Blog posts, white papers and even your Facebook and Twitter presences – these are all examples of content marketing. More and more marketers are finding success in creating relationships with customers through providing them with valuable content aligned with the brand. Find out how to create and distribute compelling content through our expert columns.

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How To Do Audience Research That Helps Focus Your Content Marketing

research-audience-targeting-shutterstock It's Sunday afternoon. You've popped around to see your gran, and she's asking after your health. "Well, Gran," you answer, "this weekend I got totally wasted and fell asleep in a trash can." An unlikely response? I'm guessing it is for most people. That's because, in real life, we tailor what we say to the person standing in front of us. However, when we're speaking to an online audience, how do we do that? How do we know the person reading our copy isn't horrified, offended or (possibly worse) bored? In this article, I'm going to outline a few different ways to get to know your targ [...]


A Major Executive Move In Content Marketing — Q&A With Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner, SAP. Michael Brenner has long been a recognized leader in content marketing in his role as VP marketing at SAP. Very recently, he joined content marketing technology vendor NewsCred to head strategy for that company. NewsCred is a rapidly growing content marketing technology platform that also offers licensed and original content. Clients include Bank of America, Time Inc. and P&G. This is a rare moment when an executive from the brand side of content marketing has decamped to the vendor side of the industry.  In light of this, I decided to interview him to hear his motives for the [...]


An Interview With Joe Pulizzi On Content Marketing

joe-pulizzi Content marketing as a strategy has gained lots of steam over the past few years, though it isn't exactly a new concept. But long before content marketing became an everyday term among marketers, Joe Pulizzi knew its importance. Seven years ago, he founded what is now Content Marketing Institute, a website dedicated to all things content marketing, including practical how-tos and insight from industry leaders. Recently, I had the pleasure of discussing all things content marketing with Joe, including the challenges marketers face, the future of content marketing and the fate of his belov [...]


Too Bizarre Or Too Boring? Finding The Right Balance For B2B Content

shutterstock_147474611-scale-bizarre-boring B2B companies have been loosening their figurative ties in the past few years, and most everybody is breathing a sigh of relief. But for content marketers, it's a double-edged sword. On one hand, it's great news that we no longer need to fill our blog posts with meaningless jargon and clunky technical terms. On the other hand, we have a lot of possibilities and no real roadmap or set of guidelines that let us know we're doing the right thing. For big companies, this isn't a concern. They can afford to take risks and don't even have to worry about whether their efforts directly impact [...]


The Power Of The First Follower: Analyzing The Viral Spread Phenomenon

twitter-birds-followers-featured First, watch this video: [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GA8z7f7a2Pk[/youtube] What Is This? This is a perfect example of an offline viral phenomenon whereby a single creative act, without active encouragement, is spread and grown organically to many hundreds of times its original size in less than three minutes. Okay, But Why Did This Actually Work? This is where things get really interesting. By dissecting the event, we can see that there were a number of factors that contributed to its viral spread. More specifically, the performance is: An original act of creativity, und [...]


Content Marketing Beyond Blog Posts And Whitepapers: Get Creative!

mazda-canada-instagram Content marketing is mainstream, with 90% of marketers using content to build their brands and achieve their business goals, according to the Content Marketing Institute. While it's now widely understood that content marketing is a critical component of any marketing strategy, the most forward-thinking content marketers are experimenting with how they create, distribute and track their content's success. That's leading to more long-form videos as well as more interesting trends, which we'll explore further here -- micro-content and interactive apps. As marketers, we don't have a lot o [...]


Interactive Content: The Successor Of The Landing Page

Passive vs. Interactive Content Conversion I've written about marketing apps and their role in the 4th wave of content marketing in my past two columns, describing some of the concepts behind them. To me, they are the interactive successor of the landing page -- the next generation of lightweight web experiences for marketing campaigns. This month, I'd like to share some independent evidence about how well interactive content performs in that role. Millions Of Reasons To Like Quiz Content As marketers are told to behave "more like publishers" with content marketing, it can't hurt to look at what the most successful digital [...]


5 Essential Thought Leadership Skills For Content Marketing Success

lightbulb-thought-leader-shutterstock There are a ton of people doing content marketing right now, but most of them aren't thought leaders. Thought leaders aren't just bloggers, or even the people speaking at conferences. Thought leaders are the people who drive conversations, influence others and shape perceptions in any given industry. Thought leadership means you create the news rather than simply sharing it -- that yours is a respected voice others turn to in order to better understand the state of the world. If you can earn the "thought leader" label, it's huge for building your brand and amplifying the reach of your [...]


The New Anything/Anyone Goes Competitive Landscape For Content Marketing Firms

Media Convergence Drives Stack Evolution Recently, I was chatting with the CEO of one of the leading digital agencies. Talk turned to competitors, and I asked what firms his firm found itself bidding against most frequently. Usual-suspect names cropped up (Digitas, Sapient Nitro). But so did PwC, a name that would have never cropped up in the same discussion five years ago. Neither would Cap Gemini, or other old-school consulting firms. But they’re increasingly common today. Even IBM is an agency now! Who Ya Gonna Call? Recently we, at the research-based advisory firm I work for, were in the consideration set for a project [...]


5 Places To Find Content Inspiration In A Dreary Office

office-work-boring-yawn-600 Wouldn't it be nice to write exactly where, when and how you wanted to? Imagine you could write the way Truman Capote did. In his interview with The Paris Review in 1957, he makes the author's life sound downright leisurely. "I am a completely horizontal author. I can't think unless I'm lying down, either in bed or stretched on a couch and with a cigarette and coffee handy. I've got to be puffing and sipping. As the afternoon wears on, I shift from coffee to mint tea to sherry to martinis." While freelance writers might enjoy this kind of luxury, most in-house writers don't. Best case, th [...]


