Setting a theme also helps you create several streams of content. For example, if my theme for the month was content strategy, I could turn each of these five steps into their own blog post. Then I could create additional content like a sample content calendar or audience analysis spreadsheet to supplement each post that readers could download for free.

In recent years and due to the success of the term and the growing awareness of marketers that relevant content is necessary and undervalued, the term content marketing is used for many purposes and tactics in the digital and social marketing context, ranging from social content and search engine optimization to even online advertising (so-called ‘native advertising’).
I’ve been super impressed by GoDaddy’s recent content marketing campaign up here in Canada with Toronto Raptor’s player Jonas Valanciunas. They’ve been running great and funny TV ads pointing consumers to https://ittybittyballers.ca where they’ve set up a fictitious business and GoDaddy-powered eComm site with all proceeds going to charity. Brilliant!
It can come in long-form (such as blogs, articles, ebooks, and so on), short-form (such as Twitter updates, Facebook updates, images, and so on), or conversational-form (for example, sharing great content via Twitter or participating in an active discussion via blog comments or through an online forum). Susan Gunelius – KeySplash Creative, Inc., author of Content Marketing for Dummies

“Content marketing means creating and sharing valuable free content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers. The type of content you share is closely related to what you sell; in other words, you’re educating people so that they know, like, and trust you enough to do business with you.” – Brian Clark, Copyblogger
Workiva offers a real-time cloud service to help clients collect report and analyze data. Due to the sophistication of their service, the company needs to diligently educate customers in order to attract new buyers and grow their business. Thus far, the company has used a variety of content marketing techniques to boost their brand reach and improve customer retention.
The respect and admiration of your audience will absolutely take time to build, as they require earning trust. Once you've proven your knowledge and (even more importantly) your integrity, though, you can become the guiding light that people turn to when everyone else is simply contributing to confusion. Sites that don't care a lick about quality—sometimes called content factories—are bound to give bad or misleading advice, making readers scratch their heads and wonder who they can trust. That should be you. The authority you gain then transfers to your products or services, making customers that much more likely to choose you over the competition.

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.
From city guides and travel trend pieces to personal essays and interviews, Away has a lot of stories to tell. So many, in fact, that last year the brand unveiled a quarterly print publication of Here, featuring Rashida Jones on the debut cover, alongside high-quality content by and for travelers. There’s also "Airplane Mode," the brand’s podcast, which shares tales of travel, journeys, and lives lived on the road by all kinds of adventurers.

Different companies have different goals, so no two content strategies work quite the same way. Still, general goals like lead generation, SEO, and thought leadership are common, and starting from there, companies can customize strategies that are specifically designed to work toward whichever goal is most important to them. With sales trends always changing, content plays a key role in attracting new customers.

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.
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.

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.
Be sure to talk frankly about the outcomes they should expect from content marketing. Brand building? Check. Helps your social efforts? Check. Increases your audience? Check. But because most content marketing sits up at the awareness stage of the funnel, it's not realistic to expect customers will go en masse from reading one blog post to buying all the things.
But more importantly, GoPro is getting tons of free marketing from the customers themselves. By promoting customer uploads and targeting an audience looking to record their exploits, the company sees thousands upon thousands of users upload branded content every month. These uploads are then constantly edited and compiled by other users into “People are Awesome” videos and non‐sponsored “GoPro Compilations” like the one below.
12. Bon Appetit Magazine: Foodcast. Bon Appetit’s podcast “features interviews with chefs, writers, and, well, anyone who has something cool to say about food.” Topics include holiday baking, why chefs hate brunch, and FAQs for Thanksgiving dinner. Not every company needs a podcast, to be sure, but if you can schedule great guests and figure out the tech specs, this can be a meaningful channel to engage with storytellers over the long term.
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.”
1. Hipmunk: Traveler’s Guide to Tipping. Travel booking site Hipmunk creates a wealth of content to answer common traveler questions and conundrums. One blog post called Traveler’s Guide to Tipping is a fantastic resource for tipping practices in countries around the world. It includes guidelines for restaurants, taxis, and hospitality. Other excellent posts from Hipmunk include How Travelers Can See the New Star Wars Movie Two Days Early, 48 Things to Do in Asia, and How Much Does a Disney Vacation Really Cost. The takeaway is simple: know your demographic and answer their questions. None of these posts are interactive or flashy, but they provide important and relevant information.

