Underneath every story about successful brands, you can find a content marketing strategy that is exceptional in every way. From planning, coordination to the multi-channel implementation; the content strategy used by successful brands is awe-inspiring. Branded content includes any content that is associated with a brand. In the eyes of the consumer, it can be a simple blog about the uses of the brand’s product or it can be an amusing 6 second video on Vine. In an era of content marketing, brands have become prolific publishers of branded content.
Content marketing for brands is simple in theory but not so much in execution. The purpose of brand content marketing is to attract leads and convert them into customers. Great content marketing can raise the brand equity and retain customers, thereby increasing the LTV (lifetime value) of that customer. The purpose of content marketing for brands is very clear. The execution is very hard indeed.
Many brands use multiple digital marketing agencies or in-house content marketing teams to coordinate and implement their content strategy. The various forms of content, distributed across different channels is not the easiest of tasks. Customers are hungry for fresh, useful content and there is a balance between creating content on a regular basis and maintaining the quality of that content. Here is a great illustration by Chris Lake from Econsultancy about the content marketing skill-sets that make branded content successful:
As you can see from the illustration above, brand content marketing requires a team of different skill sets to implement. The most successful brand content marketing of recent years all have these skill sets in common. It is key for any content strategy to have a goal, audience, creativity, insight, execution and feedback.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, 93% of organizations said that they used content marketing for brand building. 87% of buyers admitted that content marketing influenced their purchasing decisions. For B2B marketers, Forrester’s Research revealed a problem with B2B content marketing: much of it is useless. Instead of talking to their B2B buyers and finding out their pain points, B2B content marketing is still one sided in promoting the brand. Comparing B2B product features does not constitute effective content marketing because B2B buyers still want to know how the brand can provide value.
In the examples of brand content marketing given below, you will see that brands should really prioritize customer feedback, pain points and customer rewards where it is due.
10 Branded content marketing that inspires
Shifts in consumer behavior means content marketing trends are effective for short bursts of time. Keeping an eye on media consumption and investing the best content marketing channels for the target audience is what the best brands are doing right now. Here are the top 10 best content marketing success stories from 2011 to 2015 for inspiration.
1.Virgin Mobile Live Content
The Virgin mobile brand attributes much of their success on customer centric content marketing. In 2011, Virgin Mobile launched Virgin Mobile Live, a social newsroom that publishes content several times a day. This digital marketing strategy was shaped to implement content marketing across different social communities. At the peak of its popularity, the site is averaged over 1 million unique views per month, spread virally by over 50,000 “super-sharers” on Facebook and Twitter. The Virgin brand has relied on brand advocates before and since to distribute content across different channels of marketing; the Virgin Mobile Live was an initiative that appealed to savvy users of social media.
Virgin realized that social media was an integral part of their content strategy. By listening to their audience and distributing content (drip feeding content throughout the day), Virgin was able to implement a proactive content marketing strategy.
The main content hub of the Virgin brand is still the Virgin.com website which is the media platform that they own. It is where website visitors can find out more content about several Virgin initiatives such as Virgin Startup, Virgin Money, Virgin Media and Virgin RED. According to Virgin, scaling their content marketing efforts is about deepening the level of engagement with fans in the different social communities. The Virgin brand is a huge believer of loyalty rewards, awarding Virgin experiences on Facebook and Twitter social media platforms. They also encourage user generated content and communications from Virgin fans to their friends.
2. American Express Unstaged content marketing
American Express Unstaged is one of the most successful and long-standing content marketing programs that American Express participated in. It is a live stream concert hosted by popular singers through the participation of well-known directors around the globe. This social media slash content marketing strategy attracted viewers and followers across different marketing channels.
For American Express, content marketing is an important part of their marketing efforts. They use content to extend their message and convert users to American Express. By partnering with popular music artists, American Express is able to tap into a younger audience and reward American Express users with memorable experiences. Their content marketing is scaled to attract more users.
American Express’s content marketing success proves that being relevant to younger Millennial customers is a must for any brand. They had to define their goals before launching the Unstaged initiative on social media. One of the biggest challenges for brand content marketing is the alignment of social media with content marketing. Through a consistent social media presence and engaging content directing traffic back to it’s content hub site, American Express was able to convert more leads.
3. Marriott global content marketing
The content marketing strategies used by Marriott create conversions in different ways. The Navigators platform – which assign tasks to help guests in discovering the city outside their hotel is a great content strategy. It understands the hotel guest’s needs to explore the city beyond the hotel and engages other people as guides. Navigators are people with great passion for their local neighborhood-they generate content that helps to retain Marriot guests.
Similarly, the RLife LIVE program – offers assistance to guests on discovering music films, arts, food and drinks outside of the hotels. It helps the Marriot brand to stay relevant, authentic and in touch with the local community. The reason behind the Navigators and Discovery programs is to help Marriot guests feel cared for and engage in an experience that is outside of the Marriot hotels. It encourages consumer loyalty and helps to generate user content on social media.
4. L’Oréal strategic content
Content marketing have done a lot towards the success story of L’Oreal in achieving their ultimate goal of building stronger affinity with users and connecting with users in an emotional way. As a trusted and empowering beauty brand ( with the words,”I’m worth it!”), L’Oreal has high LTV customers and much scope in educating their target audience about beauty through content marketing.
Using L’Oreal tutorial videos, engaging visual content and social media presence, L’Oreal understands how to convert new audiences into fans. L’Oreal’s Pinterest board, Instagram and YouTube channel are excellent examples of brand content marketing. L’Oreal is not only famous for their beautiful brand ambassadors, they have also collaborated with different artists, such as John Legend, Jennifer Lopez and Cheryl Ann Fernandez-Versini to create memorable video content. Recently, L’Oreal have sponsored events such as Golden Globes and Project Runway to establish itself as an aspirational brand. The message behind L’Oreal’s brand content marketing is a more desirable you if you choose the brand.
