Content marketing is a foundation upon which entire marketing campaigns can be built. Creating content gives you, friendly content marketer, a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with teams you might not talk to often enough. You can work with design/UX to create fantabulous illustrations. You can work with engineers to make sure your content shows up the way it should online. You can work with social and community teams to make sure that gorgeous content is effectively promoted, and that's just the beginning.
There is an answer to this buyer-driven environment: Content. Content marketing is the process of creating high-quality, valuable content to attract, inform, and engage an audience, while also promoting the brand itself. Buyers and consumers are already searching the web for answers that your brand is uniquely positioned to offer. It’s benefits are three-fold:
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.
You’ll want to take existing insights and try to determine which of the different social platforms is most effective, and then choose one or two KEY platforms to work your content. Be sure that your brand and product fits your social media channel itself as well as the demographic. For instance, you’re better off sharing yoga clothes on Instagram and Pinterest, perhaps even via an influencer marketer, then on something like LinkedIn.
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.
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.
Traditional marketers have long used content to disseminate information about a brand and build a brand's reputation. Taking advantage of technological advances in transportation and communication, business owners started to apply content marketing techniques in the late 19th century. They also attempted to build connections with their customers. For example:
LinkedIn is commonly known as the professional social network, and it’s obvious that its users are serious. Sixty-four percent of social referrals to corporate websites come from LinkedIn, compared to 17% from Facebook and 14% from Twitter. A glance at the demographics demonstrates that LinkedIn has the greatest percentage of college-educated, higher-income users of all the major social channels.
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.
Please, please, please don’t neglect to incorporate visuals into your content strategy. Of course, having a presence on visually-focused channels like Instagram and YouTube is vital -- but when it comes to your written content, don’t afraid to use visuals there, as well. After all, articles with an image once every 75-100 words got double the number of social shares than articles with fewer images.
One of the reasons some companies have hesitated to allocate resources to content marketing is that it can be difficult to really understand the benefits of content marketing. Getting people to think more highly of your business certainly sounds great, but the results are quite nebulous. In this case, it helps to begin thinking about just how many benefits content marketing can bring. Let's start with the ones that are more intangible (though no less important):
The results were magnificent. Simply Business increased their ranking for their main keywords, including reaching first place in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for “professional indemnity,” “public liability insurance,” and “employer’s liability.” Even though they launched some guides before Google’s Penguin algorithm change, they significantly increased weekly organic traffic, meaning their link building practices were white-hat and high-quality.
Living up to its tagline – “Más que seguros,” meaning “More than insurance” – the site offers readers, clients, and potential applicants content that’s clearly created in an attempt to help and nurture its audience. Posts range from advice on how to stay in shape or avoid accidents in the kitchen to real estate and automotive tips. Offering life, car, home, and health insurance, these are the topics Generali chooses to cover in its content – though, just by looking at it, you’d almost never know they were selling something.
At my own company we’ve used content marketing to grow more than 1,000% over the past year. Potential clients find our content, find value in it, and by the time they contact us they’re already convinced they want to work with us. We don’t have to engage in any high pressure sales tactics, it’s merely a matter of working out details, signing an agreement, and getting started. The trust that usually needs to be built up during an extensive sales cycle has already been created before we know the potential client exists.
We believe one of the causes for content marketing’s lack of effectiveness is because everyone means something different when talking about it. There are so many different definitions going around people are bound to miscommunicate. If you don’t agree on what “content marketing” means for your organization, it is impossible to agree on whether it was effective or not.
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.
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.
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. Most of these formats belong to the digital channel.