Is your editorial calendar looking redundant or are you at a loss for your next blog post topic? Well the truth is, you’re not alone! In fact, half of all B2C and B2B content marketers report that developing unique and valuable content is one of their greatest struggles. So how can you get the creative juices flowing? Crowdsource your customer base!
Image source: chesapeakeadd.com
Tapping into your customer base not only opens the doors to fresh ideas, but reporting on the issues, topics and questions they have about your product or service shows you care about their needs and situates your brand in a customer-centric light.
Use these tips for crowdsourcing your customer base to outfit your editorial calendar with killer content that resonates and captivates your readers:
A case study is essentially an in-depth review of a customer’s experience with your brand, product or service, so choosing your subject is important! Ask your sales or customer support team to put you in touch with a customer that is not only happy with your business, but who has also experienced great success because of your business! To write a compelling case study, be sure to tell a story, give the details and solve a problem.
Do you have self-proclaimed brand ambassadors or customers who just can’t stop raving about your business in your blog comments or on your social media sites? Has a user written an unsolicited beaming review on your product or service? Highlight their feedback in a blog post or ask them write a testimonial sharing their positive experience with your brand. Don’t let those brand champions go unnoticed!
Ask your users to send in videos highlighting why they love your product or service. Request that videos answer a specific question, like “How did we help you ___?” — direct response requires a direct request! Depending on the feedback, pick a few of your favorites or share them all. Your customers will be excited to see themselves published on your blog (and social sites!) and adding new media to your content marketing plan not only attracts new readers, it also helps keep current audiences engaged. You might also want to add an incentive, such as a $5-10 gift card or store credit.
Do you have fan art on your brand’s Facebook page? Use it as the focus of your next article. Do your customers tag your brand in Instagram photos? Assemble them into an image-based article. Is your brand’s Twitter stream flooded with positive tweets? Compile a list of tweets that highlight your brand’s positive impact on it’s consumers for a blog post. Social is a top trend in content marketing this year and customers expect you to engage on these networks — don’t be afraid to utilize all your resources!
Surveys, Polls and Questionnaires
Ever wonder what your customers think about your business or a specific industry-related topic? Well, why don’t you ask them! Surveys, polls and questionnaires are a great way to get your questions answered, as well as a direct way to learn more about your customers’ needs and wants. Next time you post an article, incorporate a poll, survey or questionnaire to get an inside view on what your customers are thinking.
Creating engaging content doesn’t have to be hard, especially when take advantage of one of your most valuable assets — your customer base! Plus, as an added bonus to your crowdsourcing efforts, once you have user feedback you can repurpose it into original branded content like blog posts, digital newsletters, videos, images and slideshares. The content ideas are endless!
Last month, we shared the first part of our two-part series “How Big Brands Are Using 2013’s Top Content Marketing Strategies”, highlighting how some of the nation’s biggest brands are effectively and creatively using content marketing to attract and retain customers.
The list below has five additional major brands that stood out to us with respect to their content marketing efforts. With a little guidance from them (and us!) you can incorporate any of these techniques into your own content marketing plan, too.
Here’s part deux…
In an attempt to truly connect with their customer base, Southwest Airlines decided it needed to get off the runway and onto the blogosphere. So what did they do? They took a chance and launched a humor-centric blog, “Nuts About Southwest“.
From the airline peanuts scattered across the webpage to the hilarious content, Southwest took nutty to a whole new altitude and it has resonated with their audience. As we see here, when executed properly, humor can instantly connect your brand with your readers and keep them coming back for more!
In addition to the funny videos, beloved columns like “Flashback Friday” and employee spotlights like “Star of the Month”, “Nuts About Southwest” also provides interesting articles on travel, sustainability and corporate community outreach (all with a playful spin, of course!).
7. Red Bull
Probably one of the most cited content marketing success stories, Red Bull is a shining example of a brand-turned-publisher and has mastered the art of storytelling.
If you’ve ever seen their commercials, marketing stunts (like the Red Bull Stratos Jump) or tried their energy-pumping liquid, it would be no surprise that their blog is designed to entertain and motivate readers. Extreme-sports related content and a diverse group of contributors make this blog a playground for their target audience — thrill-seekers and extreme sports junkies.
Red Bull has created a lifestyle around their brand by effectively implementing the “4 I’s” of storytelling – immersion, interactivity, integration and impact. With all this goodness wrapped in one powerful content marketing package, it makes you wonder which came first… the content or the beverage?!
Ever wonder how a product ends up on a store’s shelf or how the designer behind your new favorite tee might dress it up for a night on the town? Well, Target’s blog “A Bull’s Eye View” does just that.
