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.
It’s important that every piece of content has a Call-to-Action (CTA) that’s direct and brand-focused – otherwise, your content isn’t really likely to generate leads. The cool part about social marketing, however, is that you can get creative with this. Instead of just saying, “Buy this product,” for example, you can offer a free e-book or trial offer to let users have access and decide for themselves whether or not your product or service is valuable.
With almost 1 million views on YouTube, the Millie Dresselhaus video has certainly made its rounds, delighting feminists, science fans, and everyone in between – which is exactly what makes GE’s efforts so special. With hard work, talent, and a stellar strategy, the 125-year-old company’s content has managed to capture a bigger and broader audience while promoting its mission, attracting potential talent, and humanizing the enormous scope of what the company does, from developing new and innovative technologies to engineering the tools and equipment that power our homes and the world.
Most people start out with blog posts, but if you want to venture out and try producing other content pieces, consider which ones you want to make. For instance, if you've been doing weekly blog posts for the past year, creating an ebook that distills all your blog posts into one ultimate guide would be a one way to offer information in a different format. We'll go over several different types of content you can use further down on the list.
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.
Your content strategy is a comprehensive plan that describes your goals (what you want to accomplish), the tactics you’ll implement (how you’ll accomplish it), and the metrics you’ll use to measure the strategy’s effectiveness. It also includes the data and research that you’ll depend on to make smart strategic decisions. Over time it will grow with more information (especially about your customer), so you’ll want it somewhere editable and easy to reference.
Though you may not have the time or resources to create a specialized app to market your brand, you can create great content that gets to the heart of your target audience’s biggest challenges. By focusing on creating content that highlights and explains these challenges, providing simple and effective solutions, you’ll be on your way to building stronger customer relationships and influencing more conversions.
A content marketer’s work is never done. We’re constantly updating and optimizing our strategies based on our latest learnings, observations, insights, and technology. At NewsCred, this is one of the reasons we find our work so exciting. We’ve been in business for nearly a decade and it’s been gratifying and fascinating to evolve with the space. In keeping with our annual tradition, we’ve taken a look at the state of the content marketing industry, plus our strategy and learnings, and put together a case study on ourselves. Here, our best practices for using content to drive business results.
According to Content Marketing Institute, 65 percent of the most successful content marketers have a documented strategy. A simple content marketing assessment can help companies identify their primary goal and design a successful content strategy to meet it. As strategy becomes more important, companies will need the right tools to align priorities and document their plans.

The results were magnificent. Simply Business increased their ranking for their main keywords, including reaching first place in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for “professional indemnity,” “public liability insurance,” and “employer’s liability.” Even though they launched some guides before Google’s Penguin algorithm change, they significantly increased weekly organic traffic, meaning their link building practices were white-hat and high-quality.


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.
His career has evolved from punk rocker to actor to photographer. There's no doubt we can all learn something about the future of content from @HenryRollins. Hear him keynote #ContentTECH Summit in April.https://www.contenttechsummit.com/2018/11/henry-rollins-headline-cmis-contenttech-summit-2019-san-diego?sm_x_cmir_edt_tsprtsnr_ct_x_sclttw-blogtraffic …
In 2011, the brand created a “Smart Community” in an effort to promote awareness of its renewable energy solutions. They optimized their platform for the keyword “smart community” and invested in a massive SEO campaign to boost their rankings. Their campaign proved to be remarkably effective, helping to generate 160,000 global followers on LinkedIn through the Smart Community campaign.

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.

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
6. MOZ: Smart thinking for doing business digitally. I’ve turned to the MOZ blog for years when I have a question about the latest Google search algorithm or mobile search statistics. MOZ continues to innovate and use data to provide readers with knowledge, not just conjecture. I love this infographic showing 2015 year-in-review-data about the volatility of search.
When you think of social media influencer marketing, your first thought is probably not General Electric. However, GE provides one of the best content marketing examples for B2B brands. Rather than highlighting their consumer products (like washers and vacuum cleaners), the company decided to use social media influencers to highlight their other business – like jet engines and wind turbines.
You know what segmentation is. In general, it means that your content should appeal to prospects/customers in function of their profile, behavior, journey, personas, etc. You probably think “I am doing that” but instead of targeting people in function of demographics or job functions take it further: industry, expressed needs and challenges, past behavior, triggers, digital signals, cross-channel customer data, whatever. But, most importantly: look at the pain points, questions and concerns of your prospects.

