Author: Mike Rotella

brand positioning

What Is Brand Positioning?

Mike Rotella, Senior Marketing Specialist


Key Points

  • Brand positioning is a strategic process of establishing a unique and compelling position in the minds of target consumers, setting your brand apart from competitors.
  • Brand positioning is established relative to competitors and ensures that your target consumers know the unique value you offer when they think of your brand.
  • Successful brand positioning leads to increased market share, customer loyalty, and a sustainable competitive advantage, driving the overall growth of a business.

As a marketing strategy, brand positioning involves how a brand differentiates itself from competitors to create a distinct perception in the minds of consumers. Your positioning strategy ultimately determines how consumers see you, signaling to them whether or not you’ll be able to meet their needs.

Since it was first introduced in the 1960s, brand positioning has evolved significantly in response to various changes in consumer behavior, technology advancements, and market dynamics. 

Positioning strategies have become more customer-centric, purpose-driven, personalized, and digitally focused. It is now an ongoing process that requires adaptability, agility, and a deep understanding of consumer behavior and market dynamics.

Brand positioning, defined

MARKETING
TERM
DEFINITION

Brand positioning

Brand positioning is the strategic process of establishing a unique and distinctive position for a brand in the minds of consumers.

Brand positioning strategy includes determining a target market category, target audience, brand differentiation, brand personality and brand identity, pricing strategy, and more.

Successful positioning today involves not only creating a unique market position, but also building meaningful connections with consumers through relevant, engaging, and purposeful experiences. It determines who your competitors are in your category, and when done right, can also impact how much consumers will pay for your products or services.

Ultimately, brand positioning aims to establish a unique and compelling position in the market. By identifying and communicating the unique value they present to a customer — whether that’s a product feature, pricing, or something else — brands give consumers a reason to prefer them over the competition.

What is a brand positioning statement?

Brand positioning eventually means creating a positioning statement. This is a descriptive summary of your offering, its target audience or market, and how it solves the audience’s problem. This statement helps marketers steer their marketing efforts in a consistent way.

The positioning statement relies on:

  • Audience and market research
  • Competitor and competitive landscape analysis
  • Customer personas
  • Consumer intent data

When developing a brand positioning statement, consider leveraging a positioning or perceptual map. This will help you visually plot and analyze how consumers perceive you and your competitors.

A perceptual map typically consists of a two-dimensional grid or matrix that plots brands based on specific attributes or dimensions that are important to consumers.

The map visually displays the relative position of brands and allows marketers to understand how their brand compares to competitors. It also helps identify opportunities for differentiation, driving strategic decisions regarding brand positioning, market gaps, and potential areas for growth.

Why is brand positioning important?

Brand positioning lies at the heart of marketing strategy because it defines why what you have to offer is different, and better. How you position your brand to meet your target consumer’s needs will determine how likely they are to choose you when the time comes.

The key benefits of successful positioning include:

Differentiation

By clearly defining its unique value proposition and communicating it to the target audience, a brand can create a distinct identity and establish itself as the preferred choice among consumers.

More market share

A well-positioned brand has a higher chance of capturing a larger share of the market.

When consumers perceive a brand as offering superior value or fulfilling their specific needs, they are more likely to choose that brand over competitors. This leads to increased customer acquisition and market penetration.

Premium pricing

Brands with strong positioning often have the ability to command premium pricing. When consumers perceive a brand as offering higher quality, exclusivity, or unique features, they are willing to pay a higher price for its products or services.

This can lead to improved profit margins and revenue growth.

Customer advocacy

When consumers resonate with a brand’s values, promise, and overall positioning, they become more emotionally connected to the brand. This fosters long-term relationships, repeat purchases, and positive word-of-mouth recommendations, driving customer loyalty and advocacy.

Brand equity

A well-positioned brand has greater recognition, perceived value, and positive associations among consumers. This translates into intangible assets, such as brand reputation, brand loyalty, and brand awareness, which contribute to the overall value of the brand.

Long-term competitive edge

Strong brand positioning provides a sustainable competitive advantage. By carving out a unique position in the market, a brand becomes less susceptible to price-based competition and market fluctuations. It creates a barrier for competitors to replicate, thus securing a distinct market position.

Consistency and clarity

Effective brand positioning brings consistency and clarity to all brand communications and interactions. When positioning is well-defined and understood, it guides marketing efforts, messaging, and customer experiences.

This consistency enhances brand recognition, reinforces brand values, and fosters trust among consumers.

Expansion and diversification opportunities

When a brand has a strong positioning and loyal customer base, it can leverage its reputation and extend into new markets, product categories, or customer segments with greater ease. This facilitates business growth and diversification strategies.

Attracting and retaining talent

A strong brand reputation, a compelling brand purpose, and clear positioning can attract individuals who align with the brand’s values and mission. This helps in building a talented and motivated workforce.

Types of strategies

Brands can position themselves using a variety of characteristics that act as focal points or positioning goals.

Some examples include setting yourself apart with exceptional customer service, offering convenience, being a price leader, high quality offerings, or being a problem solver and connection builder.

Brands can pick one or aim to deliver excellence across the board in the hopes of further standing out. Note that these characteristics are perceptions in customers’ minds after the brand awareness stage. Brands can simply influence how they’re perceived.

Some common positioning goals include:

Convenience and customer experience

Brands that build an infrastructure of touchpoints to consistently deliver value to consumers by simplifying their pain points with convenience become trust leaders. When consumers view a brand as easy to work with, convenient when they need help, and offering great experiences, it’s tough for competitors to catch up.

Price and value

Price leadership and emphasizing the brand’s affordability or cost-effectiveness is another path to setting a brand apart. Better yet, leading not by price but by overall value influences the value perception without sacrificing your pricepoint.

Quality

Quality-based positioning aligns your brand around a commitment to high quality, premium experiences, or other luxury characteristics to appeal to consumers who value excellence and are willing to pay for it.

Emotional connection

Sometimes, from a technical perspective, there may not be a lot that differentiates your product or service from the competition. In this case, differentiation can stem from the emotion that’s elicited when engaging with your brand, product, or services.

Customers tend to choose the brand that gets them, and brands can achieve part of that with aligned, consistent messaging.

Examples of successful brand positioning

The most successful brand positioning strategies help make a company’s name become synonymous with what consumers need and are looking for. For example, we don’t search for something, we “Google it”. We don’t contact a rideshare company, we “call an Uber” — even when it’s a Lyft. 

Here are some brand examples that so successfully differentiated themselves that they are essentially the only solution that exists in the consumer’s mind:

Apple thinks differently

Apple has positioned itself as a brand synonymous with innovation, simplicity, and premium quality. Its positioning revolves around delivering user-friendly, beautifully designed products with cutting-edge technology. 

Apple’s “Think Different” campaign emphasized its commitment to challenging the status quo and empowering individuals to be creative.

The brand’s consistent strategy has created a loyal customer base that values the seamless integration of hardware, software, and services across Apple’s ecosystem.

Nike just does it

Nike has positioned itself as a brand that inspires and empowers athletes of all levels. Its “Just Do It” positioning encapsulates the brand’s attitude of determination, motivation, and achievement. 

Nike’s marketing campaigns and brand messaging often feature inspirational stories of athletes overcoming challenges and pushing their limits. By associating itself with performance, athleticism, and personal excellence, Nike has become one of the most iconic and influential sportswear brands worldwide.

Volvo is for life

Volvo has positioned itself as a brand synonymous with safety and reliability, focusing on providing customers with a sense of security and peace of mind on the road.

Volvo’s commitment to safety innovation and its “For Life” campaign communicate the brand’s dedication to protecting people, not only those inside the car but also pedestrians and cyclists. 

This positioning has helped Volvo differentiate itself in the automotive industry and build a reputation for producing some of the safest vehicles on the market.

Steps to create a successful brand positioning strategy

Creating successful brand positioning involves a strategic and iterative process that cycles through who you’re targeting, what their needs are, and most importantly, why they should believe you can meet those needs. 

Here are some key steps to follow:

Conduct market, consumer, and competitive research

Begin by conducting thorough market research to understand the competitive landscape, target audience, and market trends. Identify consumer needs, pain points, and preferences, as well as the positioning strategies of competitors. 

This research forms the foundation for developing a unique positioning strategy and helps identify your ideal market segment.

Identify your unique value proposition

Craft a compelling value proposition that communicates the unique benefits and value your brand offers to customers. Highlight the key features, attributes, or experiences that differentiate your brand from competitors and address the specific needs of your target audience.

Define your brand identity, purpose, and current positioning

Clarify your brand’s identity by defining its core values, mission, vision, and unique selling proposition (USP). Determine what sets your brand apart from competitors today and how it aligns with the needs and aspirations of your target audience.

Owned asset optimization is one approach that can help organize the valuable assets a brand owns into a solid foundation for building your other marketing strategies around.

Write your brand positioning statement

Create a concise and clear statement that encapsulates your brand’s unique value proposition and target audience. The positioning statement should communicate the essence of your brand and its distinct positioning in a succinct and compelling manner.

Communicate consistently internally and externally

Brand positioning should be circulated and shared with key internal stakeholders to ensure alignment across your organization.

Externally, ensure consistency across all customer touchpoints and marketing channels. Align your brand messaging, visual identity, product offerings, customer experience, and marketing communications to reflect the brand positioning.

Consistency is key to building brand recognition and reinforcing your desired brand perception.

Monitor, evaluate, and innovate

Continuously monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of your brand positioning. Gather feedback from customers, track market trends, and analyze key performance metrics. 

Adapting and refining your strategy is important to stay relevant, address changing market dynamics, and meet evolving customer needs.

FAQs

What is brand promise?

Brand promise is the value brands promise to deliver to their customers each and every time they engage with that company. Typically, brand promise communicates a brand’s story, brand values, and its vision and it focuses on creating an emotional connection. It’s also offering agnostic.

What’s the difference between brand positioning vs taglines?

Brand positioning refers to the big picture efforts that situate your brand in the marketplace and competitive landscape. A brand’s tagline or slogan is just one part of the positioning process, often living under the brand personality and identity category.

While it is a small piece of the puzzle, strong brand positioning often includes a tagline that reflects the values of your target audience.

What’s the difference between brand positioning vs brand purpose?

If brand positioning is the big picture strategy to connect with audiences and build the desired perception, brand purpose rand purpose is the guiding philosophy that answers the question: “Why does my brand exist?”

A brand’s purpose shouldn’t be to create great shareholder value or increase profits (although it can), it should be to serve consumers by offering consistent value and solving their problems.

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brand protection

What Is Brand Protection? (and How to Go Beyond It)

Mike Rotella, Senior Marketing Specialist


Key Points

  • Brand protection is the process by which brands can protect their intellectual property rights.
  • Brands and organizations must stay vigilant to avoid reputational damage from brand abuse, infringement, and other threats. 
  • Brand protection is incomplete with just legal protection. Brands must assert control over their owned online assets through other methods.

Intellectual property (IP) is the core of a brand’s value and for that reason, the many forms of IP — like trademarks and copyrights — must be protected. In this guide, we’ll discuss brand protection, its benefits, IP abuse, and brand protection strategies. Plus — how to go beyond brand protection with a holistic digital marketing strategy.

What is brand protection and what are the benefits?

Brand protection is the specific process of protecting a brand’s intellectual property from infringement like counterfeiting, copyright piracy, patent violations, and more. Brand protection is one form of protection used to manage the reputation of companies, which are vulnerable to all manner of infringement and abuse.

Some of the most common benefits of brand protection include:

  • Increased control of brand messaging
  • Increased control of the brand’s various online properties
  • Mitigation of revenue loss
  • Protection of overall brand value
  • Defense of intellectual property, patents, trademarks, and copyrights
  • Maintenance of a consistent brand reputation
  • Increased shareholder value

Brand protection as a discipline aims to mitigate and solve brand abuse issues.

Brand abuse is a term that covers all cases where an outside party infringes on a brand or company’s intellectual property. Infringers commit brand abuse to take advantage of a brand’s good reputation or cultural cachet. There are many kinds of brand abuse.

Types of brand infringement & abuse

Intellectual property infringement and brand abuse are a constant struggle for enterprise-level brands and organizations. Without defensive action through brand protection, the damage can destroy companies.

The most common types of brand abuse and IP rights include:

  • Copyright piracy — Copyrights provide exclusive rights to the copyright holder, like the right to reproduce, distribute, display or perform the protected work. Third parties who use copyrighted material without permission are committing copyright infringement.
  • Trademark infringement — Trademarks are a protection of intellectual property like a recognizable sign, design, or expression that identifies products or services from a particular source and distinguishes them from others. Infringement occurs when one uses a trademark that is identical or similar to a trademark owned by another party.
  • Trademark squatting — This is when a party registers a trademark without the intention to use it. It may include foreign registration when a brand has yet to enter the market.
  • Patent infringement — Patents provide a legal right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention for a limited period of time. Using a patented invention or process without permission or licensing is patent theft.
  • Counterfeiting — The creation, marketing, distribution, and sale of fake products designed to cash in on a legitimate brand’s good name. Counterfeit goods are everywhere, even on Amazon and in distressing places like pharmaceutical drugs.
  • Design infringement — Brand owners can register designs, the visual form of a product or other item, for protection. Use of the protected design during the registration period can amount to infringement
  • Social media impersonation — Falsely presenting oneself as a public figure or brand on various social media platforms. Often this includes an attempt to confuse users or present the entity in a negative light. Brand impersonation can occur in just about any online setting.
  • Rogue websites — Malicious websites or website registration that infringes on a brand’s IP including:
    • Cybersquatting — Deliberate abusive registration of a domain name in violation of trademark rights by bad actors. This can also include registering a bunch of domains that relate to a brand’s name.
    • Imitation sites — Sites that attempt to pass themselves off as a real brand often with fraudulent, criminal intent.
    • Typosquatting — Deliberate abusive registration of a domain name that contains a typo version of a trademark that relies on user error to get visits.

