumer products (like washers and vacuum cleaners), the company decided to use social media influencers to highlight their other business – like jet engines and wind turbines.
But the messaging remains relevant, even among the hint of silliness. After all, CB Insights designs technology for people in the VC space, so it’s tasked with creating content that will appeal to a broad audience: customers, prospective customers, tech enthusiasts, and investors. And so, under such subject lines as “so sad: tough to have a VC dad,” it includes relevant data. Yes, gifs are hilarious -- but in some contexts, they’re also worth $147 million.
Most people count on incorporating popular holidays such as New Year's and Thanksgiving in their marketing efforts, but you don't have to limit yourself to these important marketing dates. If there are niche holidays that might appeal to your audience, it could be worth publishing content on your blog or on social media. HubSpot's Service Blog Editor Sophia Bernazzani compiled this ultimate list of social media holidays -- keep an eye on it when you're planning your calendar.

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.
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."
EXAMPLE: Jyske Bank is a large Danish bank that now also functions as a media company. The company started using content marketing to get better results than its high-cost sponsorship marketing. It created Jyskebank.tv, which produces amazing financial programming, as well as compelling stories the bank believes are relevant to its core audience of younger consumers and small enterprises.

Setting a theme also helps you create several streams of content. For example, if my theme for the month was content strategy, I could turn each of these five steps into their own blog post. Then I could create additional content like a sample content calendar or audience analysis spreadsheet to supplement each post that readers could download for free.
Your content marketing strategy is a guiding light when questions like "what are we doing?" or "why are we doing this again?" arise. You want a strategy that is specific enough to your company, audience, and circumstances that it can actually provide a framework for answering those questions. But you also want a strategy that is nimble enough to flex and change as your company, audience, and circumstances do.