With article contributions from the stores’ home and clothing designers, top celebrities and thought leaders across all departments, including food, entertainment, home, and garden, no subject goes untouched.
By offering up unexpected content to their readers, like behind-the-scenes with their newest CD release artists and a glimpse into the inspiration of “The Shops at Target”, a line of specialty boutique brands now sold at the superstore, they keep readers interested in not only their blog, but also in what’s new in their favorite Target stores. Producing something completely out of the ordinary isn’t simple, but spicing it up every once in a while will keep your content fun and your customers engaged.
Whitening, extra-whitening, gum defense, tartar control… the world of toothpaste has gotten a lot more complicated in the past few years, but Colgate is keeping it simple online. Their company blog “Oral and Dental Health Resource Center” isn’t fancy, but it reports on a topic their brand is built upon — oral health and hygiene!
With industry thought leaders like dentists, health experts and university reviews as the sources behind their straightforward and informative articles, Colgate’s blog is a great resource for readers looking to learn a thing or two about oral care.
A strong content marketing strategy built upon thought leadership helps Colgate to differentiate itself from the other “toothpaste” brands. So the next time you’re debating which tube to toss in your cart, what brand will you choose?Image Source: colgate.com
As one of the first brands to add content marketing to its repertoire of customer acquisition tactics (launching kraftfoods.com in 1992!), Kraft Foods has developed a distinct voice across all efforts, including their community focused blog.
From recipes, cooking tips, money-saving ideas, an interactive community and other food-related content, the Kraft Foods blog is a resource for every type of homemaker and has become a proven source of income for the big brand. In fact, Kraft Foods Director of CRM Content Strategy and Integration said in an interview with Forbes, “The ROI on our content marketing work is among the highest of all of our marketing efforts”… just another reason developing your brand’s voice is essential to content marketing success!
Image Source: grocery.com
To be successful in content marketing, you must get to know your consumers and their needs, as well as the most effective and authentic way to address them. What works for one brand or industry may not work for another, so don’t settle for average results — be open to new possibilities and try your hand at a few of this year’s top trends!
If you found useful content marketing strategies, tips and ideas in this list, you won’t want to miss part 1 of the series “How Big Brands Are Using 2013’s Top Content Marketing Strategies”. Plus, be sure to share your favorite content marketing examples with us in the comments below or connect on our social networks – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+.
Earlier this year we wrote about the top 10 content marketing trends to watch for in 2013 and each week we share tips on how to employ our favorite content marketing tactics, so what’s next? How about a list of brands taking their content marketing above and beyond by using some of these techniques and strategies!
The list below tells you why these brands stand out and which content marketing tactic or trend they excel at. With a little guidance from them (and us!) you can incorporate any of these techniques into your own content marketing plan, too.
Here’s the first part of a two-part series highlighting how some of today’s top brands are effectively using 2013′s top content marketing strategies…
Natural food store giant Whole Foods doesn’t stop at providing its shoppers with a wealth of natural, organic and health food options — their content marketing strategy is bigger and juicier than any other grocers we’ve seen! Their company blog, “Whole Story“, covers recipes, health news, social responsibility, sustainability tips and everything else you can imagine their community may be interested in.
With contributors varying between staffers, health experts, suppliers, producers and marketplace employees, they’re champions of employee branding — putting their employees at the front lines, allowing them to share their unique knowledge and showcase their passion for what they do inside and outside of the marketplace.
When you think Intuit, a few things probably come to mind: finances, taxes, money, bills… But don’t stress — Intuit really puts the fun in small business finance with their blog, “Small Business Blog“.
What makes their blog stand out from other SMB blogs? Community driven content! They answer the questions their users and readers need to know — adding value to their content and keeping their readers coming back for more.
Directed towards small and medium-sized business owners, entrepreneurs and anyone else who may need some guidance when it comes to handling their money, they cover everything a business owner may need, including tax tips, environmental responsibility, the hiring process, marketing and small business management.
With a number of big name and smaller pop-up cellular service providers out there, it can be difficult for brands to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Besides sales, promotions and carrying the latest gadgets, how can these providers attract and retain customers? With content marketing, of course!
Verizon is taking their business’ content marketing strategy past their products and carrier services and providing their customers with a resource they can use regardless of device or service plan: their app review blog “The Recapp“. Rather than touting their own products and services, Verizon employs a mix of original and curated content from third-party app review sites to make “The Recapp” an informative and subjective source for finding new and exciting apps.
What’s the takeaway here? Curated content. Pulling content from other sources adds depth to your content marketing strategy and allows readers to get a fresh perspective.
