14. Square: A Town Square for small business owners. Credit card reader Square’s “Town Square” is a resource center for growing businesses. Many small business owners rely on Square readers for credit card readers, and now they can also rely on Square for super valuable SMB content, like how to do better social media marketing and whether a company holiday party is tax deductible. Compared to many other companies’ blogs, it’s very frequently updated.
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.
One thing you'll need to know right from the get-go is that none of these benefits is going to show up immediately. Content marketing is a wonderful example of what's referred to as flywheel marketing: At first, it takes quite a bit of effort just to get the wheel turning. Over time, though, the wheel's own momentum lessens the effort required of you to see the same results. Don't expect results tomorrow, and think now about whose expectations you may need to temper, and what that'll mean for your work. But don't let that fool you into thinking it isn't working.
Content is essential, no matter what. The focus on the term content marketing should not take our attention away from this simple fact, that is true since long before the term was invented: people ‘consume’ content, they use it to prepare a purchase, they like it regardless of their relationship with you, words and images are essential in human behavior and persuasion and content plays a role in virtually all marketing tactics. A good content marketing strategy is really a mix of different tactics and strategies, aligned with the buyer journey and overall marketing strategy.
Companies need to get creative and enthusiastic about getting their content in front of the right people. Passive distribution — or, worse, distribution you do as an afterthought once you realize no one is engaging with your content — won’t cut it. Don’t let your investment in content go to waste by sitting on some of your most valuable marketing assets.
Makes sense, since the company produces 12 hours of live video per day, streaming real-life classes to homes across the country, on-demand. It’s how it keeps people coming back for more, by consistently providing something new to look forward to and actively engage in. With close-up videos of instructors – many of whom have risen to fame and actively promote the brand on social media -addressing at-home riders by name while calling out personalized encouragement, the content is nothing if not engaging.
Focus on your customers and overall marketing. As a marketer you want to know what works and what your customers need, not the little debates over definitions. Your customers don’t care about your content marketing definition, nor will your CEO. No one is even forced to like or use the term, all that matters are good marketing practices and great customer experiences.
Although native advertising might not look like marketing, the content should explicitly state that it was provided by the advertiser. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines for all advertising emphasizes transparency and includes stipulations that advertising claims must be truthful and supported by evidence. The more content marketing is similar in format and topic to the publisher's editorial content, the more important a disclosure is, in order to prevent deception.
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?
6. MOZ: Smart thinking for doing business digitally. I’ve turned to the MOZ blog for years when I have a question about the latest Google search algorithm or mobile search statistics. MOZ continues to innovate and use data to provide readers with knowledge, not just conjecture. I love this infographic showing 2015 year-in-review-data about the volatility of search.
With two new products – BumbleBizz for career networking and BumbleBFF for finding new friends – Bumble has grown from dating app to full-on connection hub since its launch in 2014. First, it revolutionized digital romance with a female-powered platform (only women can initiate conversations), and now it’s taking on all kinds of relationships. Things are going so well, in fact, that the company recently passed on a $450 million acquisition offer from Match Group.
You know you need a plan and strategy if you want to succeed as much as possible with content marketing. In fact, your boss expects to see a copy of your team’s plan so that they can evaluate whether it will be worth the upfront cost, and to verify that you have some actual way of carrying out content marketing. The tricky thing is, you’re not sure what to include in your plan, or how to go about creating one. Taking a look at some content marketing plan examples and templates can help you get an idea of how to put together your own.
For one thing, without content, SEOs would have nothing to optimize for search engines. The metadata they add to posts is an attempt to help robots like Google and Facebook wrap their digital heads around the complexities of the content they're indexing. Every link earned by every marketer points to a piece of content, and the keywords that people type into search engines are an attempt to find—yep—content.
It’s sparked a serious video strategy as well, with Grindr’s first web series “What the Flip?” debuting last fall and following two users’ experiences of switching accounts for a day, and "CAMPerVAN," a docu-series following a group of queer artists road tripping around Europe. In its first three months alone, Into fueled 24 million video views onsite and across social media.

Your content is only as valuable as its ability to attract audience members and compel them to engage with your business on an ongoing basis — as subscribers, customers, evangelists, or, ideally, all three. Once you have an addressable audience, your content efforts will help increase sales, gather valuable customer insights, and activate your most ardent followers as brand advocates.


