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.
Santander Bank’s Prosper and Thrive looks like a glossy magazine, except that it’s entirely digital. The content hub is aimed at millennials — specifically people just getting started financially who might have a lot of questions when it comes to money. Sample articles on the site include tips on building a wardrobe on a budget, and tips for buying a home for the first time.
But Barclaycard isn't stopping there. This past year, it launched The Fast Track, an impressive, interactive online course for small business owners and entrepreneurs. Each of the five learning modules spotlights a local business, plus video, audio, written content, and downloadable guides. Module 3, for instance, is on "Building profile and customer loyalty," featuring the owners of Blok London, a boutique class-based gym, and how it's competing in a saturated fitness industry.
Of course, generating revenue is a key goal for many marketers, and content marketing can be a powerful driver. When you build an audience that trusts you and wants to hear from you, they are more likely to purchase your products. For instance, CMI subscribers are more likely to take advantage of CMI paid offerings such as attending Content Marketing World than non-subscribers.
If you’ve ever seen a growth marketer on the heels of a successful optimization experiment, you know that her energy is electric. Unbounce, a landing page software company based in Vancouver, understands that excitement and decided to leverage it to create an engaging microsite, Page Fights, in collaboration with optimization company Conversion XL.
From city guides and travel trend pieces to personal essays and interviews, Away has a lot of stories to tell. So many, in fact, that last year the brand unveiled a quarterly print publication of Here, featuring Rashida Jones on the debut cover, alongside high-quality content by and for travelers. There’s also "Airplane Mode," the brand’s podcast, which shares tales of travel, journeys, and lives lived on the road by all kinds of adventurers.
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 is the emotional and informational bridge between commerce and consumer. Building that bridge requires more than a budget, editorial calendar, and vision. It requires people who care, who love content, and what it can do for people. Not just what it can do for revenue, but rather how it helps people live their lives.” – Jay Baer, Convince & Convert
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.
Deloitte is a professional services company specializing in consulting, tech, auditing, and more. It works with a massive cross-section of industries, from government agencies to life sciences -- and that broad range of knowledge is a major selling point. That’s why creating informed, useful content for individual, specialized audiences is core to its marketing strategy.
Of all the car rental companies, Zipcar has best mastered this strategy. Since Zipcar's target audience is people who live in the urban areas where it has a presence, Zipcar tailors its content specifically toward city dwellers. Its content hub, Ziptopia, has sections about city living and the future of cities, as well as travel inspiration stories (many accessible by car from major cities). While most posts don't mention Zipcar, calls to action at the bottom of each give readers the option to join Zipcar or book a Ziptrip.
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.
However, you don’t need to work with influencers to utilize user-generated content as part of your marketing strategy. Whether you create a contest or just consistently ask for feedback through social media, you can encourage your fans and followers to post pictures of themselves using your products or services. When you repost this content, you are showing your leads and customers what others think about your brand while showing the customer themselves your appreciation for their business.
Workiva offers a real-time cloud service to help clients collect report and analyze data. Due to the sophistication of their service, the company needs to diligently educate customers in order to attract new buyers and grow their business. Thus far, the company has used a variety of content marketing techniques to boost their brand reach and improve customer retention.
However, like video, you’re probably thinking you need all sorts of specialized gear and skills. And while yes, audio is a whole other beast, you can get started with just a little bit of effort. In his class Getting Your Podcast Off the Ground!, Neil Patel, host of The Indian Startup Show (the #1 tech podcast in India) runs us through the basics of podcasting.