In the midst of the daily grind, it’s easy to forget that content marketing as we know it is still a relatively new phenomenon. As recently as a few years ago, marketers handled content mostly as a side project. It was more of a bonus than an essential role — something you did when you had time because it took a backseat to more traditional marketing projects and responsibilities.

The definition of content marketing further depends on your viewpoint and background. A B2B marketer, looking to generate and nurture leads, for instance, might look differently at it than a brand marketer, looking to cause a shift of brand perception, or a search engine optimization practitioner, trying to increase organic ranking of content in search engines. However, the rules of good content marketing and essential strategies and principles are very much alike in most cases.
Last year, Progressive appeared on our list thanks to its standout consumer content hub, Life Lanes. The insurance company makes the cut once more, but this time it's Progressive Commercial that’s catching our eye. With its commercial arm, Progressive targets seasonal and small businesses with auto insurance needs, be it truck, van, or car coverage. With a stellar content plan in place, you can be sure the word is getting out.
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.
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.
On the internet, content marketing campaigns involve publishing custom content on specific destination sites the target audience respects and visits often. During the campaign, the advertiser creates custom content that is tightly aligned with the publisher’s website and editorial mission. The goal is to provide prospective customers with an integrated user experience (UX) that encourages engagement and interest in the brand. The challenge is to ensure the content is topically relevant and meets the audience's needs. If the content is simply a thinly veiled sales-pitch, it risks turning the buyer off.
"Our ambition is fairly massive," says Jay Curley, now Ben & Jerry’s Global Head of Integrated Marketing, in New York Magazine. "We're trying to create a new model for how businesses can use their voice to have an impact on important social movements, and show that you can do that and it doesn’t hurt your business. As a matter of fact, it may help."

To help you build your content marketing strategy for next year, I teamed up with Skillshare to curate a list of their top online classes that’ll teach you how to build a content marketing strategy from the ground up. They were even generous enough to offer us all two free months of access to their 17,000+ online classes (normally $8-15 a month) so you can get a jump start on building your content marketing strategy (and more) in 2018.

With almost 1 million views on YouTube, the Millie Dresselhaus video has certainly made its rounds, delighting feminists, science fans, and everyone in between – which is exactly what makes GE’s efforts so special. With hard work, talent, and a stellar strategy, the 125-year-old company’s content has managed to capture a bigger and broader audience while promoting its mission, attracting potential talent, and humanizing the enormous scope of what the company does, from developing new and innovative technologies to engineering the tools and equipment that power our homes and the world.
Clay Collins’ hypothesis was correct. Thanks to his content marketing strategy, LeadPages ended up with an extremely high lifetime value to customer acquisition cost ratios. This helped them grow on a massive scale, acquiring 35,000 customers in under three years, hitting over $16 million in revenue in 2015, and in 2016 becoming the #148 fastest growing company in America. LeadPages success makes them one of the great content marketing examples.
Frank Strong, formerly at Vocus and now communications director with LexisNexis shares his views and experiences on the ways content marketing and PR work together. For Frank the conclusions are clear: PR should embrace content marketing. However, at the same time, much of what PR has always been about in Frank’s experience centered on content. Check it out.

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.
A winning strategy succeeds when technology and people work together. Automation and semantics can help to filter, facilitate and uncover hidden treasures, but it is the human touch – thoughtful selection and consideration of content – that will create a truly new and engaging brand experience for audiences to discover, enjoy and share. Kelly Hungerford
What you can do about it: By creating a unique, shareable experience, Coke basically inspired its audience to do the marketing for the company. People get excited to find their name or their friend’s name on a can of Coke at the store — so excited that they end up posting pictures of the cans on their Facebook and Instagram accounts. Personalize your content in a way that resonates with your audience.
In 2016, the company launched GamePlan A, a digital magazine uniquely developed to build company culture and attract and retain employees. “Designed for those who believe in the power of sport, GamePlan A is here to make work life better, more inspiring, and fun, be it at Adidas or anywhere else,” reads the site. It’s “a mindset – and a platform…tackling work life with an athlete’s heart.”