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.
“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

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.

Don’t just assume. Research your current audience and see who’s already engaged with your brand. You can even set up simple online surveys to send to your current audience, and build audience profiles based on the results. Your audience won’t fit a single category, but research can help you develop a primary “buyer persona” that fits the profiles of much of your audience, as well as several secondary personas.
Don’t just assume. Research your current audience and see who’s already engaged with your brand. You can even set up simple online surveys to send to your current audience, and build audience profiles based on the results. Your audience won’t fit a single category, but research can help you develop a primary “buyer persona” that fits the profiles of much of your audience, as well as several secondary personas.
9. For Dummies: The ubiquitous yellow books go B2B. The For Dummies brand is recognized the world over, so Wiley’s marketers and product team capitalized on that with a new content marketing venture. Dummies’ B2B offering gives companies the chance to craft their own branded Dummies content, and from the looks of the case studies, it seems to be working. For example, Glassdoor used the Dummies solution to create a custom “Employer Branding For Dummies” piece.

It goes hand in hand with content sharing, social content marketing, social media, copywriting, visual content, you name it. Storytelling is also closely related with word-of-mouth, recommendations and the simple act of sharing and connecting, since long before digital marketing, let alone content marketing even existed. We know why: storytelling is one of the most human ways of passing along knowledge and traditions, mesmerizing audiences and, in fact, human nature as such. What does storytelling mean in a content marketing context? Below are a few resources on storytelling and content marketing.
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.
Last year, Valerie-Ann Leary, Marketing Manager, Client Marketing and Demand Generation, wrote about the reception of a new e-book that they created—The Future of Digital Engagement: 10 Thought Leaders Share Predictions for 2014. Leary said that Live Pearson generated enough exposure to win the Killer Content award from Demand Gen Report for the Best Influencer Campaign. However, while winning an award was a nice affirmation of the success of their content marketing strategy, the real reward was all the new exposure that they generated, which presumably translated into many new leads.
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
Through content that brings that ethos to life, Clif Bar has nurtured legions of fans. Recent stories include a profile of two Clif Bar-sponsored athletes who set out to raise $100,000 for Bears Ears National Monument, an article on Clif Bar employees achieving 100,000 hours of volunteering, and a big rock piece of content about The Great Trail, a 15,000-mile network of trails across Canada.
28. Home Depot: Spreading seasonal knowledge. Home Depot shares excellent content year-round, but I especially admire how their content is hyper-focused on what’s top-of-mind for customers in the changing seasons. Energy-efficiency during the holidays, selecting a Christmas tree, and how to create a wreath were all recent articles as I wrote this post in late December. To ensure timeliness, Home Depot is always thinking ahead to the next few seasons and anticipating customers’ future needs — a great reminder for all brands who create content.
Expedia is a well-known travel brand that relies heavily on content marketing. Currently, their strategy involves a variety of different content channels, but they also strive to earn a presence in high-authority publications whenever possible. The company hired a firm called Quad Digital to place a number of well-designed infographics on such sites. They also publish guest articles on many authority websites.
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.

Another reason? People are just not that into ads. According to Nielsen’s Global Trust In Advertising report, people trust text ads less than any other content medium, especially on mobile. What’s more, on the list of trusted mediums, editorial content outranked ads on all traditional channels, including TV, radio, billboards, newspapers and magazines.

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.