Social interaction is one of the hottest (and most important!) trends in content marketing right now — and smart brands can’t help but embrace the opportunity to connect with their customers in real-time.
So which brand has done social best? It might just be beauty-focused start-up Birchbox! As a relatively new brand, Birchbox is making big waves on social media. With engaged profiles on all the big name networks like Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and uber-sharable content on their blog “The Haute Box“, Birchbox is a social media powerhouse.
With various topics and columns, including letters from the editor, interviews, product reviews, how-to’s and style guides, creating the bulk of their blog’s content, readers are never bombarded with the same boring stories. Mollie Chen, Director of Content for Birchbox, says of the brand’s content marketing strategy in an interview with Contently.com, “We give our customers useful articles, videos, and blogs in order to gain their trust, communicate with them, and keep them coming back to our site.”
Unlike other clothing lines like Tory Birch or Kate Spade who use their blogs as a platform to provide fashion advice and editorial pieces, trendy clothing store Anthropologie has opted for a more image-based blog — and we know how important images are in content marketing thanks to our Zemanta guest post “Images — 10 Reasons Why You Need Them In Your Content“.
Far beyond the typical trends to watch, must-haves and fashion-forward spotlights, “The Anthropologist” is dedicated to sharing artist stories and uses images to promote a lifestyle, offering a stunning visual experience and telling a story all their own!
Still not sold on their unique take on imagery? Despite the surge in brands using social photo sharing apps like Instagram, “The Anthropologist” uses only professional writers, photographers and filmmakers to fill their pages.
Regardless of industry, content marketing is all about relating to your customers and finding the basis of conversation. Creating and curating content that makes consumers come back again and again can be a challenge, but getting to know your audience, developing your voice and using the strategies that work best for your brand is a recipe for content marketing success.
Like what you see here? Join us again next time for “How Big Brands Are Using 2013′s Top Content Marketing Strategies: Part 2″! Be sure to share your favorite content marketing examples with us in the comments below or connect on our social networks – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+.
Did you know that half of all B2C and B2B content marketers have a tough time producing enough content to fill their editorial calendars? It’s true, but it doesn’t have to be so hard! By tapping into your customer base and engaging your employees, you can find a wealth of evergreen content that will captivate and resonate with your readers!
Check out this month’s featured infographic “Struggling to Create Content?” from the experts at RedRocketMedia.com for more content ideas and inspiration…
Will customer stories and employee posts be making an appearance in your businesses’ article roll this month? We sure hope so! Be sure to share your tips on how you engage your audience through unexpected and unique content below or find us on our social channels — Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+.
As one of our top trends to watch in 2013, it’s no doubt that employee branding is an up-and-coming (if not already established) strategy in most online content marketing programs. For many brands, adding an employee branding initiative to their arsenal of content marketing tactics requires a few changes and openness to areas that traditional marketing strategies generally avoid — transparency, authenticity and trust – but the risk is well worth the reward.
What exactly is employee branding? There are many definitions floating around the interwebs, but we like to think of employee branding as using the positive connection between a company and their employees to extend a favorable brand image and experience to customers and users. In short, employee branding is all about your employees being your best brand champions. After all, who better to promote your company, product or service online than those who know it best – your employees!
As a brand’s image is no longer reliant on or about marketing messages and taglines, but rather the genuine experience they deliver, it is important to put employee experience in the spotlight. In fact, a January study by LinkedIn and TNS Employee Insights reports that enthusiastic and engaged employees are potentially a brand’s best asset — hidden gems waiting to be discovered! The study also shows employees have a direct impact on customer perception of a brand’s image as well as customer experience, advocacy and retention. For this reason alone, smart brands are taking advantage of their internal spokespersons by building engaged communities from inside out.
With so many different initiatives on your brand’s content marketing to-do list — content production, social outreach, content optimization, voice and audience development, etc. – it can be difficult to prioritize, but employee branding should not be put on the back burner. Businesses that aim to increase corporate transparency and their commitment to real-time communications through fostering an engaged company culture field a competitive edge that resonates with customers – an advantage that only employee branding can bring to the table.
While incorporating employee branding into your content marketing strategy is a must, it’s also important to keep your company out of the tabloids by first establishing guidelines highlighting a few simple do’s and don’ts for social sharing. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
For more tips on how to include employees in your content marketing strategy and create an engaged internal community check out our blog post “Community Driven Content 101” and be sure to share your employee branding tips with us on our social networks – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+.
Image Source: ceprn.com
Did you know that the best way to attract readers to your blog is to fill it with jargon, flagrant language and redundant information? Wait… April Fools! We almost got you, didn’t we?
