7. New York Times: Journalism virtual reality. If you’ve followed journalism at all over the past five or ten years, you know the news industry is constantly looking to revolutionize itself to stay relevant and, of course, profitable. (Watch the movie Page One if this interests you.) NYT experimented with virtual reality (VR) in 2015, launching an app you can use on Google cardboard (ideally) or your smartphone. The app fully immerses you in news stories like never before. I recommend you check it out and ponder the implications for all-immersive content marketing in 2016.
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.

As the U.K.’s largest tech company, Sage specializes in financial software that enables small and medium business owners to run their companies on laptops or mobile devices. Sage's mission is to help these organizations and entrepreneurs flourish in the face of harsh statistics – like the fact that half of all new businesses fail within their first two and a half years, according to Sage’s EVP of Digital Marketing Neil Morgan.
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.
13. Jack Daniels: The Single Barrel Standard. Jack Daniels’ blog the Single Barrel Standard shows an innate understanding of its core audience and the content they want to read. Seven Steps to Master Drinking Outside? Sounds like a winner. And what goes better with cocktails than snacks? Jack’s team penned Best New Ballpark Eats of 2015. Jack Daniels is committed to a regular cadence of content, showing customers with every piece that they share the same values and pastimes.
28. Home Depot: Spreading seasonal knowledge. Home Depot shares excellent content year-round, but I especially admire how their content is hyper-focused on what’s top-of-mind for customers in the changing seasons. Energy-efficiency during the holidays, selecting a Christmas tree, and how to create a wreath were all recent articles as I wrote this post in late December. To ensure timeliness, Home Depot is always thinking ahead to the next few seasons and anticipating customers’ future needs — a great reminder for all brands who create content.
In 2017, NewsCred launched the Top 50 Awards to celebrate best-in-class content marketing brands. Whether hot new startups or global giants, these brands were the ones with splashy, interactive content hubs that drove conversions, stellar social media presences, innovative new technology integrations, and strong behind-the-scenes strategies and measurement plans. They were brands that inspired us to push the boundaries with our own content marketing.
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.
Santander frequently promotes Prosper and Thrive content on all its social channels, including Facebook, where it has 123,000 followers. Though Santander's Instagram audience is still small, at a little over 1,600 followers, it's using the channel to exclusively promote the Prosper and Thrive brand with images that speak to the millennial audience and tease content from the hub.
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.”

Though you may not have the same advertising budget as Coca-Cola, you can still take a few things from this popular campaign. Personalization can go a long way into helping your consumers feel special and appreciated. Whether it’s sending a personal message through email or making product recommendations based on a consumer’s buying behaviors, the more personalized your marketing is, the more effective it will be.


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.
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