These are the hallmarks of the NewsCred Top 50. This year’s winners, comprised of companies of various sizes across a multitude of industries, represent the best of content marketing today. We applaud these brands for their courage to see possibilities and drive innovation that, in turn, evolves the entire content marketing field. Prepare to be inspired.
Hexagon used augmented reality (AR) to spruce up their written company report, giving investors a more interactive experience when learning the latest updates on the company. How does it work? A mobile app, based on technology from Samsung and zSpace, displays a virtual demonstration of a product when readers hold their mobile device over a "trigger image" of that product within the report.

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.
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:

Santander Bank’s Prosper and Thrive looks like a glossy magazine, except that it’s entirely digital. The content hub is aimed at millennials — specifically people just getting started financially who might have a lot of questions when it comes to money. Sample articles on the site include tips on building a wardrobe on a budget, and tips for buying a home for the first time.
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.
Here’s another example of a brand that does a great job of leveraging different categories of knowledge. First Round, an early-stage VC company, recognized the knowledge among entrepreneurs and leaders that wasn’t being shared -- knowledge that could be highly beneficial to their peers -- and created the First Round Review as a place for it to be shared. It serves, reads the manifesto, to liberate the ideas and expertise that are “trapped in other people's heads.”
Once you’ve selected your thought leaders, it’s time to create a process for extracting their expert knowledge. Remember, your SMEs are busy people, and the last thing they probably want to do is interrupt their everyday workflow to ideate, write, edit, and publish an article. Make the process as simple for them as possible by following these steps: 
“We’ve always made really deliberate design decisions to break the stigma and peoples’ misconceptions about meditation,” says Chris Markland, a Senior Creative and Artist at Headspace. “The mind is often an overwhelming and scary place [and] illustration has been a really useful tool in breaking that down to people in an engaging, fun, and relatable way.”
On Instagram, Taco Bell posts original illustrations and photos commissioned for the brand. On YouTube, Taco Bell has a number of fan-inspired series, like "For Here or To Go," which shows how to take menu items to the next level through creative ordering in-store or easy cooking hacks at home. On Twitter, Taco Bell often retweets or responds to fans' posts. In addition, Taco Bell uses Twitter to drive people to its presence on other platforms, like Snapchat. (Speaking of Snapchat, you may remember that on Cinco de Mayo 2016, Taco Bell released a filter that turned users' faces into giant tacos. It was viewed more than 224 million times that day – and no, that's not a typo!)
Once you’ve selected your thought leaders, it’s time to create a process for extracting their expert knowledge. Remember, your SMEs are busy people, and the last thing they probably want to do is interrupt their everyday workflow to ideate, write, edit, and publish an article. Make the process as simple for them as possible by following these steps: 
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.
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.
For one thing, without content, SEOs would have nothing to optimize for search engines. The metadata they add to posts is an attempt to help robots like Google and Facebook wrap their digital heads around the complexities of the content they're indexing. Every link earned by every marketer points to a piece of content, and the keywords that people type into search engines are an attempt to find—yep—content.
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:
Ideally, it shouldn’t be hard to meld these two elements, since search engines like Google favor quality content. But when you’re actually looking at the way that traffic and social is functioning around certain topics and pain points, you can use this information to tailor your content even further and differentiate your brand while ensuring your website remains in decent standing.
Looking ahead, Glossier is planning to personalize the buyer journey with content. "We're doubling down on richer data that strictly controls the content she’s seeing, with our discretion,” explains Bryan Mahoney, Glossier's Chief Technology Officer to Digiday. “This opens the door to things like machine learning: We can identify patterns and then change things around in order to get someone through checkout.”

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.
“We’ve always made really deliberate design decisions to break the stigma and peoples’ misconceptions about meditation,” says Chris Markland, a Senior Creative and Artist at Headspace. “The mind is often an overwhelming and scary place [and] illustration has been a really useful tool in breaking that down to people in an engaging, fun, and relatable way.”

Businesses focused on increasing sales through content marketing should look at traditional e-commerce metrics including click-through-rate from a product-page to check-out and completion rates at the check-out. Altogether, these form a conversion funnel. Moreover, to better understand customers' buying habits, they should look at other engagement metrics like time spent per page, number of product-page visits per user, and re-engagement.

