For parents, think about BabyCenter. When I was pregnant and then raising my older daughter, I considered BabyCenter to be required reading. It’s a perfect example of content marketing. According to its website, it is the No. 1 pregnancy and parenting digital destination, and eight in 10 new and expectant moms online use BabyCenter each month. The site is owned by Johnson & Johnson, which sells products for babies.
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.
“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

The LV website displays a knack for well thought out storyboarding and high-quality imagery. Previously, their website focussed a lot on content but failed to connect it to any real outcome. This has changed in recent times as there is an obvious shift towards enabling easy sharing and quick consumption of information. Almost like an online fashion portal.
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.

The best part of a strategy is being able to track it and see it work. Think about how you can track success every step of the way -- from traffic to engagement to conversion. What tools will you need? Google Analytics? If so, will you need to set up goals in Google Analytics? What about link tracking and UTM parameters? Also, will you need dedicated landing pages?

Blog Posts: Posting informative content on your business' blog can continually bring in new traffic as well as improve your organic search engine optimization (SEO) results. It also offers a great opportunity to converse with new prospects and past customers. They’re already on your site to read that blog post, so your design could lead them deeper into your sales funnel. Popular posts can boost traffic rates as well as provide great SEO results.
Please, please, please don’t neglect to incorporate visuals into your content strategy. Of course, having a presence on visually-focused channels like Instagram and YouTube is vital -- but when it comes to your written content, don’t afraid to use visuals there, as well. After all, articles with an image once every 75-100 words got double the number of social shares than articles with fewer images.

However, like video, you’re probably thinking you need all sorts of specialized gear and skills. And while yes, audio is a whole other beast, you can get started with just a little bit of effort. In his class Getting Your Podcast Off the Ground!, Neil Patel, host of The Indian Startup Show (the #1 tech podcast in India) runs us through the basics of podcasting.


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.
Intelligentsia is a coffee company that produces roast coffee blends from German vintages. Their business model may not be high tech, but content marketing has been instrumental in helping them grow their brand. The company has engaged in a variety of content marketing practices, but many content marketing experts argue that their brew guides are what really set them apart.
Having a documented content strategy will help you work smarter, more efficiently, and more effectively. A good strategy addresses your current business challenges and defines how you’ll leverage content to solve those problems. If you create a comprehensive strategic document, you can ensure all your efforts tackle these elements. In this post, you’ll learn how to organize your ideas on what your content marketing program should be, and how to package those items into a neat and precise document around which you can rally and align your team.
One thing you'll need to know right from the get-go is that none of these benefits is going to show up immediately. Content marketing is a wonderful example of what's referred to as flywheel marketing: At first, it takes quite a bit of effort just to get the wheel turning. Over time, though, the wheel's own momentum lessens the effort required of you to see the same results. Don't expect results tomorrow, and think now about whose expectations you may need to temper, and what that'll mean for your work. But don't let that fool you into thinking it isn't working.
This is a great short summation of content marketing. If anyone is looking for a more in depth perspective of content marketing, check out whitepaper that Opentopic recently released: What is Content Marketing? (For the Efficient Marketer): http://opentopic.com/blog/content-marketing/content-marketing/. I found it pretty helpful. Also--you're video is no longer working...
“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
NewsCred’s inaugural #ThinkContent Awards celebrate best-in-class content marketing brands. Their approaches are fresh, innovative, and creative. Even better, these brands have found solutions to some of content marketing’s most pressing issues, including using personalization to give people the right content at the right time, leveraging new content formats, and measuring ROI.
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.
Worthy of note, there’s also After Class, a B2B “partner empowerment” blog dedicated to an audience of studio and gym owners, as well as instructors. Promising “powerful insights from industry experts to better manage and grow your business,” After Class features a range of utility content, from marketing and writing tips to financial advice, as well as trend pieces, partner profiles, music and reading recommendations, and even a selection of webinars. The best part? None of it tries to sell ClassPass services. Instead, the content is useful, educational, and inspiring, and speaks to the core of the brand.
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:
There is an answer to this buyer-driven environment: Content. Content marketing is the process of creating high-quality, valuable content to attract, inform, and engage an audience, while also promoting the brand itself. Buyers and consumers are already searching the web for answers that your brand is uniquely positioned to offer. It’s benefits are three-fold:

When it comes to companies that lead with their values, Ben & Jerry's has long been at the forefront. It's not afraid to take a stance on pressing political issues, including racial justice, refugees, climate change, voting rights, and LGBT equality. Its content hub reflects the company's commitment. Amid posts about ice cream recipes and new flavors, there are regular stories that align with Ben & Jerry's values, like "10 Things Trump Gets Wrong About Refugees," "QUIZ: How Much Do You Know About Climate Change?" and "7 Ways We Know Systemic Racism Is Real."
At my own company we’ve used content marketing to grow more than 1,000% over the past year. Potential clients find our content, find value in it, and by the time they contact us they’re already convinced they want to work with us. We don’t have to engage in any high pressure sales tactics, it’s merely a matter of working out details, signing an agreement, and getting started. The trust that usually needs to be built up during an extensive sales cycle has already been created before we know the potential client exists.
The “Share a Coke” campaign gives every Coca-Cola lover the opportunity to personalize their drink. Individuals could personalize their own bottle with their name on the Coca-Cola website or look for their name (or a friend’s name) on a bottle at the gas station or supermarket. This campaign soon went viral as consumers began posting pictures online with their personalized drinks.
A prominent newsletter subscription box sits on the upper right corner of the content hub's homepage and every story – a smart strategy for capturing existing or potential Twitter customers who want regular updates for optimizing their distribution strategies. For those who have read enough to want to create their own Twitter ads, a call to action at the bottom of each page gives them the option to do so.
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).
EXAMPLE: Insurance company Liberty Mutual built a content platform – Master This – dedicated to helping people solve home and life challenges – to build skills and worry less, as the brand describes it. While Liberty Mutual’s ultimate purpose is to drive insurance sales, the content focuses not on insurance products but on information the audience will find educational and helpful. It also has expanded access to the educational content by partnering with HowStuffWorks and Amazon’s Alexa to provide educational content through the voice-activated device.
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.)

Prioritize social channels. Focus on the social channels where your audience is most active and engaged. You don’t need to be everywhere all the time; identify where your audience members live, and get your content in front of them on those platforms. For example, Influence & Co. primarily uses Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook to connect with our different audiences.
Now that you’ve developed and followed your content marketing strategy, it’s time to go through the entire process again! Content marketing strategy is a never-ending process that needs to be followed, analyzed, and revised on a regular basis if you want your strategy to be effective at capturing leads for your business. Engage, refine, and rework on a regular basis, and your content marketing efforts will show better results consistently.
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.
GE is appearing on our list for the second time, and for good reason. For years, the brand’s content marketing has been best-in-class, pioneering the industry with the launch of its wildly successful digital magazine, GE Reports, back in 2008, and pushing the field forward with consistently creative and relevant campaigns ever since. Like one of our favorites – “What If Millie Dresselhaus, Female Scientist, Was Treated Like a Celebrity?” – which aired during last year’s Oscars and staked GE's commitment to hiring 20,000 women in technical positions by 2020.

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.
×