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.
Are you taking local placement seriously? Content marketing isn’t just for an international audience, but for local clients and customers as well. According to recent statistics compiled by Bright Local, 97% of consumers use online search for local products and services. In other words, local placement should dictate part of your content marketing strategy.
7. New York Times: Journalism virtual reality. If you’ve followed journalism at all over the past five or ten years, you know the news industry is constantly looking to revolutionize itself to stay relevant and, of course, profitable. (Watch the movie Page One if this interests you.) NYT experimented with virtual reality (VR) in 2015, launching an app you can use on Google cardboard (ideally) or your smartphone. The app fully immerses you in news stories like never before. I recommend you check it out and ponder the implications for all-immersive content marketing in 2016.
Some of the brands covered here are newcomers to the market, while others are household names that have been around for more than a century. However, they all have one thing in common: they recognize the value of creating great content to engage their audience and generate new leads. Get inspired by their examples and use their success to fuel your own content marketing efforts.
Books. Like movies, people often think of books as selling themselves, but savvy marketers don’t sell books just to sell books, they sell books as marketing tools. Michael Port’s sales manual Book Yourself Solid is a great read for entrepreneurs, salespeople, and marketers, and while I’m sure Port enjoys selling his book, the book is a tool for driving customers to his coaching and speaking services. Although with self-publishing it’s easier than ever to publish a book, there is still the perception that it’s difficult and that only reputable professionals can publish a business book. Publish your own, and even if people don’t read it you can still use it as a form of content marketing every time you’re introduced as “Author of…”
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:
Also, promoting interactive experiences is an effective way to not only gain your audience’s attention but get them involved in the experience. After interacting with your content marketing, the consumer becomes a bit more invested in your brand and the products and services you sell. This involvement means that they will be more inclined to buy from your brand when the time comes to make a purchase.
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.”
Customer success refers to the ways companies help customers get the most value from products and services. In this era of personalization, it’s no longer enough to make the sale, move on to the next one, and handle complaints as they arise. Now, companies need customers to get maximum value from their purchases to encourage word-of-mouth marketing and develop stronger relationships.
The personal finance site Mint.com used content marketing, specifically their personal finance blog MintLife, to build an audience for a product they planned to sell. According to entrepreneur Sachin Rekhi, Mint.com concentrated on building the audience for MintLife "independent of the eventual Mint.com product." Content on the blog included how to guides on paying for college, saving for a house, and getting out of debt. Other popular content included in-depth interview and a series of financial disasters called "Trainwreck Tuesdays." Popularity of the site surged as did demand for the product. "Mint grew quickly enough to sell to Intuit for $170 million after three years in business. By 2013, the tool reached 10 million users, many of whom trusted Mint to handle their sensitive banking information because of the blog’s smart, helpful content."
Content marketing is heading for exciting new territory in 2016. A new survey finds that 64% of PR and marketing pros will increase content marketing efforts in 2016. Content expert and author Ann Handley predicts that content marketing will truly “grow up” in 2016, as content strategists tell “bigger stories with a braver focus and a bolder voice.”
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Long-tail keywords are multi-word phrases, which are more specific and targeted. Long-tail keyword research will come into play as you begin planning specific pieces of content and continue on an ongoing basis. For example, if “Customer Support” was a short-tail keyword, “Customer Support for Healthcare Providers” would be a related long-tail keyword.
Like style guidelines, a content marketing strategy should be comprehensive and also concise. You want to cover likely eventualities and explain the basis of the strategy, but you also want to help prevent a new strategist or writer from spending the entirety of his or her first month reading it (and ensure they can actually remember the gist of it by the end).
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?
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):
26. Lorna Jane: Move Nourish Believe. Activewear brand Lorna Jane shares more smoothie recipes than your blender can handle, mindfulness articles, and healthy living tips on its blog. Fitness is about more than the workout jackets you choose; it’s an entire lifestyle, and this blog exemplifies that. My favorite article: How to Turn Shopping Into Cardio.
