James tells stories for a living. Sometimes they are true. Always they are crafted to help brands delight, educate and funny-bone-tickle their audiences into coming back for more. He’s super passionate (read: obsessive) about ecommerce content marketing. James is dedicated to teaching ecommerce brands how to create their own repeat-customer-generating media empire. Keep an eye out for his online ramblings - you can expect a generous helping of lightbulb moments and cheeky guffaws.
In this pursuit, content helps companies equip their customers for success. Content shows buyers optimal uses for companies’ products and services, encouraging customers to see the good more than the bad. With a content strategy focused on customer success, businesses can devote fewer resources to putting out fires and more resources to growing their brands.
18. Nasty Gal: Behind the scenes on the Nasty Galaxy blog. Nasty Gal is the glamorous and unreasonably hip fashion brainchild of #GirlBoss Sophia Amoruso. Its blog, Nasty Galaxy, takes fashion fans behind the scenes of company parties and even photo shoots. Guess what lurks behind the scenes of this cool company? Even more enviable coolness, increasing affinity and likelihood to purchase even more.
While the goal on social media sites like Instagram or Snapchat is to connect more intimately with your audience, your goal on platforms like Facebook and Twitter is to expand that audience, drive traffic toward your website, and start conversations in your industry. Do some basic market research to discover which platforms your buyers are on, and mold your content to their expectations.

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.


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.
Capturing audiences today requires far more than strong copy and appealing creative. Brands and agencies are striving to keep up with the rapidly growing need for high-quality content that’s both relevant and personalized. It has evolved into a $44 billion industry and is widely viewed as a top priority by 39 percent of client-side marketers. With this in mind, we created this whitepaper, packed with detailed case studies and how-to tips for your content marketing education needs.
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.
17. Bumble and Bumble: Video style guides. Regardless of if you use Bumble and Bumble’s hair products, its website answers a multitude of questions about blowdrying, dealing with curls, straightening hair, and much more. The company’s robust library of step-by-step videos show how to create any look with any type of hair imaginable. It’s free content that’s as useful as it is memorable when you want to buy your next styling product.
Michele Linn is the co-founder and chief strategy officer of Mantis Research, a consultancy focused on helping brands create and amplify original research they can use in their marketing. Before starting Mantis, Michele was head of editorial at Content Marketing Institute, where she led the company's strategic editorial direction, co-developed its annual research studies, wrote hundreds of articles, spoke at industry events and was instrumental in building the platform to 200,000 subscribers. In 2015, she was named one of Folio's Top Women in Media (Corporate Visionary). You can follow her on Twitter at @michelelinn.
But one of the newest and most successful strategies Random House has embraced has been using Medium to aggregate content from their active publishers. They also launched a new consumer discovery website to help people find relevant content. Random House CEO Markus Dohle says that content marketing has played an important role in maintaining and growing Random House’s brand image:
In politics, the “sizzle” tends to look like catchy one‐liners that are ultimately meaningless, out‐of‐context statistics that sound good, and targeted attacks on your opponents. None of these things have anything to do with whether or not a candidate will be successful in office, but since the masses tend to respond to sizzle, politicians focus on the sizzle.

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.
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.
One might argue that the industry best suited for content marketing is the financial and banking industry. After all, people are frequently looking for information about money and what to do with it. They want to know how to pay down their debts, save for the future, and reach their financial goals. So, how does a bank provide that information to consumers and stand out from the competition? With bank content marketing, that’s how. Banks and financial institutions use content marketing to develop trust-filled relationships with their customers.
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.

“It put content marketing, as a program, on the map for USAA, where it had never been before,” says Mollie Walker, Lead Marketing Manager and Content Strategy Lead, USAA. “Over time, we hope to show that the more we grow our content marketing as a program and discipline, the more we can save on the awareness media that we have to purchase. We’re filling that gap and telling a story in between awareness and buying stages.”
"From a marketing standpoint and strategy, it is absolutely a content-first one…We want people to learn and engage through storytelling – and branded content is a big piece of that, both from the original branded content that we are creating, and the ones where we are partnering with publishers to do it in a native format," says Liz Matthews, Senior Vice President of Global Brand and Creative at Dell Technologies.
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.