5. Vanguard video content marketing
In 2011, Vanguard launched a content marketing campaign through its website “Vanguard at the Movies” attracting viewers to watch their spoofed versions of classic movie genres of horror, drama and suspense. The movie was the focal piece of their content strategy that year to create customer traffic. Vanguard used the movies not only to extend awareness of the brand, but also to cross-merchandise its existing video content on YouTube. Another website was launched (brand’s YouTube page) for the purpose of entertaining viewers through informational video clips. With the help of content marketing Vanguard became successful in their promotional campaign. Within weeks, the Vanguard’s YouTube channel attracted from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of views.
Brands such as Vanguard realized that instructional or informative videos can be central to their brand’s content strategy. Some of Vanguard’s most watched video content include advice on IRAs, investments, retirement portfolios and Vanguard’s personal Advisor services. In a Demand Metric benchmark report, it was found that 82% of marketers saw success by using video in their brand content marketing. Whether it is brand awareness, call to action or relevance the brand wants to achieve, video content is an effective part of content marketing.
6. Coca Cola content marketing for 2020
Coca Cola stresses the importance of consumer research and story telling in the brand’s content marketing. Coca-Cola strongly holds on to content marketing at the core of its Content 2020 advertising strategy:
“All advertisers need a lot more content so that they can keep the engagement with consumers fresh and relevant, because of the 24/7 connectivity. If you’re going to be successful around the world, you have to have fat and fertile ideas at the core.“
In 2014, Coca Cola launched a phenomenally successful “Share a Coke” content marketing campaign in the U.S. that achieved a 2% increase in soft-drink sales (1.7 to 1.9 billion servings per day). Across social media, Coca Cola’s hashtag #shareacoke became a global trending topic. At the heart of Coca Cola’s brand content marketing is consumer participation. Consumers could buy a drink with their name on the bottle, express their unique identity and share a drink with best friends. The consumer psychology is employed exceptionally well by Cola through content marketing.
By connecting with target consumers on a personal (first name) level and letting user generated content flood across all marketing channels, Coca Cola was able to convert new consumers. The volume of user generated content, through hashtags, photo and video content is only the result of Coca Cola understanding the psychology of consumers.
7. Procter & Gamble Petside content marketing
Before shutting down the blog in 2013, P&G used content marketing for Petside, an online community dedicated to pet lovers. The interesting and interactive site included pet training and behavior advice, pet products news, and adoption resources. Again, this is a great example of a company tapping into its deep knowledge base to keep people interested and engaged and coming back for more.
In order to engage with consumers on Petside, P&G customized content marketing for pet owners. The goal of Petside was to establish P&G’s expertise in pet care and in converting more readers into buyers of P&G products. The action plan for content marketing was to create as much content about petcare for visitors to gain trust in P&G and be consistent in the content creation schedule.
8. Kraft ROI boosting content strategy
Kraft is a leader in content marketing. It launched kraftrecipes.com before the term ‘content marketing’ was popular, and before most of its competitors even had websites dedicated to valuable resources for users. Now people turn to this online resource for recipes, food-related content and to interact with the Kraft community. In fact, Julie Fleischer, Director of CRM Content Strategy & Integration at Kraft said, “The ROI on our content marketing work is among the highest of all of our marketing efforts.”
To boost sales of Kraft products, their content marketing targets users who enjoys making quick meals from convenient ingredients. The tone, visual presentation and simple recipes are customized for their website users. By analyzing the customer demographic, Kraft was able to literally craft their content marketing to what their customers are looking for. Again, a clearly defined goal, audience and implementation is the key to Kraft’s content marketing success.
9. General Electric shareable content
General Electric uses content marketing to convey the story of the 132-year-old brand through different content channels. One content marketing tactic used is Ecomagination, which is a forum for fresh thinking and conversation about clean technology and sustainable infrastructure. Ecomagination is set up as a magazine with an experienced managing editor, editor-a-large and editorial staff of writers and journalists. A key metric used to determine the success of this content marketing initiative is the act of sharing. “At the end of the day, if the content isn’t good enough for the end user to want to share it with a friend or colleague, we haven’t quite succeeded,” says Katrina Craigwell, Digital Marketing Manager at GE.
10. General Mills sweet recipe for content marketing
General Mills also uses engagement numbers to measure the success of its content marketing. The brand understands that good content may indirectly lead to sales as people share information and participate in the conversation. For Tablespoon.com, an online resource of recipes for all levels, General Mills watches numbers on social sites such as Pinterest and Facebook. They considered it a success to move from 15 followers on Pinterest to close to 8,000 in about a year. By October 2015, this number is 91,600 followers.
The recipe for General Mill’s content marketing success? Shareable, valuable content and content creation on a consistent basis across all of its social media channels. This multi-channel approach to content marketing raises brand awareness for General Mills and also reaches new audiences for conversion along the sales funnel.
Content marketing is an effective way for brands to engage with audiences and stay relevant in the 21st Century. As you can see from some of the most successful content marketing examples, a clearly defined goal, demographic of consumers and implementation across multiple digital marketing channels is key to producing results. Whether it is increased brand awareness, deeper engagement or actual revenue, content marketing can lift a brand. Every year, consumers behaviors are shifting and brands have to be proactive in their content strategies. If you are doing content marketing for your brand, understanding your customers is very important and should be the backbone of all content marketing activities.