Brand protection solutions and strategies

Companies cannot protect themselves without a strong brand protection strategy. The most common examples of brand protection services and strategies include:

  • Intellectual property portfolio management — Having all of your intellectual property in one place is of massive importance for its protection and management. Brands often hire outside IP management providers if they don’t do it in-house.
  • Business intelligence and monitoring — Collecting and analyzing disparate data about infringement is a monumental task, but one that must be prioritized. Depending on the industry, this might include scanning for online and offline infringement, authentication of infringement, detecting counterfeiting operations, and other efforts.
  • Threat/prioritization analysis — With substantial biz intel data, a brand can analyze the biggest brand abuse and infringement threats and prioritize which to tackle first. Between this and business intelligence, brands can validate detected infringements.
  • IP enforcement — Enforcing IP protection is another important, but often extremely difficult brand protection strategy. Determining the infringing parties, the types of infringement, and taking action against abusers using brand and legal means all fall under this heading. This process attempts to remove infringements, often by reporting infringement to regulatory bodies or law enforcement.
  • Social media monitoring — Given the ubiquity of online counterfeiters and scammers on social media platforms, brands must also keep a close watch for these infringing parties and their social media accounts.  
  • Online marketplace monitoring — The popularity of online marketplaces means that brands must have a monitoring presence across them and invest in anti-counterfeiting efforts.
  • Online advertising monitoring — For brands that sell physical products, online ad monitoring comes into play. This means keeping an eye out for ecommerce advertisements that point to counterfeit products. Counterfeit listings for knockoffs are a major issue.
  • Partnership and supply chain monitoring — Brands can also pursue IP abusers through their partners and even their supply chains, distributors, and sellers. Often, these parties can help detect abuses and empower one’s brand protection strategy.

More online brand protection methods

It’s obvious that today’s brands need traditional ‘brand protection’ strategies. But what about broader brand management and protection of preferred brand narrative and online reputation? Thankfully, brands can leverage their collection of owned assets to achieve success across all aspects of digital marketing. 

Brands that are serious about intellectual property protection must implement a holistic, company-wide reputation defense as well. 

Unforeseen events that harm or destroy a brand’s credibility or narrative in any industry can result in billions of dollars in lost value, sometimes eclipsing that of brand abuse.

Beyond brand protection

Creating a network of optimized and controlled online properties is the most powerful way for brands to achieve an authoritative position within an industry. Collectively, the properties can be leveraged to spread value throughout the brand’s digital footprint.

From corporate site to allies, blog posts, and more, the network of highly aligned online properties achieves the following:

  • Dominates the search engine results for the brand’s name
  • Allows a brand to reach its audience at all funnel stages
  • Tells the authentic brand story in a consistent, authoritative way
  • Asserts control over brand narrative and reputation
  • Takes back the power from digital publishers, review sites, and affiliates
  • Maximizes the value and purpose of each online asset

How it works

Typically, and at a very high level, the ongoing process includes the following steps:

  1. Collect and categorize all existing owned assets. This includes every single page a brand controls within the OAO MACH-6, plus its allies.
  2. Analyze all this existing online real estate for performance and prioritize optimizing each as needed.
  3. Search for gaps or opportunities to create new, high-value owned assets. 
  4. Optimize all existing online real estate from multiple discipline perspectives.
  5. Create all the new assets your gap analysis suggested.
  6. Use linking to tie the entire network together.
  7. Assess performance over time, creating ongoing reports with numerous KPIs.
  8. Continue to refine each asset based on its performance across the KPIs.
  9. Rinse and repeat.

Over time this optimization strategy will result in increased online visibility, full-funnel customer engagement, control over the brand narrative, protection from potential brand harm during bad news cycles, and increased market share and spike in brand value.

Final thoughts

Brand protection and its highly specific management of intellectual property is among the most important foundations of any valuable company. The benefits go without saying and it applies to all industries.

But is brand protection enough? The answer is almost certainly not. 

Savvy brands embrace an owned asset optimization philosophy to take back ownership of their stories and dominate the market and aggressively defend their intellectual property rights.

Brand protection FAQs

What is brand protection?

Brand protection is the process of protecting the intellectual property of brands from abuse like counterfeiting, copyright piracy, patent violations, and more.

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first party data strategy

How to Build a First-Party Data Strategy (6 Key Steps)

Mike Rotella, Senior Marketing Specialist


Key Points

  • A first-party data strategy is your plan to collect customer data and use it improve marketing performance.
  • Third-party data and third-party cookies are done, so you must switch your efforts to building a powerful first-party data strategy.
  • Six keys to a first-party data strategy: Define your business objectives, identify your target audience segments and their data, map the customer journey, manage data, integrate data, and measure your success.

MARKETING
TERM
DEFINITION

First-Party Data Strategy

A first-party data strategy is your plan to collect customer data and use it improve marketing performance, build stronger customer relationships, personalize marketing, and create more customer value.

Why you need a first-party data strategy

We know third-party data is on the way out, driven by regulation changes and data privacy concerns. Furthermore, third-party data is inaccurate and inconsistent, wasting marketing budgets and hurting user experience. Therefore, it’s time to adopt a first-party data strategy.

The smartest next step is to power your marketing strategy with the direct relationship data you already collect from customers — first-party data. The first-party data benefits are clear, from regulation compliance to reduced cost, data integrity, and more.

How to create a first-party data strategy

In this article, I’ll give you a high-level roadmap to build an effective first-party data strategy. You’ll learn to define goals and map the customer journey. I’ll also cover first-party data collection, data governance, integration, data management, and more.

Before you dive in, read our article that explains the difference between first-party cookies vs third party cookies to clear up any misunderstandings.

1. Define your business objectives

Regardless of the type of data collection you want to use, your business goals need to be clear and defined. Most likely, these are already defined. You’ll need to update them to fit the first-party data strategy context.

There are so many valuable use cases for your own data compared to second-party data or third-party data. Here are just a few:

  • Retarget website visitors on social media in real time based on purchase history
  • Create better loyalty programs
  • Boost new customer retention rates
  • Use marketing automation to deliver more personalized experiences
  • Empower your current digital marketing initiatives with better attribution modeling
  • Improve identity resolution for a more accurate 360 customer view.
  • Analyze specific customer behaviors
  • Optimize customer experiences based on customer profiles and data points

After you outline your business goals, you can start developing your strategy.

2. Identify target audience segments & data sources

Depending on the specific goal of your first-party data strategy, you’ll need to identify the audience segments that align. Then, by analyzing the behavior of customers in your chosen data set, you can start to apply the learnings to your overall goals.

Your current sales funnel, from awareness to transaction, is likely collecting first-party data. Using this information, you can develop buyer personas that match up with your most common demographics. 

Some common first-party data sources include:

  • Website — Customer interaction with your website creates all kinds of firsthand data.
  • Newsletter sign-ups — Interaction with your newsletter creates behavioral data you can use in your strategy.
  • Mobile apps — Apps play a major role in many sales funnels and can be a great data source.
  • Email and SMS — Email communications and opt-in SMS text interactions rely on and collect important customer data.
  • Point of Sale and CRM — Customer relationship management (CRM) tools are a repository of customer information that can help you reach your goals.
  • Call centers — Customer service interactions through call centers generate first-party data.

3. Map the customer journey

Next, create a detailed customer journey map that covers each step in the buying journey. This map reveals key customer touchpoints to activate your audience, as well as opportunities to tweak messaging and improve user experience.

Understanding how your customers move through the funnel is important because it allows you to optimize the brand experience and remove friction. As a result, you’ll build deeper brand loyalty and improve conversions.

When you map the conversion funnel, include data that reveals how your customers think, including keywords, website visits, mobile app downloads, chat interactions, email automations, and social media engagements.

4. What data do you need to achieve your goal?

Step 2 mapped out some of the data sources you need to define your audience. A variety of data sources is required and collection will be ongoing. 

This means assessing the customer data technology you have access to. Tools like customer data platforms (CDPs) should help you target, collect, and unify the required data in one place. 

With enough data systems in place, you’ll ensure you have what you need to pursue your goals.

5. Connect and integrate marketing data

Data alone doesn’t get you anywhere. You must interpret it and remove the silos.

Almost all business goals require transactional data. Transactions alone don’t add up to an actionable insight. A data-driven understanding of your customers means connecting and integrating it with your marketing efforts and goals.

You should be taking the data you have, figuring out how it relates, what it means, and how to operationalize it.

6. Create a measurement method

With all of the above done or in progress, the next key item to tackle is setting goals, metrics, and measurements for your strategy. 

How will you measure your success? What does success look like? What KPIs will you use? Your answer will differ depending on the goal you are targeting and will have to be addressed.

Some good starting points include:

  • Determine reporting tools
  • Pick the most relevant metrics
  • Establish reporting periods
  • Determine resource allocation

Without a detailed measurement process, it will be difficult to achieve your goal. An added benefit of measuring your progress is that it can identify problems, help you detect unforeseen factors, and allow you to shift your goal depending on potential changes.

Final thoughts

These are the high-level aspects of creating a useful first-party data strategy to better pursue your audience and customer-centric goals. 

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Identifying your goal, determining your audience and data sources, mapping the customer journey, establishing data requirements, and measuring your success are the elements to focus on.

Start with these principles, spend the time and resources to build your strategy, and reap the benefits of a first-party data approach.

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content plan

How To Create a Content Plan For Your Content Strategy

Mike Rotella, Senior Marketing Specialist


Key Points

  • A content plan determines how you’ll meet the goals of your content strategy, while content strategy sets these goals.
  • Content planning establishes the specific processes, content types, and content formats you’ll need for your strategy to be successful.
  • Content plans look different depending on the overall strategy, but many content plan components can be universally applied.

Marketers who want to achieve big goals with their content must first develop an overarching content strategy. Then, in order to hit those KPIs, metrics, and goals, they must answer the question, “What do I need to achieve success with my strategy?” 

The answer is invariably: create a content plan. 

A content marketing strategy can tell you where you want to go and how to measure your marketing efforts’ success, but it cannot tell you exactly what to do or what processes you’ll need to follow. That’s where the content plan comes in.

What is a content plan?

MARKETING
TERM
DEFINITION

Content Plan

A content plan is a content management tool marketers use to determine what content to create, how it should be created, and what processes will support its creation.

At the end of the day, a content plan should define how you’ll reach the broader goals set by your content strategy. 

A content plan defines:

  • What content to create
  • How to create the content
  • Who will create the content

A content plan includes the types of content formats, the processes, the digital marketing channels, and other aspects of how you’ll create, publish, amplify, and manage content. The content marketing plan integrates with your marketing funnel and should cover the entire customer journey, from awareness to decision.

Content plans are generally developed by marketing department leads with input from team members, including feedback from operations and sales. For a content plan to function, your entire marketing team must be aligned with your content strategy as well as the content plan. A great plan is your path to strategic success, so everybody has to be on the same page.

Content plan vs content strategy

Outside of the marketing industry, you’d be forgiven for thinking that content planing and content strategy are synonymous. But as a marketer, and a good one at that, you know these two things are very different.

The content plan is made up of the assets and processes needed to satisfy your overall strategy. The content strategy, though, is the big picture and parent category. Everything else falls under the strategy, including the content plan, content production, content publishing, and content distribution.

To get started, download Terakeet’s Content Strategy Playbook for Fortune 500 brands.

content strategy description
content planning description

Why you need a content plan

The ultimate goal of your content is to create exceptional engagement with your audience. This increases the likelihood of moving audience members down the funnel towards conversions and purchase decisions. This is the aim no matter where that audience member happens to land on the funnel — TOFU, MOFU, or BOFU.

A solid content plan defines everything you’ll need and lets you focus on creating the amazing content behind campaign success. With everything in place, your team can execute on individual assets, creating content that not only encourages sales, but can generate attention into the future.

In addition to the on-the-ground content production plan, a content plan defines much of the marketing channel priorities each quarter. You’ll be defining, in advance, how to amplify (social media posts, promos, bylines, etc.) the content you create. This means the content plan determines the availability of resources plus the marketing budget and its priorities. 

Developing a plan for your content directly feeds the marketing dollar spend and helps the business manage costs and conduct budget planning. Without this vital puzzle piece, you can lose out on the ability to allocate spending accurately.

Before content planning begins

You can’t just jump right into content planning. Instead, you need to:

  • Collect data and define your audience 
  • Determine what problem your content will solve 
  • Broadly determine how you will create your content 

Below are three questions that will inform how you write your content marketing plan. 

Some of these overlap with the content strategy template, but at a high level, you need to make sure you address these before content planning begins. You’ll be glad you did.

Who is your target audience?

Depending on your industry, there’s likely already an established audience for your brand. The question is how much you actually know about them. Understanding who already engages with your content determines your target demographics and how you’ll connect with them. 

First, gather existing visitor information and as much data about your audience as possible. Taking this data and analyzing it will tell you much about your audience, including what pain points they’re trying to address, what they want from your content, and how to better engage them. 

With detailed customer information in hand, it’s much easier to let that drive and inform your content plan. You’ll have a sense of what they are interested in, who they are, where they engage, and what types of content to plan for.

What problem does your content solve?

Returning to the problem (or “pain point”) your content, on the whole, is trying to solve, it’s important to have a mission that fuels your content ideas and campaigns. That mission can’t just be to capture leads at all content marketing funnel stages. Your content needs to consider the brand’s product or service offerings and translate that into actionable content. 

Show them, through a variety of creative lenses and angles, all the things that they can achieve with a given offering. 

For example, we worked for a large mobile food delivery brand. Up until that point, they were unsuccessful in capturing attention through content marketing. Terakeet’s teams took the data we had about the customers, created buyer personas, determined the goal of each persona, and created written content to help them achieve the hypothetical goal.

The result was a focus on demonstrating, through written content, all the ways this brand’s offering could empower the audience to aspire, actualize, and self-improve.


Terakeet translated the simple service of grocery delivery into a platform for personal growth.


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How will you create content?

Another important consideration is how you will generate content.

“How” includes:

  • Responsible parties for content creation
  • Creation methods
  • Where it will live

Knowing the above will let you successfully develop processes and workflows across teams for your content plan.

Create a starter content calendar

While you may not have all the data and information about your plan yet, creating a content calendar or editorial calendar framework is a wise preparation step. We have a free content calendar template you can download below.

How to write a content plan (12 steps)

Your content production process drives everything from marketing profitability to your ability to scale. So this section explains exactly how to plan content efficiently at a Fortune 1000 company.

