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.
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.
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!)
This information should come partly from doing the steps above. If you’ve determined your audience is primarily on LinkedIn, then they might like in-depth articles, whitepapers or slide decks. If they’re on Facebook, then video and list posts might fit their style. If they spend a decent amount of time on Medium, long-form storytelling might be a good fit.

14. Square: A Town Square for small business owners. Credit card reader Square’s “Town Square” is a resource center for growing businesses. Many small business owners rely on Square readers for credit card readers, and now they can also rely on Square for super valuable SMB content, like how to do better social media marketing and whether a company holiday party is tax deductible. Compared to many other companies’ blogs, it’s very frequently updated.
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.
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.
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.
What existing budgets can we tap into to better achieve the goals using content in areas where return is below expectations (and what are these areas, of course)? An example: you may have an overall budget for your website but maybe it’s better to invest in more relevant content for your buyer personas instead and putting that design makeover on hold this year. Or maybe your organization invests a bit too much in generating traffic and leads but conversions stay behind. You can turn down the volume a bit and invest more in conversion optimization and lead nurturing, using content.
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.
Use keywords (naturally): Identify your main keyword for the content, a few synonyms, and a few related keywords. Then make sure you’re actually using them in your content, headers, and page content. Don’t over-do it, though. Search engines have been cracking down on content that is “stuffed” with one or two keywords. Write for the reader, but do make sure those important words are present.
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.
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 this pursuit, content helps companies equip their customers for success. Content shows buyers optimal uses for companies’ products and services, encouraging customers to see the good more than the bad. With a content strategy focused on customer success, businesses can devote fewer resources to putting out fires and more resources to growing their brands.
Post consistently. Just like with your blog, it isn’t enough to post a few sporadic tweets, nor do you want to blast followers with a bunch of posts all at once. Post consistently and at effective times. We’ve found that posting early in the morning or after 5 p.m. earns the most engagement, but you can play around with timing to see what’s best for you and your audience.
Makes sense, since the company produces 12 hours of live video per day, streaming real-life classes to homes across the country, on-demand. It’s how it keeps people coming back for more, by consistently providing something new to look forward to and actively engage in. With close-up videos of instructors – many of whom have risen to fame and actively promote the brand on social media -addressing at-home riders by name while calling out personalized encouragement, the content is nothing if not engaging.
“The difference between “marketing with content” and content marketing is a digital publishing platform that your brand owns. Creating an article for a publisher. Or an ebook. An ad. Or sales collateral. These are not content marketing. Content marketing means committing to publishing content people actually want. On a platform you own.” – Michael Brenner, Marketing Insider Group
Because Better Everyday isn’t attached to the company’s main URL, it provides an opportunity for NextView to experiment with different tones, voices, and stories -- all from a variety of experts that might already be using Medium to discover and contribute unique content. Plus, with Medium’s built-in ability for people to recommend, highlight, and search internally for relevant content, it makes the work published there that much more shareable.

Which organizational processes, stumbling blocks, competitor data, management goals, customer insights, business stakeholders, teams, external partners, overall marketing priorities, etc. do I need to know in order to succeed? Before even thinking about content strategy, content inventorization or content production, these crucial questions need to be known.
For parents, think about BabyCenter. When I was pregnant and then raising my older daughter, I considered BabyCenter to be required reading. It’s a perfect example of content marketing. According to its website, it is the No. 1 pregnancy and parenting digital destination, and eight in 10 new and expectant moms online use BabyCenter each month. The site is owned by Johnson & Johnson, which sells products for babies.

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.
Though you may not have the time or resources to create a specialized app to market your brand, you can create great content that gets to the heart of your target audience’s biggest challenges. By focusing on creating content that highlights and explains these challenges, providing simple and effective solutions, you’ll be on your way to building stronger customer relationships and influencing more conversions.
Grow from Acorns offers a space where the brand publishes provide a wealth of valuable articles for their target audience. Grow’s goal is to empower its readers with relevant and realistic advice that can help them accomplish their financial goals. Much like the app, the blog aims to help people start building wealth now instead of waiting until later.
4. Birchbox: Personal grooming videos. Beauty subscription service Birchbox regularly publishes excellent how-to grooming videos for men and women on two different pages. These videos often have a seasonal component (like Valentine’s Day makeup or keeping skin moist during dry winter months), encouraging customers to come back and learn more. Here’s a great example of helpful tips for guys seeking to keep long hair healthy.
We believe one of the causes for content marketing’s lack of effectiveness is because everyone means something different when talking about it. There are so many different definitions going around people are bound to miscommunicate. If you don’t agree on what “content marketing” means for your organization, it is impossible to agree on whether it was effective or not.
First Round Review, the branded publication from venture capital firm First Round Capital, has made a name for itself with exceptional long-form content. With a captive audience of startup founders and business leaders, its content addresses common pain points and shares in-depth strategies from successful executives. The content hub is comprised of nine digital magazines that zone in on a specific aspect of business growth, from product to engineering to fundraising.
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.

Add value. That’s the secret. It’s not really a secret at all. We've already talked about it throughout this piece. Although when you look at some of the marketing companies engage in you wonder if they’re purposely avoiding the obvious. We skip advertising when it provides little to no value. If you want to learn about advertising that doesn’t get skipped, find a skateboarder and ask him if you can watch him look through a skateboard magazine. You’ll see that he spends as much time looking at the ads as he does looking at the articles and photos. Or check out The Berrics website. Much of the content is advertisements, but skaters don’t skip these videos, they watch them just like they watch the other videos, because they’re getting the value they want--good skating. As a skater I’d like to say skateboard companies pioneered content marketing decades ago, but I know they were only doing what came naturally, and selling more product was secondary to the fun of creating videos and magazines. If you want to hire someone onto your marketing team who understands content marketing intuitively, hiring a skateboarder might not be a bad step.
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.
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.
Whether you’re building a business case to launch a content marketing program or improving your existing one, it’s important that you and your stakeholders align on what, exactly, content marketing is – and what value it can provide your brand and target audience. We put together this resource to help you do exactly that. Here, you’ll find the definition of content marketing and other frequently asked questions. You’ll also find examples from top brands, as well as statistics to articulate the ROI it can have on your business.
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.
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