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 elsewhere. It’s the best way to turn your product, no matter how common, into something that is not like everyone else’s.
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.
Hexagon used augmented reality (AR) to spruce up their written company report, giving investors a more interactive experience when learning the latest updates on the company. How does it work? A mobile app, based on technology from Samsung and zSpace, displays a virtual demonstration of a product when readers hold their mobile device over a "trigger image" of that product within the report.
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.
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.
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.
I use a combination of personal branding, consistent social audience building, and support in creating authentic and ongoing thought leadership content. I’ve done it for myself. I’ve done it for the companies I’ve worked for. I’ve helped activate hundreds, even thousands of thought leaders to tell better stories. I’ve done it for numerous clients. And I can do it for you.
People are asking questions and looking for information via search engines like Google, and you want your business to be at the top of the search results. Answering people’s questions via blog posts, e-books, videos, and other content assets is a key way to make this happen. Of course, showing up is only the first step, but it’s essential if you want to reap the benefits of content marketing.
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.”
And from the looks of Here, Away’s impeccably cool, new digital magazine, it's not kidding around. A curated selection of hip photography and the occasional illustration invites readers to explore everything the site has to offer, with striking typographical choices drawing attention directly to the headlines (each appearing in a distinct yet complementary font).
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…”
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.
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.
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).
Imagine that, for reasons entirely outside of your control, there was a media and industry blackout of your work. Imagine that, due to some controversy or sudden change in public tastes, you were suddenly persona non grata. Imagine if no publisher, no crowdfunding platform, no retailer, no distributors, and no investors would touch what you’ve made.”
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.
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.
But Barclaycard isn't stopping there. This past year, it launched The Fast Track, an impressive, interactive online course for small business owners and entrepreneurs. Each of the five learning modules spotlights a local business, plus video, audio, written content, and downloadable guides. Module 3, for instance, is on "Building profile and customer loyalty," featuring the owners of Blok London, a boutique class-based gym, and how it's competing in a saturated fitness industry.
"In the past, we tried to serve all target audiences through content marketing, from investors to journalists, employees, and potential candidates," says Frank Thomas, Adidas’ Director of Content Strategy and Content Marketing, in NewsCred Insights. "But we realized we were all over the place. We rethought the entire setup and who we needed to address, and decided it is the employees, potential candidates, and, in general, like-minded people who can become advocates for the brand."
EXAMPLE: Jyske Bank is a large Danish bank that now also functions as a media company. The company started using content marketing to get better results than its high-cost sponsorship marketing. It created Jyskebank.tv, which produces amazing financial programming, as well as compelling stories the bank believes are relevant to its core audience of younger consumers and small enterprises.
Zoom-Zoom Magazine has a clean, modern layout that feels like a consumer publication. Recent stories include a behind-the-scenes look at Mazda's test chambers, a writer's challenge to see how many states he could drive through in 24 hours, and a short profile of an engineer who worked at Mazda for nearly 50 years. Every story includes large, gorgeous images, and some even include the option to download them as wallpaper.
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.
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 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.
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.
Though Chanel was late to join the digital brouhaha in comparison with other luxury brands, it’s one of the few brands that has made the most progress in the recent past. Burberry still holds the coveted top spot for digital customer experience proficiency, as per a report published by Contactlabs earlier this year, but brands like Fendi, Hugo Boss and Chanel have significantly climbed the charts as well.
Recently I was extremely low on cash and debts were eating me from all sides! That was UNTIL I decided to make money.. on the internet! I went to surveymoneymaker dot net, and started filling in surveys for cash, and surely I’ve been far more able to pay my bills! I’m so glad, I did this.. With all the financial stress these years, I really hope all of you will give it a chance. – q1ub
Big, consumer-focused brands aren’t the only ones providing great inspiration in the form of best content marketing examples. The Make-A-Wish Foundation is a non-profit organization that puts together unique and special experiences for children who suffer from life-threatening conditions like cancer. Even non-profit organizations have to promote their work in compelling ways to get the attention of donors, volunteers, and other individuals who can support their cause.
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.
NewsCred’s inaugural #ThinkContent Awards celebrate best-in-class content marketing brands. Their approaches are fresh, innovative, and creative. Even better, these brands have found solutions to some of content marketing’s most pressing issues, including using personalization to give people the right content at the right time, leveraging new content formats, and measuring ROI.
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.
Social media websites are among the most valuable resources a business can have. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are chock full of members of your niche audience and other potential customers waiting to be found — so be sure to share your content with them! It can even help answer many of their questions while simultaneously establishing your credibility.
How will we structure the internal organization – or better: how will we make sure that all content marketing related processes and flows are properly organized, in correlation with other marketing processes and/or teams? Often, content marketing thinkers advice to build teams that are more or less dedicated to content marketing. In practice, this seldom happens (except in some major firms) and teams better focus on the tasks and goals than the exact roles, realizing each company is different.
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.
Whether it’s weekly, monthly, or quarterly, never leave your content without tracking the results. This can include monitoring view and click rates, reading customer comments and responses, or even tracking ecommerce stats in relation to your content releases. Data tracking will allow you to analyze the results of your content marketing efforts and learn what’s effective and what isn’t.
With so many ways to publish content as a brand, inspiration always helps. That’s why we created this list of our 30 favorite content marketing examples of 2015. Whether it’s an individual campaign, a new podcast, or an overall blog property, these companies demonstrate what it means to be customer-focused in every content creation effort. As you plan content marketing campaigns for 2016, consider emulating the spirit of these brands who already do it well.
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.
Videos. Gary Vaynerchuk is a master of content marketing using online video, just take a look at his YouTube channel. He got his start creating videos to promote his family’s wine store and through those videos and other online marketing he eventually grew it to a $45M empire. Videos and podcasts are a largely untapped form of content marketing because people think it’s expensive and hard. But with the falling cost of professional grade equipment creating high quality video and audio content is easier than ever. Amateur video content marketing has been used to sell blenders, launch new dental products, and market Hong Kong visa consulting services. What video could you throw together for your company that might change your fortunes overnight? It might be easier than you think.
Take Patagonia's response to the Trump administration's decision to reduce the size of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. Patagonia created a visually stunning "interactive film experience" called "Defend Bears Ears," that urges people to take action. In addition, Patagonia shared dedicated posts about this hot topic on its blog, The Cleanest Line, and on social media. One post even famously declared, "The president stole your land."
Videos are a highly engaging content medium that are shareable across social media platforms and websites alike. Videos require a bigger investment of time and resources than written content, but as visual marketing increases in popularity -- after all, it's 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content -- it's a medium worth experimenting with.
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.
18. Nasty Gal: Behind the scenes on the Nasty Galaxy blog. Nasty Gal is the glamorous and unreasonably hip fashion brainchild of #GirlBoss Sophia Amoruso. Its blog, Nasty Galaxy, takes fashion fans behind the scenes of company parties and even photo shoots. Guess what lurks behind the scenes of this cool company? Even more enviable coolness, increasing affinity and likelihood to purchase even more.
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.
First off, it allows you to have an “always-on” relationship with your customers. This means that you can engage with them every day, even when they’re not in the market for a purchase. With advertising, you typically see major peaks and valleys. Your traffic, engagement, and sales spike when you’re running a campaign. Those numbers fall when the campaign ends.
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.
Many hotel companies use content marketing to grow their brands, but Marriott intends to take it to the next level. They recently created a new global creative studio, which will publish a variety of entertaining content pieces for the travel industry. According to David Beebe, Marriott’s vice-president of Creative, Content Marketing and Global Marketing, Marriott strives to become the number one travel content publisher in the world:
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.)
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.
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.