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.
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.
Many B2B marketers have seen B2C content at least once and asked, "Why do they get to have all the fun?" But the moments like the one we described above are the ones that remind us: B2B companies are just as passionate about their products as B2C companies are. And for every B2B product, there are even more B2B users out there looking for information, inspiration, and knowledge to provide them with solutions.
According to Brafton, “83% of digital marketers plan to increase audience engagement and promote brand visibility through native ads.” If you want to join them as part of your content marketing strategy, make sure your ad is consistent with your other content. Above all, native ads should meet the needs of your readers and engage the audience, just like your other content does.
To emphasize this – and also because specific digital content channels, formats etc. are “different” in many aspects, as are tactics in the digital and social marketing context (from social content and search engine optimization to even online advertising) we see that more people talk about digital content marketing as a “subset”. Nevertheless, a holistic approach is important here as well.
Content marketing works for B2B businesses. Ninety three percent of B2B companies say content marketing generates more leads than traditional marketing strategies. Meanwhile, 74 percent of companies indicate content marketing is increasing their marketing teams’ lead quality and quantity. But what about content marketing examples of companies doing it right?

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.
In 1933, Procter & Gamble started to broadcast a radio serial drama sponsored by their Oxydol soap powder. The owners wanted to build brand loyalty by aiming to adult women. They could intermix their marketing messages into the serial drama. The term soap opera was born in this year, and they marked a precedent for native ads. Engagement with the audience was a key element with the creation of this content.

Content marketing is nothing without strategy. You can have the most interesting, thought-provoking piece of content out there, but it’s nothing if it can’t be found by the right people. No matter what stage of your content creation you’re in, whether you’re in pre-planning, development, or finishing up and wondering how to present it to the world, now is the time to start thinking about the best strategy for optimizing and distributing that content to your audience.
This information should come partly from doing the steps above. If you’ve determined your audience is primarily on LinkedIn, then they might like in-depth articles, whitepapers or slide decks. If they’re on Facebook, then video and list posts might fit their style. If they spend a decent amount of time on Medium, long-form storytelling might be a good fit.
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 purpose of content marketing is to show customers how your product or service can be used in their lives. Think about a time that you visited the website of your favorite clothing store and saw an article or blog post that listed the current trends. Did you notice that many of the items mentioned were available for purchase on their website? This is one example of how a company would use content marketing.
The practices and principles of ‘good’ content marketing, however, are here to stay, regardless of the definitions and even as content marketing – rightfully and obviously – continues to already be part of good, integrated and customer-centric marketing. We like the no-nonsense way in which expert Doug Kessler looks at the term, as you can see in the quote.
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 marketing works for B2B businesses. Ninety three percent of B2B companies say content marketing generates more leads than traditional marketing strategies. Meanwhile, 74 percent of companies indicate content marketing is increasing their marketing teams’ lead quality and quantity. But what about content marketing examples of companies doing it right?
Finally, by looking at the role of content marketing in a strategic way, that’s integrated with overall marketing and customer goals, you don’t need to get buy-in for content marketing or even make the case. You’re most of all being a smarter and more effective marketer. In social media marketing, executives needed to approve budgets that were sitting somewhere else. In content marketing that’s less the case as it’s connected with many other marketing goals and is not something “additional”. This doesn’t mean that a solid content marketing plan does not often require additional budgets but you’ll sell more business and a better brand perception to the C-suite, not necessarily a content marketing strategy.
Your overall positioning will influence traffic types and patterns, and your traffic patterns will also influence your SEO standing. It’s all a two-way street, and the rules sometimes change over time. To this end, having your SEO on point can be challenging and having an SEO-friendly website can take a while to build (search engines do tend to favor more established businesses).
The best part of a strategy is being able to track it and see it work. Think about how you can track success every step of the way -- from traffic to engagement to conversion. What tools will you need? Google Analytics? If so, will you need to set up goals in Google Analytics? What about link tracking and UTM parameters? Also, will you need dedicated landing pages?
Staying updated on social media trends is great, but social is just the tip of the distribution iceberg. Email marketing helps; still, brands need to dig deeper to discover the distribution channels unique to their audiences. Could you include physical copies of content with certain products? Maybe sales and marketing can work together to target specific accounts and get relevant materials directly into their hands? Or maybe a speaking engagement is the best way to share your message with your audience?
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.

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.

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.
“The difference between “marketing with content” and content marketing is a digital publishing platform that your brand owns. Creating an article for a publisher. Or an ebook. An ad. Or sales collateral. These are not content marketing. Content marketing means committing to publishing content people actually want. On a platform you own.” – Michael Brenner, Marketing Insider Group
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.
×