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There are many firms that offer content marketing services, often paired with SEO or PR. If you’re simply too busy to do it yourself and aren’t ready to manage it in-house, then hiring a firm may be your best option. But if you want to jump in and do your own content marketing the easiest way is to start blogging. It will likely be hard at first, but the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. Following tips from websites like Copyblogger you’ll quickly learn how to craft content for your website or blog that will engage readers and turn them into customers or clients. But while technically good writing and the right headlines can help, it’s not the key to creating great content that is the best form of content marketing.
The definition of content marketing further depends on your viewpoint and background. A B2B marketer, looking to generate and nurture leads, for instance, might look differently at it than a brand marketer, looking to cause a shift of brand perception, or a search engine optimization practitioner, trying to increase organic ranking of content in search engines. However, the rules of good content marketing and essential strategies and principles are very much alike in most cases.
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.
Capturing audiences today requires far more than strong copy and appealing creative. Brands and agencies are striving to keep up with the rapidly growing need for high-quality content that’s both relevant and personalized. It has evolved into a $44 billion industry and is widely viewed as a top priority by 39 percent of client-side marketers. With this in mind, we created this whitepaper, packed with detailed case studies and how-to tips for your content marketing education needs.
The Italian Generali Group is the third largest insurance company in the world, on the Forbes best employee list as of last year, and, as it turns out, a major player when it comes to content. With its image-forward design and variety of articles, for instance, Generali Spain’s homepage looks and feels a lot like a digital magazine instead of your typical insurance website.
Here’s another example of a brand that does a great job of leveraging different categories of knowledge. First Round, an early-stage VC company, recognized the knowledge among entrepreneurs and leaders that wasn’t being shared -- knowledge that could be highly beneficial to their peers -- and created the First Round Review as a place for it to be shared. It serves, reads the manifesto, to liberate the ideas and expertise that are “trapped in other people's heads.”
There’s really no single way to create a content marketing strategy – you have to do it in such a way that aligns with your budget and business goals. However, the main thing to bear in mind that, with digital marketing, you’re looking for engagement and conversations that are a two-way street. So, you’re going to pay attention to what genuinely draws people towards your brand.
“Scaling our content efforts isn’t just about expanding the size of our social reach across new platforms. It’s also about deepening the level of engagement we have with our fans in the social communities they hang out in. We’ve been successful so far in rewarding our fans with Virgin experiences on Facebook and Twitter. The next step is to evolve our social platform to allow fans to reward one another with special moments.”
This is particularly critical in large organizations, as it can help keep siloed teams on the same page, minimize duplicated efforts, and ensure that everyone is working toward the same content goals. But sharing your documented strategy is also good practice for businesses that are just starting out with content marketing, for content teams that rely on internal or external subject matter experts, or for companies that outsource any part of the content creation and distribution process.
3. Farmers Insurance: Inner Circle. According to Kapost, Farmers Insurance “features an extensive library of helpful tips around home maintenance and repairs, budgeting, auto care and insurance, and more. The content is easily navigable, succinct, engaging, and well designed.” It’s a perfect example of a brand prioritizing being helpful to people (anyone — not just Farmers customers) instead of selling to them.
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 the latter category we also find platforms that are closely connected with, for instance, marketing automation platforms. The industry of content marketing software is growing fast but also evolving fast, with some players being acquired by large marketing software vendors. At the same time, we see several marketing software vendors but also content management firms and others including content marketing features.
"From a marketing standpoint and strategy, it is absolutely a content-first one…We want people to learn and engage through storytelling – and branded content is a big piece of that, both from the original branded content that we are creating, and the ones where we are partnering with publishers to do it in a native format," says Liz Matthews, Senior Vice President of Global Brand and Creative at Dell Technologies.
Ever spend precious time creating a piece of content, only to realize that it didn’t actually do what you wanted it to do? Yeah, we’ve been there, too. That’s why it’s so important to clearly and precisely outline your goal for each piece of content before you start anything. It gives you a road map to determine which main points to hit within the content, how to distribute it, and what metrics are needed to track success once it’s published.
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.
Research is great, but it never hurts to try something new if your content marketing timeline (and budget) allow for a little experimentation. Jump on social media trends, try out a new technology, or reach out to your audience and ask them what they’d like to see. Just make sure you’re always tracking the results so you can revisit and potentially add something new as part of your successful content marketing strategy.
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.
The Burberry Kisses campaign was a fun and innovative idea that consumers took to. It captured their audience’s love of mobile technology and interactive experiences to deliver a unique content marketing campaign. By appealing to the audience’s emotions and desire to connect, they captured their target consumers’ attention, making sure that the Burberry brand would be in the back of their mind next time they wanted to purchase cosmetics.
In the past year, Headspace has launched a few new content initiatives designed to make meditation more accessible – and drive and retain subscribers. One is a "How to Meditate" section that includes answers to frequently asked questions, plus videos that help people solve common meditation challenges. Headspace now also offers “packcasts,” which are recordings that feature Headspace employees discussing certain packs, or sets of meditations, while “trying to build a meditation practice that works for [them]” and showing how personalized one's meditation journey can be.
More emphasis on individual content pieces. A business that has a million website visitors a month isn’t going to double its traffic through a single piece of content—but a small business can. A small business can often afford to make great content and distribute it through limited channels, because it doesn’t take much extra traffic to boost revenue significantly.
A prominent newsletter subscription box sits on the upper right corner of the content hub's homepage and every story – a smart strategy for capturing existing or potential Twitter customers who want regular updates for optimizing their distribution strategies. For those who have read enough to want to create their own Twitter ads, a call to action at the bottom of each page gives them the option to do so.
13. Jack Daniels: The Single Barrel Standard. Jack Daniels’ blog the Single Barrel Standard shows an innate understanding of its core audience and the content they want to read. Seven Steps to Master Drinking Outside? Sounds like a winner. And what goes better with cocktails than snacks? Jack’s team penned Best New Ballpark Eats of 2015. Jack Daniels is committed to a regular cadence of content, showing customers with every piece that they share the same values and pastimes.
“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
One of the key challenges in content marketing – as a strategy – is to connect the content life cycle, the customer life cycle, brand touchpoints, different scenarios and personas, various goals and ways (channels, media, content) to achieve them and the proper processes of collaboration involving key stakeholders and – more than ever – customers and other members of the broader ecosystem (e.g. so-called influencers) themselves.
Content marketing is nothing without strategy. You can have the most interesting, thought-provoking piece of content out there, but it’s nothing if it can’t be found by the right people. No matter what stage of your content creation you’re in, whether you’re in pre-planning, development, or finishing up and wondering how to present it to the world, now is the time to start thinking about the best strategy for optimizing and distributing that content to your 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.
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.
KLM also has a successful big rock content strategy. Each year, it releases an interactive "where to fly next year" piece that highlights 50 destinations and consistently breaks company records. (See this year's at ifly2018.com.) According to KLM, past pieces have received more than half a million visits, with an average engagement time of more than five minutes, and above average referrals to the KLM site.
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?