The key word here is “valuable.” It’s what changes this definition from one that could describe almost any form of advertising or marketing. You can tell if a piece of content is the sort that could be part of a content marketing campaign if people seek it out, if people want to consume it, rather than avoiding it. So was VW’s 2014 “Game Day” commercial, which has been viewed on YouTube almost 18 million times as of the writing of this post, an ad, or content marketing? The answer is it’s both, depending on how it’s received by each individual who is exposed to it. The same will apply to any piece of content marketing you create, depending on whether the recipient received value from it or not. Of course the goal is to provide as much value from your content marketing to as much of your target audience as possible. At this point, despite this definition and explanation, you’re probably still wondering what exactly content marketing is. We can get more clarity by considering a few examples.

Want to get inspired, or get a better understanding of what killer content marketing looks like? We’ve compiled 75 of our favorite content efforts into our latest e-book, Get Inspired: 75 (More) Content Marketing Examples. Updating one of our most popular e-books of all time, this year’s collection illustrates best practices for a wider range of tactics and formats – from fresh takes on content marketing mainstays like blogs and microsites to next-gen innovations that capitalize on the latest digital media technologies and trends.

Zendesk might be an expert in the solutions provided by its product, but behind that product is a chorus of highly skilled experts -- the people who build and engineer the software. The company realized that there’s an audience to be tapped that’s seeking insights and expertise on the technical side of the product, so it used that to build an entirely independent content property.
What do your audiences need to know from you? Use search and social media, plus conversations with customers and your internal personnel (sales and customer service, especially) to better understand the information and persuasive requirements of your customers. Then, organize those needs by persona and funnel stage to create a map of necessary content.
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.
DemandBase is a marketing technology provider that specializes in serving B2B brands. Recently, the firm used white papers, infographics, SlideShare, and webinars to source new leads for one of their campaigns. According to Top Rank Blog, the company generated 1,700 new leads and connected with 125 webinar viewers, helping them to generate over $1 million in new revenue through content marketing.
Brands that go beyond the product to identify the wearer’s persona are able to create content that directly appeals to their audience. This involves detailed consumer profiling and an in depth of understanding of your ‘ideal customer’. Rolex caters to the aggressive, adventurous go-getting spirit of the modern consumer. With content that perfectly embodies all these virtues, they cater to an audience characterised by cavernous ambition.

Videos. Gary Vaynerchuk is a master of content marketing using online video, just take a look at his YouTube channel. He got his start creating videos to promote his family’s wine store and through those videos and other online marketing he eventually grew it to a $45M empire. Videos and podcasts are a largely untapped form of content marketing because people think it’s expensive and hard. But with the falling cost of professional grade equipment creating high quality video and audio content is easier than ever. Amateur video content marketing has been used to sell blenders, launch new dental products, and market Hong Kong visa consulting services. What video could you throw together for your company that might change your fortunes overnight? It might be easier than you think.
"In the past, we tried to serve all target audiences through content marketing, from investors to journalists, employees, and potential candidates," says Frank Thomas, Adidas’ Director of Content Strategy and Content Marketing, in NewsCred Insights. "But we realized we were all over the place. We rethought the entire setup and who we needed to address, and decided it is the employees, potential candidates, and, in general, like-minded people who can become advocates for the brand."
While this is certainly the case (and no one ever claimed content marketing was now) and while Joe Pulizzi picked the term ‘content marketing’ among several others he launched, deciding to use the term that worked best, the definition debate overlooked what distinguished content marketing – no matter how it can be called tomorrow. One of the pioneers in content marketing, Doug Kessler, expressed this very well in an interview.
We've created a template to get you started in writing a strategy. This document will take you through some initial research (beyond the content audit information above) and how to combine that research with your goals and content guidelines. You'll then start to make the strategy concrete by applying all that information to content types. Add in some information about governance and workflow, and you have yourself a fully fledged strategy.
The website makes you realise that content has been part of their story since forever. Insider, takes you into the world of Patek Philippe translating every bit of their classic legacy on screen. It immerses you into the world of watchmaking, breaking down the process into what it entails. If there ever was a Holy Grail of timekeeping, this would be it.
It can come in long-form (such as blogs, articles, ebooks, and so on), short-form (such as Twitter updates, Facebook updates, images, and so on), or conversational-form (for example, sharing great content via Twitter or participating in an active discussion via blog comments or through an online forum). Susan Gunelius – KeySplash Creative, Inc., author of Content Marketing for Dummies
To get the word out, the startup has invested in content and taken its message all over social. Beyond the standard Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (where ClassPass cultivates a hip, color-forward feed that boasts 106,000 followers), Tumblr and Pinterest serve as fun and engaging visual platforms. The former gives “a peek at what energizes and motivates us to be active,” while the latter showcases a collection of self-improvement and lifestyle inspiration boards – one of which links entirely back to The Warm Up, the company’s consumer-facing publication centering on strong, fitness-fueled content.
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.

Another reason? People are just not that into ads. According to Nielsen’s Global Trust In Advertising report, people trust text ads less than any other content medium, especially on mobile. What’s more, on the list of trusted mediums, editorial content outranked ads on all traditional channels, including TV, radio, billboards, newspapers and magazines.


