Capturing audiences today requires far more than strong copy and appealing creative. Brands and agencies are striving to keep up with the rapidly growing need for high-quality content that’s both relevant and personalized. It has evolved into a $44 billion industry and is widely viewed as a top priority by 39 percent of client-side marketers. With this in mind, we created this whitepaper, packed with detailed case studies and how-to tips for your content marketing education needs.
Some parts of your strategy should stay consistent even as your content marketing program grows and evolves — namely, your mission and business goals. In fact, these two things are so key that you may want to put them on a Post-it note so you can keep them in view whenever you are working on your content. (For example, at CMI, we use them as part of our acceptance criteria for every editorial content submission we receive.)
Cisco launched a new router a couple years ago and decided to use it as a case study to measure the ROI of its content marketing and social media strategies. Executives were stunned to discover that their digital campaign allowed them to reach their lead goals for $100,000 less than anticipated. LaSandra Brill, senior manager of global social media at Cisco, said that the company will use these results as the basis for future product launches:
The Farmers Insurance Inner Circle is a super customer-friendly resource that it created to empower the audience to become better educated about topics that, for a lot of us, go right over our heads. Farmers Insurance provides people with useful, practical information. It offers a huge variety of articles about things like taking care of your house and your car, how to prevent identity theft, what you need to know if you’re going through a divorce — basically how to deal with anything life throws at you.
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.”
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.
Of particular note is Coca Cola’s new content strategy, called “Content 2020,” which the Content Marketing Institute praised for its originality. Coca Cola has publicly stated that it’s committed to using content to boost its brand as much as possible. Jonathan Mildenhall, VP Global Advertising Strategy and Creative Excellence, believes content is instrumental in boosting the company’s brand:
If you’re ready to jump into content production and want to start writing right away, I understand. But at some point, you’ll need to define why you create content and what you’re trying to achieve with it. The decisions you make in this chapter will give you a strong foundation for your content marketing plan — and make you stand out as a content publishing guru.
In politics, the “sizzle” tends to look like catchy one‐liners that are ultimately meaningless, out‐of‐context statistics that sound good, and targeted attacks on your opponents. None of these things have anything to do with whether or not a candidate will be successful in office, but since the masses tend to respond to sizzle, politicians focus on the sizzle.
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.
Chanel uses content to essay its rich legacy to the audience. None of their stories are about the user or the customer. Rather, they’re about the elusive charm that Coco Chanel translated to all her products. By revealing slivers of the brand, it makes users believe that they’re part of an exclusive club where limited, veiled access itself is a privilege.
Xerox is the world’s leading photocopying company. While that sounds like something to brag about, it has, ironically, created some branding problems for the company. Since Xerox is so widely known for its photocopiers, many customers don’t know anything about its other services, such as IT outsourcing. Xerox solved this problem by rebranding itself with content, which played a huge role in boosting business in its other verticals.
Makes sense, since the company produces 12 hours of live video per day, streaming real-life classes to homes across the country, on-demand. It’s how it keeps people coming back for more, by consistently providing something new to look forward to and actively engage in. With close-up videos of instructors – many of whom have risen to fame and actively promote the brand on social media -addressing at-home riders by name while calling out personalized encouragement, the content is nothing if not engaging.
5. GE: A leader in B2B content. GE is truly a content-focused company. It publishes content in almost every format imaginable, with a variety of content properties with unique focuses. One great example is GE’s online magazine The Txchnologist. According to Kapost, the mag offers “an optimistic, but not utopian, take on the future and humanity’s ability to tackle the great challenges of our era.”
"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."
However, you don’t need to work with influencers to utilize user-generated content as part of your marketing strategy. Whether you create a contest or just consistently ask for feedback through social media, you can encourage your fans and followers to post pictures of themselves using your products or services. When you repost this content, you are showing your leads and customers what others think about your brand while showing the customer themselves your appreciation for their business.
In 2016, the company launched GamePlan A, a digital magazine uniquely developed to build company culture and attract and retain employees. “Designed for those who believe in the power of sport, GamePlan A is here to make work life better, more inspiring, and fun, be it at Adidas or anywhere else,” reads the site. It’s “a mindset – and a platform…tackling work life with an athlete’s heart.”
"The other guy is doing it" seems like a terrible rationale, except that showing off the shares and attention a competitor is getting for their content can really help prove your point with someone who still doesn't see the value in content marketing. Just be ready for what sometimes comes next - "Do exactly what they're doing" - which is not the way to win at content marketing.
Last year, Progressive appeared on our list thanks to its standout consumer content hub, Life Lanes. The insurance company makes the cut once more, but this time it's Progressive Commercial that’s catching our eye. With its commercial arm, Progressive targets seasonal and small businesses with auto insurance needs, be it truck, van, or car coverage. With a stellar content plan in place, you can be sure the word is getting out.
Your content is only as valuable as its ability to attract audience members and compel them to engage with your business on an ongoing basis — as subscribers, customers, evangelists, or, ideally, all three. Once you have an addressable audience, your content efforts will help increase sales, gather valuable customer insights, and activate your most ardent followers as brand advocates.
So what is content marketing, then? Well, it's pretty simple. Content marketing is the use of that content—any of it—to help meet a marketing goal for your organization. That could be acquisition of potential customers, retention of existing ones, making more people aware of your brand or your products, or really anything else. We'll go into many of the most popular and effective ways of doing all of these things throughout the rest of this guide.
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.
You know you need a plan and strategy if you want to succeed as much as possible with content marketing. In fact, your boss expects to see a copy of your team’s plan so that they can evaluate whether it will be worth the upfront cost, and to verify that you have some actual way of carrying out content marketing. The tricky thing is, you’re not sure what to include in your plan, or how to go about creating one. Taking a look at some content marketing plan examples and templates can help you get an idea of how to put together your own.
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.
Webpages. What’s the difference between a normal webpage and a webpage that is content marketing? Consider The Beginner’s Guide to SEO from Moz, a provider of SEO related tools and resources. This resource, offered for free, has been viewed millions of times, bringing in countless customers who otherwise might never have stumbled across Moz and the services they offer. Or take a look at a case study from the design firm Teehan+Lax. Most case studies are boring. Their case studies are fascinating. That’s the difference between simply putting content on your website, and content marketing.