It doesn’t really matter what content marketing stands for. The debates around the definition of content marketing and even its value will not make the lives of your customers better nor will they improve your business. Content marketing is not a holy grail, it’s a popular term for a way of working with content to do better. On the other hand the debate does matter in the sense that often you will read things about content marketing that aren’t correct because the definition was wrong to start with. And misinformation can lead to wrong decisions.
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…”
The other way around, several ‘old’ and new principles and processes of content marketing but also of social business, web content management, web design, analytics, publishing and more can be applied to other marketing tactics to make them perform better. Finally, tactics such as search, analytics, social etc. can play a role in detecting content needs and in optimizing content for specific goals/segments and making it available through the channels and touchpoints that matter. The latter part (can) also include service, sales, advertising, social sharing, cross-channel marketing campaigns, custom publishing, etc.
Research is great, but it never hurts to try something new if your content marketing timeline (and budget) allow for a little experimentation. Jump on social media trends, try out a new technology, or reach out to your audience and ask them what they’d like to see. Just make sure you’re always tracking the results so you can revisit and potentially add something new as part of your successful content marketing strategy.
Infographics. These are generally long, vertical graphics that include statistics, charts, graphs, and other information. If you need some examples, here are 197 infographics on the topic of content marketing curated by Michael Schmitz, head of Content Lab at Publicis, Munich. Infographics can be effective in that if one is good it can be passed around social media and posted on websites for years. You can get a professionally designed infographic by hiring a contractor on a site like oDesk or if you want to remove some of the risk you can go with a company like Visua.ly. A decent infographic will usually cost you at least $1,000 to have designed, but can cost several thousand dollars if you are hiring a contractor or agency to include strategy and planning, research, copywriting, and design. There is also the matter of promoting that infographic to bloggers and the media. Or you could set up a board on Pinterest and curate infographics on a topic related to your business. That is also a form of content marketing, and it costs nothing but your time. Hey, it worked for Michael.
Earned media is any press mention, feature, or article that your company earns in an external outlet. It exposes your brand to new, larger audiences; builds your influence as an industry leader; and offers the third-party validation that your content simply cannot achieve on its own. Examples include guest-contributed content or guest posts, press mentions, and other PR efforts.
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.
43. Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action. Joe Pulizzi (aka The Godfather of Content Marketing) – Content Marketing Institute, author of Epic Content and Content Inc.
There are many firms that offer content marketing services, often paired with SEO or PR. If you’re simply too busy to do it yourself and aren’t ready to manage it in-house, then hiring a firm may be your best option. But if you want to jump in and do your own content marketing the easiest way is to start blogging. It will likely be hard at first, but the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. Following tips from websites like Copyblogger you’ll quickly learn how to craft content for your website or blog that will engage readers and turn them into customers or clients. But while technically good writing and the right headlines can help, it’s not the key to creating great content that is the best form of content marketing.
Social media can be a great way to create shareable content. Many brands are doing all they can to get those shares, likes and follows up and no-one has mastered this better than Old Spice. This is a brand that – as lifted from their very own Twitter bio – has “74 years of experience helping guys improve their mansmells with deodorant, body-wash, antiperspirant and fragrances.”
If you choose the traditional marketing approach, you can create a poster, informational brochure, or fliers to hand out to customers or hang in the store. Traditional marketing is often created to inform the customer about the product, business, or service. It relies heavily on persuading the target audience. Examples of traditional marketing include:
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!)
James tells stories for a living. Sometimes they are true. Always they are crafted to help brands delight, educate and funny-bone-tickle their audiences into coming back for more. He’s super passionate (read: obsessive) about ecommerce content marketing. James is dedicated to teaching ecommerce brands how to create their own repeat-customer-generating media empire. Keep an eye out for his online ramblings - you can expect a generous helping of lightbulb moments and cheeky guffaws.
EXAMPLE: Sainsbury magazine is the top cooking magazine in the United Kingdom, with 3 million paid subscribers — a content marketing effort that pays for itself. But, what’s even more remarkable is that, according to a 2015 survey conducted by the company, eight of 10 readers have bought a product from Sainsbury’s after reading about it in the magazine.
If you’ve ever seen a growth marketer on the heels of a successful optimization experiment, you know that her energy is electric. Unbounce, a landing page software company based in Vancouver, understands that excitement and decided to leverage it to create an engaging microsite, Page Fights, in collaboration with optimization company Conversion XL.
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.
He elaborates, “What’s the thing where when you read the first few search results you say, ‘This is great, but I wish they…’. If you have great answers to that, don’t ask ‘how do we make something as good as this?’ but say ‘how do we make something 10X better than any of these?” That’s the bar that’s been set because it’s so competitive to try to rank for terms today.”
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.
Ebooks are the next step in the inbound marketing process: After reading a blog post (such as this one), visitors might want more information. This is where calls-to-action (CTAs) come into play, directing people to a landing page where they can submit their contact information and download an ebook to learn more valuable information for their business. In turn, the business producing the ebook has a new lead for the sales team to contact.
It’s for this reason that we don’t recommend you spend too much time analyzing the many data points you may be able to surface on your competitors. We encourage you to experiment with various tools for competitive data analysis. Just don’t make it a focal point of your content strategy. Your energy is best spent on your unique connection to your best customers.
Content may be king, but many content creators (and purveyors of fine content) often struggle to show the value of content marketing. This is because the types of content (blog posts, guides, webinars, etc.) that most people think of as content marketing all fall in the "discovery" part of the marketing funnel, which is several steps removed from conversions.
"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.
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.
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.
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.)
The ‘Citizens of the airport series’ is a little 10 part series focussed on KLM's customers. The brand intermittently interviews travellers in Amsterdam airport to share their story. Sure, these tidbits aren’t especially useful, and they won’t attract millions of views, but to a few select people, the content proves that KLM cares. This determination to truly understand and care for their customers is the reasons why people will start to pay more to fly with the Royal Dutch airline.
“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.”
Crowe Horwath is a leading accounting and consulting firm. In 2013, the company launched a content marketing process for reaching financial institutions with $1 billion or more in assets. Their strategy consisted of generating nearly 50 different pieces of content centered around several topics of interest to their target customers, using all the following formats:
9. The difference between “marketing with content” and content marketing is a digital publishing platform that your brand owns. Creating an article for a publisher. Or an ebook. An ad. Or sales collateral. These are not content marketing. Content marketing means committing to publishing content people actually want. On a platform you own. Michael Brenner – Marketing Insider Group, author of The Content Formula
11. House of Cards: The alternate Frank Underwood reality. Netflix’s political drama House of Cards adopts the marketing mindset that Frank Underwood and HoC characters are totally real. With a full election website and commercial that aired during a presidential debate, you forget that these people are acting — and isn’t that the whole point of TV? House of Cards creates a steady stream of content build-up to generate excitement for the new season. It’s a great example of how a few key content pieces released strategically can drum up anticipation for a big launch.
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.
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.