1. Determine your content planning process

The very first step in creating a well-developed content plan is to determine what your overall process should look like. In this article, our plan includes this first step plus twelve other steps, taking you from brainstorming to publishing, measuring, and improvement.

In order to develop our twelve steps, we determined our process by asking the following questions:

  • What are your content creation steps? 
    • List all of the content creation steps from start to finish. Usually, you’d start with a team brainstorm to generate ideas. After you determine a set of topics, do keyword research using a tool like Ahrefs or Semrush. The process continues through writing, design, QC, publishing, distribution, measurement, and improvement.
  • Who is responsible for each task?
    • Now that you have the steps, figure out who will be responsible. In an established company, assignments would be set by discipline. Content writers write, editors edit, SEO strategists analyze, etc.
  • How long does it take?
    • Determine your content turnaround time requirements to meet your marketing goals. It’s wise to have an idea of time requirements and the resources you have available to execute on a given piece of content.
  • When and where will you publish?
    • Determine your ideal publishing frequency. This will depend on your brand awareness goals, audience behavior, and growth targets. Also decide what time you’ll publish based on audience data. Then decide where you’ll publish — WordPress blog, corporate site, etc.?
  • What are your content categories?
    • Determine what themes, topics, and broad categories your content needs to fit under. There is no one-size-fits-all solution here, as it will depend on your industry, current blog content, and unique business goals.

Answering all of these questions should get you an itemized list of steps that will dictate the entire process. Steps two through twelve are representative of most content plans for blog publishing.

2. Brainstorm topic ideas

Who: Your direct content team, team leads, cross-departmental folks as needed.

What: Before you can research and outline actual content pieces (blog posts, case studies, white papers, etc.), it is important to host a brainstorming session with your team. This will be an ongoing process as you will need to refill the idea list on a regular basis.

Focus on:

  • Campaign ideas – Bigger ideas that can be used to generate smaller content components.
  • Content ideas – Individual content pieces.

Refine and vet the ideas based on whether they fit your themes, topics, and categories and connect to your overall marketing goals.

3. Research keywords

Who: SEO analyst

What: Your SEO analysts or strategists can take the team’s best ideas from the brainstorm and conduct the keyword research required to identify more specific details. This step provides primary and secondary keyword focus, tags and meta elements, word count, competitor analysis, and more. 

If you have an existing audience, your SEO team can review Google Analytics data. Not every great idea is going to pass the search engine viability test and may need adjustment to fit the strategy. 

With the keyword analysis mapped out, the content idea can be outlined and proceed to the next step.

Note: Not all of your content needs to be backed up with search volume. Some can serve your messaging, provide added value, or help your audience with a pain point. The majority of your content should serve SEO goals.

4. Outline content

Who: Content creator

What: Once you have technical data behind your content idea, you can outline your content. Outlining provides the skeleton that you can then use to build out an article. 

This stage includes determining what to cover, figuring out specific headings, imagery ideas, CTAs and campaign tie-ins, key takeaways, and anything else you need to draft.

Having an outline template to apply to all content outlines will help you speed up the process. It will also ensure that your finished product is consistent and follows a set of standards. Standardization, aside from speeding things up, will help your overall messaging stay on target.

Skipping the outlining stage will result in unfocused content and if you have multiple writers, far too much variance in style. Outline before you draft — every time.

5. Draft your article

Who: Content creator

What: With a defined idea, SEO research and keywords, plus a solid article outline, it’s time to sit down and draft great content. At this stage you should have a sense of important keywords, co-occurring terms, target word count, competitor articles to reference, and your goals for the piece.

You can begin the writing process, following whatever your typical process entails. Make sure to review all the data you collected and don’t hesitate to take inspiration from existing articles from competitors. These are incredibly useful for figuring out ways to outdo your competitors. 

Mark areas where design elements could be useful in illustrating any article points or sections.

When complete, be sure to conduct a thorough proofreading session. You can then pass it off to the editor(s). 

Before editing, mark up your draft to indicate areas that you can repurpose into smaller items like infographics, social media content, and other new content.

6. Edit the copy

Who: Content creator peer, manager, editor

What: So, the full draft is done. Congrats! Another successful draft down. Now it’s time to edit. 

Typically, a combination of peer reviews, manager reviews, and content editors would be pulled into the process of editing. The editing should be broken into approval stages, where each editor takes an editing pass, with the writer addressing each set of edits and changes.

By the end of the editing process, you should have a highly refined draft. That’s the benefit of having multiple sets of eyes on your work. If you can get a professional editor, that’s even better. 

This content plan stage should not only detect errors, tone issues, and provide other fixes, but it should also help the writer improve his or her fundamental content creation skills.

7. Design supporting images

Who: Graphic designer

What: Now that the draft copy has been edited, it’s time to add in any graphics or visuals. It’s always best to note areas that could benefit from imagery when you’re drafting but you can also ask your editors for suggestions.

Typically, a designer would step in here to discuss requirements and get an idea of the graphic design direction. The best way to handle this is to find images on Google and from competitor articles to act as design inspiration. Dropping these in and tagging the designer in the draft with some written context around what is needed is ideal.

You need:

  • A compelling reason for inclusion of the graphic
  • A concrete concept that’s easily communicated to the designer
  • Examples from other sites
  • Time for a quick face-to-face with designer
  • Lead time so the designer can execute in time

Get those items right and this step can be stress-free for everyone involved. Being prepared will also result in a great design on schedule.

8. Execute quality control (QC)

Who: Content creator, content manager, SEO analyst, account manager (or similar)

What: Quality control, or QC, is highly dependent on the company type but there are general rules that can be applied. QC will always be unique to the situation. If it’s an internal marketing process, the QC may be less stringent than if the work is for a major client.

Technically, editing an article could fall under quality control, but in this case, we’re talking about a set of final checks before the content goes live. Editing should start earlier. 

QC is a multi-stage process where the chain of contributors each conduct a final inspection of the piece of content. The author, content lead, SEO analyst, and an AM (or other higher level decision-maker) will each have a unique set of checks to do. 

Upon running through these stages and making any needed, last-minute adjustments, the decision to slate it for publishing can be made.

9. Publish the content

Who: Content creator (most likely)

What: The content is good to go and you can now publish it. But not so fast. There are a few last things to do.

Many companies use staging sites for WordPress. The team can use the staging site to build out the article content, place images, place plugins and CTAs, find interlinking opportunities, and finalize the article before pushing it to the live version of the website. 

This precaution ensures the article is completely ready, catches any potential site errors, and provides more time for last-minute tweaks. Once complete, the new article can be pushed to the live site where your audience can read it.

10. Share and distribute your content

Who: Social media management staff, content creator

What: Your site may have regular visitors but sharing the new article through social media platforms and other channels broadens your reach. Use your social and email audiences to drive readers.

Social media marketing

  • Write up unique content for posts across your social channels that briefly deliver value contained in the article.
  • Link to the article in all posts.
  • Schedule the post to fit with your social post calendar.
  • In addition to your own articles, curate different content types from other publishers that support your social media strategy. Consider interactive graphics, podcasts, and even TikTok videos.

Email marketing

  • Create unique content for a single email or part of a larger newsletter promoting your article.
  • Link to the article in the email with a simple call-to-action.
  • Provide value: include a number of key takeaways from the article, include statistics about your topic, or other content that’s actually useful.
  • Get in the habit of trying punchy subject lines that use emotion to drive email opens by your audience.

11. Measure content success

Who: SEO analyst, content creator

What: It can take several weeks to a few months for new content to settle in, rank, and start generating traffic. Measuring the success of your content isn’t a one-time thing and should be approached as an ongoing process. Your team will most likely be checking up on overall content success often.

First, define what success looks like. This means breaking results down into categories. Some examples of “success” could be:

  • Organic search performance – Overall, how did the article settle out in rankings?
  • Conversions or sales – Overall, did the content result in an action (or actions) by your target audience?
  • Audience engagement – Overall, did your audience engage with your content and receive value?

Those are just a few high-level ways to define and assess content marketing ROI. Getting into the specifics, there are also telltale signs — SEO metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) — that tell the complete story.

Content performance metrics and KPIs

  • Organic traffic – The total non-paid traffic you earned from search engines.
  • Keyword rankings – Rank for your target keyword, secondary keywords, and related long-tail keywords.
  • Impressions – The number of times your content has been seen in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
  • Bounce rateBounce rate refers to the percentage of single page sessions on your website.
  • Conversion rate – Percentage of visitors who clicked ads, CTAs, downloads, or other lead generation assets.
  • Click-through rate (CTR) – The ratio of users who saw your content and then clicked the link to read it.

If you aren’t hitting your content goals, then analyze the metrics above to uncover the problem. Based on these metrics, your team can then iterate and optimize the content.

12. Iterate and optimize content performance

Who: Content creator, SEO analyst 

What: Closing the loop on the content plan, the last step is to take your content success assessment, turn it into actionable content improvements, then implement the optimizations. This process can be led by the writer and double-checked by an analyst.

Your team spent countless hours developing just the right content, so it’s a must to return after a few months to make sure the post is in the best possible shape to rank in organic search. It’s easy to miss the small things that optimize for rank, and over time the SERPs will change. 

Here are some of the most important on-page SEO best practices to apply to your landing pages:

  • Add both internal and outbound links
  • Add image alt tags
  • Create content that satisfies user intent
  • Ensure substantial and competitive word count
  • Implement SEO copywriting best practices
  • Implement structured data
  • Instances of related keywords
  • Maintain an appropriate keyword density
  • Optimize for Google images
  • Optimize headers
  • Optimize title tags
  • Use short, descriptive page URLs
  • Use the target keyword within the first 100 words
  • Write compelling meta descriptions
  • Write readable text

Bonus step: Assess your content plan and adjust accordingly

Let’s jump back to the macro view. We covered each step of a content plan and how to create it but there’s more to think about. It’s time to assess the success of the plan itself. This is when you ask tough questions and surgically optimize the content planning process to ensure it’s actually working.

Obviously, you’ll need to have your content plan up and running for a few quarters to even make an assessment. Give it time, stick to the process, and pay attention to the end results. Look for weaknesses and be honest about its performance.

Start with:

  • Reviews of each step – For each individual content plan step, assess effectiveness, roadblocks, and check for redundancy across steps.
  • Team feedback – Lean on your direct team for critique and honest feedback of each step and the plan as a whole. After all, these are the folks who know best.
  • Quality – Is each step crafted in a way that empowers your team to produce good content?
  • Collaboration – Is the content plan encouraging teamwork and collaboration, or is it siloing team members?
  • Deadlines – Are you hitting the deadlines for the work being produced? Is the plan agile enough?
  • Trim what isn’t working – Steps or parts of a step failing? Are some steps turning out to be redundant? Consult with your team and consider cutting non-functional aspects of the plan.
  • Develop iterations – Finally, take your content plan review findings and work with your team to implement any improvements. Content plans are “living processes” and should evolve as needed.

Final Thoughts

The importance of a great content plan cannot be overstated. It drives all of a team’s content processes, carves out a path to achieving your content strategy goals, and formalizes what can become a complicated mess. Setting out into the world of content marketing requires rigor, constant evolution, and a high degree of efficiency.

From the very first consideration stages, to the creation and optimization of a content plan, our goal is to show you just how much detail goes into content marketing and how you can stay on track. As industry experts, we highly recommend planning content before you tackle execution. The steps covered here should get you started.

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content marketing tools

Best Content Marketing Tools for Enterprise Brands (2022)

Mike Rotella, Senior Marketing Specialist


Key Points

  • Content marketing tools help you organize, create, publish, and amplify your content more efficiently.
  • Some of the best content marketing tools are completely free.
  • Many paid content marketing tools have a free trial period.

Content marketing strategy has changed dramatically over the years, and in 2022 we have dozens, if not hundreds of tools at our disposal. While digital marketing requires human talent and creativity, content marketing tools can make writing, editing, and optimizing a bit more efficient. 

Whether you’re building a new campaign, creating a content strategy, doing competitive research, identifying important keywords, distributing your content, building a social strategy, or even designing assets, there’s likely a tool to help. It’s important to understand the full potential of each to make the right investment.

Also, a word of warning. Content tools can help you analyze the SERPs and develop content, but the complexity of a given content space often eclipses the scope of these tools. For enterprise brands looking to break through the competition and noise, a longer term, holistic strategy is the only way to really make an impact.

Once on track, these tools can help. But there is no replacement for a search intent-driven strategy, executed and analyzed by experts, to reach your audiences at all stages of the customer journey.

From production to publishing and everything in between, here are the 25 best marketing tools of 2022 vetted by established content marketing professionals. 

Terakeet does not have promotional relationships with any of the brands or tools discussed in this article.

Before you build out your tech stack, make sure you have a content strategy playbook to unify your entire department.

The benefits of content marketing tools

There are huge benefits to building a custom suite of content marketing tools. The right tech stack allows marketing teams to focus on execution, save time on competitive research, draft high-quality content faster, automate tasks, and communicate across disciplines more effectively.

Choosing the best content marketing tools for your business also helps you manage social media accounts more efficiently, measure content marketing ROI, and personalize messaging to valuable audience segments.

Our favorite content marketing tools

Here’s a list of the types of tools I’ll cover in this article, followed by our favorite software in each category:

  1. Content organization tools
  2. Content management systems (CMS) tools
  3. Keyword research tools 
  4. Content marketing tools for ideation
  5. Content creation tools
  6. Editing and writing improvement
  7. Content optimization tools 
  8. Content promotion and distribution platforms 
  9. Email marketing tools
  10. Content tools for social media
  11. Content marketing analysis tools

Content tools we discuss in this article:

  • Microsoft Office 365
  • Google Workspace
  • Contently
  • WordPress
  • Semrush
  • Ahrefs
  • Keywords Everywhere
  • Google Search Console
  • Google Analytics
  • Exploding Topics
  • AlsoAsked
  • Adobe Creative Suite
  • Canva
  • Grammarly
  • ProWritingAid
  • Hemingway Editor
  • Yoast SEO Tools
  • Clearscope
  • Business Wire
  • Mailchimp
  • Hootsuite
  • Sprout Social
  • PR Newswire
  • Google Trends
  • BuzzSumo

Pricing Key

Pricing is always subject to change, so we’re keeping this general. Most tools have free limited trials, some offer most features for free, and some are totally free. You will see a range for most tools.