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.
By defining questions like this, you are able to uncover information about your potential customers that will simplify the way in which you go about creating content for them. Specifics like these seek to improve your targeting efforts by supplying you with enough information to personalize content and move personas closer to a positive purchasing decision.
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.
While a content marketing strategy first looks at the strategic place of content marketing in the overall marketing process, there is also a planning and organizational dimension, mapping the different steps regarding content planning, mapping, creation, etc. In this sense, a content strategy involves various components. In most cases several of them come back but here are some common questions to answer or tasks to fulfill in a content strategy.
We believe one of the causes for content marketing’s lack of effectiveness is because everyone means something different when talking about it. There are so many different definitions going around people are bound to miscommunicate. If you don’t agree on what “content marketing” means for your organization, it is impossible to agree on whether it was effective or not.
You also need to “translate” captured content into content that’s appreciated by your audiences. And, last but not least, you need a way to manage the content you have and unlock it by making the link between content management and information management on one hand (typically not the role of marketing) and your content marketing team on the other.
Content marketing is different than traditional product marketing efforts like sales collateral and other product-specific info. Content marketing includes things like educational articles, e-books, videos, entertainment, and webinars that answer specific questions people have and provide them with something they can’t get somewhere else. It’s the best way to turn your product, no matter how common, into something that is not like everyone else’s.
Depending on the size of your operation, you could be looking at creating a one-sheet that reminds all your writers which part of your brand name to capitalize, that you use the Oxford comma, and that the tone of all content should be conversational. Or, these guides could be a major undertaking that identifies how multiple brands are referred to and trademarked, advanced copy editing guidelines (including how and when proprietary terms should be used), and a range of voice guidelines for all potential types of communication from customer service interactions to blog posts and press releases.
According to Content Marketing Institute, 65 percent of the most successful content marketers have a documented strategy. A simple content marketing assessment can help companies identify their primary goal and design a successful content strategy to meet it. As strategy becomes more important, companies will need the right tools to align priorities and document their plans.

This past year, First Round launched First Search, which curates the best advice from technology thought leaders. "It's a database of extremely high-quality, curated advice about all aspects of building companies, pulled from across the web and organized to help you find exactly what you need when you need it," explains Maddie Hall, First Search's Product Manager, in Medium. The plan is that First Search will evolve into personalized discovery experience for every user – which will further help First Round achieve its content marketing goals.
Glad to see MOZ on this list too. In my opinion nobody has been better at building an audience through content marketing. I particularly like their Moz Points system for subscribers. It’s something that really could be a golden goose for content marketers in education verticals. The first university to copy Moz points will have the most loyal alumni.
It may be that the real struggle you face with your client or boss is that they're afraid their industry isn't sexy enough for content marketing. It's not true—anything is interesting if it's framed well and shown to the right people. Your challenge here is to find that perfect angle to pitch to show them just how interesting content marketing for boring industries can be.
Your content marketing strategy is a guiding light when questions like "what are we doing?" or "why are we doing this again?" arise. You want a strategy that is specific enough to your company, audience, and circumstances that it can actually provide a framework for answering those questions. But you also want a strategy that is nimble enough to flex and change as your company, audience, and circumstances do.
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.
USAA is another example of an insurer that is thinking big, in terms of content. The financial institution has been around for more than 90 years, serving a client base made up primarily of military members, veterans, and their families. It’s a specific audience and one with which USAA knows just how to communicate. But beyond its content hub, USAA Stories, which features family, personal finance, and service-specific topics, as well as newer themes like travel in an effort to attract a broader readership, the company isn’t afraid to explore other forms of content.
To get the word out, the startup has invested in content and taken its message all over social. Beyond the standard Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (where ClassPass cultivates a hip, color-forward feed that boasts 106,000 followers), Tumblr and Pinterest serve as fun and engaging visual platforms. The former gives “a peek at what energizes and motivates us to be active,” while the latter showcases a collection of self-improvement and lifestyle inspiration boards – one of which links entirely back to The Warm Up, the company’s consumer-facing publication centering on strong, fitness-fueled content.
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.
To create an ongoing dialogue with its target audience of small business owners, Barclaycard for Business has spent the last few years building up its News and Insights content hub. Articles and infographics run the gamut of topics important to its audience, from how to guard against a cyber attack, to fun quizzes like "How well do you know your business?"
Bloomberg's Diversity & Inclusion Blog shares thought leadership and research on the topic. Stories like "How to Be an Active Ally in the Workplace" share actionable tips to improve workplace inclusivity, while pieces like "Workers’ Trash-talk Goes Down When Leadership Diversity Goes Up" demonstrate why diversity is good for everyone. Bloomberg has also dabbled in creating video content to help move its message forward.
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.
Staying updated on social media trends is great, but social is just the tip of the distribution iceberg. Email marketing helps; still, brands need to dig deeper to discover the distribution channels unique to their audiences. Could you include physical copies of content with certain products? Maybe sales and marketing can work together to target specific accounts and get relevant materials directly into their hands? Or maybe a speaking engagement is the best way to share your message with your audience?
If you’re going to be putting valuable resources into growing your content strategy, then you have to make sure your efforts are actually paying off. The last thing you want is to spend time budgeting for content marketing and then discover later that you don't have any way of knowing whether your investment paid off. Many marketing teams struggle in this area because there are so many different metrics you could track to determine your content’s performance. However, before you can even begin to set these key performance indicators accurately, you must be crystal clear on your purpose for creating content and how it fits within your strategy.
There’s really no single way to create a content marketing strategy – you have to do it in such a way that aligns with your budget and business goals. However, the main thing to bear in mind that, with digital marketing, you’re looking for engagement and conversations that are a two-way street. So, you’re going to pay attention to what genuinely draws people towards your brand.
By asking people to share the product with someone they know, the campaign also worked to make an emotional connection with its consumers. Coca-Cola followed up the printed and social media campaigns with videos that showed friends getting together and sharing a Coke with their name on it. This strategy helps the brand go beyond just showing the value of the product to showing how the product can bring people together.
This past year, First Round launched First Search, which curates the best advice from technology thought leaders. "It's a database of extremely high-quality, curated advice about all aspects of building companies, pulled from across the web and organized to help you find exactly what you need when you need it," explains Maddie Hall, First Search's Product Manager, in Medium. The plan is that First Search will evolve into personalized discovery experience for every user – which will further help First Round achieve its content marketing goals.
The Common Language in Marketing website is an ongoing and comprehensive encyclopedia of globally relevant and standardized marketing terms, activities, metrics, and systems. This open-source, curated library of definitions combines the insights of leading marketing academics, industry trade associations, and subject matter experts with input from the broader community. 
That’s what Raise the Bar does, by compiling a “daily digest of timely, must-read posts on sales, marketing and growth engineering.” And, that was the intent all along. In a 2016 blog post announcing the launch of the newsletter, Mattermark’s Co-founder and CEO, Danielle Morrill, wrote, “We’re turning our focus toward sifting through the mountains of content out there around sales, marketing, and growth to help the community of DOERS who grow companies.”
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.
In recent years, content marketing has exploded, with 89% of B2B marketers currently using content marketing. The reason? The internet. The shift to online media, and more recently, to mobile, means that audiences are consuming content in new and savvy ways. This has led to brands big and small developing comprehensive content strategies with allocated marketing budgets.

