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.
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.
What do your audiences need to know from you? Use search and social media, plus conversations with customers and your internal personnel (sales and customer service, especially) to better understand the information and persuasive requirements of your customers. Then, organize those needs by persona and funnel stage to create a map of necessary content.
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.
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.
Some of the brands covered here are newcomers to the market, while others are household names that have been around for more than a century. However, they all have one thing in common: they recognize the value of creating great content to engage their audience and generate new leads. Get inspired by their examples and use their success to fuel your own content marketing efforts.
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.
The secret isn't quantity. Each Colours edition is released by season. That's quarterly content publishing. Field Notes only release their beautiful videos once every three months (with a couple of welcome exceptions). Throw in a blog post and a couple of emails and you have a content development schedule any resource-strapped marketing team can handle.
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.
Santander frequently promotes Prosper and Thrive content on all its social channels, including Facebook, where it has 123,000 followers. Though Santander's Instagram audience is still small, at a little over 1,600 followers, it's using the channel to exclusively promote the Prosper and Thrive brand with images that speak to the millennial audience and tease content from the hub.
“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.”
But if you can also create content that aligns with the core of your product or service, that’s also great. As we mentioned before, Wistia creates visual content technology -- so it makes sense that it would have unique visual content. Identify what your business does particularly well, and then make the most use of the channel that best aligns with your strengths.
LV Now is almost like a news feed that broadcasts happenings from the world of Louis Vuitton. It covers latest events, product updates and behind the scenes coverage of their recent campaigns. Each article has easy sharing options that cajole readers to spread the word on their own social networks. The more traditional World of Louis Vuitton webpage, pays homage to the LV heritage and their unique savoir-faire.
For parents, think about BabyCenter. When I was pregnant and then raising my older daughter, I considered BabyCenter to be required reading. It’s a perfect example of content marketing. According to its website, it is the No. 1 pregnancy and parenting digital destination, and eight in 10 new and expectant moms online use BabyCenter each month. The site is owned by Johnson & Johnson, which sells products for babies.
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.
Great article Sarah. I think that a key theme all of these great content marketing strategies have in common is humour; humour has universal appeal and is a very effective way of getting audiences to talk about and share your content. Of course your content marketing strategy needs to be comprehensive and well executed, and for businesses without the staff capacity I would recommend outsourcing your digital marketing needs to skilled freelancers.
User-Generated Content: Soliciting reviews, comments and content from avid online users and social followers cycles fresh ideas into your content production schedule and presents a more genuine relationship between your brand and the public. UGC allows followers to speak on behalf of your brand through digital vehicles like contests, giveaways, hashtag campaigns, video stories and other visual means.
In the past year, Headspace has launched a few new content initiatives designed to make meditation more accessible – and drive and retain subscribers. One is a "How to Meditate" section that includes answers to frequently asked questions, plus videos that help people solve common meditation challenges. Headspace now also offers “packcasts,” which are recordings that feature Headspace employees discussing certain packs, or sets of meditations, while “trying to build a meditation practice that works for [them]” and showing how personalized one's meditation journey can be.
Burberry’s latest digital venture is the fashion chatbot they launched at the London Fashion Week last month. It complements their entry into the “see-now-buy-now” trend made popular earlier this year by Tommy Hilfiger. The Facebook Messenger based chatbot lets the company sell their latest collection as soon as it hits the runway. Viewers can watch shows real-time, interact with the bot to inspect a collection more closely and even request a connection to a real human to help with the purchase.
The Beehive, Bumble’s blog, puts out a variety of strong, timely content fit for its broadening audience. To celebrate the new year, for instance, it launched a series called "You, First", which features stories about well-being and self-care. It’s these kinds of ideas that permeate Bumble's social channels as well, with original and carefully curated content sharing the spotlight on each platform – like captivating graphics and witticisms on Instagram for its more than 455,000 followers.
Chanel uses content to essay its rich legacy to the audience. None of their stories are about the user or the customer. Rather, they’re about the elusive charm that Coco Chanel translated to all her products. By revealing slivers of the brand, it makes users believe that they’re part of an exclusive club where limited, veiled access itself is a privilege.
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.
That top-of-funnel position doesn't mean it's impossible to demonstrate the value of content. It just means you need to build a more complex model to understand and show how content really contributes to your conversions. These models can provide a good estimate of the value of your content, but they are, at best, an estimate, so keep that in mind before you tell the boss that if you can get the funds for one blog post it'll bring in exactly $1200 worth of leads.
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 Farmers Insurance Inner Circle is a super customer-friendly resource that it created to empower the audience to become better educated about topics that, for a lot of us, go right over our heads. Farmers Insurance provides people with useful, practical information. It offers a huge variety of articles about things like taking care of your house and your car, how to prevent identity theft, what you need to know if you’re going through a divorce — basically how to deal with anything life throws at you.
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.
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!)
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.
EXAMPLE: River Pools and Spas changed its mission from being a pool installer to being “the best teachers in the world about fiberglass pools” — and then started to answer specific customer questions in blog posts. As Marcus Sheridan explained, that decision was “one of the most prosperous days of our lives,” as that was when customers started coming to them. View the case study:
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.