Note that “$$$$$” indicates custom or top tier pricing for large enterprises.

BudgetPrice Range
$Up to $500 annually
$$$500 – $1,000 annually
$$$$1,000 – $5,000 annually
$$$$$5,000 – $10,000+ annually
$$$$$Enterprise level

Best content tools for organization

You need exceptional organization to prioritize and execute great content marketing campaigns.

These tools can help you create content, build content calendars, and organize your production teams. You can even use them as project management tools. Here are some of our favorite apps and tools to organize your content marketing efforts:

Google Workspace

What it does well: Formerly known as G Suite, Google Workspace is the business version of Google’s various services. It currently includes Gmail, Google Drive, Meet, Calendar, Jamboard, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Keep, Sites, and Forms. While the personal account versions of these tools are free, the premium Google Workspace offers added features, customization, template options, integration with other apps, and it comes with a low monthly, per-user price so you can get exactly what you need. Google’s suite of services is likely the most important productivity tool out there.

Capabilities:

  • Drafting content of any kind
  • Creating an editorial calendar
  • Editing and quality control (QC) processes
  • Strong workflow process
  • Collaboration
  • Can connect with outside SaS tools
  • Large amounts of storage
  • Security features
  • Simple user interface (UI)

Who needs it: Small agencies up to enterprise-level brands can find a huge degree of versatility, ease of use, and ROI for the affordable cost of Google Workspace. Individual users need not actually get the premium version. Simply creating a Google account gets you access and full functionality across many of these powerful tools.

Pricing: $ – $$

Free trial: No

Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft Office 365 phone apps

What it does well: Microsoft technically invented the original Google Workspace. Its suite of “Office” tools includes Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams, Outlook, OneDrive, SharePoint, Exchange, and other programs. There isn’t a huge difference between MS Office 365 and Google Workspace. Both offer email, collaboration tools, spreadsheets, presentation software, secure shared drives, and related features. This suite can be tailored to your budget, team size, and security requirements.

Who needs it: Company-wide teams.

Pricing: $ – $$$$

Free trial: Yes

Contently

What it does well: Contently is a platform and a hub that connects freelance content creators with large brands in order to create unique content. Freelancers get listed in the database and can pitch content ideas to brands. Brands can join the service to hire vetted talent on a single engagement basis. While this is awesome for freelancers, content marketers can use the platform to help supplement or scale their content operations. Instead of hiring more content creators on a full-time basis, marketers can pick and choose from a large talent pool as needed. It’s a quick path to high-quality content curation. But, at an enterprise business level, Contently can be expensive.

Who needs it: CMOs, marketers, freelancers.

Pricing: $$$ – $$$$

Free trial: No

Top content management systems (CMS)

Content management systems, or CMS, are the platforms that allow you to create, publish, and host your content. A CMS is also the backbone of many content-heavy websites. Prices vary across platforms, but many content platforms are free or very inexpensive. CMS generally do not include a fully designed site and some require paid templates. Common examples include Drupal, Squarespace, Joomla, Wix, WooCommerce, Shopify, HubSpot, and Blogger. To keep things simple, I’ll just mention the most popular content marketing tool — WordPress.

WordPress

WordPress dashboard

What it does well: WordPress is one of the most installed and versatile CMS options on the market. It can handle sophisticated publishing and blogging, but it’s also a phenomenal platform for building a modern, highly optimized site. WordPress is free and can be accessed in numerous ways. Most web hosting services will automatically install and configure your site in minutes. Then it’s up to the site owner to choose a template, tweak any settings, do custom design work, and install a set of plugins to meet their needs. For creating blog posts and other engaging content, a WordPress site is a must. WordPress is also a solid choice because it integrates with thousands of apps and services, and is easy to optimize for search.

Who needs it: Anyone who needs a website can leverage WordPress to create one. A WordPress blog is a vital marketing tool for freelancers on up to CMOs and large enterprises.

Pricing: FREE (with basic templates, web design not included)

Best content tools for keyword research

In order to publish content that drives organic traffic, you must first understand how your audience thinks. What questions do they ask throughout the customer journey, and how do they phrase their queries? Also, think about how you’ll group keywords into articles, categories, and topic clusters.

Here are some of our favorite keyword research tools to improve your content marketing performance.

Semrush

Semrush dashboard

What it does well: Semrush is the industry standard platform for keyword research, search data, competitor analysis, content audits, content ideation, analysis of owned web pages, and more. Even with the list below we’re just scratching the surface of its functionality.

Capabilities:

  • Developing content plans with keyword data
  • Region-based keyword research
  • Historical keyword research
  • Keeping tabs on competitor site performance
  • Longtail keyword discovery
  • Can export thousands of keywords in a few clicks
  • Content gap discovery

Who needs it: All marketers who publish written content online must have Semrush. Creating great content that will rank starts with the sophisticated keyword data of tools like Semrush. At Terakeet, we perform thousands of Semrush queries and it continues to be a go-to tool across our strategy for clients and for our internal marketing efforts.

Pricing: $ – $$$

Free trial: Yes

Ahrefs

What it does well: Ahrefs is another comprehensive tool for all aspects of content SEO and marketing. It currently has five core tools including site explorer, site audit, keywords explorer, and rank tracker. Like Semrush, Ahrefs is another must-have tool that can support your content and outreach efforts.

Capabilities:

  • Scan your site for errors
  • Conduct keyword research
  • Analyze backlinks and link building
  • Measure content marketing performance
  • Huge content database to research topics and link opportunities
  • Analyze your competitors site performance on multiple levels

Who needs it: From freelancers to CMOs, Ahrefs is an extremely useful tool that provides the data and analysis tools you’ll need for written content marketing, search engine optimization, and link building.

Pricing: $$ – $$$$

Free trial: No

Keywords Everywhere

What it does well: Keywords Everywhere is a browser plugin for Chrome and Firefox. When you search for a term, the plugin inserts detailed data on the right side of Google. It includes ranking difficulty stats, keyword trend data for your query, related keywords, People Also Ask suggestions, and related long-tail keyword opportunities. While some of the free data is useful, you’ll need to purchase credits to access more detailed data. Even when you do pay, it tends to be very affordable. 

Who needs it: Good for freelance content marketer or small agencies with a limited tool budget. It’s not ideal for the power users Semrush caters to.

Pricing: FREE – $

Google Search Console

What it does well: A must-have for monitoring a single website or portfolio of owned sites, Google Search Console is totally free. This is the most important tool for keeping a website error-free and crawlable. Some of the features include:

  • Ensuring Google can crawl your site
  • Getting detailed traffic and acquisition data
  • Error alerts for any site errors
  • Seeing backlinks
  • Troubleshooting your domain

Who needs it: Business owners, SEO and marketers, website admins, and developers need access to Search Console to manage websites.

Pricing: FREE

Best content marketing tools for ideation

All great marketing campaigns and content marketing efforts begin with human creativity, team brainstorms, and innovative thinking. Figuring out what your audience is talking and asking about online is critical if you want your great ideas to become reality. Thankfully, dozens of tools can do this and many are free. Check out these examples:

BuzzSumo

What it does well: BuzzSumo is an all-in-one platform for content discovery and trend research, brand monitoring, and influencer marketing. Users can enter a keyword, brand name, or other search and get a clear picture of the trends across news media, most social media platforms, YouTube, influencer networks, and other sources. Marketers and brands can:

  • Access brand monitoring data
  • Analyze and measure marketing campaigns
  • Perform competitor intelligence analysis
  • Empower their content strategy
  • Handle digital PR
  • Manage crises 
  • Get ahead of the trends

Who needs it: CMOs at large brands, marketers, PR professionals.

Pricing: $$

Free trial: Yes

Google Trends

What it does well: Google Trends is a simple, free tool that can help one conduct high level search trend data analysis. Users can enter a term, view interest data, learn about related searches, which can help inform future content marketing ideas. It also offers some historical trend data that can help identify seasonal and cyclical trends. Google Trends lets you compare trending searches and gives the user a general idea of how people are using Google, and what’s being talked about online.

Who needs it: Content managers and producers can benefit from using Google Trends as a starting point for brainstorming, ideation, and planning. For specific keyword research, Semrush is more appropriate.

Pricing: FREE 

Exploding Topics

What it does well: Exploding Topics is similar to Google Trends, but aims to provide high-level search trends to business leaders and marketers before they become overly saturated, competitive keyword spaces. Pro owners get features like multiple users seats, trend alerts, trend report emails, access to the trend database, and trend search. Again, this one can help at the early stages of content planning to inform your topics but for more sophisticated data, you’ll need a richer tool.

Who needs it: Like Google Trends, this is useful for content producers and content managers at the brainstorming stage.

Pricing: FREE – $$

AlsoAsked

What it does well: AlsoAsked is an aggregation tool for People Also Ask analysis. With more and more brands realizing the importance of controlling the answers to common questions on Google, having a tool that provides live People Also Ask data is very valuable. AlsoAsked is a great way to see how real people are engaging with Google. 

Capabilities:

  • Maps out live PAA results for a given query
  • Visually presents the connection between PAA queries
  • Helps marketers and SEOs target PAA answers to create controlled results

Who needs it: All SEO professionals can benefit from having access to live PAA data, but it can also help brand representatives figure out if there is confusion around their brand and offerings. 

Pricing: FREE — $

Content creation tools

Let’s say you’ve got 15 amazing blog posts you’re dying to publish. Or maybe you’ve got some awesome design elements and one-pager ideas. Great! Now the hard part — you actually need to create them. The right content creation tools make all the difference in the world, they empower us as creatives, and let us experiment. Take a look:

Adobe Creative Suite

What it does well: Also known as Creative Cloud, Adobe Creative Suite is a pack of the industry standard design tools like Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, and InDesign. The Creative Cloud All Apps package includes 20+ apps for social media, UX, web, photography, video, and design. Adobe apps cover every step of the creative process, across all campaigns.

Who needs it: Designers primarily.

Pricing: $ – $$

Free trial: Yes

Canva

Canva banner

What it does well: Canva is a free design tool that can create design elements, infographics, and other types of content. Focused on ease of use and starter templates, Canva is a great visual content design tool for non-designers. You can quickly draft a slick, modern featured image, popup, email graphic, blog post creative, social media posts, or other elements. Then you can quickly import the design wherever you need it. Canva is free but you can upgrade and get even more features.

Who needs it: Marketers and content creators who aren’t professional designers.

Pricing: FREE – $

Content marketing tools to improve writing

We all like to think we’re fantastic writers, and while that may be true, no one is perfect and every day as marketers there are opportunities to grow. That’s why having a stack of editing and proofreading tools is a great step. While your content must speak well to Google, don’t forget your audience is made up of real humans. Here are some must-have tools:

Grammarly

What it does well: Grammarly is a very useful cloud-based, automated typing assistant that ensures your writing meets grammatical standards and is typo-free. It can also handle tone, effectiveness, word choice, plagiarism checking, and other difficulties writers face while pursuing great content. The cool thing is that Grammarly follows you across apps, providing instant editing for Google Docs, Word, email, Slack, social media, Salesforce, and other common tools. The free version covers most common editing needs.

Who needs it: Anyone who writes substantial amounts of content professionally.

Pricing: FREE – $

ProWritingAid

What it does well: ProWritingAid is a unique writing-improvement tool that combines comprehensive live editing (20 different quality checks) with follow-up live masterclasses with writing experts. The app fixes your common errors, diagnoses issues, and gives you opportunities to target specific areas you need to improve. The ongoing interactive masterclasses provide specific help and expert guidance to level up your writing skills. Other editor apps simply correct errors, but this one also helps you grow as a writer using webinars.

Who needs it: Anyone who writes substantial amounts of content professionally.

Pricing: FREE – $$$$

Hemingway Editor

Hemingway Editor

What it does well: Hemingway Editor is a simple, free tool that specifically targets editing around clarity and active voice. You can paste your content directly onto the website’s text editor. Then, the editor highlights overly complex sentences, offers shorter word replacements, detects passive voice and adverbs, provides an audience level, and a word count. Both ad copy and long form writing become clearer, punchier, and more modern with Hemingway. Plus, it’s free.

Who needs it: Anyone who writes substantial amounts of content professionally.

Pricing: FREE – $

Content optimization tools

When it comes to content designed to rank in a competitive marketplace, having fully optimized content is the difference between success and total failure. You must consistently create content that strategically targets your audience while outfoxing the competition with technical excellence. Talking to humans with your content should be paired with aligning with search engine requirements. These content marketing tools will improve your SEO copywriting skills:

Yoast SEO Tools

Yoast SEO website

What it does well: Yoast offers numerous SEO resources and tools, but the Yoast WordPress plugins are especially powerful. The WordPress plugin is a one-stop SEO solution that covers all aspects of your website’s on-page optimization plus the optimization of individual pages and posts. It allows you to skip the technical jargon and quickly specify your overall SEO settings. Not only that, Yoast’s readability analysis double-checks your writing across several different metrics, giving you a score. For premium users, the tool does a deeper dive analysis of your writing. It’s amazing how much value Yoast provides through a plugin many use for free.

Who needs it: All individuals, brands, and organizations with WordPress-based websites.

Pricing: FREE – $$

Clearscope

What it does well: Building any content, whether blog posts or product landing pages, often comes down to placing the right language and keywords in your content. Clearscope allows users to input a keyword and get reports covering the competitors, word count, difficulty, and the most important co-occurring terms. 

The most powerful aspect of Clearscope is the text editor. You can paste or write directly in its editor, all the while getting real-time feedback on your usage of co-occurring terms. It provides a letter grade when you’re finished writing and displays missed keywords so you can fix gaps in your content. We find that writing for A++ score tends to keep you on track for a top 10 rank.

Who needs it: Content writers and strategists.

Pricing: $ – $$$$

Free trial: Demo only

Content distribution platforms

Whether you use traditional PR efforts, influencer marketing, or both, your marketing mix should include a promotion strategy. Use digital press release websites as well as innovative tools to spread your message far and wide. Explore these content distribution tools to expand your audience.