How Long Should Your Content Be? What Works On Blogs, Facebook & More

measure-length-ruler-600 Ideal content length is something with which B2B and B2C marketers across industries constantly struggle. Unfortunately, the most common answer to content-length questions is the often-dreaded, extremely-ambiguous response that is the reply to many of marketing’s toughest questions: "It depends." And though ideal content length really does hinge on a variety of factors including industry norms and audience engagement, “it depends” isn’t very helpful for marketers looking for actionable advice. However, though there aren’t any hard and fast rules when it comes to content length, [...]


How To Activate Tribes For Viral Content Marketing Success

networking The idea of “Tribes,” popularized by Seth Godin and others, is just a fancy way of articulating the idea that the internet has allowed for massive segmentation of individuals. These silos of individuals can be thought of as tribes because they behave cohesively and respond similarly to stimuli that resonate with their shared interests, desires and goals. We’ve now entered a period in online marketing and advertising where forms of push mass persuasion are no longer as efficacious or appealing as they were in previous years. We’ve begun to realize that in order for brands to really e [...]


The 4th Wave Of Content Marketing: Marketing Apps

4 Waves of Content Marketing Last month, I introduced the concept of marketing apps -- more interactive features that marketers could deploy across their websites and campaigns to better engage prospects. As a follow up, I'd like to share some ideas with you about how such responsive web marketing apps can have a tremendous impact on the evolution of content marketing in particular. I propose that we've seen three waves of content marketing on the web, and that marketing apps may herald a fourth wave of interactive content on a mass scale. The First Three Waves Of Content Marketing The first wave of content ma [...]


Say Hello To The Content Marketing Stack

Media Convergence Drives Stack Evolution You know about ad stacks, right? Get ready to say hello to the next big thing in content marketing technology: the content marketing stack. Content stacks aren't here yet, but they're coming. In the next couple of years, I expect we'll see offerings from the big enterprise players: Adobe, Oracle and Salesforce.com. (IBM has a lot of catching up to do if it's to become a player in this space.) There are many factors driving this latest phase in content marketing evolution, not the least of which is a tangled and complex content marketing vendor landscape. There are well in excess of 11 [...]


3 Ways To Scale Your Content Marketing

content-marketing-gears-600 Content Marketing is all the rage, and deservedly so, as it can help you build your reputation and visibility online. For many publishers, though, the benefits do not come quickly enough. They try a few things, don't see the immediate benefits, and then they stop. The problem is often that they don't scale their efforts properly. Having a strategy for achieving scale is essential to success. In today's post, I will show three ways to do that. Whatever it is that you do, there are going to be some people who know you. If you have started the process of building your reputation in your ind [...]


Top Tips For Optimizing Your Content: 9 Experts Weigh In

Content As 58 percent of B2B marketers plan to increase their content marketing spend over the next 12 months, the amount of content created and published will continue to grow. With that, content optimization is becoming increasingly important, as even great content can't produce results if your audience doesn't find it. However, many publishers struggle with content optimization and finding the balance between optimizing your content for search and for the audience the content is intended for. I've asked 9 experts to weigh in on their number-one tip for content optimization, as well as the top [...]


How Playing Devil’s Advocate Will Improve Your Content

image used by permission of Shutterstock.com When you finish writing something, it's tempting to sit back in your desk chair and beam -- but that won't result in great content. What you really have to do is take a walk, come back with a fresh eye, and tear your content apart. This is the only way to make content that's interesting, accurate, and share-worthy. The best way to develop this critical eye is to play Devil's Advocate. You might be thinking, "But I just wrote a very accurate, respectable piece of content I'm proud of. Why would I have any criticisms of it if I did my best?" Well, when you wrote the content, you were writing [...]


How To Produce More Quality Content, More Quickly — Practical Tips

shutterstock_104112866-positive-reinforcement The practice of "content marketing" as we understand it today is still relatively young, and there are plenty of wrinkles to work out. One of the biggest issues we face is a simple question of production. Fifty-seven percent (57%) of content marketing professionals say they don't have enough time for content, and 45% struggle with producing enough content, according to the Content Marketing Institute. Forward-thinking digital marketing blogs and sites are overflowing with solid best practices to do content marketing well, but few address the nuts and bolts of getting it done efficiently [...]


What Is Your Content Marketing Aiming For? 5 Goals To Consider

content-shutterstock As the online content marketing trend continues to rise, businesses are spending increasing levels of time and money on it. A third of B2B marketing budgets already are spent on content marketing, and more than half of B2B marketers say they plan to ratchet that up. Data from the Content Marketing Institute show that certain techniques work almost universally. These include: Case studies: 64 percent effective Webinars: 61 percent effective Blogs: 59 percent effective Video: 58 percent effective eNewsletters: 58 percent effective Whitepapers: 57 percent effective eBooks: 55 p [...]


Content Marketing Haters Gonna Hate (And Why They’re Wrong)

content_shutterstock_93818854 When something gets big enough to attract a great deal of media coverage and conversation, it's inevitable that not all the attention will be positive. Take Justin Bieber. Or Miley Cyrus. Both have detractors as vocal and as passionate as their fans. Content marketing is certainly no teen idol, but as interest in the topic continues to hockey stick up the charts, the naysayers are coming out in force. Now, I can be as contrarian as the next guy, but I have yet to see a cogent, well-reasoned argument against content marketing. Instead, detracting arguments seem to be ill-conceived, knee-j [...]


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