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!)

If you haven't already noticed, you're currently perusing a blog post. Blog posts live on a website and should be published regularly in order to attract new visitors. Posts should provide valuable content for your audience that makes them inclined to share posts on social media and across other websites. We recommend that blog posts be between 1,000 and 2,000 words in length, but experiment to see if your audience prefers longer or shorter reads.
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:
Most people count on incorporating popular holidays such as New Year's and Thanksgiving in their marketing efforts, but you don't have to limit yourself to these important marketing dates. If there are niche holidays that might appeal to your audience, it could be worth publishing content on your blog or on social media. HubSpot's Service Blog Editor Sophia Bernazzani compiled this ultimate list of social media holidays -- keep an eye on it when you're planning your calendar.
Now that you understand your main audience, place yourself in their shoes. What are they searching for when they need your product or service? Make a list of basic keywords surrounding your brand, as well as any variations (‘New York painters’ and ‘New York painting,’ for example.) You know your niche well, so draw from all possible terms used for what you have to offer. Once you have these keywords, integrate them into your content. There are a few reasons why:
“Content marketing is what we like to call owned media. It’s anything you produce—blog posts, white papers, podcasts, videos, eBooks—that lives on something you own, such as a website or blog. The advantage, of course, is you get to tell your story and have direct access to your customers and prospects.” –  Gini Dietrich, Arment Dietrich & Spin Sucks
Content marketing is a strategic marketing and business process focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience, and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. This lesson will introduce you to the world of content marketing and provide you a big picture view of everything you need for a successful content marketing strategy.

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.
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.

The “marketing” part of content marketing can lead to confusion as content marketing is not just used for strict marketing purposes. It’s also used for sales enablement, public relations, etc. Good programs involve multiple internal customers (customer service, sales, product marketing, brand management, etc.) and content marketing is not owned by marketing (nor by PR or any other division).
If you are considering influencer marketing, you can take a note from GE. Find the right influencers for your market or industry, and make sure that they have a following that can benefit your brand. Then, consider what you can offer these influencers in return for their help with your campaign. It may be free products, money, or sometimes just exposure to an even wider audience.

If you’re a small local retailer in bathroom equiment, you may limit yourself to making sure you can answer the questions of your customers and keep them loyal or make them buy more or have more people buy from you (word-of-mouth indeed). But, then again, maybe that local retailer wants to grow and decides to use content for it, which is perfectly possible (no boring or small businesses when it boils down to the possibilities of creating relevant content).


A valuable asset that often sets off discovery and awareness for potential SAP customers, FCEC is clearly dedicated to producing high-quality content that drives leads – without pushing sales pitches. Instead, Hatch puts audience needs and interests first, with articles that are timely and relevant to industry executives and the field at large. As a result, her team continues to cultivate loyal readers. The FCEC newsletter has 5,000 subscribers and an approximately 22 percent open rate each month. And pageviews are on the rise, as well, with an entirely organic 20 percent increase back in 2016.
Use keywords (naturally): Identify your main keyword for the content, a few synonyms, and a few related keywords. Then make sure you’re actually using them in your content, headers, and page content. Don’t over-do it, though. Search engines have been cracking down on content that is “stuffed” with one or two keywords. Write for the reader, but do make sure those important words are present.
In 2016, the company launched GamePlan A, a digital magazine uniquely developed to build company culture and attract and retain employees. “Designed for those who believe in the power of sport, GamePlan A is here to make work life better, more inspiring, and fun, be it at Adidas or anywhere else,” reads the site. It’s “a mindset – and a platform…tackling work life with an athlete’s heart.”
Here’s another example of a brand that does a great job of leveraging different categories of knowledge. First Round, an early-stage VC company, recognized the knowledge among entrepreneurs and leaders that wasn’t being shared -- knowledge that could be highly beneficial to their peers -- and created the First Round Review as a place for it to be shared. It serves, reads the manifesto, to liberate the ideas and expertise that are “trapped in other people's heads.”
When content marketing started becoming increasingly popular, it was believed by some that content marketing would be a passing fad, among others given the huge increase of content created. Early observers and practitioners called this the ‘content marketing backlash‘. Another term – that expressed this sentiment, was introduced later and was contested by Joe Pulizzi – was ‘content shock‘.
Most people count on incorporating popular holidays such as New Year's and Thanksgiving in their marketing efforts, but you don't have to limit yourself to these important marketing dates. If there are niche holidays that might appeal to your audience, it could be worth publishing content on your blog or on social media. HubSpot's Service Blog Editor Sophia Bernazzani compiled this ultimate list of social media holidays -- keep an eye on it when you're planning your calendar.
It needs a strategic approach and that’s what a content marketing strategy is all about. Content marketing fits in a broader integrated marketing strategy and it requires a strategy of its own. However, just as all other strategies regarding specific marketing techniques (email marketing or social media marketing, for instance) such a strategy needs to be integrated in a broader strategy.

3. Farmers Insurance: Inner Circle. According to Kapost, Farmers Insurance “features an extensive library of helpful tips around home maintenance and repairs, budgeting, auto care and insurance, and more. The content is easily navigable, succinct, engaging, and well designed.” It’s a perfect example of a brand prioritizing being helpful to people (anyone — not just Farmers customers) instead of selling to them.


