Create "great" content and the search engines will reward your site with higher rankings and your audience will reward you with increased sales. Simple enough, right?
As "publishers" know, the gap between the amount of content created - however compelling it may be - and the monetary gains an enterprise demands is often wide. When data cannot back the promises of content marketing, teams are required to justify their budgets. From there, content marketers draw themselves into the "cost center" corner, a place most teams do not want to be.
There are businesses, however, that serve as digital beacons of hope that content marketing can and does work. In fact, 2017 data from HubSpot indicates that a company's content goes just as far as a media article or an analyst report. When asked "What sources of information do you rely on when making a purchase decision for business?" an equal amount of respondents (39 percent) said media articles and vendor-authored materials, with analyst reports trailing at 33 percent.
What this finding can tell us is that vendors have established a high level of trust, fundamental to the success of any content marketing initiative.
Let's review some top examples of companies creating compelling content by gaining confidence, understanding their audiences and solving their pain points.
When executives find themselves reading an article at CMO.com, they likely dismiss, forget or are even unaware that the publication is owned and operated by Adobe. As such, CMO.com is one of the first examples of a " media-site-as-marketing."
Even with a section dedicated to Adobe Digital Insights (where authors repeatedly disclose that Adobe is CMO.com's parent company), ads for Adobe events and the site being catered to those very people who are empowered to make software decisions, CMO.com expertly blurs the lines between media and marketing (a testament to contributor selection, content creation and site design).
This content team is hitting it out of the park - producing and promoting content on all the channels their current and potential customers find themselves from influencer posts on Instagram (kudos to them for being FTC compliant) to collections of short stories on Snapchat.
For the unfamiliar, FabFitFun provides a subscription box with curated products, but its content is what helps make it a lifestyle brand like its blog, its events, its "celebrity" unboxing videos and its video channel.
Subscription boxes are quickly outwearing their novelty status and those companies that can retain their customers are the ones whose doors will stay open (particularly as Amazon enters this arena). FabFitFun's content initiatives keep the company top of mind as a subscriber's advocate for health and partner in beauty versus simply being a recurring charge that someone could easily end.
Peppered with calls-to-action to download templates, ebooks and other assets, as well as schedule a time to speak with HubSpot (at a person's convenience, see image), the inbound marketing and sales platform manages to provide such useful free content that it is a relative no-brainer to download the gated material. "Paywall" content is still free, but in the case of many B2B vendors it comes with the cost of supplying contact information.
For these conversion opportunities, HubSpot sweetens the deal by (1) providing self-service in the form of an online scheduling tool and (2) remembering a visitor's information, pre-filling forms to improve the user's experience and likely increase completions in the process.
Without relevant content, however, HubSpot's conversion efforts would fall in vain. The company wisely affords its content team the elbow room to provide helpful articles with the embedded calls-to-action doing the promotional work to pay for the efforts.
Party hosts can collectively blame Pinterest for the added pressure to cleverly decorate events or spaces. In the same breath, they can thank party supply website Oriental Trading Company for creating content within its product pages, which makes it easy to get everything they need in one spot without losing creative points or precious time.
Content can, of course, come in many formats and Oriental Trading Company has found a way to create content by organizing products into entire party themes. While the company does have a blog, it is Oriental Trading Company's product navigation that supplies a winning combination of content and commerce that is personalized to a shopper's needs.
More than a blog, the talented writers at Relate by Zendesk tackle a variety of topics that impact relationships (e.g., customer/company, employee/employer) and manage to do so in an authentic and entertaining manner void of the heavy hand often associated with company-sponsored content.
Zendesk seemingly allows Relate's staff the oversight to produce literature as it relates to relationships with very few conversion moments interrupting that vibe.
Perhaps other than AAA (with its "club" qualities), no other insurance and financial company has the level of connection with its customers than USAA. Since USAA is open to military members and their families, the business model relies on good products and services, of course, but also an understanding of the unique dynamics and intricacies of military life. Like many companies, USAA's entire existence depends on understanding its audience and content delivery is no exception.
USAA publishes a stand-alone website, usaastories.com, which includes articles and podcasts relating to military life. While the content is informational, USAA is not shy about including links to its products and services within the articles themselves and ending the pieces with strong calls-to-action often leading back to its main site usaa.com (where conversions can occur).
Companies looking to create content should approach their efforts in a way that provides true value first and creates conversion moments second, as the latter is a natural result of "great" content like seen so many times in the examples above.
Head of analyst relations, public relations, customer advocacy (People Heroes), customer community, content marketing (full funnel/lifecycle), content operations and optimization, reputation management and social media. Leads a team of nine superstars to exceed our goals multi-fold.