The Future of Customer Engagement and Commerce (FCEC) is the widely respected digital magazine behind SAP Hybris’ customer engagement software, and a prime example of how a small team with a long-term vision can strike content gold – and trigger a potential customer’s entry to the marketing funnel. For Global Head of Editorial and Content Marketing for FCEC and SAP Hybris Amy Hatch, who started up the blog as a one-woman show in 2012, it took a simple recipe to ensure her success: consistent publishing, distributing content via social media, and utilizing SEO best practices.
First off, it allows you to have an “always-on” relationship with your customers. This means that you can engage with them every day, even when they’re not in the market for a purchase. With advertising, you typically see major peaks and valleys. Your traffic, engagement, and sales spike when you’re running a campaign. Those numbers fall when the campaign ends.
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.
Through content that brings that ethos to life, Clif Bar has nurtured legions of fans. Recent stories include a profile of two Clif Bar-sponsored athletes who set out to raise $100,000 for Bears Ears National Monument, an article on Clif Bar employees achieving 100,000 hours of volunteering, and a big rock piece of content about The Great Trail, a 15,000-mile network of trails across Canada.
The respect and admiration of your audience will absolutely take time to build, as they require earning trust. Once you've proven your knowledge and (even more importantly) your integrity, though, you can become the guiding light that people turn to when everyone else is simply contributing to confusion. Sites that don't care a lick about quality—sometimes called content factories—are bound to give bad or misleading advice, making readers scratch their heads and wonder who they can trust. That should be you. The authority you gain then transfers to your products or services, making customers that much more likely to choose you over the competition.
Whether you’re on a team of b2b marketers or you’re a small business owner, running A/B split tests is crucial if you want to know for certain which headlines, calls-to-action and types of content work best for your readers. Once you know what strategies work best for you, your work becomes that much more effective–and your overall content marketing strategy that much clearer.
Different companies have different goals, so no two content strategies work quite the same way. Still, general goals like lead generation, SEO, and thought leadership are common, and starting from there, companies can customize strategies that are specifically designed to work toward whichever goal is most important to them. With sales trends always changing, content plays a key role in attracting new customers.
19. American Express: Departures. Departures is a content brand that encompasses travel, fashion, shopping, arts, and culture advice for American Express cardholders. It’s available in both print and digital formats. I personally enjoy receiving the print version every season; it’s a photogenic taste of what’s of the moment around the world, and it gives me aspirational ideas of where I’d like to visit.
“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
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.
Customer success refers to the ways companies help customers get the most value from products and services. In this era of personalization, it’s no longer enough to make the sale, move on to the next one, and handle complaints as they arise. Now, companies need customers to get maximum value from their purchases to encourage word-of-mouth marketing and develop stronger relationships.
Now that you understand your main audience, place yourself in their shoes. What are they searching for when they need your product or service? Make a list of basic keywords surrounding your brand, as well as any variations (‘New York painters’ and ‘New York painting,’ for example.) You know your niche well, so draw from all possible terms used for what you have to offer. Once you have these keywords, integrate them into your content. There are a few reasons why:
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.
According to Brafton, “83% of digital marketers plan to increase audience engagement and promote brand visibility through native ads.” If you want to join them as part of your content marketing strategy, make sure your ad is consistent with your other content. Above all, native ads should meet the needs of your readers and engage the audience, just like your other content does.
Spending just 10 to 20 minutes each week studying Udemy course modules will not only give you lots of ideas to write about, but will also expand your analytical skills and give you a more thorough understanding of your industry and your target audience. Overall, it’ll enhance your content marketing strategy – and stands to inform your content creation.
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.
Chanel uses content to essay its rich legacy to the audience. None of their stories are about the user or the customer. Rather, they’re about the elusive charm that Coco Chanel translated to all her products. By revealing slivers of the brand, it makes users believe that they’re part of an exclusive club where limited, veiled access itself is a privilege.
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.
From top to bottom, on-page content and its metadata should be optimized to inform search engines as simply as possible why each page of your site exists and what you are hoping users get from it. And as algorithms evolve to understand human search behavior, they become smarter at ranking content in search engine results pages (SERPs) in a way that serves users the best content every time.
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.
Celine Roque of Contently recently wrote a very insightful piece about American Express and its longstanding commitment to content marketing. Roque points out that the world’s largest travel company has been using content for brand building for the past 100 years, beginning with a series of engaging travel guides in 1915 that played a prominent role in growing the company.
Red Bull, which sells a high-energy beverage, has published YouTube videos, hosted experiences, and sponsored events around extreme sports and activities like mountain biking, BMX, motocross, snowboarding, skateboarding, cliff-diving, freestyle motocross, and Formula 1 racing. Red Bull Media House is a unit of Red Bull that "produces full-length feature films for cinema and downstream channels (DVD, VOD, TV)." The Red Bulletin is an international monthly magazine Red Bull publishes with a focus on men's sports, culture, and lifestyle.
What you can do about it: This content hub is a brilliant move because Farmers Insurance establishes itself as an expert to its customers in a totally approachable way. If the content doesn’t answer something, Farmers makes it easy for customers to get in touch. Use your content to help your audience’s pain points on their own and establish your company as the go-to resource.
2. Huffington Post: Easy recipe videos. Videos and cooking are a match made in heaven; that’s why we have the Food Network and Top Chef. Huffington Post shows Facebook fans how to craft delicious dishes via descriptive videos — all 60 seconds or less. In 2016, attracting and maintaining customer attention will reach new heights of importance. Take a cue from HuffPo and focus on conciseness for your content.
17. Bumble and Bumble: Video style guides. Regardless of if you use Bumble and Bumble’s hair products, its website answers a multitude of questions about blowdrying, dealing with curls, straightening hair, and much more. The company’s robust library of step-by-step videos show how to create any look with any type of hair imaginable. It’s free content that’s as useful as it is memorable when you want to buy your next styling product.
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.
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.