To create an ongoing dialogue with its target audience of small business owners, Barclaycard for Business has spent the last few years building up its News and Insights content hub. Articles and infographics run the gamut of topics important to its audience, from how to guard against a cyber attack, to fun quizzes like "How well do you know your business?"
I’ve been super impressed by GoDaddy’s recent content marketing campaign up here in Canada with Toronto Raptor’s player Jonas Valanciunas. They’ve been running great and funny TV ads pointing consumers to https://ittybittyballers.ca where they’ve set up a fictitious business and GoDaddy-powered eComm site with all proceeds going to charity. Brilliant!
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.
MYOB recognizes that many businesses are figuring out accounting and financial decisions as they grow, so it’s created content that positions the brand as a go-to resource to help those businesses navigate each stage of their development. The Tax Time center, for example, is angled to fit the needs of both customer groups, providing tips for those just starting out, and guides for breaking through new stages of development.
There’s really no single way to create a content marketing strategy – you have to do it in such a way that aligns with your budget and business goals. However, the main thing to bear in mind that, with digital marketing, you’re looking for engagement and conversations that are a two-way street. So, you’re going to pay attention to what genuinely draws people towards your brand.
The “Share a Coke” campaign gives every Coca-Cola lover the opportunity to personalize their drink. Individuals could personalize their own bottle with their name on the Coca-Cola website or look for their name (or a friend’s name) on a bottle at the gas station or supermarket. This campaign soon went viral as consumers began posting pictures online with their personalized drinks.
EXAMPLE: Sainsbury magazine is the top cooking magazine in the United Kingdom, with 3 million paid subscribers — a content marketing effort that pays for itself. But, what’s even more remarkable is that, according to a 2015 survey conducted by the company, eight of 10 readers have bought a product from Sainsbury’s after reading about it in the magazine.
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.
More emphasis on individual content pieces. A business that has a million website visitors a month isn’t going to double its traffic through a single piece of content—but a small business can. A small business can often afford to make great content and distribute it through limited channels, because it doesn’t take much extra traffic to boost revenue significantly.

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.


Frank Strong, formerly at Vocus and now communications director with LexisNexis shares his views and experiences on the ways content marketing and PR work together. For Frank the conclusions are clear: PR should embrace content marketing. However, at the same time, much of what PR has always been about in Frank’s experience centered on content. Check it out.
Celine Roque of Contently recently wrote a very insightful piece about American Express and its longstanding commitment to content marketing. Roque points out that the world’s largest travel company has been using content for brand building for the past 100 years, beginning with a series of engaging travel guides in 1915 that played a prominent role in growing the company.
The number of ways in which content benefits SEO is far too great to count here. In summary, great content attracts editorial links, which tell Google you're important and authoritative. Google can also crawl your content, getting a far better idea of what your company is about, allowing it to return your site for more relevant queries (including a great many long-tail queries). The list goes on, but it can all be boiled down to this: Without content, what is there to optimize for search engines?
It may be that the real struggle you face with your client or boss is that they're afraid their industry isn't sexy enough for content marketing. It's not true—anything is interesting if it's framed well and shown to the right people. Your challenge here is to find that perfect angle to pitch to show them just how interesting content marketing for boring industries can be.
So while we don’t recommend abandoning blogs completely -- after all, written content is still vital to SEO -- we do emphasize the importance of diversifying content formats. Marketers who incorporate video into their content strategies, for example, have seen 49% faster revenue growth than those who don’t. And remember that tip to “keep it human” we mentioned earlier? That’s a great thing about live video in particular -- it can help portray brands (and their people) as candid and genuine.
Which marketing and other organizational goals can we realize or improve by better using content marketing? An example: traffic building, conversion optimization, event marketing, lead generation and management, email marketing, social media marketing, marketing automation, customer service, etc. can all be improved by a better usage of content and content marketing. Your content marketing strategy looks at this. As a matter of fact, don’t just ask what organizational goals content marketing serves as in the chart. Many people, especially those calling the buying shots, have no clue what content marketing is and so do many executives, even in marketing. So, ask what organizational goals you can support and strengthen instead of trying to separate content marketing from the overall equation.

But in order for content to convert readers and incite growth, it needs to occasionally disrupt its audience's point of view. A company doesn't work for its content; content works for its company. If you need to say something that a blog alone can't, the business demands that you make it work -- whether that means starting a YouTube channel or seeing how you can integrate an AR tool into your next ebook.
What is the content about? Does it talk about what you're selling, or is it more educational? Is it about content marketing, social media, conversion rate optimization, landing pages, A/B tests, or something else? Come up with a list of categories that fairly well encapsulates what you've covered through content marketing, and assign each piece a category or two. That'll allow you to come to conclusions like, "Wow, our audience engages nearly twice as much with posts that are about advertising techniques. I guess we know what they're interested in."

7. New York Times: Journalism virtual reality. If you’ve followed journalism at all over the past five or ten years, you know the news industry is constantly looking to revolutionize itself to stay relevant and, of course, profitable. (Watch the movie Page One if this interests you.) NYT experimented with virtual reality (VR) in 2015, launching an app you can use on Google cardboard (ideally) or your smartphone. The app fully immerses you in news stories like never before. I recommend you check it out and ponder the implications for all-immersive content marketing in 2016.


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.
“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
But the messaging remains relevant, even among the hint of silliness. After all, CB Insights designs technology for people in the VC space, so it’s tasked with creating content that will appeal to a broad audience: customers, prospective customers, tech enthusiasts, and investors. And so, under such subject lines as “so sad: tough to have a VC dad,” it includes relevant data. Yes, gifs are hilarious -- but in some contexts, they’re also worth $147 million.
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.
Extract knowledge from your subject matter expert. Put together a list of questions for your SME to answer to painlessly extract his or her knowledge. It’s completely OK if your SME isn’t a natural writer; that’s what your content marketing team members are there for. What’s most important is that you communicate his or her expertise, and that’s where this process comes in handy. Your questions should be highly specific to get the right information from your SME’s brain and create unique, high-quality expert content using those insights.
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.
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