4. Birchbox: Personal grooming videos. Beauty subscription service Birchbox regularly publishes excellent how-to grooming videos for men and women on two different pages. These videos often have a seasonal component (like Valentine’s Day makeup or keeping skin moist during dry winter months), encouraging customers to come back and learn more. Here’s a great example of helpful tips for guys seeking to keep long hair healthy.
Please, please, please don’t neglect to incorporate visuals into your content strategy. Of course, having a presence on visually-focused channels like Instagram and YouTube is vital -- but when it comes to your written content, don’t afraid to use visuals there, as well. After all, articles with an image once every 75-100 words got double the number of social shares than articles with fewer images.
It is used across the customer journey and customer life cycle but doesn’t start nor end with the customer in the strict sense. Internal customers are crucial in an integrated approach as well. Content marketing further serves several business functions in a consistent, integrated and continuous way. It looks at the customer from a connected and customer-centric perspective and takes into account the content requirements of anyone serving and engaging prospects and customers.
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 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?
Content marketing is a foundation upon which entire marketing campaigns can be built. Creating content gives you, friendly content marketer, a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with teams you might not talk to often enough. You can work with design/UX to create fantabulous illustrations. You can work with engineers to make sure your content shows up the way it should online. You can work with social and community teams to make sure that gorgeous content is effectively promoted, and that's just the beginning.

In 1933, Procter & Gamble started to broadcast a radio serial drama sponsored by their Oxydol soap powder. The owners wanted to build brand loyalty by aiming to adult women. They could intermix their marketing messages into the serial drama. The term soap opera was born in this year, and they marked a precedent for native ads. Engagement with the audience was a key element with the creation of this 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:
15. Basecamp: Signal v. Noise on Medium. Signal v. Noise is “strong opinions and shared thoughts on design, business, and tech. By the makers (and friends) of Basecamp.” Why Medium? According to the team, “When Jason Fried a few months ago suggested that we should start posting articles on Medium, I was skeptical. What possible gain could we have from sharing our stories on someone else’s platform rather than our 15 year-old blog? Turns out, quite a lot! First of all, the writing and formatting experience on Medium is just excellent. I’ve yet to find another web editor that makes it as easy to produce great looking articles. … Second, Medium has a wonderful community and readership that reaches far beyond our natural sphere of influence.” Great advice if your brand is considering Medium for content creation in 2016.
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.
We've created a template to get you started in writing a strategy. This document will take you through some initial research (beyond the content audit information above) and how to combine that research with your goals and content guidelines. You'll then start to make the strategy concrete by applying all that information to content types. Add in some information about governance and workflow, and you have yourself a fully fledged strategy.
Owned media is any content that your company creates and publishes via your company’s assets. This could be in the form of blog content, whitepapers, website copy, sales collateral, email and social media campaigns, or more. While you can fully control this content, not every piece should be a sales pitch in disguise — it’s still important to deliver value to your audience and build its trust.

