Content creation can be a challenging endeavor in many respects. With so many techniques, formats, and channels for your content efforts, it’s easy to become paralyzed by indecision when it comes to executing your carefully constructed content marketing strategies.
On the other hand, even if you know exactly what types of content you want to create, you may find it difficult to distinguish your brand and ensure that your efforts are heard above all the noise in a crowded landscape.
Regardless of the specific struggles hindering your content productivity, one thing that might help get you back on track is to take a look at examples of the amazing strides businesses are making with their content marketing programs.
If you are in need of a little inspiration, our new e-book, 75 Examples to Spark Your Content Marketing Creativity, serves up some of the most exciting content efforts out there. It illustrates best practices for a wide range of tactics and formats – from content marketing mainstays like blogs and print magazines, to visual-centric social media platforms, to innovative multichannel experiences.
Editor’s Note: Do you want to learn more about the approach we used to create this e-book? Read how we used intelligent content principles to reuse content we had in a streamlined way in this post: Content Reuse: A Super-Simple Way to Get Started.
In compiling this follow-up to our successful 2012 e-book, here are some of the lessons content marketers can learn:
1. Use images to drive deeper engagement
Visual content platforms like Pinterest, Snapchat, and Instagram are more popular with consumers than ever – providing plenty of opportunities for brands to tell compelling stories and forge meaningful connections based on their mutual areas of interest.
Case in point: American Express includes an image or video in the majority of its Facebook posts, and has found other engaging ways to leverage visual content marketing using Facebook’s Timeline – such as posting messages (with accompanying photos) on company milestones from as far back as 1890 (the year Amex was founded).
2. Connect with your audience through compassion
Supporting worthy causes through your content efforts humanizes your brand and can help demonstrate its commitment to the causes and issues about which your audience cares the most.
Case in point: Whole Foods took visual marketing to a whole new level with its Do Something Reel Film Festival, a collection of provocative, character-driven films that focused on food and environmental issues – and inspired others to help make a difference.
3. Give audience members a way to share their passions
Empowering your fans and followers to show off their personalities in a brand-relevant way is a win-win – you gain a better understanding of their needs and interests, and they get a powerful, prominent platform for self-expression and creativity.
Case in point: GoPro focuses on customer evangelism as part of its content marketing strategy, curating videos from users of its products and sharing them on YouTube so others can see enthralling examples of those products in action.
4. Defy expectations
Some of the most powerful content campaigns are those from brands that zig when everyone expects them to zag. To keep audiences on their toes, go beyond talking about the products and services you sell and, instead, focus on the stories of how those products impact the lives of your users.
Case in point: Software isn’t a topic that typically inspires a visceral reaction. But with its Stories blog, Microsoft is out to prove that it can bring out the “warm and fuzzies” as well as any other brand can. By telling emotionally powerful stories, like Independence Day, the brand brings out the humanity of technology in a rich, interactive way.
5. Remove the perceived barriers to conversion
People typically have questions they need to have answered or concerns that need to be addressed before they make a purchasing decision. By supporting their research process, debunking commonly held myths, and clearing up confusion, your content can help steer them in your direction and help them feel more comfortable that they are making the right choice.
Case in point: Prudential‘s Bring Your Challenges lab helps consumers break down the barriers that keep them from achieving better financial management. Visitors can choose from a range of challenges, get advice from behavioral experts who demystify the issue, and access a wide range of interactive tools to help them resolve the problem more effectively.
6. Scratch their backs, and they’ll have yours
Everyone loves a good story, but sometimes consumers just need to get down to business and find a workable solution for a specific problem. Smart brands know that creating content that provides the answers or guidance consumers seek in the short term goes a long way toward establishing and maintaining brand loyalty over the long term.
Case in point: To help demonstrate its technical authority and expertise, IBM has compiled a library of resources – a centralized location for analyst papers, education, training, case studies, data sheets, executive briefs, FAQs, systems red books, white papers, consultant reports, and just about any other technical documentation a site visitor might want.
7. Don’t be afraid to experiment and innovate
Creating content in a new format or publishing it on a trendy but untested channel can be intimidating. But, the potential rewards are huge – such as a powerful surge in brand awareness, search engine rankings, consumer engagement, and industry recognition – and can pay off in ongoing content efforts.
Case in point: Enterprise tag-management provider Tealium found a fun, retro way to cut through the content clutter: a children’s book. The company created Taming the Digital Marketing Beast as a fun souvenir that trade show attendees could bring home to their kids; but it also included a handy reference guide on how the company’s digital marketing technology streamlines complexity and helps unify marketing applications and data.
For more great examples from companies of all sizes and across various industries, download 75 Examples to Spark Your Content Marketing Creativity.
If you know of an example that we might have missed, why not add it in the comments and tell us why it’s one of your personal favorites?
Want to learn many more examples of successful content marketing tactics and save $600? Register by May 31 to attend Content Marketing World 2015, take advantage of early-bird savings ($500 off registration) and use code CMI100 to save more ($100).
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute