If there’s one thing to takeaway from these incredible examples of content marketing, it’s that you need to stand out from the crowd. That’s the only way that people will share and talk about your content. Don’t worry if you don’t have the time, resource or creativity to do this – there’s plenty of content marketing experts out there to help you. One thing is for sure, the power of content marketing is hard to ignore.


While all the ways American Girl connects to its audience are too numerous to cover in this one post, I’m particularly amazed by its print publications. For instance, The Care and Keeping of You is a book all about growing up for girls. It ranks second in its category (and 71st most popular among all books on Amazon). It’s from a brand selling dolls – but the subject has nothing to do with the dolls.
Though there are links and CTAs to the Acorns site throughout the blog site, the content is not product-focused. Instead, it educates and informs the reader so that they can make better decisions about their finances. Rather than discussing how great Acorns is, it provides relevant and realistic advice about how readers can take control of their financial future.
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.
Clay Collins’ hypothesis was correct. Thanks to his content marketing strategy, LeadPages ended up with an extremely high lifetime value to customer acquisition cost ratios. This helped them grow on a massive scale, acquiring 35,000 customers in under three years, hitting over $16 million in revenue in 2015, and in 2016 becoming the #148 fastest growing company in America. LeadPages success makes them one of the great content marketing examples.

16. Method cleaning products: Soap Dish blog. Method’s blog contains tips and tricks for house cleaning, cooking, and eco-friendly living. It all ties in with Method’s mission of natural-minded cleanliness, organization, and comfort within the home. For example, check out this post about keeping your hands soft while keeping a house clean. The topic of cleaning a home is so broad, but Method manages to narrow it all down to a tight content focus.
Content is essential, no matter what. The focus on the term content marketing should not take our attention away from this simple fact, that is true since long before the term was invented: people ‘consume’ content, they use it to prepare a purchase, they like it regardless of their relationship with you, words and images are essential in human behavior and persuasion and content plays a role in virtually all marketing tactics. A good content marketing strategy is really a mix of different tactics and strategies, aligned with the buyer journey and overall marketing strategy.
Founder and CEO Clay Collins knew they had to be scrappy to be able to compete against VC-funded giants like Hubspot and Infusionsoft, given LeadPages were a bootstrapped company since inception. Instead of spending $10,000 on customer acquisition as some of their competitors did, Collins developed a growth hypothesis based on the idea that “a content team of four people could outperform an 80+ person sales team at most companies.”
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.
In the ‘modern’ approach of content marketing, where more people look at the role of content in branding, reach, engagement, social and SEO. especially in a pure branding, reach and engagement approach, organizations look less at buyer personas but rather at audiences. Nevertheless, such a view requires a content marketing strategy as well. Unless your company lives from website traffic, a pure publishing model without an overall strategy makes no sense. It’s also advisable to not look at content marketing from the pure social and search context.
Great article Sarah. I think that a key theme all of these great content marketing strategies have in common is humour; humour has universal appeal and is a very effective way of getting audiences to talk about and share your content. Of course your content marketing strategy needs to be comprehensive and well executed, and for businesses without the staff capacity I would recommend outsourcing your digital marketing needs to skilled freelancers.
“Content marketing means creating and sharing valuable free content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers. The type of content you share is closely related to what you sell; in other words, you’re educating people so that they know, like, and trust you enough to do business with you.” – Brian Clark, Copyblogger
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.
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.
Your content strategy is a comprehensive plan that describes your goals (what you want to accomplish), the tactics you’ll implement (how you’ll accomplish it), and the metrics you’ll use to measure the strategy’s effectiveness. It also includes the data and research that you’ll depend on to make smart strategic decisions. Over time it will grow with more information (especially about your customer), so you’ll want it somewhere editable and easy to reference.
"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.
Workiva offers a real-time cloud service to help clients collect report and analyze data. Due to the sophistication of their service, the company needs to diligently educate customers in order to attract new buyers and grow their business. Thus far, the company has used a variety of content marketing techniques to boost their brand reach and improve customer retention.
Most of her content marketing strategy has been coordinated through Tumblr. She created a post about her upcoming album “West Coast”, which featured several beautiful pictures of herself and Kylie Jenner. Within a year, the post received over 27,000 likes and shares on Tumblr. While her celebrity status and strong fan base undoubtedly played a role in her blog’s success, the posts she’s created have definitely helped to build her brand.
Content marketing…is the art and science of attracting an audience toward a brand and it’s website, then inspiring that audience to take action. This is done through the publishing, promoting and measuring of content. The form of the content is often written text, but may also be video, audio, diagrams. The function is often educational or useful, but may also be entertaining. Content marketing contrasts with advertising, which seeks to interrupt or distract an audience with a brand’s message. – Andy Crestodina, Orbit Media