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.
Glad to see MOZ on this list too. In my opinion nobody has been better at building an audience through content marketing. I particularly like their Moz Points system for subscribers. It’s something that really could be a golden goose for content marketers in education verticals. The first university to copy Moz points will have the most loyal alumni.
If you’ve ever slogged your way through reading a piece of marketing and only finished reading because you had to, then you’ve experienced bad content marketing. When I speak to companies about content marketing I tell them that content is good if they genuinely want to read it. Content is great if they’re willing to pay to read it. If you want to see great examples of content, just look at what you’ve paid to read, watch, or listen to lately. If you watched The Lego Movie this year, you saw one of the greatest examples of content marketing to date. Oh, you thought they made that movie in order to sell movie tickets? Think again. That was a 100 minute toy commercial, and rather than using a DVR to skip it you paid good money to watch it. Is it any coincidence that Lego recently leapfrogged Mattel, the creators of Barbie, to become the largest toy company in the world? You may not have the budget to make a feature film to promote your company, but you can still give potential customers valuable information.
Read Joe Pulizzi's excellent book Epic Content Marketing. I started reading it after I wrote this post and it confirmed and expanded what I already knew about content marketing, with much more detail than I could ever go into here. Something Pulizzi emphasizes which I originally left out was the importance of focusing on producing mobile-friendly content, since smartphones are becoming the dominant way in which most of our customers access content. Also read Michael Hyatt's Platform, mentioned above. Frequent websites like those of Content Marketing Institute, Ragan, Copyblogger, Michael Hyatt, and Gary Vaynerchuk and sign up for their email newsletters. It won't take you long to become not just familiar with content marketing, but an expert.

Similarly, USAA launched “The Money Drill” podcast in 2016 as an experiment to attract younger audience members while delivering financial content in an easy, engaging way. It was worth it; the program was met with almost immediate success, and, nearly two years on, draws 24,000 plays per month. "The Money Drill" also gave USAA's content marketing team a major internal win.
12. Bon Appetit Magazine: Foodcast. Bon Appetit’s podcast “features interviews with chefs, writers, and, well, anyone who has something cool to say about food.” Topics include holiday baking, why chefs hate brunch, and FAQs for Thanksgiving dinner. Not every company needs a podcast, to be sure, but if you can schedule great guests and figure out the tech specs, this can be a meaningful channel to engage with storytellers over the long term.
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.
It's content that helps people find you. It might even be content that makes people fall in love with you a little. But discovery-level content is not usually the last touch before a big sale. There are many more layers of content that usually finesse that conversion. (More on that when we discuss how content can represent various stages of the funnel in ch. 3.)
Businesses focused on expanding their reach to more customers will want to pay attention to the increase in volume of visitors, as well as the quality of those interactions. Traditional measures of volume include number of visitors to a page and number of emails collected, while time spent on page and click-through to other pages/ photos are good indicators for engagement.

What you can do about it: By creating a unique, shareable experience, Coke basically inspired its audience to do the marketing for the company. People get excited to find their name or their friend’s name on a can of Coke at the store — so excited that they end up posting pictures of the cans on their Facebook and Instagram accounts. Personalize your content in a way that resonates with your audience.

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?
Want to get inspired, or get a better understanding of what killer content marketing looks like? We’ve compiled 75 of our favorite content efforts into our latest e-book, Get Inspired: 75 (More) Content Marketing Examples. Updating one of our most popular e-books of all time, this year’s collection illustrates best practices for a wider range of tactics and formats – from fresh takes on content marketing mainstays like blogs and microsites to next-gen innovations that capitalize on the latest digital media technologies and trends.