The website makes you realise that content has been part of their story since forever. Insider, takes you into the world of Patek Philippe translating every bit of their classic legacy on screen. It immerses you into the world of watchmaking, breaking down the process into what it entails. If there ever was a Holy Grail of timekeeping, this would be it.
A content marketing strategy (not to be confused with a content strategy) analyzes the different ways content marketing can be used across the buyer’s journey, the customer life cycle and/or the different customer experience touchpoints but it goes beyond that. Essentially a content marketing strategy looks how content marketing (not content) can be used in a strategic way as such and for and with other marketing, customer and sales strategies.
To get the word out, the startup has invested in content and taken its message all over social. Beyond the standard Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (where ClassPass cultivates a hip, color-forward feed that boasts 106,000 followers), Tumblr and Pinterest serve as fun and engaging visual platforms. The former gives “a peek at what energizes and motivates us to be active,” while the latter showcases a collection of self-improvement and lifestyle inspiration boards – one of which links entirely back to The Warm Up, the company’s consumer-facing publication centering on strong, fitness-fueled content.
It's content that helps people find you. It might even be content that makes people fall in love with you a little. But discovery-level content is not usually the last touch before a big sale. There are many more layers of content that usually finesse that conversion. (More on that when we discuss how content can represent various stages of the funnel in ch. 3.)
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.
As you’re building a content strategy that works with your brand, you’ll also have to bear in mind how well this fits with your search engine optimization (SEO) plan. You’ll want to focus your content marketing on audience engagement, and this should be genuine. However, you’ll also want to meld this with keyword research in order to ensure that the content you are creating is really going to bring traffic to your site if that’s your key platform.
One of the reasons some companies have hesitated to allocate resources to content marketing is that it can be difficult to really understand the benefits of content marketing. Getting people to think more highly of your business certainly sounds great, but the results are quite nebulous. In this case, it helps to begin thinking about just how many benefits content marketing can bring. Let's start with the ones that are more intangible (though no less important):

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.

Web hosting is one of the most competitive sectors in the technology industry. There are hundreds of companies trying to reach the same customers, many of whom aren’t that tech-savvy. Not only that, many compete on price, rather than features or quality. Competing on price lowers the margins of the industry as a whole and makes the competition play hard in acquiring each customer.

The company continues to impress with its content hub, Out of the Blue, which publishes a mix of corporate- and consumer-interest articles that cover travel inspiration as well as inside achievements and affairs. Like the fact that in December, JetBlue released a limited edition board game called Get Packing! – two rounds of 200, actually, since the first sold out so quickly – along with a string of amusing promo clips poking fun at awkward holiday moments that might make you want to leave town. A certificate for a free round-trip ticket – one in every box – could help with that (not to mention build some serious JetBlue loyalty).
This isn’t hard to do, but it does take some creativity. If you are selling anything related to cooking; run recipe awards, video tutorial contests or give away free items to people who post great videos using your product. If you are in the service business, create incentives for customers to give you video testimonials, reviews or product demonstrations.

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?
Once you've been regularly publishing content on your own site for a while, it might be time to start thinking about distributing your content on other sites. This could mean repurposing content into new formats and publishing them on your blog, creating original content specifically for external sites -- such as Medium -- or publishing website content on various social networks.
As you’re building a content strategy that works with your brand, you’ll also have to bear in mind how well this fits with your search engine optimization (SEO) plan. You’ll want to focus your content marketing on audience engagement, and this should be genuine. However, you’ll also want to meld this with keyword research in order to ensure that the content you are creating is really going to bring traffic to your site if that’s your key platform.

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.

Companies need to get creative and enthusiastic about getting their content in front of the right people. Passive distribution — or, worse, distribution you do as an afterthought once you realize no one is engaging with your content — won’t cut it. Don’t let your investment in content go to waste by sitting on some of your most valuable marketing assets.
My husband was in this camp until he told me about a newsletter that covers trends affecting financial markets. He looks forward to receiving it each day. He explained that the newsletters didn’t have anything to do with the funds the broker was selling, but the information was solid and valuable – and it was useful research for the investments he makes.
Once you've been regularly publishing content on your own site for a while, it might be time to start thinking about distributing your content on other sites. This could mean repurposing content into new formats and publishing them on your blog, creating original content specifically for external sites -- such as Medium -- or publishing website content on various social networks.
Setting a theme also helps you create several streams of content. For example, if my theme for the month was content strategy, I could turn each of these five steps into their own blog post. Then I could create additional content like a sample content calendar or audience analysis spreadsheet to supplement each post that readers could download for free.
Influencers: Letting others speak for you is sometimes more valuable than tooting your own horn, and audiences may find it more authentic as well. Creating a rapport with prominent industry influencers and having them share your content through their own social feeds streams your content to potentially thousands or millions of new followers. That means more brand ambassadors than you could have ever organically created.
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.
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.
In the midst of the daily grind, it’s easy to forget that content marketing as we know it is still a relatively new phenomenon. As recently as a few years ago, marketers handled content mostly as a side project. It was more of a bonus than an essential role — something you did when you had time because it took a backseat to more traditional marketing projects and responsibilities.
The app allows users to check the local toilets around their local area to see if they are clean or not. The idea behind this is that if they are clean, people can feel free to sit, but if they aren’t clean, then they may want to squat. This silly app was the perfect way to connect with customers about a real problem they face that is relevant for the brand to address.
Similarly, USAA launched “The Money Drill” podcast in 2016 as an experiment to attract younger audience members while delivering financial content in an easy, engaging way. It was worth it; the program was met with almost immediate success, and, nearly two years on, draws 24,000 plays per month. "The Money Drill" also gave USAA's content marketing team a major internal win.
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.
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