24. Hansens: Surfer’s guides to everything. San Diego surf shop Hansens seeks to inform surfers of every ability. Check out this infographic guide to buying the right wetsuit and blog post about making sure your wetsuit fits properly. Hansens understands that surf gear is a big purchase for the average consumer, so equipping him or her with adequate knowledge is the first step toward conversion.
A change in mindset and a library of high-quality content will replace this traditional funnel with something more sustainable (and effective). The funnel is becoming more of an ongoing cycle that prioritizes continuous engagement over transactional relationships. This increased focus on nurturing, especially post-sale, makes customers more likely to stay with you or buy again — and more likely to give recommendations to friends and colleagues.
Once you’ve selected your thought leaders, it’s time to create a process for extracting their expert knowledge. Remember, your SMEs are busy people, and the last thing they probably want to do is interrupt their everyday workflow to ideate, write, edit, and publish an article. Make the process as simple for them as possible by following these steps: 
30. Tortuga Backpacks: Power Trip Travel Podcast. In their words: “A weekly podcast at the intersection of travel and entrepreneurship. The show is hosted by Fred Perrotta and Jeremy Michael Cohen, the co-founders of Tortuga Backpacks. Join us for the stories behind your favorite travel gear, products, websites, and apps from their creators… Plus, we’ll share the best ways to travel better, cheaper, and with less hassle.”
Another reason? People are just not that into ads. According to Nielsen’s Global Trust In Advertising report, people trust text ads less than any other content medium, especially on mobile. What’s more, on the list of trusted mediums, editorial content outranked ads on all traditional channels, including TV, radio, billboards, newspapers and magazines.
Everyone wants to produce more great content, whether that means blog posts, videos, podcasts, ebooks, or even social media content  that's engineered to get lots of shares. And while Skillshare has some amazing classes on each of those topics taught by people like Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Rand Fishkin, where things get murky is when you try to put them all together.
He elaborates, “What’s the thing where when you read the first few search results you say, ‘This is great, but I wish they…’. If you have great answers to that, don’t ask ‘how do we make something as good as this?’ but say ‘how do we make something 10X better than any of these?” That’s the bar that’s been set because it’s so competitive to try to rank for terms today.”
While all the ways American Girl connects to its audience are too numerous to cover in this one post, I’m particularly amazed by its print publications. For instance, The Care and Keeping of You is a book all about growing up for girls. It ranks second in its category (and 71st most popular among all books on Amazon). It’s from a brand selling dolls – but the subject has nothing to do with the dolls.
Content marketing has helped the company reposition itself. It still faces challenges as industry revenue continues to falter, but the company has weathered the storm better than PepsiCo, Cott, and other producers. Sales have started to pick up this year, and Business 2 Community author Hephzy Asaolu has said that there’s strong data proving that growth in revenue is strongly associated with content marketing efforts, which have helped Coca Cola to engage with customers all over the world.

EXAMPLE: Outdoor retailer REI does a great job of answering questions and assisting its audience through content. On its YouTube channel, it offers dozens of videos depending on its audience’s interests and needs, often answering common questions. Whether it’s a backpacker who wants to know how to use a compass or a cyclist who needs to know how to fix a bicycle chain, REI provides the answers.

Webpages. What’s the difference between a normal webpage and a webpage that is content marketing? Consider The Beginner’s Guide to SEO from Moz, a provider of SEO related tools and resources. This resource, offered for free, has been viewed millions of times, bringing in countless customers who otherwise might never have stumbled across Moz and the services they offer. Or take a look at a case study from the design firm Teehan+Lax. Most case studies are boring. Their case studies are fascinating. That’s the difference between simply putting content on your website, and content marketing.
In January 2017, Visit Seattle partnered with Sundance TV to launch "Project Five by Five," which asked five filmmakers to each create a short film about Seattle, inspired by one of the five senses. One video showed how a local farm produces fresh cream and berries for a beloved Seattle ice cream shop. Another reimagined Seattle native Jimi Hendrix's first skydiving trip. The shorts premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and aired on Sundance TV.