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 also provides additional benefits in that it supports other digital marketing channels. It provides additional content for social media marketing and contributes to SEO efforts by generating natural inbound links and building up good content on your website that gets found in search engines. In fact, for many companies the bulk of their SEO efforts should be focused on content marketing.

7. New York Times: Journalism virtual reality. If you’ve followed journalism at all over the past five or ten years, you know the news industry is constantly looking to revolutionize itself to stay relevant and, of course, profitable. (Watch the movie Page One if this interests you.) NYT experimented with virtual reality (VR) in 2015, launching an app you can use on Google cardboard (ideally) or your smartphone. The app fully immerses you in news stories like never before. I recommend you check it out and ponder the implications for all-immersive content marketing in 2016.
You're looking for trends to see what successes you can build on and what needs improvement. Don't forget to look for gaps. Sometimes the content you most need is the content that isn't yet there. Do you have 15 posts about tools for every one case study? Are all of your posts about advanced niche topics? What if your audience is full of beginners who want to learn from other people's experience? Looking back through and classifying/quantifying your previous work gives you a bird's-eye view of where you've been in the past and where you have yet to venture.
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.

While this is obviously so, this goes for all forms of “marketing” from an integrated perspective. Nevertheless, content marketing, regardless of definitions and terms, can be clearly differentiated in many ways from other marketing tactics and approaches. Even if phenomena and activities such as corporate blogging – and, going back far more in time, storytelling – are older that the term content marketing, they are often mentioned in a content marketing context. This also means that often definitions overlap. Corporate blogging is a good example as it is defined as a content marketing practice but also as social media marketing and inbound marketing. More about the difference between content marketing and inbound marketing here. Finally, as new – mainly digital – evolutions (also driven by consumer adoption), it’s clear that content marketing will continue to evolve, as will media evolutions, as the increasing focus on “converged media” clearly indicates.
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.
Land Rover's content strategy also extends to social media and video. Last fall, Land Rover created a video series in which it followed an adventurer couple and their eight-week-old baby taking a two-week trip across Europe in a Land Rover Discovery. It also created a 360-degree video where viewers could go sailing with the Land Rover team in Bermuda ahead of the 35th America's Cup.
Focus on your customers and overall marketing. As a marketer you want to know what works and what your customers need, not the little debates over definitions. Your customers don’t care about your content marketing definition, nor will your CEO. No one is even forced to like or use the term, all that matters are good marketing practices and great customer experiences.
Podcasts. Michael Hyatt, author of the best-selling book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, practices what he preaches. His “This is Your Life” podcast is downloaded 250,000 times each month. As Hyatt elaborates on his blog post 4 Reasons You Should Consider Launching Your Own Podcast, “A podcast gives you visibility in a completely different world—primarily iTunes. I have had scores of new people say they had never heard of me until they stumbled onto me in iTunes.” Hyatt gives valuable information and advice in his podcast--all for free. But that podcast leads to more sales of his books, signups for his courses, and requests for him as a speaker.
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.
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.
Owned media is any content that your company creates and publishes via your company’s assets. This could be in the form of blog content, whitepapers, website copy, sales collateral, email and social media campaigns, or more. While you can fully control this content, not every piece should be a sales pitch in disguise — it’s still important to deliver value to your audience and build its trust.

“Making work simpler, more pleasant, and more productive” since 2014, Slack helps business teams communicate and function more efficiently while bringing them closer to their goals. The company’s blog, Several People Are Typing, looks and reads like a top digital magazine while successfully balancing product and company information with a selection of industry stories. And its bi-monthly podcast, “Work in Progress,” explores the meaning and identity we find in work, from the gig economy to Silicon Valley and the corporate world, and how technology is affecting us all.
The Common Language in Marketing website is an ongoing and comprehensive encyclopedia of globally relevant and standardized marketing terms, activities, metrics, and systems. This open-source, curated library of definitions combines the insights of leading marketing academics, industry trade associations, and subject matter experts with input from the broader community. 
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