People are asking questions and looking for information via search engines like Google, and you want your business to be at the top of the search results. Answering people’s questions via blog posts, e-books, videos, and other content assets is a key way to make this happen. Of course, showing up is only the first step, but it’s essential if you want to reap the benefits of content marketing.


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.

How is the industry you are in changing? And more specifically: how is the buyer’s journey of your buyer personas evolving in the industries your customers are active in and your business is active in. What role can content marketing play? As an example: look at the evolutions in the B2B services industry. Content plays a clear role but look further. For instance: Key Account Management is a priority in that industry. Can it be served using an optimized content marketing strategy? Also look at the influencer sphere of the buyers in that industry and at the different types of buyers.

Focus on your customers and overall marketing. As a marketer you want to know what works and what your customers need, not the little debates over definitions. Your customers don’t care about your content marketing definition, nor will your CEO. No one is even forced to like or use the term, all that matters are good marketing practices and great customer experiences.
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.

Content marketing can be delivered through a variety of media, including television and magazines, and take a lot of different forms, including articles, infographics, videos and online games. The strategy may be referred to by several different names, including infomercial, sponsored content or native advertising. Whatever the label, content marketing is often integrated in such a way that it doesn't stand out from other material served by the host.
27. Vitamix: Be Inspired. Everyone knows a high-speed blender boasts many applications, but Vitamix attempts to explain every use case possible on its Be Inspired site. From champagne cocktails to raw foods, Vitamix’s articles are an incredible resource for creative types with high-speed blenders. (And judging from the smashing popularity of Vitamixes, that’s a growing subset of the population.)
If there’s one thing to takeaway from these incredible examples of content marketing, it’s that you need to stand out from the crowd. That’s the only way that people will share and talk about your content. Don’t worry if you don’t have the time, resource or creativity to do this – there’s plenty of content marketing experts out there to help you. One thing is for sure, the power of content marketing is hard to ignore.
Land Rover's content strategy also extends to social media and video. Last fall, Land Rover created a video series in which it followed an adventurer couple and their eight-week-old baby taking a two-week trip across Europe in a Land Rover Discovery. It also created a 360-degree video where viewers could go sailing with the Land Rover team in Bermuda ahead of the 35th America's Cup.
Living up to its tagline – “Más que seguros,” meaning “More than insurance” – the site offers readers, clients, and potential applicants content that’s clearly created in an attempt to help and nurture its audience. Posts range from advice on how to stay in shape or avoid accidents in the kitchen to real estate and automotive tips. Offering life, car, home, and health insurance, these are the topics Generali chooses to cover in its content – though, just by looking at it, you’d almost never know they were selling something.
By 2014, Forbes Magazine's website had written about the seven most popular ways companies use content marketing.[16] In it, the columnist points out that by 2013, use of content marketing had jumped across corporations from 60% a year or so before, to 93%[17] as part of their overall marketing strategy. Despite the fact that 70% of organizations are creating more content, only 21% of marketers think they are successful at tracking return on investment.
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.
One of the key challenges in content marketing – as a strategy – is to connect the content life cycle, the customer life cycle, brand touchpoints, different scenarios and personas, various goals and ways (channels, media, content) to achieve them and the proper processes of collaboration involving key stakeholders and – more than ever – customers and other members of the broader ecosystem (e.g. so-called influencers) themselves.

Here’s another example of a brand that does a great job of leveraging different categories of knowledge. First Round, an early-stage VC company, recognized the knowledge among entrepreneurs and leaders that wasn’t being shared -- knowledge that could be highly beneficial to their peers -- and created the First Round Review as a place for it to be shared. It serves, reads the manifesto, to liberate the ideas and expertise that are “trapped in other people's heads.”

This is particularly critical in large organizations, as it can help keep siloed teams on the same page, minimize duplicated efforts, and ensure that everyone is working toward the same content goals. But sharing your documented strategy is also good practice for businesses that are just starting out with content marketing, for content teams that rely on internal or external subject matter experts, or for companies that outsource any part of the content creation and distribution process.


29. Kat Von D Beauty: Fan-curated looks. Curated content is a win for everyone: customers get to be in the spotlight, and brands get a break from creating totally original content. Famed tattoo artist Kat Von D now has her own makeup line, and she’s invited fans to tag their Instagram photos showing Kat’s products on themselves with #kvdlook. Then, the beauty brand uploads them to the website. This tactic shows customers new ways to use products and suggests products they may not yet have, without the headache of photo shoots for every single new item or color.
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.
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