Good thing our prank reeled you in, because writing content optimized for your readers and search engines actually requires short, direct language, valuable, well-written information and a few other best practices such as using effective keywords to set your content apart from the rest.
You may have noticed that I used the term “April Fools’ Day” above rather than “April Fool’s Day.” That’s because according to InboundWriter’s keyword research, “April Fools’ Day” (as plural possessive) is a 5-star key phrase; however, when written as a singular possessive, the rating drops down to 1.5 to 2.5 stars, depending on your search strategy setting. Check out these other top keywords and phrases to include in your holiday post:
April Fools’ Day: 5 Stars
Office Pranks: 5 Stars
April Fool Day Pranks: 4.5 Stars
Gags: 5 Stars
Practical Jokes: 4.5 Stars
Fun Jokes: 3.5 Stars
As you edit and finalize your April Fools’ Day posts this week, keep this phrasing in mind and make sure you’re optimizing your content to get the most out of your content marketing strategy. Or you can always run your piece through InboundWriter — it’s free to sign up.
Good luck with your holiday posts and we wish you all an April Fools’ Day filled with practical jokes and fun! Do you have office pranks planned for April 1st? Share them with us in the comments below or on our Facebook page.
Image Source: Flickr user Jake Sutton
This post was contributed by Kristen Matthews, Marketing and Community Manager for GroupHigh. Follow her on Twitter at @KristenWords.
Content marketing is so new that it’s hardly being taught in colleges, yet according to Content Marketing Institute’s research, 9 out of 10 marketers are using content marketing.
Marketers adopt and continue with strategies that work so if almost all of them are incorporating content marketing into their programs, we can assume that it’s working and it’s working well. With that in mind, it’s good to periodically check in with your content marketing strategy and make sure it’s fresh, inspired and innovative. Here are 8 ways to ensure that you are utilizing content marketing for your brand in the most effective way:
1. Create evergreen content
Don’t get me wrong, referencing buzz topics and the holidays get a lot of initial clicks. Just make sure that you are not posting a lot of content that expires quickly. Evergreen content stays relevant through the months and even years so that in the long run, you get a lot of hits and, when optimized, it will continue to rank well on search engines.
2. Don’t post “filler content”
Filler content is the result of feeling pressured to not let your blog look sparse. However, the goal is to create engaging and shareable content. It’s better to have four awesome posts per month than four mediocre pieces per week.
3. Experiment with style and format
Experiment with alternative story forms and visually appealing content. Remember, the goal here is to create something that others want to share. For example, infographics have proven to be one of the most sharable pieces of content a marketer can create. If your budget has room, contract out to a firm who specializes in infographics. If not, there are plenty of sites where you can create an infographic yourself for free:
4. Write for the people and the search engines
You don’t want your content to ever appear to be search engine optimized. Your first draft should be written for your audience. But, because you want the content to reach your audience, it definitely should also be optimized so that they can find it. In the second draft, go back and see where you can use keyword without ruining your piece of content. InboundWriter is a great resource for creating content that reads well to both humans and search engines.
5. Guest post on quality blogs
Guest posting has been getting some bad publicity after people started doing it for link juice and not for spreading quality content. It doesn’t help that Google has been cracking down on the low quality guest posts. But, as long as you are posting good content and you’re writing for reputable blogs, it’s very unlikely that guest posting will blow up in your face. In fact, it’s a great way to expose new eyeballs to your words and give them the opportunity to go check out your site.
6. Collaborate with bloggers
If you’re not reaching out to bloggers, stop everything and start now. Research has been pouring out telling us that bloggers are the most influential voices. You can use tools and services such as GroupHigh for finding bloggers in your niche and tracking your outreach. When you find relevant influencers, suggest some ideas for collaboration, such as a contributed blog post.
7. Collaborate with other marketers
Collaboration with other marketers will refresh your content ideas as well as expose someone else’s audience to your site. Reach out to marketers in your field and propose to swap guest posts; write a post together where you share different views on the same topics; or simply bounce ideas off each other. It all helps.
8. Actively engage on successful social media channels and track activity
Using tools like Bitly to track click backs and your Google Analytics account to check traffic to your site, you will be able to see which social media channels are bringing your site the most traffic. Try, at least for one month, giving the top three social media channels that work for you a lot of attention and see what happens.
Which tactics are you going to implement in to your content marketing strategy? We’d love some feedback on what works and doesn’t work for your company or brand. Post in the comments below or connect with us on social media – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+.