PR Newswire

What it does well: PR Newswire is one of the oldest press release distributors, founded in 1954. While it has undergone a transformation into modern press release distribution, the brand also offers media monitoring, creative services, communications, and real-time analytics. The site has become a hub for journalists and brands, connecting both parties. If a brand wants press release news spread, PR Newswire offers a claimed 48% media pickup, which can provide a substantial lift.

Who needs it: CMOs of larger brands, PR professionals.

Pricing: $ – $$$$

Free trial: Demo only

Business Wire

What it does well: Another press release distributor, Business Wire disseminates company press releases to news media, investors and financial markets, disclosure systems, social media, bloggers, and other entities. This is a modernized version of the classic press release model with substantial reach and media pickup.

Who needs it: CMOs of larger brands, PR professionals.

Pricing: $$ – $$$$

Free trial: No

Content marketing tools for email

Content marketing minus thoughtful, well optimized email communications, newsletters, and transactional emails will always miss the mark. Today’s marketers understand email is a core strategy to any campaign. That’s why picking the right email platform that’s customizable and automated is a key step.

Mailchimp

Mailchimp Dashboard

What it does well: Mailchimp is a long-established email marketing platform that offers full email marketing services, ecommerce support, and transactional email services. Mailchimp’s email offerings make collecting audience emails, building emails and content development, list growth, analysis of conversion rates, testing, automation, and user journey management easier and more efficient. Mailchimp is one of many email marketing platforms, but it’s also one of the best. It’s also capable as one element of customer relationship management (CRM).

Who needs it: Email marketers from small to large companies.

Pricing: FREE – $$$ 

Content tools for social media marketing

No marketing initiative is complete until you distribute your message via multiple social media channels. However, that can be challenging if you don’t have a large social media team.. Fortunately, there are several content strategy tools you can use to schedule, cross-post, and efficiently manage content across all your social channels. Our top picks include:

Hootsuite

What it does well: Draft, schedule, and measure social posts across platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Hootsuite is built to handle all aspects of social media management. Instead of posting updates to each social channel, Hootsuite lets you create your posts and schedule them on its dedicated platform. Without a social media management system, businesses with many social accounts can’t keep up. The business and enterprise levels offer workflows, media libraries, social advertising management, and administrative options.

Who needs it: Social media managers.

Pricing: $$ – $$$$

Free trial: Yes

Sprout Social

What it does well: Sprout Social is similar to Hootsuite, but it focuses on the communications and audience engagement aspects of social media management. Described as a social media intelligence tool, Sprout Social helps marketers manage conversations, publish and schedule posts, and analyze social efforts. What makes Sprout unique is its ability to uncover important insights from engagements with your audiences across social media. Businesses can use these insights to craft better stories across their social presence. It also has a tool to build shareable content that your employees can share to become ambassadors for your brand.

Who needs it: CMOs, social media managers.

Pricing: $ – $$$$

Free trial: Yes

Content marketing analysis tools

On the tail end of content marketing is measuring the impact, utilizing KPIs and metrics, and determining the ROI of various campaigns. With analytics tools, you can get a clear picture of how your campaigns were received, by whom, and how to prioritize future campaigns. Here are some impact-measurement tools to try:

Google Analytics

What it does well: For managing the performance of one or more owned web domains, look no further than the tried-and-true (and free) Google Analytics. Simply create an account, generate your tracking ID, and add it to your site’s code to start getting highly accurate audience data. Google Analytics can be complicated because it gives you all the tools but requires you to set them up to fit your needs. But for SEO professionals, it’s a breeze. Given the sheer number of tools that are built into Google Analytics and its free model, it’s the central nervous system of your website’s audience metrics and measurement. 

Who needs it: Webmasters, website owners, SEO professionals, SEO-minded marketers.

Pricing: FREE

Final Thoughts

At any stage in the content marketing process, there’s likely a tool for marketing automation, simplification, or saving time on the less glamorous aspects of building amazing content for your campaigns. From organization to success measurement, and everything in between, we highly recommend choosing a stack that works for you pricewise and covers your needs. This list should get you started, but we also suggest doing your own research as well.

Keep in mind that these tools are designed to empower your strategy — not be your strategy. This is an important distinction to make.

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How to Create the Perfect Content Calendar [Template + Examples]

Mike Rotella, Senior Marketing Specialist


Key Points

  • Content calendars are used to manage content from the topic research stage to publishing.
  • A well organized content calendar enables the content creation team to align goals and meet deadlines.
  • A content calendar can help a team create content for each funnel stage and get a birds-eye view where there may be content gaps to reach their target audience.

If you manage a high-volume content schedule for an enterprise brand, then you know how hard it is to consistently publish high-quality content at scale. You need to plan topics months in advance, organize writers and editors, and coordinate with the marketing team. In other words, you need spectacular organization in the form of a content calendar.

Content calendars (sometimes called editorial calendars) help marketers organize everything about the creative publishing process.

What is a content calendar?

MARKETING
TERM
DEFINITION

Content Calendar

A content calendar is a detailed schedule to plan and manage upcoming content. Project managers, bloggers, and content creators use calendars as a central location for all content ideas, scheduling, and workflows.

Content calendars usually contain some or all of the following elements from a brand’s content strategy template:

  • Important dates, including publication, sharing, product launch, etc.
  • Key milestones leading up to publishing dates
  • Target audience segment or persona of each content piece
  • Target SEO keyword for each content piece, when applicable
  • Who is responsible for each task in the creation, publishing, and promotion process
  • Promotional activities once content is published

Since brands create so many different types of content, it’s important to have a content calendar to streamline your content marketing execution and give stakeholders a high-level view of your activity.

You can also use this framework for specific channels. For example, a social media content calendar helps organize your entire social media strategy. This may require slightly unique information, such as hashtags, influencers, and which social media platform you will publish certain content on.

Free content calendar template

Content calendar vs. editorial calendar

While the terms content calendar and editorial calendar are often used interchangeably, there are a few notable differences between them.

Editorial calendars provide a long term blueprint for planning your content calendar.

They can be used to create a content plan for six months or even one year, but the goal is to provide a monthly breakdown of themes for your content team to use. The deliverables for each month can be based on specific concepts, events, holidays, important events, or other topics your brand wants to focus on.

Now, with an editorial calendar in hand your content team can begin creating the content that focuses on the deliverables noted.

This is where the content calendar becomes beneficial.

Content calendars are used to track and monitor the creation and promotion of content that is being created based on the editorial calendar deliverables. With an strategic content schedule, marketers can see at any point in time where a content piece is in the production process.

Ideally, you should have both an editorial and content calendar in place. In fact, some organizations combine them for the best results. Using both can maximize your publishing schedule and ability to hit defined goals.

Why are content calendars important?

Content calendars guide your strategy

Content calendars help you develop an effective content strategy that aligns with your overarching business goals. Without a strategy in place, it’s easy to  lose sight of what you are trying to accomplish and publish content that doesn’t align with your business goals.

For example, if one of your goals is to attract more qualified leads through organic search, the content you publish should reflect that goal. Your content calendar helps you stay focused on publishing content that will rank for relevant keywords and not get caught up in creating trendy content that doesn’t help you accomplish your goals.

Content calendars keep you organized

There are a lot of moving parts in content creation, publishing, and promotion. There are usually multiple team members, tools, platforms, and channels involved. Content calendars help you stay organized throughout the entire process.

All tasks involved are in a central location, along with who is responsible for those tasks. This helps keep everyone accountable and ensures that nothing slips through the cracks.

Content calendars encourage collaboration

Content calendars also make collaboration significantly easier. By sharing a common document, writers, designers, and editors can all know expectations and deadlines. They can see what content is being created, when it is scheduled to be published, and any relevant notes or comments.

It also ensures that there is sufficient time for things like rewrites, edits, or additions. And it opens up more possibilities to repurpose content across different channels. A social media manager could consolidate upcoming content from a blog post and share it on Twitter or LinkedIn to expand the reach of your article.

Editorial calendars improve consistency

Another reason content calendars are so important is that they help you be more consistent with your publishing. Without a plan in place, it can be difficult to come up with new content ideas on a consistent basis. A content calendar ensures that you have topics and themes planned in advance, as well as a timeline for all the tasks involved.

73%

73% of B2B marketers use an editorial calendar while creating content

Content Marketing Institute

It’s difficult to consistently create high-quality content if you don’t plan in advance. There are simply too many steps involved.

Content calendars help you track performance

Finally, a content calendar helps you track the performance of different pieces of content. Including regular performance reviews in your content schedule can help you improve future content by seeing what worked and what didn’t. It also makes it easier to understand which channels are performing best, making it easier to allocate your resources accordingly.

Without regular performance tracking, you can’t know if your content is moving you closer toward your business goals. You can end up spending significant resources publishing content that doesn’t really help your business.

How to create a content calendar

1. Determine content types

The first step in creating a content calendar is to determine the types of content you plan to publish. There are several things to consider

  • Capability – Do you or someone on your team have the necessary skills to create the content? For example, infographics can be a great type of content but you need to have the necessary design skills to create them.
  • Time/Resources – Do you have the time and resources to create content that is highly valuable to your audience? When working with an agency to produce content, do you have the time and bandwidth to invest to ensure the project stays on schedule and on budget?
  • Audience – What types of content resonate most with your audience? If you sell apparel for teens, TikTok might work much better than a podcast to reach your audience.

In order to consistently publish great content, you need to focus on those types that match your capabilities, your available time and resources, and the desires of your audience.

2. Select topics and categories

The next step is to select the topics and categories your content will cover over a given time period. To aid you in this process, consider the following:

  • What are the primary pain points of your audience?
  • What are their goals?
  • Do they have unanswered questions?
  • What keywords and phrases are they searching?

The more your content speaks directly to the pain points and desires of your audience, the more effective it will be.

Another helpful way to think through the subjects your content will cover is in terms of topic clusters. A topic cluster includes a central, in-depth piece of content that covers a broad subject at a high level (often called a “pillar page”). Supporting the pillar page are multiple cluster pages, with each cluster page addressing a single topic at a much deeper level than the pillar page. The pillar page includes links to each cluster page and vice versa.

Structuring your content this way helps both search engines and users understand how content is related and can provide a significant SEO boost.

3. Map content to buying stages

It’s important to map your content to the buying stages of your audience. Different types of content are more effective depending on where they are used in the customer journey.

For those in the awareness stage, you need content that highlights customers’ pain points and desires. This might include things like LinkedIn posts, blog posts optimized for top of the funnel keywords, free ebooks, etc.

For those in the consideration stage, create content that further educates prospects and shows them the most effective way to solve their problems or achieve their goals. Webinars, white papers, long form blog posts, and other in-depth content are effective for this stage of the buyer journey.

Those in the decision stage need to be convinced that your product/service is better than your competitors and is the ideal solution. Case studies, product demos, and other content that demonstrates the value of your product/service are effective here.

4. Set deadlines in your content calendar

When creating a content calendar, it’s essential to set deadlines for all the tasks involved in creating content. This helps ensure that everything is done on time and that you’re not rushing to get something published. When you’re dealing with hundreds or thousands of content pieces in a year, deadlines are a mechanism to tame the chaos and ensure a steady flow of published content.

Depending on the content, some of the tasks with deadlines might include:

  • Brainstorming topics and ideas
  • Researching keywords and phrases
  • Writing drafts
  • Editing and proofreading
  • Designing images or graphics
  • Publishing content
  • Creating social media posts
  • Monitoring results

When setting deadlines, be realistic about how long tasks will take. If you aren’t realistic, you won’t have sufficient time to dedicate to each task and the quality of your content will suffer. If you have to choose, always take quality content over quantity. High-quality content is what strengthens your brand, attracts potential leads, and drives more revenue.

5. Assign tasks

Once you’ve set deadlines for all the tasks involved in creating content, it’s time to assign those tasks. Every task should come with clear expectations of what will be done and what the expected results are. 

For example, if you assign a blog post to a writer, fill out a content brief template that includes:

  • Exactly what topics are to be covered
  • Keywords to be included
  • The target word count
  • Who the audience is
  • What the tone of voice should be
  • Examples of similar posts
  • Any other relevant details

This helps ensure that everyone is on the same page and that expectations are clear. When everyone knows what’s expected of them, it leads to better results. Make sure everyone involved feels comfortable asking questions at any point before or while they’re performing their task.

6. Select content distribution channels

It’s not enough just to publish a piece of content. You also need to deliver it to your audience. Instead of expecting people to find your content, you need to actively promote it through the right distribution channels.

For example, if you publish a new video, you can promote it to your email list, on social media, on your website, with paid advertising, etc. Your content calendar needs to include not just the content you’ll create, but also how you’ll promote it. It doesn’t benefit you if you create content but very few people see it. A strategic plan for how you’ll get your content in front of your target audience is extremely important.

7. Monitor progress

The last step is to monitor your content progress on both a micro and macro level. On the micro level, you need to ensure that all the individual creation and promotion tasks are on track and you will be able to hit all the established deadlines.

At a macro level, you need to ensure that your content is still aligned with your business goals. When you’re deep in the weeds of creating various pieces of content, it’s easy to drift from your primary objectives. Building progress monitoring into your content calendar helps you stay on track.

You also need to monitor the results your content is producing. Are your overall efforts helping you achieve the intended results? Do certain types of content perform better than others? What adjustments can you make to improve your results?

Beware of chasing vanity metrics. For example, if your goal is to generate more leads, it doesn’t matter how much traffic a page gets if it doesn’t produce leads.

Stay laser focused on your KPIs and use them to guide your digital marketing efforts.

Content calendar templates, tools, and examples

If you’re the head of content for a large brand, you’ll need much more power than what Google Calendar can offer. Fortunately, there are numerous content calendar tools and templates that can make content creation, publishing, and promotion much easier to manage.

You can also download Terakeet’s content calendar template right here. This is a modified version of Terakeet’s calendar that includes columns for:

  • Content name
  • Type
  • Format
  • Objective
  • Keyword
  • Word count
  • Audience
  • Publish date
  • And much, much more!

