In part one of this series – The History of Content Marketing – we covered how the barriers to entry for brands becoming media companies have fallen, and now the differences are all but gone.
But don’t start the party just yet.
In a recent study from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, although 90% of all companies employ some form of content marketing, the majority are still struggling with creating content that truly engages their customers and delivers results for the company.
Good to Great Content Marketing
So, what separates the good from the great when it comes to content marketing? Well, that’s not an easy question to answer. That said, through all the research (both quantitative and qualitative), we’ve found six differences that are separating good to great content marketers.
1. The Focused, Educational Content Platform
Great content marketers have developed (some for many years) targeted, educational content portals similar to what media companies have been doing for decades. A best-of-breed example is P&G:
- Home Made Simple – targeting “Moms” on the go
- Being Girl – targeting adolescent women
- Man of the House – targeting husbands and Dads
2. Opening Up New Content/Media Markets
The best content marketers are helping to shape the story, and the terminology of their respective markets. Citrix launched Workshifting.com years ago as the online answer for those people whose offices are anywhere – the coffee shop, the airport, the home office…anywhere. The site is chock full of amazing stories to help this buyer, and is perfectly aligned with Citrix products like GoToWebinar and GoToMeeting.
The site and company, through the creation and distribution of compelling and relevant content, have defined the content market for themselves, their customers AND the media. So much so, that leading media publications such as BusinessWeek use Citrix’s own terminology of workshifting.
3. The Chief Storyteller
Content is being created and distributed in multiple silos in an organization, including:
- Social Media
- Public Relations
In many of our interviews with marketers, the heads of these departments were unaware of the stories being created and distributed in other silos. This type of content workflow does not set up for a working customer experience, as content often doesn’t align.
Leading organizations are hiring individuals with strong storytelling backgrounds (often journalists and publishers) to help coordinate and fine tune the content marketing process inside and outside the organization. Examples include:
4. Leveraging Employees in Content Creation
Best of breed content marketers are looking for ways to engage employees in the content creation process. Probably no better example exists than Boston-based VC firm OpenView Venture Partners.
OpenView has gone from literally no original content creation just a few years back to becoming a content marketing powerhouse by leveraging their expert employees. A full 90% of OpenView employees now blog on a regular basis. That blog is a major part of their content platform – OpenView Labs -built specifically for entrepreneurs looking for early stage funding (their target prospect).
Some of the results of OpenView’s content marketing program include:
- Over 10,000 opt-in subscribers in 18 months
- 850% growth in site traffic
- Significantly shorter sales cycle
- Direct leads and sales
- Over 1,000 pieces of original content, including videos, podcasts and blog articles (OpenView has an in-house studio).
5. Removing the Brand from the Story
For top of the funnel, attraction-oriented content, stories are shared at a significantly higher rate when the brand is removed from the story. That means a removal of sales pitches entirely from the content to engender trust and credibility. Examples include:
6. Building a Community by Leveraging Outside Experts
More and more, leading brands are working to dominate a content niche, not necessarily through internal experts, but by leveraging outside industry experts as the majority of their thought leadership content creation. According to CMI research, over 50% of brands outsource some part of the content creation process (rising from 55% to 58% year-over-year). Great content marketing means that leveraging outside content experts is a must.
Examples of influencer and expert community sites include:
This original presentation was given at Online Marketing Summit 2012, and the slides are below. Additional details on this presentation can be found at TopRank Online Marketing, who covered the event.