When developing content for corporate blogs and branded articles, content marketers often look to topics they think are important – company announcements, brand stories, pictures from the latest team outing, etc. – but what about the topics customers and readers think are important? Their problems! Customers already know your business isn’t perfect, so instead of covering up flaws and faults, embrace them. Let your community drive your content marketing program by addressing their issues, questions and concerns.Community-driven content is one of the latest trends in content marketing not only because it lets consumers know brands are aware of their issues, but also because now with near real-time online communications it’s easier than ever to know which questions need answering. Adding community-driven content to your content marketing strategy ultimately serves as an outlet for both recognition and resolution… not to mention, it’s a foolproof way to drive traffic and add value to your business’ site!
So how can you create community-driven content? Here are a few tips:
Sit down with your sales team.
Who better to know the pain points of your customers than your sales staff? They’re the ones who know your business inside and out. Sales staffers are asked all the tough questions. They have to pitch a product knowing that an issue might arise and sometimes they may even get turned down because of it. Set up a time to speak with each and every one of your sales team members and ask them what their customers’ biggest pain points are. Use this information to create a series of relevant articles, how-to’s and FAQs.
Quiz your customer support lead.
Customer service is a major part of any business. It’s the first line of defense in safeguarding your brand’s integrity and can make or break consumer relationships. Ask your customer service or support team lead what their top 10 complaints have been in the past 6 months. Answer these pain points in the form of blog or Facebook posts, Tweets, articles, videos, infographics, images, etc. and be sure to share the results with your team.
Compile a list of common questions.
A majority of your business’ customer complaints can mostly likely be traced back to a handful of common problems and your support team can probably answer 99% of inquiries in their sleep. Stop the cycle and take a cue from your customers. Look to your social media pages, blog comments, forums, knowledge base and internal teams to compile a list of the top 100 most frequently asked questions and develop a way to creatively resolve, answer or recognize each one.
Next time you’re stuck for content ideas, take a break from the traditional approaches and include community-driven content. No matter what the pain point, your audience will appreciate the honesty and you might even find yourself receiving useful customer feedback — take advantage of this marketing opportunity and re-purpose feedback into case studies and customer stories!
Image Source: Flickr user: Dell’s Official Flickr Page
This month’s featured infographic, “The Contentious State of B2B Content Marketing”, created by MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute, offers a visual round-up of the the most revealing and interesting stats from their recent report “The State of B2B Content Marketing in North America”.
From insights into how B2B marketers are successfully using content marketing techniques, to the toughest challenges they face in the industry today, this infographic offers real, useful information for B2B content marketers looking to learn the latest and most effective trends. As you read, be sure to compare your own successes and challenges to see how your business’ content marketing strategy stacks up!
Do you share any common content marketing pain points or have you found success with any of the tactics listed above? Comment your thoughts and questions below or find us on our social channels — Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+.
Have you ever met a good storyteller — someone who captivates you with their enthusiasm and sense of truth in such a way that you get lost in their words? As content marketers, we want to make that type of connection with our audiences. Storytelling has always been an integral part of any successful content marketing strategy, but in today’s world where social media rules and instant communications between customers and businesses is the norm, the art of storytelling has evolved. No longer can we just tell a great story – we need to engage our audience by shifting from one-way storytelling to dynamic storytelling.
One-way storytelling is easy. All we have to do is push content. But to create dynamic content, which is defined by Coca-Cola’s marketing arm as, “the development of incremental elements of a brand idea that get dispersed systematically across multiple channels of conversation for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated brand experience,” we need to share engaging ideas that inspire and connect with our audience on a personal level. Just as we don’t respond well to bad storytellers, audiences do not respond well to dull content.
Furthermore, storytelling is more than just audience entertainment, it’s a way to build brand image and foster an engaged community. Audiences today expect curated, created and aggregated sources from third-parties, fellow consumers and the brand itself. So how can you make this happen? According to “The Future of Storytelling,” a recent study conducted by research consultancy Latitude, which highlights audience attitudes towards branded content, here’s what consumers expect in the future of brand storytelling:
Immersion: Multi-media and multi-sensory content that creates an immersive experience.
Interactivity: Consumers want to be involved — allow them to become a character in the story!
Integration: Coherence across platforms. Be consistent and employ ideas that can interface with the real world.
Impact: Initiate a call to action. Whether it’s a purchase, “Like” or supporting a good cause, get your audience moving!
As content marketers, we need to embrace these strategies and techniques or we will see our audiences begin to look elsewhere for brands, products and services that interact with them more effectively.
Do you have more tips on how to create dynamic content or a great example of how your brand’s storytelling has evolved since the introduction of new multi-media outlets and social networks? Share your stories with us in the comments below or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+.
Image Source: Flickr user SamuelJohn.de