Content calendar application examples

CoSchedule

CoSchedule is an all-in-one content marketing platform that helps you plan, publish, optimize, and measure your content. It offers a wide range of features, including:

  • Content calendar
  • Editorial planning
  • Social media marketing scheduler
  • A/B testing tools
  • Blog post templates
  • WordPress plugin

DivvyHQ

divvy content calendar

DivvyHQ is a robust content marketing platform that streamlines the entire process and makes it easy for teams to collaborate. It includes features such as:

  • Content calendar
  • Asset management
  • Team collaboration
  • Task management
  • Workflow automation
  • Third-party integrations

Spreadsheet content calendar examples

If you don’t have the budget for an all-in-one content marketing platform, it’s common to create content calendars using spreadsheets.

Cloud-based tools like Google Sheets, Excel Online, or Zoho Sheets make it relatively simple to create a content calendar and collaborate with your marketing team on all the tasks involved. Using spreadsheets does require more attention to detail since you don’t store assets directly in the spreadsheets, but it shouldn’t be much of an issue unless you’re publishing huge amounts of content.

An added benefit of using spreadsheets is that there are dozens of free content calendar templates available. Instead of starting from scratch, you can find the one that works best for you and build on top of it.

Database content calendar examples

Historically, most database applications were complex, clunky, and not ideal for managing content production. However, in the last few years, a number of powerful, yet easy-to-use database apps have been released.

For example, Airtable combines the simplicity of spreadsheets with the power of databases, making it extremely simple to create a functional content calendar.

Airtable content calendar

In fact, Airtable created a content calendar template specifically for content marketing teams to use. Tasks can be assigned, assets can be uploaded directly, and workflow automations can be easily created. Depending on your preference, you can monitor your progress with a calendar view, as Kanban boards, or as a Gantt chart.

Similar to Airtable, Monday is another powerful database app that works well as a content calendar.

One unique feature is the ability to create documents directly within the platform, which is particularly useful if you are writing blog posts, white papers, etc.

Monday editorial calendar

Content calendar FAQs

What is a content calendar?

A content calendar is a detailed schedule to plan and manage upcoming content. Project managers, bloggers, and content creators use calendars as a central location for all content ideas, scheduling, and workflows.

Is a content calendar the same thing as an editorial calendar?

They are similar, but not the same. An editorial calendar is a high-level plan that covers the broad content themes, types of content, and distribution channels you will use. A content calendar, on the other hand, is a detailed list of each piece of content you will create for your editorial calendar.

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10 Excellent Content Marketing Examples to Inspire Your Strategy

Mike Rotella, Senior Marketing Specialist


Key Points

  • Content marketing has drastically changed in the wake of COVID-19.
  • Using consumer behavior and human psychology to shape your content marketing can significantly impact how customers and prospects view your brand.
  • Look at successful content marketing examples from other brands to build better inbound marketing campaigns.

Content marketing at scale can feel like an exhausting, uphill battle that never ends. The pressure to perform coupled with volume expectations quickly saps creative juices. Fortunately, there’s plenty of creative content marketing examples to give you a burst of much-needed inspiration.

Even in boring industries, major brands paved the way with endless types of content marketing formats that will delight your audience, and more importantly, spark a connection.

So, to better understand what great looks like, feast your eyes upon these 10 compelling examples of content marketing. We’ll also examine how each piece managed to capture the attention of thousands of potential customers.

Content marketing landscape in 2022

It’s a daunting challenge to assess the post-pandemic marketing landscape, even for seasoned CMOs. Many executives still hope customers will return to brick-and-mortar stores. But, others, including Gartner, expect consumers to embrace new digital shopping experiences.

Furthermore, cord cutters are on the rise which reduces broadcast audiences, and paid digital advertising has lost its potency.

So, how do marketers reach their target audiences without more traditional marketing campaigns? Is it even possible to deliver real, lasting brand value in the absence of budget-busting commercials?

While the road forward is still unfolding, the short answer is yes. Crafty marketers have leveraged digital campaigns to generate brand awareness for years. The best content marketing examples do more than entertain; they drive measurable results.

10 Awesome content marketing examples

Even if your content marketing team isn’t in a rut, these brands have truly dominated their respective industries by creating viral content experiences. Not only that, they increased exposure and visibility by aligning their marketing with what customers want. Furthermore, they developed content in direct alignment with Google, so they also dominate the organic search landscape.

Most articles about the best examples of content marketing point to brands like Hubspot, Buffer, Hootsuite, Zendesk, or Content Marketing Institute. So, we decided to look for fresh examples of how large enterprises use similar tactics in their own content strategies to win new business.

Video content marketing examples

An engaging video presentation is a powerful way to reach a target audience who prefers visual content. Remember, not everyone appreciates blogging, or wants to download in-depth digital marketing materials, or subscribes to email marketing campaigns.

Successful content marketers provide valuable information in formats that resonate with their entire audience.

1. Amazon’s Garage Delivery Service

Amazon, the ever-evolving technology and e-commerce Goliath, recently added an additional service. Now, you can provide your local Amazon driver with a digital key to your garage door so that your packages can be tucked away securely.

This solution is ideal for customers who aren’t home during standard delivery hours and are concerned about potential theft.

Why is this new service provocative? Because there’s a long-standing stigma around granting strangers access to your home. But, Amazon has studied consumer behavior and psychology for decades. As a result, they created a fascinating video marketing campaign with subtle undertones of psychology.

Did you happen to notice that all of the garages are anthropomorphized? They have big eyes, and they talk to each other, just like human neighbors would.

Why did Amazon do this?

Perhaps it’s because human beings find things with big eyes (like babies) cute. It’s also strategically brilliant because it humanizes customers’ homes. The campaign gives the impression that Amazon cares about the safety of your domicile. In other words, it flips the narrative that it’s unsafe to grant delivery drivers access to your home.

This is an excellent example of content marketing because it acknowledges customer pain points and offers an alternative narrative. Amazon is tough to beat in the marketing content department.

2. Jake From State Farm 

Jake From State Farm is a State Farm Insurance Company viral video marketing campaign that has been around for years. On youtube, the original commercial has millions of views. If you’ve had cable television in the last ten years, you are more likely familiar with Jake From State Farm.

In 2020, Jake From State Farm went through a change. But, what makes the Jake From State Farm campaign so unique is that it never strays too far from the original iteration. In the video campaign, the new Jake — like the old Jake — is confronted with strangers doing bizarre things to get a good deal on their car or home insurance.

He reassures them that State Farm gives good deals to everyone. The narrative is comforting, and when Jake appears on customers’ TV or computer screens, he can be a welcome, funny, and familiar presence.

People have craved this type of familiarity since the beginning of COVID. In psychology, this concept is known as cognitive fluency/flexibility. In other words, State Farm plays into brain science every time Jake appears on-screen.

Our familiarity with Jake allows us to relax and feel comfortable. We don’t have to make any new assumptions or assessments about Jake — he’s just the friendly guy that sometimes appears in our commercials. 

This is a subtle example of content marketing that leverages the latest behavioral science to reach new audiences. It’s also highly effective in these post-pandemic days.

3. The General 

Shaq in the woods from the General Insurance commercial.

Another fantastic video content marketing example comes from The General Insurance Company. This is a perfect example of a company rebranding, then joining consumers in poking fun at their old marketing.

As far back as 2001, The General inundated cable television with commercials featuring a crudely rendered CGI man in a military uniform and an annoying jingle. These commercials often went viral, but not for the right reasons. The brand was seen as hoaky, and it didn’t garnish much trust from prospective customers.

So, in 2020, the insurance company rebranded and replaced the old CGI character with notable celebrities.

In one commercial, a group of hikers led by Craig Robinson stumbles upon Shaquille O’Neal in the middle of the woods. Craig confesses that it was a mistake to banish Shaq to the deep forest for suggesting the group try The General for their auto insurance needs.

Craig admits that they thought Shaq was “Losing it” for suggesting The General. But then they realized it was just the cheesy commercials that made The General seem untrustworthy. Craig admits The General has been a “Quality insurance provider for nearly 60 years.”

This is a brilliant example of content marketing because it’s so relatable. The characters explain how they felt the same way consumers currently do, but they had a change of heart. The ad directly acknowledges consumer sentiment, engenders trust, and asks people to give them a try.

4. Indeed’s “New Beginning” commercial

Sometimes, creative content marketing campaigns can have real heart and tackle serious issues that face consumers and businesses alike. Indeed’s “New Beginning” commercial does all of this. The video is a B2B commercial at its core. But, it also lets customers know that Indeed is a platform they can trust during their own hiring process.

In the commercial, we meet Taylor, a gender non-conforming candidate preparing for a job interview. They try on interview clothes, practice their introduction in the mirror, and then wait anxiously in the lobby of their new prospective employer.

The commercial doesn’t feature much dialogue until the end, when the interviewer provides his pronouns and asks Taylor if they would be comfortable discussing the pronouns they use. Taylor says they use “They/them pronouns” and thanks the interviewer with a big smile.   

This is emotional and highly sensitive content, and Indeed approaches the subject matter with sensitivity and forethought. Indeed’s video is an excellent example of content marketing that positions its brand as a thought leader and an inclusive business.

In 2021, these issues are essential to end-users and therefore should be important to the brands that serve them. Indeed does a remarkable job of using a small amount of digital real estate to say a lot.

5. Slack’s Frontiers Conference (including video talks)

Each year Slack hosts an annual conference to meet and educate their 630,000 global customers. Slack experienced considerable business growth when many companies went remote to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The Slack Frontiers conference is an excellent opportunity for businesses to learn more about the brand’s growing service offering.

In addition to the conference, Slack doubles down on powerful growth marketing hacks. The brand publishes videos on its Youtube channel geared towards decision-makers at brands who need a solution to interoffice, remote communication. The videos are brilliantly targeted and address current concerns that brands and executives have. These demos, tutorials, and other video marketing materials also generate demand for the conference.

Social media content marketing examples

Social media marketing exploded in 2020, with a record 3.96 billion people actively using social platforms. To be competitive, brands must evaluate how their social media content is performing. Below are two prime examples of content marketing in which brands reached the consumer at the right time and with the right message.

6. Spotify’s Wrapped (user data-driven campaign)

spotify wrapped content marketing example

In 2017, Spotify launched a data-driven social media campaign called “Wrapped.” The campaign took listeners’ data and produced a series of eye-catching, fun stats on listening behavior. The reason it worked so well is because they paid close attention to user experience and made these slides highly shareable and aesthetically pleasing.

As a result, customers ate these slides up. Sign-ups for the app increased by 21 percent in December 2020 — signaling new users were eager to get in on the fun. Wrapped is an incredible example of influencer-driven social media content marketing. This proves that creating a campaign with user-specific data and visually appealing elements that are highly shareable across social media platforms is a recipe for big success.

7. Apple’s “Shot On an iPhone” campaign 

shot on iphone content marketing example
(Photo via TechCrunch)

What’s better than a user-driven campaign? It’s cost-effective, and much of the footwork is done by brand loyalists. Apple is a brand that has a long history of capitalizing on user-generated content marketing. In 2015, they launched a campaign called “Shot on an iPhone” that featured photos users shot on their iPhones.

“Shot on an iPhone” plays into consumers’ interests and talents. It sends the message that they too can make art like the professionals do, using an Apple product.

Not only did the campaign land on billboards across the country, but it was also a hugely popular social media campaign by influencers. The gorgeous photos are more than a testament to Apple’s tech. They’re also an example of enduring content marketing campaigns.

Content marketing doesn’t have to be solely about quick wins. Building lasting campaigns can reduce overhead and generate sustainable revenue and interest in your brand.

Evergreen Content Marketing Examples

Some kinds of content marketing never truly go out of style. Evergreen content marketing doesn’t involve a ton of statistics, news stories, holiday shopping guides, or anything else that will expire. Instead, evergreen content includes things like:

  • Best tips 
  • Listicles 
  • Reviews of products and services
  • “How to” blog posts
  • Video guides

So, for content marketing to truly be evergreen, it can’t include elements that need frequent updating. It should be able to exist on its own, in perpetuity. Here are three examples of everlasting, compelling content marketing: 

8. Neutrogena’s Creator Studio

neutrogena studios content marketing campaign

In 2020, Neutrogena (a Johnson & Johnson company) announced that they had created a user-generated video content studio that focuses on skin health. Filmmakers can submit content that is educational, informative and focuses on the health and wellness of skin.

This campaign puts the customer in the driver’s seat. Although a board of advisors oversees video posting activity, for the most part this brand awareness strategy is on autopilot. This is an excellent piece of beauty content marketing that will live in perpetuity in the studio. It’s also a fantastic example of utilizing brand loyalists and creatives to spread your message.

9. Byrdie’s educational content 

Byrdie is a beauty industry publisher that flexes all kinds of great content marketing. In fact, the brand performs so well in organic search that it edges out major retailers for Google market share.

Byrdie’s secret? Long-form evergreen blog content.

sample of content marketing from byrdie

Byrdie offers many “Top X” content that drills down to a niche product or particular audience. These posts don’t have to be updated by an editor because they are designed to be educational and are often brand-agnostic.

It’s an excellent way for customers at the very top of the purchasing funnel to better understand their problem and how to solve it. Byrdie wins out in organic search because their content marketing strategy is highly focused and includes a ton of evergreen, educational content.

10. MINDBODY education content hub

mindbody education hub

Mindbody is a wildly popular SaaS company that provides business management services to brands of every size. In addition, they created an educational content hub that is full of helpful webinars, blogs, and events that help businesses achieve their retention and revenue goals.

Content hubs are almost guaranteed to live in perpetuity, and creating one for brand decision-makers is incredibly forward-thinking. It’s also categorized by industry. Proper content marketing doesn’t focus on the brand itself but rather the B2B or B2C user. Brand loyalty is gained by helping customers achieve their own goals.

This is an incredible example of utilizing content marketing to be a real partner to your customer.

11. MOS student finance content hub

screenshot of MOS content marketing

One more excellent example of content marketing comes from MOS, the financial technology company for students. They created an evergreen content hub to educate students on the topics they care most about. For instance, they cover topics like the FAFSA, scholarships, work-study programs, and whether student loans count as income.