Start with an outline: Start with just a skeleton of what you want to say. This means having a few lines for your intro and why people should care about your topic, as well as outlining the main points or sub-headers you’re going to use throughout the post. Read through this. Does it make sense? Does your outline quickly answer What, Why, How and Where?
There are designer spotlights, service-driven articles like how to clean out your clothing closet, and, of course, an inspiration gallery of outfit ideas. The content doesn't heavily promote Stitch Fix; rather, it's designed to show its expertise in its field. Once readers are ready to try the service, they can click the call to action at the end of every story to sign up.
You should place sharing options above and below content to increase visibility and give readers access, wherever they are on the page. If you’re company blog runs on Wordpress you can also implement auto-detection plug-ins that prompt users to share or subscribe to your content depending on the platforms they are logged into when they are viewing your content.
With so many ways to publish content as a brand, inspiration always helps. That’s why we created this list of our 30 favorite content marketing examples of 2015. Whether it’s an individual campaign, a new podcast, or an overall blog property, these companies demonstrate what it means to be customer-focused in every content creation effort. As you plan content marketing campaigns for 2016, consider emulating the spirit of these brands who already do it well.
Last year, Progressive appeared on our list thanks to its standout consumer content hub, Life Lanes. The insurance company makes the cut once more, but this time it's Progressive Commercial that’s catching our eye. With its commercial arm, Progressive targets seasonal and small businesses with auto insurance needs, be it truck, van, or car coverage. With a stellar content plan in place, you can be sure the word is getting out.
Whether you’re on a team of b2b marketers or you’re a small business owner, running A/B split tests is crucial if you want to know for certain which headlines, calls-to-action and types of content work best for your readers. Once you know what strategies work best for you, your work becomes that much more effective–and your overall content marketing strategy that much clearer.
From the smallest “brand me” to industry giants, organizations of all sizes can benefit from content marketing. Marketing through curated content reduces time and costs, increases visibility and reach, and quickly and effectively establishes thought leadership. It is not enough though to set the workflow to auto pilot and populate the pages of a site with aggregated feeds.
Crowe Horwath is a leading accounting and consulting firm. In 2013, the company launched a content marketing process for reaching financial institutions with $1 billion or more in assets. Their strategy consisted of generating nearly 50 different pieces of content centered around several topics of interest to their target customers, using all the following formats:
Read Joe Pulizzi's excellent book Epic Content Marketing. I started reading it after I wrote this post and it confirmed and expanded what I already knew about content marketing, with much more detail than I could ever go into here. Something Pulizzi emphasizes which I originally left out was the importance of focusing on producing mobile-friendly content, since smartphones are becoming the dominant way in which most of our customers access content. Also read Michael Hyatt's Platform, mentioned above. Frequent websites like those of Content Marketing Institute, Ragan, Copyblogger, Michael Hyatt, and Gary Vaynerchuk and sign up for their email newsletters. It won't take you long to become not just familiar with content marketing, but an expert.
The purpose of content marketing is to show customers how your product or service can be used in their lives. Think about a time that you visited the website of your favorite clothing store and saw an article or blog post that listed the current trends. Did you notice that many of the items mentioned were available for purchase on their website? This is one example of how a company would use content marketing.
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.
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.
11. House of Cards: The alternate Frank Underwood reality. Netflix’s political drama House of Cards adopts the marketing mindset that Frank Underwood and HoC characters are totally real. With a full election website and commercial that aired during a presidential debate, you forget that these people are acting — and isn’t that the whole point of TV? House of Cards creates a steady stream of content build-up to generate excitement for the new season. It’s a great example of how a few key content pieces released strategically can drum up anticipation for a big launch.
DemandBase is a marketing technology provider that specializes in serving B2B brands. Recently, the firm used white papers, infographics, SlideShare, and webinars to source new leads for one of their campaigns. According to Top Rank Blog, the company generated 1,700 new leads and connected with 125 webinar viewers, helping them to generate over $1 million in new revenue through content marketing.
Of course, how you communicate your strategy depends on the structure and culture of your organization. In some cases, it may be appropriate to share your full documentation. In other cases, it may make more sense to create targeted summaries for certain stakeholders (for example, busy executives, or external agencies), based on how your content marketing strategy will impact their particular roles, processes, and objectives.
It’s sparked a serious video strategy as well, with Grindr’s first web series “What the Flip?” debuting last fall and following two users’ experiences of switching accounts for a day, and "CAMPerVAN," a docu-series following a group of queer artists road tripping around Europe. In its first three months alone, Into fueled 24 million video views onsite and across social media.

In September, Visit Seattle teamed up with CBS to launch "The Emerald Race." Past "Amazing Race" contestants embarked on similar challenges in and around Seattle, taking in the city's sights and outdoor experiences, and meeting notable locals along the way. In October, Visit Seattle launched "Turning Tables," a series that paired local musicians and chefs to create unique music and dining experiences.

This should come out as a part of identifying your audience (the previous step). Figure out exactly where they go online, and don’t try to spread yourself too thin. Remember, excelling at one or two channels is much better than being only partly present on a bunch of channels. Make your goal be to get this down to no more than a handful of places online.


This audience segmentation is most often done using buyer personas. There are also other models, for instance in storytelling some like to work with archetypes. We made an overview of several persona models. Note that some people also work with specific content marketing persona attributes. However, if you want an overview to start with, you might want to read it.
If you’re a small local retailer in bathroom equiment, you may limit yourself to making sure you can answer the questions of your customers and keep them loyal or make them buy more or have more people buy from you (word-of-mouth indeed). But, then again, maybe that local retailer wants to grow and decides to use content for it, which is perfectly possible (no boring or small businesses when it boils down to the possibilities of creating relevant content).

Content marketing is an umbrella term. This means that it can be used for numerous reasons and can mean many things to many people. It’s less tangible than search engine marketing, for instance. This is exactly the reason why you need to think about the strategic role of content marketing within your organization and its ecosystem. Without a content marketing strategy, you risk focusing on the content – and content strategy – too much and not seeing the overall goals anymore. In fact, this is one of the most crucial and deadly mistakes in content marketing. Unfortunately, this disconnected view on content marketing happens very often and leads to a focus on the wrong things.
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