Of all the car rental companies, Zipcar has best mastered this strategy. Since Zipcar's target audience is people who live in the urban areas where it has a presence, Zipcar tailors its content specifically toward city dwellers. Its content hub, Ziptopia, has sections about city living and the future of cities, as well as travel inspiration stories (many accessible by car from major cities). While most posts don't mention Zipcar, calls to action at the bottom of each give readers the option to join Zipcar or book a Ziptrip.
Good content attracts, informs, persuades, serves and engages buyer personas, prospects, customers and other target audiences across the entire lifecycle and relationship with your organization and brand. It responds to the questions and needs of (prospective) customers during and after their buyer journey in correlation with direct and indirect business goals.
19. Content marketing is using any type of content (newsletters, blog posts, white papers, videos, Tweets, podcasts, wall posts) to attract an audience you wish to market to. Capturing their attention through great content gives you the opportunity to present calls-to-action to them to purchase or try your product or service. Jason Falls – Social Media Explorer
Red Bull TV is a website that provides videos and live streaming of events from across the world. According to Target Marketing Magazine, Red Bull was one of the first companies to create content that its customers actively sought out. As a result, it drew a large number of people who were interested in the adventurous activities that Red Bull drinkers often participate in, instantly setting it apart from others in its industry.
What is the content about? Does it talk about what you're selling, or is it more educational? Is it about content marketing, social media, conversion rate optimization, landing pages, A/B tests, or something else? Come up with a list of categories that fairly well encapsulates what you've covered through content marketing, and assign each piece a category or two. That'll allow you to come to conclusions like, "Wow, our audience engages nearly twice as much with posts that are about advertising techniques. I guess we know what they're interested in."

With so many channels, platforms, and methods of communicating with audiences, it’s easy to overlook the classic email — but email is very much alive and well. In fact, email drip campaigns are one of the simplest, most effective ways to provide targeted, high-performing content directly to your readers, enhance their experience with your brand, and enable the sales process.
We know this is a lot of information, but the work has just begun. It takes time, organization, and creativity to grow a successful content marketing strategy. From building the foundation of your content marketing plan to adding tools to better manage your content, setting up your strategy for the new year won't be a hassle if you follow the steps and explore the resources here.
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.

Extract knowledge from your subject matter expert. Put together a list of questions for your SME to answer to painlessly extract his or her knowledge. It’s completely OK if your SME isn’t a natural writer; that’s what your content marketing team members are there for. What’s most important is that you communicate his or her expertise, and that’s where this process comes in handy. Your questions should be highly specific to get the right information from your SME’s brain and create unique, high-quality expert content using those insights.
Companies need to get creative and enthusiastic about getting their content in front of the right people. Passive distribution — or, worse, distribution you do as an afterthought once you realize no one is engaging with your content — won’t cut it. Don’t let your investment in content go to waste by sitting on some of your most valuable marketing assets.
"Our ambition is fairly massive," says Jay Curley, now Ben & Jerry’s Global Head of Integrated Marketing, in New York Magazine. "We're trying to create a new model for how businesses can use their voice to have an impact on important social movements, and show that you can do that and it doesn’t hurt your business. As a matter of fact, it may help."

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:
If you’ve ever slogged your way through reading a piece of marketing and only finished reading because you had to, then you’ve experienced bad content marketing. When I speak to companies about content marketing I tell them that content is good if they genuinely want to read it. Content is great if they’re willing to pay to read it. If you want to see great examples of content, just look at what you’ve paid to read, watch, or listen to lately. If you watched The Lego Movie this year, you saw one of the greatest examples of content marketing to date. Oh, you thought they made that movie in order to sell movie tickets? Think again. That was a 100 minute toy commercial, and rather than using a DVR to skip it you paid good money to watch it. Is it any coincidence that Lego recently leapfrogged Mattel, the creators of Barbie, to become the largest toy company in the world? You may not have the budget to make a feature film to promote your company, but you can still give potential customers valuable information.
“Content marketing is what we like to call owned media. It’s anything you produce—blog posts, white papers, podcasts, videos, eBooks—that lives on something you own, such as a website or blog. The advantage, of course, is you get to tell your story and have direct access to your customers and prospects.” –  Gini Dietrich, Arment Dietrich & Spin Sucks
Although native advertising might not look like marketing, the content should explicitly state that it was provided by the advertiser. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines for all advertising emphasizes transparency and includes stipulations that advertising claims must be truthful and supported by evidence. The more content marketing is similar in format and topic to the publisher's editorial content, the more important a disclosure is, in order to prevent deception.
Acorns Investment is a popular investing app that helps you round-up your spare change from debit card purchases and invest these small amounts of money over time. This approach to investing is ideal for anyone who doesn’t feel like they have enough money or time to invest, but they still want to be work toward building wealth. Their blog called Grow from Acorns, is just of the best content marketing examples of an effective blog.
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.