Takeaways: the common thread

So, we’ve seen that the types of content marketing available to brands are virtually limitless. The real challenge is picking the right kind of content marketing that will align with your customers’ needs and concerns.

Among all the great content marketing examples we explored, there was a wide variety of themes, brands, and formats. Yet, there was one common thread that made them all noteworthy. Namely, they all connected with the end-user at their level and addressed their needs.

In other words, if you want your content to be successful, you must know your customers better than they know themselves.

Amplify your content marketing through SEO

Let’s assume that you take inspiration from the brilliant content marketing strategy examples above and develop your own content. You get the budget and create your landing pages. Then, you develop multiple targeted pieces of content, including podcasts, infographics, templates, case studies, or white papers. You even brainstormed creative hashtags.

But, how will you promote all this high-quality content you invested in?

Are your current marketing channels the best place to gain visibility for your hard work? Which success metrics will you measure? Impressions, page views, organic traffic, subscribers, or something else? Will you do the work in-house, work with a marketing agency, or outsource SEO?

Many of the online content marketing examples above were successful because they were backed by a powerful SEO strategy in addition to paid advertising. Organic search also allows brands to measure campaign success in terms of actions rather than fuzzy metrics such as impressions.

The more consumers embrace digital experiences, the more they turn to the Google search bar for answers. So, it’s vital to leverage search engine optimization to amplify your content marketing efforts.

As a result, you’ll improve qualified traffic, boost conversions, and increase marketing ROI.

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10X content production

Content Production Process: How to Scale Content Creation

Mike Rotella, Senior Marketing Specialist


Key Points

  • Fortune 1000 and large ecommerce sites need scalable content strategies to 10X SEO results.
  • Before you begin producing content, define your goals and place as much importance on the planning process as the actual content production process.
  • Develop a content strategy based on keyword research and the customer journey. Then, create a content calendar and style guides.
  • Implement workflows and use project management software to streamline your content production process.
  • 10X your content production with half the work by atomizing your content.
  • Continually optimize your content production by looking at organic search traffic, conducting audits, measuring engagement, tracking conversions, and utilizing behavioral analytics.

We all know that a great content strategy is essential to SEO. But when you’re operating at scale, both your content and SEO strategy have a lot of heavy lifting to do before they can move the needle. In fact, digital content production alone won’t cut it.

Fortune 1000 sites like Intel or major ecommerce sites like Macy’s, for example, can’t rely solely on a strong blog strategy or on-page optimization if they want to see organic returns. Sites with thousands of product pages and millions of visitors must approach content differently.

So, how can you move toward 10X content production – without putting in 10X the work? Build a process for every part of the strategy and implement content atomization to create multiple iterations of core content pieces.

Here’s how to make sure your content marketing efforts all comes together:

Before content production begins

With all the benefits of content marketing, it’s easy to want to jump the gun. But to extract 10X the ROI, you’ve got to have a plan before you begin.

In a full-scale content strategy, the amount of time you’ll spend on content production may be less than the time you’ll spend planning. It’s a little like throwing a big event: sure, the way the event runs the day-of is arguably everything. But the months of content planning and coordination beforehand are what determine the event’s success.

Want a competitive advantage? Download Terakeet’s Content Playbook here!

Define content goals

What are the goals of your content? Consider the audience segment you are targeting and tie in hard numbers. How many new visitors will the content attract? What overall impact will the content strategy have on brand recognition, organic traffic, mailing list opt-ins, and revenue?

Consider how your goals should be different based on your different audience segments. For example, if you’re running a financial services SEO campaign for a global company like M&T Bank, you would have very different content goals for home-buying millennials vs parents of college-bound students.

Then think about the things that would signify a “conversion” for various content types. Sometimes your conversions will be sales. Other times they’ll look like a new site visitor reading an article and exploring the rest of the site. In other instances they’ll be comments or other indicators of an engaged audience. And yet other times you’ll want them to sign up for a related webinar, download a related ebook, or use an interactive tool.

Your goals will change as you move from the “awareness” stage of the purchase funnel all the way down to the “purchase” phase. Read more about funnels in this post about ToFu, MoFu and BoFu.

Assign team member roles

Define roles for each content team member beforehand. This isn’t just about role-setting and expectations, but also about setting up a seamless, efficient communication and process flow. Designate individual point-people for each part of the production process and establish a system of strategizing, brainstorming, creating, editing, publishing, and sharing that doesn’t change from content cycle to content cycle.

Conduct keyword research

SEO should underpin your content strategy. Data you’ll glean from keyword research won’t just ensure that your content sees an organic return; it will also teach you about your audience. What do your customers care about? Which topics are they interested in? What solutions are they looking for?

Remember to include long-tail keyword research in your content plan, mixing in short-tail keywords where they make sense.

Map keywords to the customer journey

Map the customer journey stages (awareness, consideration, and purchase) to your goals. Then, use the map you created as a cross-reference for your keyword research. This will ensure that each target audience member gets the exact content they need at precisely the right moment in the conversion funnel.

Develop your content strategy

By now you should have a good content strategy framework, so it’s time to build it out. What initiatives will inform your strategy each year and each quarter? How often will the content marketing team get together to brainstorm? Where does keyword research fall in the process? How will you allocate resources to produce content for each audience type and persona? What outcomes are you looking for when your audience consumes your content, and how will you measure success? For instance, your ultimate goal may be to improve your customer lifetime value by keeping people engaged after a purchase.

Building out your content strategy template should include additional research, like performing content audits on your own site and competing websites. And once they’re complete, determine the regularity with which recurring competitor research will make it into your content process.

Choose the types of content marketing

What kind of content marketing formats are well-suited for each topic and audience segment? How many content marketing examples will you brainstorm and produce each month per format? What additional resources will you need to make sure these types of content are executed? This is the part where you will start to see your logistical approach take shape.

Define your publication frequency for blog posts, articles, resources, videos, infographics, white papers, social media posts, podcasts, and guest posts. Do you have enough people in-house to handle the editorial flow. If not, perhaps you will need to hire/outsource to freelance content writers?

Digital content production companies vs freelancers

A digital content production agency can easily help you scale output. However, you’ll need to weigh the benefits against the costs.

On the other hand, freelance writers are a much cheaper alternative to a full service branded content production company, but they also come with challenges of their own. For example, will you work with an outsourcing agency, or find individual writers? How will you retain those writers or manage their projects if they have multiple clients? Will you get deliverables when you need them?

In addition to cost, you’ll also need to determine who will be in charge of coordinating the micro-processes that are involved in communicating with outside team members. For instance, who will edit the content for brand voice and check for grammar mistakes and plagiarism?

Create a content calendar

When it’s time to task out your content production pushes, the editorial calendar provides a vital roadmap. Allow key dates and initiatives to anchor your calendar first. Schedule out the content leading up to holidays, product releases and major digital marketing initiatives. Then fill in the gaps with engaging content that’s more evergreen. Your calendar will also help you atomize your content creation, since each topic can be executed in different formats that flow into each other.

Many brands choose to integrate their content calendar into their project management software, assigning each task as it’s created. CoSchedule is a marketing project management tool that makes content calendar integration a breeze (read more about this below).

Create style guides 

Beginning with your existing brand style guides, create a style guide that will cover all the additional information that your content team needs to know. What voice and tone should the content use? How will this voice and tone change to meet the different needs of each format and buyer persona? Address each format and audience separately, linking to examples whenever possible.

Still need to define your audience? Use these stellar buyer persona examples to map your customer interests.

Your style guide is also the place to address any nitty gritty subjective stuff your team may encounter, like when multiple forms of a word are correct but you want to create brand-wide consistency. For example, is your company pro- or anti-Oxford comma? You may also encounter industry terms with multiple spelling variations, like SEO for ecommerce vs “e-commerce” or link building vs link-building. Pick a favorite and set the standard to reduce inconsistencies and editorial confusion across your company’s whole content landscape.

Implement a content production process

In order to scale your output, you need to establish a content production process, including workflows, technology, and team structure.

Deploy content workflows and processes

And now the fun begins! During the strategy portion you built your engine, but now it’s time to tweak it and make sure everything is a) connected and b) communicating as efficiently as possible. Create a standard timeline for each type of content and build its editorial flow, making sure that deadlines and handoffs are clear and there’s a system in place for identifying and addressing roadblocks.

The more that you establish detailed workflows and processes, the easier it will be to scale your enterprise SEO efforts and achieve 10X content production gains. Put another way, without defined workflows and processes, your brand will find it extremely difficult to scale your content production sustainably.

Use project management software to produce content efficiently

Project management software is your best friend for producing high quality content at scale. Use the software your company has already onboarded with, and add a supplemental content management system if your current software isn’t ideal for creative work. Here’s a quick run-down of some popular project management platforms and content production tools:

CoSchedule

The only tool on our list built specifically for editorial production and management, CoSchedule is part content calendar, part workflow framework, and part task management system. While calendar integrations do exist in the other platforms, this system is driven by the content calendar. That means you have all the tools you need to operate your entire production and task management process from your calendar.

AirTable

If your team clashes over how the workflow is organized and presented, AirTable is a great answer. The platform moves seamlessly between several different organizational formats, including calendar, spreadsheet, kanban board, gallery, and form. The diversity of options is enough to satisfy many different working styles.

Basecamp

Basecamp is one of the oldest project management tools on our list, but it’s not showing its age. In fact, the company is quick to adapt to new interfaces and customer needs. The platform continues to shine when it comes to detailed, project-based conversations. Its age and ubiquity makes it an asset in the project management world. You’re unlikely to encounter new employees who have never used Basecamp before, which means they’ll be able to get their feet wet right away instead of having to learn a new platform.

Asana 

Asana is the only tool on our list that offers a timeline view, which can be used to provide your team with an intuitive visual of content flow. And like AirTable, it lets you switch views easily.

Trello

Another platform geared toward visual learners, Trello polishes up the kanban format until it’s feature-rich and beautiful. The moveable cards are a great way to illustrate where various pieces of content are in the production cycle, so it’s easier for team members to know when the ball is in their court.

Process Street

When you need to build processes into your content marketing strategy, Process Street’s ability to templatize makes it a breeze. You should have a system in place for every standard type of content, campaign, and product release. With Process Street you’ll be able to replicate and build on those systems instead of reinventing the wheel with every new content cycle.

Atomize your content

It’s difficult to create great content at scale. However, you can overcome that hurdle through content atomization. Simply put, content atomization is the process of creating different content pieces from a single source base piece.

Create iterative content pieces

For example, if you have one white paper about student loans that is 70% applicable to other verticals like auto loans, home loans, bad credit loans, and personal loans (not to mention other potential sub-topics such as secured vs. unsecured personal loans, fixed-rate vs. variable rate personal loans, debt consolidation loans, etc.), you could templatize the base white paper and then customize the other 30% as needed in producing an individual white paper for each vertical and sub-topic. 

Boom! You’ve got dozens of hyper-specific white papers for half the work.

Produce content in different formats

After you create all those white papers, repurpose that same content into other formats. You’ll expand your coverage, reach more people, and deliver content to new users in the specific format that they prefer. After all, some people prefer reading, while others are visual learners, and others still are auditory learners, etc.

Take a look at all the different types of visual content marketing formats you can create from a single white paper.

  • Blog posts
  • Guest posts
  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • Webinars
  • Ebooks
  • SlideShare presentations
  • Worksheets
  • Board games
  • computer games

Create a series of connected content

Another effective method for 10X content production through content atomization is to create a series on a specific topic. Take the student loans white paper example. Don’t simply produce a white paper about student loans and then create similar versions in different formats. Instead, break the content down into stages with a series that helps your audience understand student loans. You can cover all of the critical options involved, how to evaluate student loans, how to effectively compare student loans, the most common mistakes to avoid, strategies for paying off the loans, along with other related topics.

In this way, you can create a highly cohesive blog series out of your white paper. And a video series, podcast series, webinar series, etc.

Multiply this across each vertical and sub-topic, and you have an exponentially greater volume of content from your original single white paper. Imagine the business impact from this tsunami of content compared to one isolated content piece in only one format.

Content atomization expands your marketing strategy reach and envelops your target audience with your content. No matter where they turn, whether it’s Google or YouTube or SlideShare or elsewhere, they keep running into your content. You keep grabbing their attention over and over again. This has the effect of making them feel that you’re an authority on the topic, a leader in the space, and a brand to be trusted.

Use a content production calendar

The secret to a smoothly running content strategy? Deadlines for every stage of the process, not just for the draft and final edit. From brainstorming to checking the links on the final on-site piece, every deadline should be clear not just to the people involved in each stage, but to the people who are receiving the hand-off. For shorter projects like blog posts, it’s helpful to stick to the same day each week for each part of the process. That will help your team get used to the flow of a routine.

It’s all too easy to back-burner non-priority assignments until they, well, become a priority. But rushing from last-minute deadline to last-minute deadline is a quick way to burn out your entire team.

Lots of people (content creators especially) say they work best under pressure. But the fact is, it only takes a little bit of stress to push people beyond their optimal stress level. And when they’re beyond their optimal level, they can’t do their best work.

Give everybody some breathing room and set each deadline well in advance of the target publication date. It’s also important to build in an extra buffer every time the content changes hands. If you notice the team slipping behind, pull a non-priority piece of content or outsource some of the production to a freelancer who can produce content faster. If it happens consistently, bigger changes are in order. Perhaps your target pace wasn’t realistic, or perhaps you need to hire more people.

Measure content marketing ROI

Optimizing your content production isn’t about producing as much content as possible only for the sake of having content. That would be a waste of time and resources. Rather, it’s about creating a scalable process that turns your content into a strategic advantage that drives better ROI on your SEO spend.

So, once all your fantastic content is out in the world, measure the content marketing ROI so you can continually fine-tune your content strategy. 

Take note of SEO and engagement: which pieces are producing the highest organic search traffic, time on site, engagement, and conversions? How can you work similar pieces into your content calendar? How can you take 70% of a content piece that has outperformed your other content, and create iterative versions for different audience segments.

Utilize behavioral analytics tools such as Decibel, Clicktale, and Mouseflow to see how (or if) your content is being consumed and if it’s leading buyers through the purchase funnel. If your audience isn’t engaged, test new elements or messaging to drive better results. ensuring that your increased production is leading to a compound effect of tangible benefits for your brand.