There are designer spotlights, service-driven articles like how to clean out your clothing closet, and, of course, an inspiration gallery of outfit ideas. The content doesn't heavily promote Stitch Fix; rather, it's designed to show its expertise in its field. Once readers are ready to try the service, they can click the call to action at the end of every story to sign up.
2. Huffington Post: Easy recipe videos. Videos and cooking are a match made in heaven; that’s why we have the Food Network and Top Chef. Huffington Post shows Facebook fans how to craft delicious dishes via descriptive videos — all 60 seconds or less. In 2016, attracting and maintaining customer attention will reach new heights of importance. Take a cue from HuffPo and focus on conciseness for your content.
Stitch Fix is also a social media powerhouse, especially on Pinterest. Its Pinterest account has more than 1 million followers, but it finds a lot of value in encouraging users to create boards of their own as well. In fact, following customers on the network helps the Stitch Fix stylists to get insights about the looks that its customers like most.
3. Interviews: While many media companies use interviews as the core of their content offerings, take a page from Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart, who specifically extends his on-air interviews to be used as unique web-only content....Consider talking to key people related to the topic. For many businesses, this means your employees, as well as outside experts.
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.
Now that you’ve set your goals, it’s time to determine the KPIs you need to evaluate whether your content actually hits those goals. There’s no single magic metric that will give you a complete picture of your content success, but a combination of benchmarks can be useful to assess performance. Here’s a guide for choosing the right KPIs according to your goals:
In honor of all things inbound, consider how your business can use video as a medium to bring the right talent to your office. Rather than drop bait in the form of a newspaper advertisement, or static pitch on an online job board, a recruitment video can be used to expand your reach, while making known the type of environment applicants can expect to work in.
Luxury brands are largely about selling the idea of exclusivity. Their appeal lies in the illusory idea of superiority that comes from possession. However, some brands manage to communicate a feeling of exclusivity but also extend a pragmatic relatability in the minds of their audience. Tesla Motors has carved a niche for itself in the minds of the ecologically aware luxury customer. It caters to a growing class of urban and suburban rich who don’t mind a steep price tag as long as it justifies their commitment towards the environment.
As a marketing technology company, DemandBase has invested a lot of time trying to optimize their content marketing strategy. Rachel Balik, the senior content marketing manager, has provided an overview of the evolution of DemandBase’s content marketing strategy on the company blog. Balik also says that she attends Content Marketing World regularly to learn more about best practices in the industry to improve their overall strategy.
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.
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:
But in order for content to convert readers and incite growth, it needs to occasionally disrupt its audience's point of view. A company doesn't work for its content; content works for its company. If you need to say something that a blog alone can't, the business demands that you make it work -- whether that means starting a YouTube channel or seeing how you can integrate an AR tool into your next ebook.
While this is obviously so, this goes for all forms of “marketing” from an integrated perspective. Nevertheless, content marketing, regardless of definitions and terms, can be clearly differentiated in many ways from other marketing tactics and approaches. Even if phenomena and activities such as corporate blogging – and, going back far more in time, storytelling – are older that the term content marketing, they are often mentioned in a content marketing context. This also means that often definitions overlap. Corporate blogging is a good example as it is defined as a content marketing practice but also as social media marketing and inbound marketing. More about the difference between content marketing and inbound marketing here. Finally, as new – mainly digital – evolutions (also driven by consumer adoption), it’s clear that content marketing will continue to evolve, as will media evolutions, as the increasing focus on “converged media” clearly indicates.
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.
21. Airbnb: The Local List. Airbnb goes a step above just offering great content on top places to eat, hang out, and amuse oneself in faroff destinations. Airbnb offers these lists as PDF downloads — perfect for downloading pre-traveling, as you don’t know what the wifi situation will be. These PDFs are a great reminder to think beyond the blog post or web page.
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.