Content Marketing Ideas from the 2017’s Awards Finalists That You Can Improve in 2018
Marketing is part science, part art. You can the science behind psychology and data analysis to predict consumer behavior and trends. Other times, like what KFC did with their 11 Herbs and Spices marketing stunt from last year, some innate originality is involved that has nothing to do with science. Now, the artistic part with marketing is a tough nut to crack but the science part is easier to do. While there are no definite steps you could follow to ensure your marketing campaign would be a hit, there are general guidelines you could follow as stepping stones in your marketing strategy.
First-rate content marketing ideas
The good folks over at Content Marketing Institute (CMI) highlight some examples of what they deem to be the best of content marketing in 2017. Imitation is indeed the most sincere form of flattery but you have to evaluate each example and see if they could work for your specific brand and audience, straight up plagiarizing them won’t always work. Without further ado, here are some key takeaways from CMI’s candidates:
- Brand-supported online publications.
This one is from software as a service (SaaS) company Zendesk’s new publication arm, Relate. As the name suggests, Relate’s contents mostly revolve around connections and relationships, whether it’s professional or personal. As noted by CMI, Relate is notable for Zendesk’s minimum presence which is possible because Relate’s editorial staff act as its own unit within Zendesk. As it is sitting in that middle ground between marketing and journalism, Relate’s contents are pleasingly free of sales pitch you’d normally find in newsletters and even though it won’t compare to traditional news heavyweights, their contents are interesting enough to at least give the illusion of such.
If that doesn’t sound appealing, consider what Airbnb is doing with Airbnbmag, made in collaboration with Hearst, the American media conglomerate that owns the magazine Esquire and the TV station NBC, among other things. Unlike relatively independent Relate, Airbnb uses user’s data to create contents on trending destinations and shine a spotlight on some of the more interesting hosts and accommodations they have in their database. As most posts contain links to the corresponding hosts on the Airbnb website, this is straight up marketing but elevated due to the unique insight Airbnb have from its hospitality platform.
- Mine customer insights
This one is from information securities company SecureWorks on their move from a brand-centric approach to an audience-centric one. In terms of goal, marketing can be divided into two approach. The first one, the brand-centric approach is used to increase brand recognition. It could be used to announce your company’s entry into the market or to promote a new product and/or services. The second one I wanted to highlight is the audience-centric approach, focusing on what is called a conversion, which is the process of turning visitors into buyers.
By coordinating with the sales team and using surveys and interviews to profile your potential customers, you could adapt your marketing strategies and set concrete, measurable goals that correspond to your audience. Marketing is part science, which means that research and analysis should form the foundation of your marketing strategy. The planning stage would usually consume the bulk of the time and effort in your campaign but those time and effort would be well spent for a smart marketing play.
- Experiment with ungated contents
This one is taken from healthcare technology company Health Catalyst on removing the barriers of gated contents. A lot of things on the internet aren’t free. No, they don’t cost you money but requiring you to provide a valid e-mail address or to fill out a form first negates them from being completely free. This is what we call gated contents, in which contents are not locked behind a paywall but aren’t immediately accessible either. If you’ve ever wondered what a particular newsletter you never signed up for is doing in your inbox, it is probably because you once entered your e-mail address to download an e-book you thought would help with college.
That’s the main purpose of gated contents, to gather leads. The idea is that if you cared enough to give your e-mail address to access this particular content, you might be interested enough to enjoy contents of a similar nature. What if after filling out a form you find that the content itself is not worth the effort you put in to access it in the first place? That’s the problem with gated contents, it creates a certain level of expectations with quality. If you’re confident with the quality of your contents, by all means, lock it behind a gate but don’t use this tactic indiscriminately. Offer free access to your lighter contents and only limit access to those that you’re convinced is of a higher quality or production value.
Think of Spotify with their limited, free tier and compare them to Apple Music’s premium-only service. The result? Spotify’s userbase growth still regularly outpaces Apple Music’s even though Apple Music is available in 59 countries where Spotify has no presence.
Marketing basically revolves around figuring out how to grab people’s attention (for recognition) and how to appeal to them (for conversion). It sounds deceivingly simplistic when you put it like that but as each person is completely unique, there is no one-size-fits-all approach that applies to marketing. The ideas listed above though have been proven to work so if you’re looking to bring some juice into your marketing campaigns, peruse these ideas as you see fit.