You're looking for trends to see what successes you can build on and what needs improvement. Don't forget to look for gaps. Sometimes the content you most need is the content that isn't yet there. Do you have 15 posts about tools for every one case study? Are all of your posts about advanced niche topics? What if your audience is full of beginners who want to learn from other people's experience? Looking back through and classifying/quantifying your previous work gives you a bird's-eye view of where you've been in the past and where you have yet to venture.
Whether you’re building a business case to launch a content marketing program or improving your existing one, it’s important that you and your stakeholders align on what, exactly, content marketing is – and what value it can provide your brand and target audience. We put together this resource to help you do exactly that. Here, you’ll find the definition of content marketing and other frequently asked questions. You’ll also find examples from top brands, as well as statistics to articulate the ROI it can have on your business.
It can come in long-form (such as blogs, articles, ebooks, and so on), short-form (such as Twitter updates, Facebook updates, images, and so on), or conversational-form (for example, sharing great content via Twitter or participating in an active discussion via blog comments or through an online forum). Susan Gunelius – KeySplash Creative, Inc., author of Content Marketing for Dummies
Whether it’s weekly, monthly, or quarterly, never leave your content without tracking the results. This can include monitoring view and click rates, reading customer comments and responses, or even tracking ecommerce stats in relation to your content releases. Data tracking will allow you to analyze the results of your content marketing efforts and learn what’s effective and what isn’t.
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.”
The ‘Citizens of the airport series’ is a little 10 part series focussed on KLM's customers. The brand intermittently interviews travellers in Amsterdam airport to share their story. Sure, these tidbits aren’t especially useful, and they won’t attract millions of views, but to a few select people, the content proves that KLM cares. This determination to truly understand and care for their customers is the reasons why people will start to pay more to fly with the Royal Dutch airline.
It’s important that every piece of content has a Call-to-Action (CTA) that’s direct and brand-focused – otherwise, your content isn’t really likely to generate leads. The cool part about social marketing, however, is that you can get creative with this. Instead of just saying, “Buy this product,” for example, you can offer a free e-book or trial offer to let users have access and decide for themselves whether or not your product or service is valuable.
Run by a team of Condé Nast veterans, the site is an extension of the Equinox brand and features show-stopping photography and design with a range of high-quality writing, videos, and even musical playlists that are published online, through the Equinox app, on-screen at gyms – and distributed across its own mega-popular social media channels. The sublimely curated and mostly user-generated Furthermore Instagram feed, for instance, attracts more than 50,000 engaged followers (and several hundred likes per post) with its gorgeous color palette and expert insights.
As you’re building a content strategy that works with your brand, you’ll also have to bear in mind how well this fits with your search engine optimization (SEO) plan. You’ll want to focus your content marketing on audience engagement, and this should be genuine. However, you’ll also want to meld this with keyword research in order to ensure that the content you are creating is really going to bring traffic to your site if that’s your key platform.
USAA is another example of an insurer that is thinking big, in terms of content. The financial institution has been around for more than 90 years, serving a client base made up primarily of military members, veterans, and their families. It’s a specific audience and one with which USAA knows just how to communicate. But beyond its content hub, USAA Stories, which features family, personal finance, and service-specific topics, as well as newer themes like travel in an effort to attract a broader readership, the company isn’t afraid to explore other forms of content.

Before you select any tool, you need to assess your content team’s abilities, resources, and goals. These platforms exist to make your job easier, more efficient, and more effective, so figure out where you stand before you bring in any technology to help. When you’re ready, there are tons of options to choose from. Here are a few standout marketing automation platforms to get you started.
Though there are links and CTAs to the Acorns site throughout the blog site, the content is not product-focused. Instead, it educates and informs the reader so that they can make better decisions about their finances. Rather than discussing how great Acorns is, it provides relevant and realistic advice about how readers can take control of their financial future.
Your content strategy is a comprehensive plan that describes your goals (what you want to accomplish), the tactics you’ll implement (how you’ll accomplish it), and the metrics you’ll use to measure the strategy’s effectiveness. It also includes the data and research that you’ll depend on to make smart strategic decisions. Over time it will grow with more information (especially about your customer), so you’ll want it somewhere editable and easy to reference.
So what is content marketing, then? Well, it's pretty simple. Content marketing is the use of that content—any of it—to help meet a marketing goal for your organization. That could be acquisition of potential customers, retention of existing ones, making more people aware of your brand or your products, or really anything else. We'll go into many of the most popular and effective ways of doing all of these things throughout the rest of this guide.
That’s what Raise the Bar does, by compiling a “daily digest of timely, must-read posts on sales, marketing and growth engineering.” And, that was the intent all along. In a 2016 blog post announcing the launch of the newsletter, Mattermark’s Co-founder and CEO, Danielle Morrill, wrote, “We’re turning our focus toward sifting through the mountains of content out there around sales, marketing, and growth to help the community of DOERS who grow companies.”
19. American Express: Departures. Departures is a content brand that encompasses travel, fashion, shopping, arts, and culture advice for American Express cardholders. It’s available in both print and digital formats. I personally enjoy receiving the print version every season; it’s a photogenic taste of what’s of the moment around the world, and it gives me aspirational ideas of where I’d like to visit.

There are as many types of content marketing as there are types of content--far too many to cover here. My intent is to give you an introduction to content marketing and get you thinking like a content marketer so you’ll see the opportunities all around you. Soon you’ll be coming up with 50 content marketing ideas every day. You won’t be able to stop seeing opportunities to create content. Here are five examples to help your mind start percolating.

There are as many types of content marketing as there are types of content--far too many to cover here. My intent is to give you an introduction to content marketing and get you thinking like a content marketer so you’ll see the opportunities all around you. Soon you’ll be coming up with 50 content marketing ideas every day. You won’t be able to stop seeing opportunities to create content. Here are five examples to help your mind start percolating.
Your marketing plan should go beyond the types of content you'll create -- it should also cover you'll organize your content. With the help of an editorial calendar, you'll be on the right track for publishing a well-balanced and diverse content library on your website. Then, create a social media content calendar so you can promote and manage your content on other sites.
Much of Plated's success hinges upon one factor: subscribers, and Morsel has been optimized to drive them. The tips, recipes, and stories feature large, gorgeous images and clear, conversational copy to engage readers. At the bottom of each story, and on Morsel's homepage, are calls to action with discounted offers for first-time Plated subscribers.
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