Content marketing is different than traditional product marketing efforts like sales collateral and other product-specific info. Content marketing includes things like educational articles, e-books, videos, entertainment, and webinars that answer specific questions people have and provide them with something they can’t get somewhere else. It’s the best way to turn your product, no matter how common, into something that is not like everyone else’s.
One reason behind Benefit’s domination of the space is its shrewd marketing activity, which in 2017 involved the ‘Browmobile’ campaign. Combining experiential elements with digital marketing, it involved an online competition offering users the chance to win a visit from the browmobile. A lucky few would be able to enjoy a personalised brow tutorial, treatments, and a hamper of Benefit goodies.
The Future of Customer Engagement and Commerce (FCEC) is the widely respected digital magazine behind SAP Hybris’ customer engagement software, and a prime example of how a small team with a long-term vision can strike content gold – and trigger a potential customer’s entry to the marketing funnel. For Global Head of Editorial and Content Marketing for FCEC and SAP Hybris Amy Hatch, who started up the blog as a one-woman show in 2012, it took a simple recipe to ensure her success: consistent publishing, distributing content via social media, and utilizing SEO best practices.
Your content marketing strategy is a guiding light when questions like "what are we doing?" or "why are we doing this again?" arise. You want a strategy that is specific enough to your company, audience, and circumstances that it can actually provide a framework for answering those questions. But you also want a strategy that is nimble enough to flex and change as your company, audience, and circumstances do.
The reality is that just creating content isn’t enough. In many cases, you need to amplify it. You need to market your marketing. This is where social media can help a great deal. Also recognize the many places (and many people: customers, employees, influencers) that can help you amplify your content marketing. (bonus: presentation on the difference between influencers and advocates)
If Chanel is all about snooty exclusivity, Burberry believes in just the opposite. They are quick to adopt newer platforms and find their audience in the places that they frequent. A stellar example in this regard was the Burberry kisses campaign that they launched in collaboration with Google. The campaign was a pioneer in combining two previously unconnected elements- ease of communication of the web with the universal relatability of a real kiss.
19. Content marketing is using any type of content (newsletters, blog posts, white papers, videos, Tweets, podcasts, wall posts) to attract an audience you wish to market to. Capturing their attention through great content gives you the opportunity to present calls-to-action to them to purchase or try your product or service. Jason Falls – Social Media Explorer
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.
Research is great, but it never hurts to try something new if your content marketing timeline (and budget) allow for a little experimentation. Jump on social media trends, try out a new technology, or reach out to your audience and ask them what they’d like to see. Just make sure you’re always tracking the results so you can revisit and potentially add something new as part of your successful content marketing strategy.

Content marketing is a strategic marketing and business process focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience, and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. This lesson will introduce you to the world of content marketing and provide you a big picture view of everything you need for a successful content marketing strategy.


Some parts of your strategy should stay consistent even as your content marketing program grows and evolves — namely, your mission and business goals. In fact, these two things are so key that you may want to put them on a Post-it note so you can keep them in view whenever you are working on your content. (For example, at CMI, we use them as part of our acceptance criteria for every editorial content submission we receive.)
How will we structure the internal organization – or better: how will we make sure that all content marketing related processes and flows are properly organized, in correlation with other marketing processes and/or teams? Often, content marketing thinkers advice to build teams that are more or less dedicated to content marketing. In practice, this seldom happens (except in some major firms) and teams better focus on the tasks and goals than the exact roles, realizing each company is different.
“I’ve always liked to share with others what I have learned. That’s why I wrote my first book, to correct what I saw as an incomplete understanding of what was possible with concrete as a design element. Everything I’ve done has been a product of not trying to start a business, but just trying to improve the design environment. The whole motivation was not to make money. Just the opposite.” 
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.
Founder and CEO Clay Collins knew they had to be scrappy to be able to compete against VC-funded giants like Hubspot and Infusionsoft, given LeadPages were a bootstrapped company since inception. Instead of spending $10,000 on customer acquisition as some of their competitors did, Collins developed a growth hypothesis based on the idea that “a content team of four people could outperform an 80+ person sales team at most companies.”
As Arketi Group says “keep the message fresh”. But also make sure you use several content options, regarding format, channel and trigger (push, pull). Every prospect has his own preferences and in a cross-channel lead nurturing approach, meeting those should be the most obvious thing on earth. The type of content really depends on different elements in the above mentioned other two dimensions: pain points, behavior, personas, stages in the sales cycle, you name it. Arketi further developed the model over the last few years and I think it’s a nice way to look at it, certainly in B2B.
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