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.

So what can you learn from Make-A-Wish and Batkid? If you work to support local causes, why not get your customers involved? You can use social media, email marketing, and other types of content marketing to get the word out about your favorite local charity or organization. Not only does this help you provide more support for the worthy cause, but in the process, you can connect with leads and customers who care about the community and support the same causes your business cares about.
Last January, Marriott released the 35-minute "Two Bellmen Three," set in Seoul, Korea. The goal of the film: to highlight Marriott's Asian properties and capture a piece of the wedding market. As part of the release, Marriott offered "Two Bellmen"-themed wedding, food, and spa packages at participating hotels. To date, "Two Bellmen Three" has more than 9 million YouTube views.
By 2014, Forbes Magazine's website had written about the seven most popular ways companies use content marketing.[16] In it, the columnist points out that by 2013, use of content marketing had jumped across corporations from 60% a year or so before, to 93%[17] as part of their overall marketing strategy. Despite the fact that 70% of organizations are creating more content, only 21% of marketers think they are successful at tracking return on investment.
The results were magnificent. Simply Business increased their ranking for their main keywords, including reaching first place in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for “professional indemnity,” “public liability insurance,” and “employer’s liability.” Even though they launched some guides before Google’s Penguin algorithm change, they significantly increased weekly organic traffic, meaning their link building practices were white-hat and high-quality.

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 2016, the company launched GamePlan A, a digital magazine uniquely developed to build company culture and attract and retain employees. “Designed for those who believe in the power of sport, GamePlan A is here to make work life better, more inspiring, and fun, be it at Adidas or anywhere else,” reads the site. It’s “a mindset – and a platform…tackling work life with an athlete’s heart.”

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 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.
Marketing research is the function that links the consumer, customer, and public to the marketer through information--information used to identify and define marketing opportunities and problems; generate, refine, and evaluate marketing actions; monitor marketing performance; and improve understanding of marketing as a process. Marketing research specifies the information required to address these issues, designs the method for collecting information, manages and implements the data collection process, analyzes the results, and communicates the findings and their implications. (Approved October 2004)
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.
The company continues to impress with its content hub, Out of the Blue, which publishes a mix of corporate- and consumer-interest articles that cover travel inspiration as well as inside achievements and affairs. Like the fact that in December, JetBlue released a limited edition board game called Get Packing! – two rounds of 200, actually, since the first sold out so quickly – along with a string of amusing promo clips poking fun at awkward holiday moments that might make you want to leave town. A certificate for a free round-trip ticket – one in every box – could help with that (not to mention build some serious JetBlue loyalty).
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.
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.
Content marketing focuses on the tactics and execution—the actual creation, curation, and editing of content that's specifically created for the purposes of marketing. This could be anything from blog posts to the confirmation page, and is aimed at building a trusted connection between a company's products or services and the market that might end up purchasing them. It's about creating content that people not only want to consume, but that will also help them through the sales funnel.
Marketing research is the function that links the consumer, customer, and public to the marketer through information--information used to identify and define marketing opportunities and problems; generate, refine, and evaluate marketing actions; monitor marketing performance; and improve understanding of marketing as a process. Marketing research specifies the information required to address these issues, designs the method for collecting information, manages and implements the data collection process, analyzes the results, and communicates the findings and their implications. (Approved October 2004)

Unlike traditional marketing, content marketing has no sales pitch. It does not try to directly advertise or sell a particular brand, product or service. Rather, it aims to capture mindshare with valuable, relevant information that is educational, entertaining and/or emotionally satisfying. In this way, content marketing succeeds in creating interest and awareness of the brand and its offerings.
15. Basecamp: Signal v. Noise on Medium. Signal v. Noise is “strong opinions and shared thoughts on design, business, and tech. By the makers (and friends) of Basecamp.” Why Medium? According to the team, “When Jason Fried a few months ago suggested that we should start posting articles on Medium, I was skeptical. What possible gain could we have from sharing our stories on someone else’s platform rather than our 15 year-old blog? Turns out, quite a lot! First of all, the writing and formatting experience on Medium is just excellent. I’ve yet to find another web editor that makes it as easy to produce great looking articles. … Second, Medium has a wonderful community and readership that reaches far beyond our natural sphere of influence.” Great advice if your brand is considering Medium for content creation in 2016.
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’).
As you’re building a content strategy that works with your brand, you’ll also have to bear in mind how well this fits with your search engine optimization (SEO) plan. You’ll want to focus your content marketing on audience engagement, and this should be genuine. However, you’ll also want to meld this with keyword research in order to ensure that the content you are creating is really going to bring traffic to your site if that’s your key platform.

If you thought a company like Twitter doesn’t need content marketing, think again. The social media giant has been building up its Twitter Business Outlook blog with original and licensed content centered on how-tos and best practices for advertising on the platform. After all, while countless other websites and agencies counsel on how to tweet to your fullest potential, where better to hear it than straight from the source?
Whole Foods does a great job of living those brand principles in its content marketing. Articles about how to save money but still eat healthy or tips to change your diet for the better make Whole Foods’ products and lifestyle more inclusive. On top of that, it uses a lot of proactive language (“I want to learn/do/both” as a search option in its navigation bar) which makes the audience feel like they have an active role in the experience.
If you thought a company like Twitter doesn’t need content marketing, think again. The social media giant has been building up its Twitter Business Outlook blog with original and licensed content centered on how-tos and best practices for advertising on the platform. After all, while countless other websites and agencies counsel on how to tweet to your fullest potential, where better to hear it than straight from the source?
Industry Forums: Posting content on respected industry forums adds a level of authority and brand reach your company may not have had before. Sites like Business Insider or Forbes are ideal for a more general business management audience, but niche publications that are exclusive to your industry can be even better channels through which to target your core audience.