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.
21. Airbnb: The Local List. Airbnb goes a step above just offering great content on top places to eat, hang out, and amuse oneself in faroff destinations. Airbnb offers these lists as PDF downloads — perfect for downloading pre-traveling, as you don’t know what the wifi situation will be. These PDFs are a great reminder to think beyond the blog post or web page.

However, you don’t need to work with influencers to utilize user-generated content as part of your marketing strategy. Whether you create a contest or just consistently ask for feedback through social media, you can encourage your fans and followers to post pictures of themselves using your products or services. When you repost this content, you are showing your leads and customers what others think about your brand while showing the customer themselves your appreciation for their business.
We don’t consider marketing campaigns, even if multi-channel and customer-centric, with lots of content as content marketing either as 1) they have existed forever and are not an indication of content marketing maturity and 2) content marketing is an ongoing effort. An example of why this makes sense: we often notice that brands winning content marketing awards for campaigns have websites – their predominant online presence – that don’t even respect the basics of offering the relevant content potential and existing customers in the broadest sense HAVE to be able to find. Again, this doesn’t mean that good marketing campaigns aren’t characterized by the right content, among others.
This same phenomenon was found in other countries, such as the UK and even in research in smaller countries such as Belgium, in which there was an apparent link with the fact marketers said to be ready to break out of the cycle of short-terminism. As mentioned, content marketing – indeed – is not about short-terminism and thus cannot be defined in a pure campaign perspective if correctly used.
“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 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.
The “Share a Coke” campaign gives every Coca-Cola lover the opportunity to personalize their drink. Individuals could personalize their own bottle with their name on the Coca-Cola website or look for their name (or a friend’s name) on a bottle at the gas station or supermarket. This campaign soon went viral as consumers began posting pictures online with their personalized drinks.
Though you may not have the same advertising budget as Coca-Cola, you can still take a few things from this popular campaign. Personalization can go a long way into helping your consumers feel special and appreciated. Whether it’s sending a personal message through email or making product recommendations based on a consumer’s buying behaviors, the more personalized your marketing is, the more effective it will be.
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.
It frequently updates the prominent Articles & Insights section on its website with topics core to its audience, such as Grow Your Wealth and Plan Your Legacy. First Republic prides itself on offering clients personal, bespoke service, and it strives to convey that on Articles & Insights. The Travel Gallery is a community-driven section where globe-trotting customers share photos and destination advice. In addition, in the past year, First Republic has published many more profiles featuring clients who are bringing positive change to their communities.
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.
GE is appearing on our list for the second time, and for good reason. For years, the brand’s content marketing has been best-in-class, pioneering the industry with the launch of its wildly successful digital magazine, GE Reports, back in 2008, and pushing the field forward with consistently creative and relevant campaigns ever since. Like one of our favorites – “What If Millie Dresselhaus, Female Scientist, Was Treated Like a Celebrity?” – which aired during last year’s Oscars and staked GE's commitment to hiring 20,000 women in technical positions by 2020.
When you begin to brainstorm and map out ideas for content, ask yourself, “Do I really understand my audience?” If you have any doubts as to how the idea will benefit or be useful to your audience, the answer might be “no” -- and that’s okay. Like everything else, audiences (and people) evolve, so it’s okay to go back to the drawing board in instances like these for a refresh.
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.
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