You may be thinking, wow that seems like a lot of writing! Don't worry, there are other forms of content marketing outside of print. Another example of content marketing is video. Have you ever searched for information about a particular product and found a video that was so wonderful it convinced you to buy? That is another example of content marketing! The content in the video was most likely informative, engaging, and relevant. This persuades you to purchase the product or service from the company that presented the video.
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.
Whether you’re on a team of b2b marketers or you’re a small business owner, running A/B split tests is crucial if you want to know for certain which headlines, calls-to-action and types of content work best for your readers. Once you know what strategies work best for you, your work becomes that much more effective–and your overall content marketing strategy that much clearer.
Wistia, a video hosting platform, does that particularly well by sharing visual content on Instagram that lifts the curtain on its people -- and dogs. It not only aligns with its brand -- after all, the company does provide technology to businesses that want hosting solutions for their visual content -- but it’s also just smart. Among its other advantages, visual content can help boost a viewer’s retention of things like brand information.
Read Joe Pulizzi's excellent book Epic Content Marketing. I started reading it after I wrote this post and it confirmed and expanded what I already knew about content marketing, with much more detail than I could ever go into here. Something Pulizzi emphasizes which I originally left out was the importance of focusing on producing mobile-friendly content, since smartphones are becoming the dominant way in which most of our customers access content. Also read Michael Hyatt's Platform, mentioned above. Frequent websites like those of Content Marketing Institute, Ragan, Copyblogger, Michael Hyatt, and Gary Vaynerchuk and sign up for their email newsletters. It won't take you long to become not just familiar with content marketing, but an expert.
Great article Sarah. I think that a key theme all of these great content marketing strategies have in common is humour; humour has universal appeal and is a very effective way of getting audiences to talk about and share your content. Of course your content marketing strategy needs to be comprehensive and well executed, and for businesses without the staff capacity I would recommend outsourcing your digital marketing needs to skilled freelancers.

To create an ongoing dialogue with its target audience of small business owners, Barclaycard for Business has spent the last few years building up its News and Insights content hub. Articles and infographics run the gamut of topics important to its audience, from how to guard against a cyber attack, to fun quizzes like "How well do you know your business?"
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.
Content is the glue and trigger of interaction in a customer-centric marketing view with relevance, consistency and mutual/connected value for audiences and brand at the center. By offering value to pre-defined groups of people content creates value for the customer in the broadest sense, in tune with brand and business objectives, and leading to value for the organization. Content marketing further has ties with content management and information management, as well as various marketing platforms, as systems of engagement and intelligence, helping to gain insights on audiences and to achieve a streamlined right time and right place approach, leveraging various channels and information sources which often reside in silos.
So what can you learn from Make-A-Wish and Batkid? If you work to support local causes, why not get your customers involved? You can use social media, email marketing, and other types of content marketing to get the word out about your favorite local charity or organization. Not only does this help you provide more support for the worthy cause, but in the process, you can connect with leads and customers who care about the community and support the same causes your business cares about.
Santander frequently promotes Prosper and Thrive content on all its social channels, including Facebook, where it has 123,000 followers. Though Santander's Instagram audience is still small, at a little over 1,600 followers, it's using the channel to exclusively promote the Prosper and Thrive brand with images that speak to the millennial audience and tease content from the hub.
Unlike traditional marketing, content marketing has no sales pitch. It does not try to directly advertise or sell a particular brand, product or service. Rather, it aims to capture mindshare with valuable, relevant information that is educational, entertaining and/or emotionally satisfying. In this way, content marketing succeeds in creating interest and awareness of the brand and its offerings.
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