Evans Halshaw is the largest volume car retailer in the UK, and they have made great efforts with their content marketing. Every plugged-in marketer knows that in order to grab people’s attention, you need to be unique, clever and relevant. So what did they do? Well, they released an infographic that tied in with one of the highest grossing films of 2012 – James Bond’s Skyfall.
Of all the car rental companies, Zipcar has best mastered this strategy. Since Zipcar's target audience is people who live in the urban areas where it has a presence, Zipcar tailors its content specifically toward city dwellers. Its content hub, Ziptopia, has sections about city living and the future of cities, as well as travel inspiration stories (many accessible by car from major cities). While most posts don't mention Zipcar, calls to action at the bottom of each give readers the option to join Zipcar or book a Ziptrip.
Much of Plated's success hinges upon one factor: subscribers, and Morsel has been optimized to drive them. The tips, recipes, and stories feature large, gorgeous images and clear, conversational copy to engage readers. At the bottom of each story, and on Morsel's homepage, are calls to action with discounted offers for first-time Plated subscribers.
“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
Expedia is a well-known travel brand that relies heavily on content marketing. Currently, their strategy involves a variety of different content channels, but they also strive to earn a presence in high-authority publications whenever possible. The company hired a firm called Quad Digital to place a number of well-designed infographics on such sites. They also publish guest articles on many authority websites.
Use a diverse content marketing strategy as part of your overall content strategy and split test to continually refine your approach. For example, Product A might see a good response to video marketing, and Product B might sell more through an infographic. Specific types of content might work better for lead generation or instant sales while others might work best for improving follower growth. Look at your various products and services and ensure you have a multifaceted strategy to use content in an effort to sell each. Test a variety of strategies to see which options work best.
On March 6, 2012, Dollar Shave Club launched their online video campaign. In the first 48 hours of their video debuting on YouTube they had over 12,000 people signing up for the service. The video cost just $4500 to make and as of November 2015 has had more than 21 million views. The video was considered as one of the best viral marketing campaigns of 2012 and won "Best Out-of-Nowhere Video Campaign" at the 2012 AdAge Viral Video Awards.
As the U.K.’s largest tech company, Sage specializes in financial software that enables small and medium business owners to run their companies on laptops or mobile devices. Sage's mission is to help these organizations and entrepreneurs flourish in the face of harsh statistics – like the fact that half of all new businesses fail within their first two and a half years, according to Sage’s EVP of Digital Marketing Neil Morgan.
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.
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.
Finally, by looking at the role of content marketing in a strategic way, that’s integrated with overall marketing and customer goals, you don’t need to get buy-in for content marketing or even make the case. You’re most of all being a smarter and more effective marketer. In social media marketing, executives needed to approve budgets that were sitting somewhere else. In content marketing that’s less the case as it’s connected with many other marketing goals and is not something “additional”. This doesn’t mean that a solid content marketing plan does not often require additional budgets but you’ll sell more business and a better brand perception to the C-suite, not necessarily a content marketing strategy.
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
Before you select any tool, you need to assess your content team’s abilities, resources, and goals. These platforms exist to make your job easier, more efficient, and more effective, so figure out where you stand before you bring in any technology to help. When you’re ready, there are tons of options to choose from. Here are a few standout marketing automation platforms to get you started.
EXAMPLE: Sony’s Alpha Universe is a content platform dedicated to photography professionals. While its purpose is to drive product sales for Sony’s Alpha line of cameras, the content focuses not on Sony products but on providing information the audience will find educational and helpful. After starting as a blog, the brand diversified its content into a podcast and a training program.
What you can do about it: By creating a unique, shareable experience, Coke basically inspired its audience to do the marketing for the company. People get excited to find their name or their friend’s name on a can of Coke at the store — so excited that they end up posting pictures of the cans on their Facebook and Instagram accounts. Personalize your content in a way that resonates with your audience.
But Barclaycard isn't stopping there. This past year, it launched The Fast Track, an impressive, interactive online course for small business owners and entrepreneurs. Each of the five learning modules spotlights a local business, plus video, audio, written content, and downloadable guides. Module 3, for instance, is on "Building profile and customer loyalty," featuring the owners of Blok London, a boutique class-based gym, and how it's competing in a saturated fitness industry.
EXAMPLE: Outdoor retailer REI does a great job of answering questions and assisting its audience through content. On its YouTube channel, it offers dozens of videos depending on its audience’s interests and needs, often answering common questions. Whether it’s a backpacker who wants to know how to use a compass or a cyclist who needs to know how to fix a bicycle chain, REI provides the answers.
That’s why it’s exciting to see a brand like Farmers Insurance offer a modern and engaging content hub, plus consistently creative and engaging video – like a recent effort from last Halloween. Starring J.K. Simmons as Professor Nathaniel Burke (Farmers’ brand mascot since 2010), and spinning off from the success of an earlier campaign – Hall of Claims, which pokes fun how wide-ranging and far-fetched these reports can be – "The Stranger Claims" series takes on the same theme, complete with a nod to the hit Netflix show "Stranger Things."
Though Chanel was late to join the digital brouhaha in comparison with other luxury brands, it’s one of the few brands that has made the most progress in the recent past. Burberry still holds the coveted top spot for digital customer experience proficiency, as per a report published by Contactlabs earlier this year, but brands like Fendi, Hugo Boss and Chanel have significantly climbed the charts as well.
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):
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.
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.
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.
Of course, how you communicate your strategy depends on the structure and culture of your organization. In some cases, it may be appropriate to share your full documentation. In other cases, it may make more sense to create targeted summaries for certain stakeholders (for example, busy executives, or external agencies), based on how your content marketing strategy will impact their particular roles, processes, and objectives.
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.