Earned media is any press mention, feature, or article that your company earns in an external outlet. It exposes your brand to new, larger audiences; builds your influence as an industry leader; and offers the third-party validation that your content simply cannot achieve on its own. Examples include guest-contributed content or guest posts, press mentions, and other PR efforts.
There is an answer to this buyer-driven environment: Content. Content marketing is the process of creating high-quality, valuable content to attract, inform, and engage an audience, while also promoting the brand itself. Buyers and consumers are already searching the web for answers that your brand is uniquely positioned to offer. It’s benefits are three-fold:
The new strategy is already seeing strong results. Back then, there were around 10,000 employees in the Adidas LinkedIn community – which happens to be GamePlan A’s most important distribution channel. Today, that number has grown to more than 33,000, along with 673,000 general followers. Most posts link back to the GamePlan A content hub. With hundreds of likes and multiple comments per post, it’s plain to see that Adidas has a highly engaged audience.

Videos. Gary Vaynerchuk is a master of content marketing using online video, just take a look at his YouTube channel. He got his start creating videos to promote his family’s wine store and through those videos and other online marketing he eventually grew it to a $45M empire. Videos and podcasts are a largely untapped form of content marketing because people think it’s expensive and hard. But with the falling cost of professional grade equipment creating high quality video and audio content is easier than ever. Amateur video content marketing has been used to sell blenders, launch new dental products, and market Hong Kong visa consulting services. What video could you throw together for your company that might change your fortunes overnight? It might be easier than you think.
Content marketing has taken over because it’s so useful to every function of marketing teams today. Content is one of the best tools you have for earning trust, building your brand, generating site traffic and qualified leads, and everything in between. Content marketing is marketing, and the brands that understand content is core to effective marketing — and, ultimately, to their entire business — will set themselves up for success.
“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

Last January, Marriott released the 35-minute "Two Bellmen Three," set in Seoul, Korea. The goal of the film: to highlight Marriott's Asian properties and capture a piece of the wedding market. As part of the release, Marriott offered "Two Bellmen"-themed wedding, food, and spa packages at participating hotels. To date, "Two Bellmen Three" has more than 9 million YouTube views.
Now that you’ve set your goals, it’s time to determine the KPIs you need to evaluate whether your content actually hits those goals. There’s no single magic metric that will give you a complete picture of your content success, but a combination of benchmarks can be useful to assess performance. Here’s a guide for choosing the right KPIs according to your goals:
I don’t know what I could add to this list. Content marketing is nothing new, but as it’s been said, it’s ever changing and people are finding new and more engaging ways to incorporate it into their marketing strategies. Content marketing is vast and is used in almost every aspect; this blog, for instance, is content marketing. You’ve creating content to bring people here to help market what you’re offering or who you are.
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.
Take Patagonia's response to the Trump administration's decision to reduce the size of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. Patagonia created a visually stunning "interactive film experience" called "Defend Bears Ears," that urges people to take action. In addition, Patagonia shared dedicated posts about this hot topic on its blog, The Cleanest Line, and on social media. One post even famously declared, "The president stole your land."
The supply chain of digital content marketing mainly consists of commercial stakeholders and end-user stakeholders which represent content providers and distributors and customers separately.[37] In this process, distributors manage the interface between the publisher and the consumer, then distributors could identify the content that consumers need through external channels and implement marketing strategies. For instance, Library and document supply agencies as intermediaries can deliver the digital content of e-books, and e-journal articles to the users according to their search results through the electronic channels. Another example is when consumers pay for the acquisition of some MP3 downloads, search engines can be used to identify different music providers and smart agents can be used by consumers to search for multiple music provider sites. In a word, the digital content marketing process needs to be conducted at the business level and service experience level because when consumers are accessing digital content, their own experience depends on the complex network of relationships in the content marketing channels such as websites and videos. The consumers interact directly with distributors in the big supply chain through various digital products which have an important role in meeting the requirements of the consumers. The design and user experience of these channels directly decides the success of digital content marketing.[28]
How will we structure the internal organization – or better: how will we make sure that all content marketing related processes and flows are properly organized, in correlation with other marketing processes and/or teams? Often, content marketing thinkers advice to build teams that are more or less dedicated to content marketing. In practice, this seldom happens (except in some major firms) and teams better focus on the tasks and goals than the exact roles, realizing each company is different.
If you’re going to be putting valuable resources into growing your content strategy, then you have to make sure your efforts are actually paying off. The last thing you want is to spend time budgeting for content marketing and then discover later that you don't have any way of knowing whether your investment paid off. Many marketing teams struggle in this area because there are so many different metrics you could track to determine your content’s performance. However, before you can even begin to set these key performance indicators accurately, you must be crystal clear on your purpose for creating content and how it fits within your strategy.
“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

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.
That’s what Raise the Bar does, by compiling a “daily digest of timely, must-read posts on sales, marketing and growth engineering.” And, that was the intent all along. In a 2016 blog post announcing the launch of the newsletter, Mattermark’s Co-founder and CEO, Danielle Morrill, wrote, “We’re turning our focus toward sifting through the mountains of content out there around sales, marketing, and growth to help the community of DOERS who grow companies.”
NewsCred’s inaugural #ThinkContent Awards celebrate best-in-class content marketing brands. Their approaches are fresh, innovative, and creative. Even better, these brands have found solutions to some of content marketing’s most pressing issues, including using personalization to give people the right content at the right time, leveraging new content formats, and measuring ROI.
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