Over the 179 years of its existence, Hermes (Brand value in 2016: $11.7 Billion) has become synonymous with a commitment to design and impeccable taste. This extends to their content as well. La Maison des Carrés or House of Scarves is an online destination dedicated to their most iconic accessory, the scarf. The website is a delight to browse through as every click brings you closer to each creation and leads to a seamless purchase experience.
Content marketing has helped the company reposition itself. It still faces challenges as industry revenue continues to falter, but the company has weathered the storm better than PepsiCo, Cott, and other producers. Sales have started to pick up this year, and Business 2 Community author Hephzy Asaolu has said that there’s strong data proving that growth in revenue is strongly associated with content marketing efforts, which have helped Coca Cola to engage with customers all over the world.
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.
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.
In 2017, NewsCred launched the Top 50 Awards to celebrate best-in-class content marketing brands. Whether hot new startups or global giants, these brands were the ones with splashy, interactive content hubs that drove conversions, stellar social media presences, innovative new technology integrations, and strong behind-the-scenes strategies and measurement plans. They were brands that inspired us to push the boundaries with our own content marketing.
EXAMPLE: River Pools and Spas changed its mission from being a pool installer to being “the best teachers in the world about fiberglass pools” — and then started to answer specific customer questions in blog posts. As Marcus Sheridan explained, that decision was “one of the most prosperous days of our lives,” as that was when customers started coming to them. View the case study:
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.
Many B2B marketers have seen B2C content at least once and asked, "Why do they get to have all the fun?" But the moments like the one we described above are the ones that remind us: B2B companies are just as passionate about their products as B2C companies are. And for every B2B product, there are even more B2B users out there looking for information, inspiration, and knowledge to provide them with solutions.
But one of the newest and most successful strategies Random House has embraced has been using Medium to aggregate content from their active publishers. They also launched a new consumer discovery website to help people find relevant content. Random House CEO Markus Dohle says that content marketing has played an important role in maintaining and growing Random House’s brand image:
This past year, First Round launched First Search, which curates the best advice from technology thought leaders. "It's a database of extremely high-quality, curated advice about all aspects of building companies, pulled from across the web and organized to help you find exactly what you need when you need it," explains Maddie Hall, First Search's Product Manager, in Medium. The plan is that First Search will evolve into personalized discovery experience for every user – which will further help First Round achieve its content marketing goals.
In many ways, step five ties into step one. When you’re thinking of your goals, think of how you can tell if you are on track to reach those goals. In the case of the example brand that’s trying to reach millennial moms, it could track traffic to its website from social media profiles that match the definition of millennial moms. It could also look at responses on social media to see if millennial moms are engaging with the content it creates.
As Arketi Group says “keep the message fresh”. But also make sure you use several content options, regarding format, channel and trigger (push, pull). Every prospect has his own preferences and in a cross-channel lead nurturing approach, meeting those should be the most obvious thing on earth. The type of content really depends on different elements in the above mentioned other two dimensions: pain points, behavior, personas, stages in the sales cycle, you name it. Arketi further developed the model over the last few years and I think it’s a nice way to look at it, certainly in B2B.
Content marketing is the publication of material designed to promote a brand, usually through a more oblique and subtle approach than that of traditional push advertising. Content marketing is most effective when it provides the consumer with accurate and unbiased information, the publisher with additional content and the advertiser with a larger audience and ultimately, a stronger brand.
I’ve been super impressed by GoDaddy’s recent content marketing campaign up here in Canada with Toronto Raptor’s player Jonas Valanciunas. They’ve been running great and funny TV ads pointing consumers to https://ittybittyballers.ca where they’ve set up a fictitious business and GoDaddy-powered eComm site with all proceeds going to charity. Brilliant!
One final word on creating a content marketing strategy: It’s not a one-and-done process. As things change within your company, and as the nature of the content marketing landscape shifts, you might find that you’ll have to go back and adjust your strategy. Think of your content marketing strategy as something that will grow and change over time, as your brand grows and changes.
Some of the brands covered here are newcomers to the market, while others are household names that have been around for more than a century. However, they all have one thing in common: they recognize the value of creating great content to engage their audience and generate new leads. Get inspired by their examples and use their success to fuel your own content marketing efforts.
Content marketing is heading for exciting new territory in 2016. A new survey finds that 64% of PR and marketing pros will increase content marketing efforts in 2016. Content expert and author Ann Handley predicts that content marketing will truly “grow up” in 2016, as content strategists tell “bigger stories with a braver focus and a bolder voice.”