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.
Content marketing is not fundamentally different than marketing itself, because you can’t communicate or persuade without content. But content marketing tends to focus on free and gated formats to attract attention and website traffic, generate leads and to aid in the sales process. It can get super sophisticated with marketing automation and may require advertising to get traffic, as SEO has become more and more difficult with every passing year. Brian Carter, Author of The Like Economy
Of all the car rental companies, Zipcar has best mastered this strategy. Since Zipcar's target audience is people who live in the urban areas where it has a presence, Zipcar tailors its content specifically toward city dwellers. Its content hub, Ziptopia, has sections about city living and the future of cities, as well as travel inspiration stories (many accessible by car from major cities). While most posts don't mention Zipcar, calls to action at the bottom of each give readers the option to join Zipcar or book a Ziptrip.
We wanted to give you the most extensive and detailed guide of advanced content marketing techniques available today. This resource is chock full of tactical, immediately actionable ideas that you can implement in your own business — to start building a community of fans and followers, to increase engagement and traffic to your website, and to drive sales.
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.
Recently, Cox Media used an online “Success Kit,” which provides valuable information to help other businesses succeed, to engage with the small- and medium-sized businesses that their advertisers were trying to reach. The content was available in several different formats, such as e-books and video, which helped them connect with many previously untapped leads. According to this report from G3 Solutions, the Success Kit received 5,000 downloads over the past year, helping Cox to generate more than 2,000 leads.
Or, take a look at Copyblogger Media. Copyblogger has dozens of landing pages, each aimed at a keyword that the target audience is passionate about. That’s a lesson for you when it comes to developing a sound content marketing strategy: when creating more landing pages, think strategically about keywords and build your content around the right ones.
Content marketing has taken over because it’s so useful to every function of marketing teams today. Content is one of the best tools you have for earning trust, building your brand, generating site traffic and qualified leads, and everything in between. Content marketing is marketing, and the brands that understand content is core to effective marketing — and, ultimately, to their entire business — will set themselves up for success.
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.
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.
Now that you’ve set your goals, it’s time to determine the KPIs you need to evaluate whether your content actually hits those goals. There’s no single magic metric that will give you a complete picture of your content success, but a combination of benchmarks can be useful to assess performance. Here’s a guide for choosing the right KPIs according to your goals:
The personal finance site Mint.com used content marketing, specifically their personal finance blog MintLife, to build an audience for a product they planned to sell. According to entrepreneur Sachin Rekhi, Mint.com concentrated on building the audience for MintLife "independent of the eventual Mint.com product." Content on the blog included how to guides on paying for college, saving for a house, and getting out of debt. Other popular content included in-depth interview and a series of financial disasters called "Trainwreck Tuesdays." Popularity of the site surged as did demand for the product. "Mint grew quickly enough to sell to Intuit for $170 million after three years in business. By 2013, the tool reached 10 million users, many of whom trusted Mint to handle their sensitive banking information because of the blog’s smart, helpful content."
As a marketing technology company, DemandBase has invested a lot of time trying to optimize their content marketing strategy. Rachel Balik, the senior content marketing manager, has provided an overview of the evolution of DemandBase’s content marketing strategy on the company blog. Balik also says that she attends Content Marketing World regularly to learn more about best practices in the industry to improve their overall strategy.
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.
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 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.
By 2014, Forbes Magazine's website had written about the seven most popular ways companies use content marketing. In it, the columnist points out that by 2013, use of content marketing had jumped across corporations from 60% a year or so before, to 93% as part of their overall marketing strategy. Despite the fact that 70% of organizations are creating more content, only 21% of marketers think they are successful at tracking return on investment.
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.)
One of the reasons that ADP’s content marketing strategy has been so effective is that the company provides detailed estimates of the amount of money that readers can save using ADP’s solutions. For example, their search engines estimate that a human resources coordinator in a firm with 50 employees would save $13,370 by employing ADP’s solutions and strategies, giving brands a compelling reason to download the firm’s white papers.
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.