Content marketing is about creating value for customers.
Audiences are looking for more from brands than traditional advertising. To speak to those expectations, many companies have become quite sophisticated in the ways they map out their customer journeys and their audience experiences.
Once a company maps and understands those experiences it creates, the company can focus on creating content that most resonates with its audiences. Companies that understand this and focus on creating and executing strategic content marketing plans are seeing impressive results.
These eight companies below internalized those same lessons, and in response they refocused their content marketing strategies to improve interactions with their audiences. We will explore each pivot below and highlight what lessons content marketers can take away from each situation.
GoPro started selling its “action cameras” in 2004, and quickly became popular with action-sports audiences. That audience was the company marketing focus, too, until the end of 2016.
Signs began to emerge that year that the action-sports audience wasn’t responding to GoPro’s marketing. In the fall of 2016, the company was just coming out of a third consecutive quarter of losses. Executives needed a way to turn the tide.
Widening the audience base for GoPro was the solution, so GoPro decided to show how everyday people can use their products to capture everyday events.
Take, for example, The Bucket List Family, a family of four who sold everything to travel the world, focusing on finding adventure, experiencing cultures and giving back. They are documenting their adventures and sharing them with the world.
GoPro teamed up with the family for a video campaign:
The message is clear: Anyone can use GoPro products to document the adventures in their lives, no matter what those adventures are. GoPro isn’t just for extreme athletes anymore.
In 2014, Salesforce’s UK division was struggling to with both organic and paid traffic. The division’s leaders decided it needed to change its content marketing strategy.
Kieran Flanagan, inbound marketing manager for Salesforce.com at that time, says that during the re-imagining of the campaign he adhered to a 90/10 rule: 90 percent of the content marketing should speak to the customer and 10 percent should be product-focused. He explained that “the new B2B purchase journey is search-initiated, social powered and buyer-controlled.”
The company’s solution was to start a microsite, which eventually morphed into a blog, that offered the type of content their audiences would be looking for: videos on sales and marketing, a slide deck on the evolution of a salesperson, a Prezi presentation on a customer success story.
The results for the first month proved Salesforce was on the right track. The company saw an 80-percent increase in traffic year-over-year, 2,500 percent more traffic from social media sites, 10,000 ebook downloads and 6,500 email newsletter signups.
Skyword is a content marketing agency that had to revisit its own internal content strategy in 2012 and 2013. At that time, Content Marketing Manager Ted Karczewski notes, Skyword was managing two separate blogs, one for featured editorials and one for news, as well as an array of social channels. Karczewski notes that Skyword was “unknowingly fragmenting our audience, recruiting writers separately for each site, and had two distinct teams running the editorial strategies for each site.”
The company decided to rethink its content strategy and combine both sites into one destination on the main domain, The Content Standard. Chief Marketing Officer Tricia Travaline said of the site, “The Content Standard gives us the opportunity to experiment with new media formats and storytelling techniques and use this learning to guide our clients.”
The blog has been a success for the company. In the first four months of its first launch, new site sessions increased nearly 60 percent, and the number of users increased nearly 40 percent. From 2014 to 2016, the number of subscribers increased by 416 percent, making it the organization’s top lead generator. This success was due to the team’s efforts to continually compile web analytics, survey feedback and market data to ensure topics were meeting audience priorities.
Yale Appliance is brick-and-mortar appliance store with an ecommerce website. The owner, Steve Sheinkopf, started blogging in 2007 as a strategy to drive customers to the site. In the beginning, Sheinkopf didn’t have a dedicated blogging strategy and focused mostly on correcting misconceptions in the industry.
That all changed in 2011, when he started focusing on creating blog posts designed to attract a potential client in the decision-making stage of the sales cycle. “Blog posts are designed to answer questions consumers ask daily, ” expounds Sheinkopf. Of his new strategy, he says, “It is our marketing strategy, and the engine driving our Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest engagements.”
In addition to the blog posts, Yale Appliance also offers unique content in the form of free guides, recipes and videos. As a result, Yale’s traffic more than tripled annually, leads grew from 800 to 2,300 monthly, and revenue increased by 40 percent over a four-year stretch.
McAfee is back as an independent company. The decision to rebrand back to McAfee from Intel Security made sense to CTO Steve Grobman, who says: “We’ve done a lot of analysis on the impact of the McAfee brand name and it’s recognized as a strong cyber-brand. The rationale for returning to the McAfee name is to take advantage of good brand strength.”
And McAfee’s renewed focus is on cybersecurity. “Cybersecurity is the greatest challenge of the connected age, weighing heavily on the minds of parents, executives and world leaders alike,” said Christopher Young, CEO of McAfee. Young notes that the new company is wholly focused on cybersecurity outcomes for their customers.
To this end, McAfee is creating content that helps customers protect themselves against cyber attacks — the company is serving as a watchdog for its customers. The McAfee blog focuses on identifying security issues and explaining them to customers. By framing the company in this way, McAfee is rebuilding itself as a trustworthy company.
This is a big turnaround for a company that, seven years ago, had a troubled reputation. By switching focus and creating useful content for customers, McAfee can cement itself as a go-to for cybersecurity.
When Peter Duffy was brought on as marketing director for easyJet in 2011, he completely shifted the company’s approach to marketing by slashing 15 percent of the marketing budget and focusing on mining the data from the 400 million visits the company’s site received each year. Duffy believed that “with those numbers, even the smallest changes can make a significant difference.”
The elements of the new marketing campaign included a branding campaign called “Europe by easyJet,” email campaigns that were more targeted and sophisticated, an “Inspire Me” tool that helped undecided site visitors choose travel destinations, a mobile site and app, and a social media reboot. “We’ll never move away from price — it is the cornerstone of what we do,” CMO Carolyn McCall said of the campaign. “But now we communicate destination and service.”
Duffy’s efforts resulted in a 28-percent increase in profit, to $485 million, the following year. That was the airline’s best year since it was founded in 1995.
In 2017, Stoli Vodka launched a new website that refreshes content every 24 hours with content that focuses on “everyday moments in sports, entertainment, food and beverage, pop culture, and social media.” The redesign also puts a heavy emphasis on social media to make it easier for users to share the content. Each homepage theme includes a cocktail and fun fact to encourage banter on social media. The key to the content is that it is always relevant to the target audience.
“Our digital presence is a constant evolution,” global director of PR and digital media Alison Walsh says. “We’re looking forward to providing different ways for our consumers to connect with our range of products and with each other.”
In 2014, Texas tech giant BMC Software acknowledged it was having difficulty pulling together its content, which spread across five different business units and 200 products. As it was looking to expand globally, BMC realized its content strategy was too fractured and needed a website that could centralize all of that content.
As a solution, the team worked on a website strategy that put content first. At the Intelligent Content Conference (ICC), BMC Principal Strategic Marketing Manager Mark Fries and Connective DX Experience Strategist Guy Bourgault offered insights into what they did for the website redesign:
- Designed content components for reuse.
- Optimized key landing pages.
- Worked on the content first before design.
- Designed for mobile.
- Continued to optimize every day.
The result was that overall engagement with the brand was up. In the months following the launch, the site saw 50 percent more data sheet downloads, a 200-percent increase in trial starts and a 67-percent increase in “contact me” requests.
Why Content Marketing Is So Important
Liam Fisher at BuiltVisible says the value of content marketing lies in the fact that it can be tailored to an audience’s particular needs and interests. This lets brands cut through the clutter of traditional advertising. Fisher explains that content marketing is a way of building trust and conveying personality without being too promotional. Brands that find a way to connect with users through storytelling are the ones that are going to rise above the pack and see the best return for their marketing efforts.