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.
Last January, Marriott released the 35-minute "Two Bellmen Three," set in Seoul, Korea. The goal of the film: to highlight Marriott's Asian properties and capture a piece of the wedding market. As part of the release, Marriott offered "Two Bellmen"-themed wedding, food, and spa packages at participating hotels. To date, "Two Bellmen Three" has more than 9 million YouTube views.
Good content attracts, informs, persuades, serves and engages buyer personas, prospects, customers and other target audiences across the entire lifecycle and relationship with your organization and brand. It responds to the questions and needs of (prospective) customers during and after their buyer journey in correlation with direct and indirect business goals.
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.
The reality is that just creating content isn’t enough. In many cases, you need to amplify it. You need to market your marketing. This is where social media can help a great deal. Also recognize the many places (and many people: customers, employees, influencers) that can help you amplify your content marketing. (bonus: presentation on the difference between influencers and advocates)

“It put content marketing, as a program, on the map for USAA, where it had never been before,” says Mollie Walker, Lead Marketing Manager and Content Strategy Lead, USAA. “Over time, we hope to show that the more we grow our content marketing as a program and discipline, the more we can save on the awareness media that we have to purchase. We’re filling that gap and telling a story in between awareness and buying stages.”
14. Square: A Town Square for small business owners. Credit card reader Square’s “Town Square” is a resource center for growing businesses. Many small business owners rely on Square readers for credit card readers, and now they can also rely on Square for super valuable SMB content, like how to do better social media marketing and whether a company holiday party is tax deductible. Compared to many other companies’ blogs, it’s very frequently updated.

Businesses focused on expanding their reach to more customers will want to pay attention to the increase in volume of visitors, as well as the quality of those interactions. Traditional measures of volume include number of visitors to a page and number of emails collected, while time spent on page and click-through to other pages/ photos are good indicators for engagement.
Worthy of note, there’s also After Class, a B2B “partner empowerment” blog dedicated to an audience of studio and gym owners, as well as instructors. Promising “powerful insights from industry experts to better manage and grow your business,” After Class features a range of utility content, from marketing and writing tips to financial advice, as well as trend pieces, partner profiles, music and reading recommendations, and even a selection of webinars. The best part? None of it tries to sell ClassPass services. Instead, the content is useful, educational, and inspiring, and speaks to the core of the brand.
The definition of content marketing further depends on your viewpoint and background. A B2B marketer, looking to generate and nurture leads, for instance, might look differently at it than a brand marketer, looking to cause a shift of brand perception, or a search engine optimization practitioner, trying to increase organic ranking of content in search engines. However, the rules of good content marketing and essential strategies and principles are very much alike in most cases.
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.
One of the key challenges in content marketing – as a strategy – is to connect the content life cycle, the customer life cycle, brand touchpoints, different scenarios and personas, various goals and ways (channels, media, content) to achieve them and the proper processes of collaboration involving key stakeholders and – more than ever – customers and other members of the broader ecosystem (e.g. so-called influencers) themselves.
In the latter category we also find platforms that are closely connected with, for instance, marketing automation platforms. The industry of content marketing software is growing fast but also evolving fast, with some players being acquired by large marketing software vendors. At the same time, we see several marketing software vendors but also content management firms and others including content marketing features.
What existing budgets can we tap into to better achieve the goals using content in areas where return is below expectations (and what are these areas, of course)? An example: you may have an overall budget for your website but maybe it’s better to invest in more relevant content for your buyer personas instead and putting that design makeover on hold this year. Or maybe your organization invests a bit too much in generating traffic and leads but conversions stay behind. You can turn down the volume a bit and invest more in conversion optimization and lead nurturing, using content.
We'll show you the basic steps of a content audit here. If you're looking for a deeper dive, check out this guide from Distilled and this more SEO-focused one from Everett Sizemore. In addition, Michael King has a great presentation that takes a deep dive into the use of personas in content audits with a solid look at some helpful tools, and Inflow has a helpful chart to focus your auditing efforts.

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.


Content pillars on Ellevest's Insights hub include Your Finances, Life & Career, and Reach Your Goals. In addition, readers will find many posts by Sallie Krawcheck, Ellevest's Co-founder and CEO, who is also the former CFO of Citigroup and former CEO of Smith Barney. When you dive in, there's no mistaking the fact that the content is female-focused.
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. 

The Italian Generali Group is the third largest insurance company in the world, on the Forbes best employee list as of last year, and, as it turns out, a major player when it comes to content. With its image-forward design and variety of articles, for instance, Generali Spain’s homepage looks and feels a lot like a digital magazine instead of your typical insurance website.
Of course, how you communicate your strategy depends on the structure and culture of your organization. In some cases, it may be appropriate to share your full documentation. In other cases, it may make more sense to create targeted summaries for certain stakeholders (for example, busy executives, or external agencies), based on how your content marketing strategy will impact their particular roles, processes, and objectives.
While this is certainly the case (and no one ever claimed content marketing was now) and while Joe Pulizzi picked the term ‘content marketing’ among several others he launched, deciding to use the term that worked best, the definition debate overlooked what distinguished content marketing – no matter how it can be called tomorrow. One of the pioneers in content marketing, Doug Kessler, expressed this very well in an interview.
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.”
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.
In the latter category we also find platforms that are closely connected with, for instance, marketing automation platforms. The industry of content marketing software is growing fast but also evolving fast, with some players being acquired by large marketing software vendors. At the same time, we see several marketing software vendors but also content management firms and others including content marketing features.
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.
Last year, IKEA also made a foray into the AMSR world with a 25-minute video that showed a woman decorating a dorm room with IKEA products. (AMSR, or autonomous sensory meridian response, is the pleasant, tingling feeling some people get while hearing soothing sounds like whispering – or, in the case of the IKEA video, bed sheets being smoothed.) The video has been viewed more than 1.4 million times on YouTube.

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.
Finally, by looking at the role of content marketing in a strategic way, that’s integrated with overall marketing and customer goals, you don’t need to get buy-in for content marketing or even make the case. You’re most of all being a smarter and more effective marketer. In social media marketing, executives needed to approve budgets that were sitting somewhere else. In content marketing that’s less the case as it’s connected with many other marketing goals and is not something “additional”. This doesn’t mean that a solid content marketing plan does not often require additional budgets but you’ll sell more business and a better brand perception to the C-suite, not necessarily a content marketing strategy.
Though there are links and CTAs to the Acorns site throughout the blog site, the content is not product-focused. Instead, it educates and informs the reader so that they can make better decisions about their finances. Rather than discussing how great Acorns is, it provides relevant and realistic advice about how readers can take control of their financial future.
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.)
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