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.
To create an ongoing dialogue with its target audience of small business owners, Barclaycard for Business has spent the last few years building up its News and Insights content hub. Articles and infographics run the gamut of topics important to its audience, from how to guard against a cyber attack, to fun quizzes like "How well do you know your business?"
So what can you learn from Make-A-Wish and Batkid? If you work to support local causes, why not get your customers involved? You can use social media, email marketing, and other types of content marketing to get the word out about your favorite local charity or organization. Not only does this help you provide more support for the worthy cause, but in the process, you can connect with leads and customers who care about the community and support the same causes your business cares about.
With so many channels, platforms, and methods of communicating with audiences, it’s easy to overlook the classic email — but email is very much alive and well. In fact, email drip campaigns are one of the simplest, most effective ways to provide targeted, high-performing content directly to your readers, enhance their experience with your brand, and enable the sales process.
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 presentation is drawn from our work here at Convince & Convert, where we create content marketing strategy for some of the best-known brands in the world. (if we can help you, please let us know). In practice, of course, creating a fully functional content marketing plan requires meaningful time and effort (usually 60 days or so for us), but I sincerely hope that this presentation and the seven steps it outlines for how to do this kind of work, will help you take your own content marketing plan to the next level of success.
27. Vitamix: Be Inspired. Everyone knows a high-speed blender boasts many applications, but Vitamix attempts to explain every use case possible on its Be Inspired site. From champagne cocktails to raw foods, Vitamix’s articles are an incredible resource for creative types with high-speed blenders. (And judging from the smashing popularity of Vitamixes, that’s a growing subset of the population.)
Whether it’s weekly, monthly, or quarterly, never leave your content without tracking the results. This can include monitoring view and click rates, reading customer comments and responses, or even tracking ecommerce stats in relation to your content releases. Data tracking will allow you to analyze the results of your content marketing efforts and learn what’s effective and what isn’t.
Bloomberg's Diversity & Inclusion Blog shares thought leadership and research on the topic. Stories like "How to Be an Active Ally in the Workplace" share actionable tips to improve workplace inclusivity, while pieces like "Workers’ Trash-talk Goes Down When Leadership Diversity Goes Up" demonstrate why diversity is good for everyone. Bloomberg has also dabbled in creating video content to help move its message forward.
4. Birchbox: Personal grooming videos. Beauty subscription service Birchbox regularly publishes excellent how-to grooming videos for men and women on two different pages. These videos often have a seasonal component (like Valentine’s Day makeup or keeping skin moist during dry winter months), encouraging customers to come back and learn more. Here’s a great example of helpful tips for guys seeking to keep long hair healthy.
People are asking questions and looking for information via search engines like Google, and you want your business to be at the top of the search results. Answering people’s questions via blog posts, e-books, videos, and other content assets is a key way to make this happen. Of course, showing up is only the first step, but it’s essential if you want to reap the benefits of content marketing.
3. Farmers Insurance: Inner Circle. According to Kapost, Farmers Insurance “features an extensive library of helpful tips around home maintenance and repairs, budgeting, auto care and insurance, and more. The content is easily navigable, succinct, engaging, and well designed.” It’s a perfect example of a brand prioritizing being helpful to people (anyone — not just Farmers customers) instead of selling to them.
Content marketing focuses on the tactics and execution—the actual creation, curation, and editing of content that's specifically created for the purposes of marketing. This could be anything from blog posts to the confirmation page, and is aimed at building a trusted connection between a company's products or services and the market that might end up purchasing them. It's about creating content that people not only want to consume, but that will also help them through the sales funnel.
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.
Whole Foods does a great job of living those brand principles in its content marketing. Articles about how to save money but still eat healthy or tips to change your diet for the better make Whole Foods’ products and lifestyle more inclusive. On top of that, it uses a lot of proactive language (“I want to learn/do/both” as a search option in its navigation bar) which makes the audience feel like they have an active role in the experience.
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:
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.
“Making work simpler, more pleasant, and more productive” since 2014, Slack helps business teams communicate and function more efficiently while bringing them closer to their goals. The company’s blog, Several People Are Typing, looks and reads like a top digital magazine while successfully balancing product and company information with a selection of industry stories. And its bi-monthly podcast, “Work in Progress,” explores the meaning and identity we find in work, from the gig economy to Silicon Valley and the corporate world, and how technology is affecting us all.
By defining questions like this, you are able to uncover information about your potential customers that will simplify the way in which you go about creating content for them. Specifics like these seek to improve your targeting efforts by supplying you with enough information to personalize content and move personas closer to a positive purchasing decision.
As a marketing technology company, DemandBase has invested a lot of time trying to optimize their content marketing strategy. Rachel Balik, the senior content marketing manager, has provided an overview of the evolution of DemandBase’s content marketing strategy on the company blog. Balik also says that she attends Content Marketing World regularly to learn more about best practices in the industry to improve their overall strategy.
Ideally, it shouldn’t be hard to meld these two elements, since search engines like Google favor quality content. But when you’re actually looking at the way that traffic and social is functioning around certain topics and pain points, you can use this information to tailor your content even further and differentiate your brand while ensuring your website remains in decent standing.
A valuable asset that often sets off discovery and awareness for potential SAP customers, FCEC is clearly dedicated to producing high-quality content that drives leads – without pushing sales pitches. Instead, Hatch puts audience needs and interests first, with articles that are timely and relevant to industry executives and the field at large. As a result, her team continues to cultivate loyal readers. The FCEC newsletter has 5,000 subscribers and an approximately 22 percent open rate each month. And pageviews are on the rise, as well, with an entirely organic 20 percent increase back in 2016.
This is particularly critical in large organizations, as it can help keep siloed teams on the same page, minimize duplicated efforts, and ensure that everyone is working toward the same content goals. But sharing your documented strategy is also good practice for businesses that are just starting out with content marketing, for content teams that rely on internal or external subject matter experts, or for companies that outsource any part of the content creation and distribution process.
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.
For parents, think about BabyCenter. When I was pregnant and then raising my older daughter, I considered BabyCenter to be required reading. It’s a perfect example of content marketing. According to its website, it is the No. 1 pregnancy and parenting digital destination, and eight in 10 new and expectant moms online use BabyCenter each month. The site is owned by Johnson & Johnson, which sells products for babies.
Zendesk might be an expert in the solutions provided by its product, but behind that product is a chorus of highly skilled experts -- the people who build and engineer the software. The company realized that there’s an audience to be tapped that’s seeking insights and expertise on the technical side of the product, so it used that to build an entirely independent content property.
Last year, Valerie-Ann Leary, Marketing Manager, Client Marketing and Demand Generation, wrote about the reception of a new e-book that they created—The Future of Digital Engagement: 10 Thought Leaders Share Predictions for 2014. Leary said that Live Pearson generated enough exposure to win the Killer Content award from Demand Gen Report for the Best Influencer Campaign. However, while winning an award was a nice affirmation of the success of their content marketing strategy, the real reward was all the new exposure that they generated, which presumably translated into many new leads.
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.