“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
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.
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.
Influencers: Letting others speak for you is sometimes more valuable than tooting your own horn, and audiences may find it more authentic as well. Creating a rapport with prominent industry influencers and having them share your content through their own social feeds streams your content to potentially thousands or millions of new followers. That means more brand ambassadors than you could have ever organically created.
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.
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.)
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.

We don’t consider marketing campaigns, even if multi-channel and customer-centric, with lots of content as content marketing either as 1) they have existed forever and are not an indication of content marketing maturity and 2) content marketing is an ongoing effort. An example of why this makes sense: we often notice that brands winning content marketing awards for campaigns have websites – their predominant online presence – that don’t even respect the basics of offering the relevant content potential and existing customers in the broadest sense HAVE to be able to find. Again, this doesn’t mean that good marketing campaigns aren’t characterized by the right content, among others.
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 year, Progressive appeared on our list thanks to its standout consumer content hub, Life Lanes. The insurance company makes the cut once more, but this time it's Progressive Commercial that’s catching our eye. With its commercial arm, Progressive targets seasonal and small businesses with auto insurance needs, be it truck, van, or car coverage. With a stellar content plan in place, you can be sure the word is getting out.
That’s why it’s exciting to see a brand like Farmers Insurance offer a modern and engaging content hub, plus consistently creative and engaging video – like a recent effort from last Halloween. Starring J.K. Simmons as Professor Nathaniel Burke (Farmers’ brand mascot since 2010), and spinning off from the success of an earlier campaign – Hall of Claims, which pokes fun how wide-ranging and far-fetched these reports can be – "The Stranger Claims" series takes on the same theme, complete with a nod to the hit Netflix show "Stranger Things."
DemandBase is a marketing technology provider that specializes in serving B2B brands. Recently, the firm used white papers, infographics, SlideShare, and webinars to source new leads for one of their campaigns. According to Top Rank Blog, the company generated 1,700 new leads and connected with 125 webinar viewers, helping them to generate over $1 million in new revenue through content marketing.
Remember, your content marketing tactics can bring traffic to your website or landing page. Your content strategy, on the other hand, will drive traffic to your website and then help convert those visitors into customers. When done effectively, you should see not only an increase in website traffic but also improved user engagement and conversion rates.
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!)
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.
A prominent newsletter subscription box sits on the upper right corner of the content hub's homepage and every story – a smart strategy for capturing existing or potential Twitter customers who want regular updates for optimizing their distribution strategies. For those who have read enough to want to create their own Twitter ads, a call to action at the bottom of each page gives them the option to do so.
Deirdre Breakenridge and Shel Holtz are two of the world’s best-known PR experts and strong advocates of content marketing and social. They have been innovating and leading the way. When we met with both it was a great opportunity to look deeper into what was once known as PR 2.0 and is really about PR evolving as other business functions in a connected, social and content-intensive reality. The key principles remain, the hybrid PR professional is here. Read more.
Neil Patel is the co-founder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, and KISSmetrics. He helps companies like Amazon, NBC, GM, HP and Viacom grow their revenue. The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he has created one of the 100 most brilliant companies in the world. You can connect with him on Twitter @neilpatel.
In many ways, step five ties into step one. When you’re thinking of your goals, think of how you can tell if you are on track to reach those goals. In the case of the example brand that’s trying to reach millennial moms, it could track traffic to its website from social media profiles that match the definition of millennial moms. It could also look at responses on social media to see if millennial moms are engaging with the content it creates.
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.

By 2014, Forbes Magazine's website had written about the seven most popular ways companies use content marketing.[16] 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%[17] 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.
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.
All based around how to provide effective customer service, the team at Help Scout are great at creating eBooks – which is why they have made our list today. Their ’10 Customer Service Stories’ in particular stands out because it shows their clients what other people are doing, and how they can learn from it. It’s really well designed and well written, and you can view the entire eBook here.
In honor of all things inbound, consider how your business can use video as a medium to bring the right talent to your office. Rather than drop bait in the form of a newspaper advertisement, or static pitch on an online job board, a recruitment video can be used to expand your reach, while making known the type of environment applicants can expect to work in.

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)
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