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.
By defining questions like this, you are able to uncover information about your potential customers that will simplify the way in which you go about creating content for them. Specifics like these seek to improve your targeting efforts by supplying you with enough information to personalize content and move personas closer to a positive purchasing decision.

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.
Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider Group. He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and a top CMO influencer by Forbes. Please follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and Subscribe here for regular updates.

Luxury brands are largely about selling the idea of exclusivity. Their appeal lies in the illusory idea of superiority that comes from possession. However, some brands manage to communicate a feeling of exclusivity but also extend a pragmatic relatability in the minds of their audience. Tesla Motors has carved a niche for itself in the minds of the ecologically aware luxury customer. It caters to a growing class of urban and suburban rich who don’t mind a steep price tag as long as it justifies their commitment towards the environment.


The content marketing examples above provide some excellent inspiration for the modern marketer that’s eager to do more with their content. Whether you work to personalize your messaging or just want to do something out of the ordinary with your content story, it’s essential that you keep your audience in mind when developing content ideas. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to have fun!
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.

Businesses focused on increasing sales through content marketing should look at traditional e-commerce metrics including click-through-rate from a product-page to check-out and completion rates at the check-out. Altogether, these form a conversion funnel. Moreover, to better understand customers' buying habits, they should look at other engagement metrics like time spent per page, number of product-page visits per user, and re-engagement.


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.
If you’re going to be putting valuable resources into growing your content strategy, then you have to make sure your efforts are actually paying off. The last thing you want is to spend time budgeting for content marketing and then discover later that you don't have any way of knowing whether your investment paid off. Many marketing teams struggle in this area because there are so many different metrics you could track to determine your content’s performance. However, before you can even begin to set these key performance indicators accurately, you must be crystal clear on your purpose for creating content and how it fits within your strategy.
When businesses pursue content marketing, the main focus should be the needs of the prospect or customer. Once a business has identified the customer's need, information can be presented in a variety of formats, including news, video, white papers, e-books, infographics, email newsletters, case studies, podcasts, how-to guides, question and answer articles, photos, blogs, etc.[5][6] Most of these formats belong to the digital channel.
Content marketing…is the art and science of attracting an audience toward a brand and it’s website, then inspiring that audience to take action. This is done through the publishing, promoting and measuring of content. The form of the content is often written text, but may also be video, audio, diagrams. The function is often educational or useful, but may also be entertaining. Content marketing contrasts with advertising, which seeks to interrupt or distract an audience with a brand’s message. – Andy Crestodina, Orbit Media
According to Content Marketing Institute, 65 percent of the most successful content marketers have a documented strategy. A simple content marketing assessment can help companies identify their primary goal and design a successful content strategy to meet it. As strategy becomes more important, companies will need the right tools to align priorities and document their plans.
First Round Review, the branded publication from venture capital firm First Round Capital, has made a name for itself with exceptional long-form content. With a captive audience of startup founders and business leaders, its content addresses common pain points and shares in-depth strategies from successful executives. The content hub is comprised of nine digital magazines that zone in on a specific aspect of business growth, from product to engineering to fundraising.
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.
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.
A winning strategy succeeds when technology and people work together. Automation and semantics can help to filter, facilitate and uncover hidden treasures, but it is the human touch – thoughtful selection and consideration of content – that will create a truly new and engaging brand experience for audiences to discover, enjoy and share. Kelly Hungerford
Let me quote the people of Arketi Group: “Today’s prospects are much more in control of the information flow, relying on trusted online resources and solution providers’ websites far more often than sales reps to identify solutions, evaluate options and develop short lists for further consideration. The role of today’s BtoB marketers in this new environment is to offer the right content, matched to the individual prospect’s level of interest”. That’s using customized content for lead nurturing, in function of your customer’s offline and digital footprints and where he is in the buying cycle.

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!)


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.
If you thought a company like Twitter doesn’t need content marketing, think again. The social media giant has been building up its Twitter Business Outlook blog with original and licensed content centered on how-tos and best practices for advertising on the platform. After all, while countless other websites and agencies counsel on how to tweet to your fullest potential, where better to hear it than straight from the source?
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