Take one look at The Orange Dot, the brand’s blog, and you’ll see what he means. Every post, video, and social share is paired with a unique and vibrant image, GIF, or animation that grabs a reader's attention. While posts reference meditation, there's no hard sell for Headspace. Rather, a designed call to action is embedded in each post, and there's also a persistent sign-up button on the blog's header.
The “marketing” part of content marketing can lead to confusion as content marketing is not just used for strict marketing purposes. It’s also used for sales enablement, public relations, etc. Good programs involve multiple internal customers (customer service, sales, product marketing, brand management, etc.) and content marketing is not owned by marketing (nor by PR or any other division).
Use keywords (naturally): Identify your main keyword for the content, a few synonyms, and a few related keywords. Then make sure you’re actually using them in your content, headers, and page content. Don’t over-do it, though. Search engines have been cracking down on content that is “stuffed” with one or two keywords. Write for the reader, but do make sure those important words are present.
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.
EXAMPLE: TD Ameritrade produces its print and digital magazine thinkMoney for active customers – those who can make trades as often as hundreds of times in a day. In its early days, TDA put the program under review to determine whether it was worth continuing to spend money on the magazine. The leaders persevered and, after approximately two years, received confirmation of its value: Subscribers and readers of the magazine traded five times more than non-subscribers. Simply put, those who subscribed to this magazine became better customers for TD Ameritrade.
While sharing company updates might be helpful for you and your employees internally, your blog can speak to a broader audience, and hyperspecific news really isn’t all that helpful to your readers’ efforts to solve their problems. To truly attract and engage your target audience, your blog has to be entertaining, address questions and pain points, and serve as an educational resource for your readers.
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.
All Coke did was print individual names on cans and bottles and suddenly everyone was identifying with the product. In this campaign, and in all of Coke’s marketing, it built a foundational shared experience that almost everyone has with its product and made it shareable. In the next phase, customers could customize bottles with all kinds of names and titles for a super interactive, one-of-a-kind product.
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.
Prioritize social channels. Focus on the social channels where your audience is most active and engaged. You don’t need to be everywhere all the time; identify where your audience members live, and get your content in front of them on those platforms. For example, Influence & Co. primarily uses Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook to connect with our different audiences.
Which marketing and other organizational goals can we realize or improve by better using content marketing? An example: traffic building, conversion optimization, event marketing, lead generation and management, email marketing, social media marketing, marketing automation, customer service, etc. can all be improved by a better usage of content and content marketing. Your content marketing strategy looks at this. As a matter of fact, don’t just ask what organizational goals content marketing serves as in the chart. Many people, especially those calling the buying shots, have no clue what content marketing is and so do many executives, even in marketing. So, ask what organizational goals you can support and strengthen instead of trying to separate content marketing from the overall equation.
Determine where you’ll submit your content. This could be for your own blog or another publication in your industry. Create a list of potential publications, and carefully research the guidelines for each outlet. Putting together an article and shopping it around to half a dozen publications won’t get you anywhere; however, by understanding what each publication is looking for, you can create custom content that provides value for the audience and increases your chance of acceptance. 

Use a diverse content marketing strategy as part of your overall content strategy and split test to continually refine your approach. For example, Product A might see a good response to video marketing, and Product B might sell more through an infographic. Specific types of content might work better for lead generation or instant sales while others might work best for improving follower growth. Look at your various products and services and ensure you have a multifaceted strategy to use content in an effort to sell each. Test a variety of strategies to see which options work best.
Content marketing is a foundation upon which entire marketing campaigns can be built. Creating content gives you, friendly content marketer, a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with teams you might not talk to often enough. You can work with design/UX to create fantabulous illustrations. You can work with engineers to make sure your content shows up the way it should online. You can work with social and community teams to make sure that gorgeous content is effectively promoted, and that's just the beginning.

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.)
Add value. That’s the secret. It’s not really a secret at all. We've already talked about it throughout this piece. Although when you look at some of the marketing companies engage in you wonder if they’re purposely avoiding the obvious. We skip advertising when it provides little to no value. If you want to learn about advertising that doesn’t get skipped, find a skateboarder and ask him if you can watch him look through a skateboard magazine. You’ll see that he spends as much time looking at the ads as he does looking at the articles and photos. Or check out The Berrics website. Much of the content is advertisements, but skaters don’t skip these videos, they watch them just like they watch the other videos, because they’re getting the value they want--good skating. As a skater I’d like to say skateboard companies pioneered content marketing decades ago, but I know they were only doing what came naturally, and selling more product was secondary to the fun of creating videos and magazines. If you want to hire someone onto your marketing team who understands content marketing intuitively, hiring a skateboarder might not be a bad step.
You can use a scheduler like Hootsuite for automated posting however it’s important to keep tabs and update things manually as you test and share so don’t get in over your head. You also want to make sure that a social expert is on hand for engaging in real time – just “posting” several times a day without engaging will not be effective at relationship-building in the long run.
Ever spend precious time creating a piece of content, only to realize that it didn’t actually do what you wanted it to do? Yeah, we’ve been there, too. That’s why it’s so important to clearly and precisely outline your goal for each piece of content before you start anything. It gives you a road map to determine which main points to hit within the content, how to distribute it, and what metrics are needed to track success once it’s published.
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