Regularly review your content performance to see where you can atomize and get more value from the blog posts you’re already writing. Could they be converted into a white paper? Turned into a webinar? Tied to an ABM campaign? Every improvement can increase your overall marketing ROI.

Then, perform regular content and competitor audits to take stock of where your additional opportunities lie, and replicate and iterate. Before you know it, your company will be a full-scale content powerhouse.

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29 Ways to Find Content Ideas that Drive Traffic and Leads

Mike Rotella, Senior Marketing Specialist


Key Points

  • Keep brainstorming sessions productive by diversifying your team and documenting every idea.
  • Find ideas through social media, blog comments and surveys to discover trending topics, keywords and products.
  • Update and revitalize old content to create something new or viral-worthy.
  • Keep a finger on the pulse of your industry so you can predict trends and establish yourself as a thought leader.
  • Constantly evaluate analytics to create even better content ideas in the future.

How does the business intelligence software company Domo manage to publish infographics year after year that generate hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of organic backlinks? They know how to come up with content ideas that rock!

Six years ago, Domo created the “Data Never Sleeps” infographic that captures the amount of data consumed around the web in a single minute. According to the latest iteration of the infographic, each minute we watch 4,333,560 hours of YouTube video and perform 3,877,140 Google searches, for example.

infographic content ideas example
Click to view full graphic

Domo could have come up with a text-based blog post that spoke to data usage. That, my friend, would have been boring. Not exactly the kind of blog topic that attracts piles of links or that becomes insanely, massively viral.

Instead, they thought of a creative, visual way to display the data-heavy information and then gave it a catchy title. But they didn’t stop there. They also turned it into an annual event to ensure the data remained fresh and useful.

HubSpot’s Scott Brinker, who manages the Chief Marketing Technologist Blog, does something similar with his annual martech ecosystem “supergraphic”. The recent 2019 version generated more than 1,400 organic backlinks in less than a month, while the 2018 version has enjoyed more than 5,000 backlinks.

Great content performs well, so you need a continuous stream of fresh new content ideas if you hope to break through all the noise and reach prospective customers. But the benefits of content marketing go way beyond just traffic if you captivate your audience with the best blog content ideas imaginable.

It’s not necessarily easy to come up with a killer new idea. But there are specific methods to help you knock it out of the park. So read on to uncover 29 effective ways to generate content ideas, overcome writer’s block and turbocharge your content strategy.

how to find content ideas

How to effectively brainstorm new content ideas

Brainstorming sessions can lead to the best content ideas that will fuel your SEO blog strategy. However, without the right people and parameters (and freedoms!) brainstorming sessions can also lead to … silence.

To avoid crickets and keep the creativity flowing, here are a couple things to remember before you sit down to brainstorm.

Avoid “no, but…”

In the brainstorming state, all ideas are good ideas. The fewer limitations you put on yourself and your team, the more opportunity you have to come up with unique, lead-generating digital content ideas. Don’t worry if an idea isn’t realistic right now. That unrealistic idea just may turn into an incredible piece of content that no one has ever done before.

Diversify

Enterprises can have thousands of employees across different teams, so take advantage of their expertise. Diverse opinions will help you avoid silos and get unique perspectives for bigger, better and more creative content ideas. For example, someone in IT might bring some valuable insights to the table that your content team wouldn’t otherwise consider.

With a diverse team and an open mind, you’ll be ready to develop unstoppable B2B content marketing ideas.

Trends change all the time. The keyword or topic that was popular last year may not be so popular this year or vice versa. Never assume that specific topics are hot. Instead, do your research to be sure. Use Google Trends, the Ahrefs Content Explorer or even Reddit to discover content ideas that are timely and more likely to go viral.

And don’t overlook the seasonal spike in general trends stories that pop up in January in nearly every industry. For example, we wrote this post about SEO trends in 2020.

Look for keywords with the highest search volumes

Search volume is an excellent indicator of popularity: the higher the search volume, the greater the interest. Of course, with higher search volume comes increased competition. Therefore, you’ll need to decide whether to go after high-volume keywords or find low-competition long-tail keywords and create hypertargeted content.

Need help? Start by reading our post about how to do keyword research like a boss. Then, check out our topic clusters blog post to learn more about how to cover broad keyword categories with pillar pages.

Social media is one of the best ways to keep up with your audience’s interests. Twitter, LinkedIn and Quora, in particular, provide valuable industry insights around customer pain points, questions, goals and discoveries they’ve made. A little digital eavesdropping could lead to a slew of new content ideas.

See what people share on social media

Want to know how to generate content ideas that people will love? Analyze what they’re currently sharing on social media. You can use tools like BuzzSumo, Moz and Ahrefs to see what’s popular, or social media management tools like HootSuite to discover trending topics. You can also use the native analytics built into your social media accounts to see what’s resonating. Which articles and videos get the most shares or comments? Use those as inspiration for your own content.

Don’t just research your direct competitors. You should also pull useful content ideas from related industries. Global clothing retailer? Check out content in the travel industry. There’s no shortage of posts about how to pack light and stay in style with a versatile wardrobe.

Cross-pollinate ideas between similar industries

Digital marketing is all about amplification. If you discover overlapping content in another industry, why not collaborate with those businesses to create something unique? For example, as the content manager for a major life insurance company you could team up with a mortgage company on home safety ideas.

You’ll gain valuable insight into a related industry and get your content in front of a whole new audience. Take Airbnb and Flipboard: when Airbnb launched “Experiences” (which includes tours, classes and local events) they collaborated with Flipboard to create magazines that highlight experiences offered in major cities.

The result? Millions of page views and tens of thousands of new social followers.

Check out trade magazines and websites

Search volume, backlinks and share counts are all great SEO metrics to identify potential content ideas. They highlight what your audience is interested in, and, more importantly, what they rave about.

But what about the industry experts? Namely, the editors who sift through hundreds of article submissions and choose what makes the front page of trade magazines or the top of the home page for their corresponding websites? Flip through the publications to see what the experts handpicked. If an editor thinks a certain content marketing types are important, maybe should you, too.

What’s more, those publications are likely to spark similar searches online. So if piggyback off the best website content ideas, you could cherry pick some organic traffic — even if there isn’t a great deal of search volume for the terms yet.

Borrow ideas from blog comments

Why guess what your audience is thinking when you could read their direct thoughts and questions? An easy way to get inside your audience’s head is to check out what they’re writing in your blog comments. What do they like? Dislike? What kinds of questions are they asking? These comments could either help you turn the blog post they’re commenting on into something bigger and bolder like a white paper or course – or they could inspire an entirely new piece of content.

Don’t just stop at your site, however. Head to your competitors’ and popular blogger sites to see what comments are being posted in their blogs, too.

One way to quickly boost your website traffic is to take advantage of keywords with spikes in search volume. What better way to do that than with current news? Keep tabs on headlines to spot popular topics and make your brand part of the conversation. It doesn’t necessarily have to be industry related – you could use a trending topic or event to draw a metaphor or paint a picture for your audience. Just be sure to avoid controversial topics.

Review timely products

New products are launched every single day. If you’re a furniture brand, you might review a new home decor app. On the other hand, a financial services company could publish a post on the top five budgeting apps. This is a great way to drive traffic based on current trends.

Conduct surveys on your website

You can’t develop engaging content ideas if you don’t know your audience, so why not ask them what they like? Add a survey to your most popular posts with a few quick, relevant questions. You’ll discover what their pain points are and what solutions you can provide.

Poll your industry

Don’t just rely on your own limited audience for content ideas. You should also conduct an industry-wide survey to understand how customers view your niche from 30,000 feet. From those insights, you’ll be able to generate tons of great content ideas.

We recommend that you include at least one qualitative question that allows participants to respond in freeform. While multiple choice questions are useful, you’ll uncover the most interesting insights and stories when you give people the freedom to write whatever comes to mind.

Feature customers and industry experts

Everyone loves stories. To capitalize on this, conduct interviews of customers and industry experts. Your audience will love hearing from another expert or one of your customers. In addition, your interviewee will most likely share the post or podcast with their own audience!

Attend industry events

Finding new content ideas is hard when you’re in a silo. Conferences and events give you access to some of the best and brightest minds in the industry. Don’t just pull potential ideas from the keynote speakers, though. Look for cutting-edge concepts in breakout sessions, too.

Want to take things one step further? Write a review or summary of each event in a sequence of blog posts with actionable takeaways. Just don’t trash talk anyone or you’ll burn some valuable bridges.

Look for video inspiration

Video is a great example of content marketing that’s taking the world by storm, but not everyone has caught on yet. Hint: that means there’s a huge opportunity for you to pick up the slack and differentiate yourself from the rest — especially If specific keywords return bland video carousels that you can easily one-up.

Design intriguing infographics

As we’ve seen with Domo’s “Data Never Sleeps” infographic and Scott Brinker’s Marketing Technology Landscape supergraphic, visual content marketing is powerful. One piece of awesome content has the potential to double your traffic (or more!) through shares and backlinks. While you brainstorm content calendar ideas, consider which ones would make the most intriguing visual content. Then, make an infographic that blows away your audience!

Build useful industry tools

Content ideas don’t have to be limited to blog posts, videos, infographics and downloadable content resources. Tools are also an excellent way to generate leads with SEO. CoSchedule built this Headline Analyzer, which generated more than 20,000 backlinks. Tableau offers a free, lightweight version of its data visualization tool, and in the process generated over 21,000 backlinks.

What tool could you create? If you’re in the financial services industry, your customers would probably love a debt or interest calculator. Or if you’re a furniture store, why not develop a tool that lets users create a digital layout of the room they’re trying to furnish? The options are nearly endless.

Look to the past for content ideas

Update and revitalize old posts

One of the easiest ways to generate content ideas is to look back at your old blog posts. Most likely, some of those posts have outdated information you could update. But you can even take content revitalization a step further by adding new visual elements (like that infographic we talked about).

Combine content to create something completely new

As you look through your old posts, you might stumble upon some thin content. Let’s say you find a dozen different short blog posts about debt management. Instead of just updating these with new information, you could combine them into a completely new post that blows people away with how detailed and comprehensive it is.

Revisit overachieving topics

The old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” definitely applies to your content. Sometimes one of the best ways to generate leads and drive traffic is what you’ve already done before, like Scott Brinker did with his marketing technology infographics. If you created a Top Interior Design Trends post that did well in the past, why not publish a new one for this year?

Build on the best-performing content in your industry

Go beyond your own blog to discover past content that people loved. Analyze what other experts published with tools like Moz’s Link Explorer or BuzzSumo. If those pages resonated with your competitors’ audiences, chances are they’ll also boost crucial off-page SEO signals for you too.

Study why it performed well. What format was it? Did it contain actionable advice, statistics, inside intel, videos or graphics? Did it get more shares, links, organic traffic or all of the above. Learn why it did well and replicate it 10X better.

Deconstruct viral content ideas

Just because something went viral in the past doesn’t mean it was a one-and-done scenario. You may be able to recreate the past success with careful analysis. Recreate that viral content with a fresh, updated twist and see what kind of traffic it can bring. But closely examine the triggers that made it perform so well. If you’re familiar with chaos theory, then you’ll know a small change can drastically alter the outcome.

Visualize historic events with a timeline

If you’re in a fast-moving industry marked by important milestones, then you might want to brainstorm content ideas that document those events over time.

For example, if you’re in the SEO space, perhaps you start with Alta Vista, Lycos, WebCrawler and Excite, then on to Yahoo and BackRub, before you walk the reader (or viewer) through a timeline of all the major changes that Google has introduced through the years. Helping people grasp larger concepts in a visual, fun way can sometimes lead to more sharing and backlinks to your content.

Pull content ideas from the Future

If you want to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry, you have to do more than keep an eye on the current trends – you have to predict them. Check out this Fast Company article about the future of retail as an example.

That may seem difficult, but it’s actually pretty easy. Just read voraciously, take note of innovation in other industries and keep your finger on the pulse of your industry. As a result, you’ll be able to connect the dots and see patterns others haven’t yet noticed.

Discuss nascent technologies in your industry

Even if you’re an enterprise, it’s important to keep an eye on the little guy. There are plenty of stories about small start-ups and technologies that end up making huge waves in the industry. Instead of underestimating these new technologies, why not broadcast them? Like trend predictions, these kinds of posts can establish you as a thought leader who “knows what’s what.”

Seek out evergreen content ideas

You’ll need evergreen content to balance out time-sensitive ideas that focus on current trends. Evergreen content is anything that stands the test of time like this post we created about Better, Bolder B2B SEO. That content will be just as relevant in the future as it is today, so it’s likely to be shared and linked to for years to come.

Develop content ideas with great ROI

Some types of content can be developed in just one day, like a blog post, while others can take a lot of time or financial investment, like a video series or white paper. So which should you do?

It all depends on your bandwidth, business goals, and how you calculate marketing ROI. You may not have the capacity to create a video series about debt management just yet, so the ROI won’t be worth the strain it’d put on your team. In the meantime, you could create a blog series about debt management. Then, when you’re ready to tackle and optimize video, you already have a foundation to build on (and probably an audience ready for more).

Learn more about the value of SEO content:

Analyze Results to Continuously Improve Your Content ROI

Content isn’t like a watch – you can’t just set it and leave it and expect great results. To get the most ROI from your content marketing strategy, you must analyze the results.

As you dive into Google analytics, you’ll uncover insights that not only help you improve your SEO through content, but also create better content ideas for the future. The more you optimize your content to satisfy your audience’s needs, the more traffic and leads will come your way.

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engaging content

What is Engaging Content? (How to Write Captivating Content)

Mike Rotella, Senior Marketing Specialist


Key Points

  • Engaging content leads to greater engagement.
  • RankBrain is the third most important ranking signal and rewards engaging content.
  • Make your content more engaging! Add stories, case studies, fun visuals and interactive media.

Groove, a helpdesk software startup, launched a content strategy with a blog at the centerpiece of its digital marketing. The blog walked readers through the new company’s growth, month by month, with extreme transparency. The readership results were good, but the company wanted to create more engaging content.

So they A/B tested the post “How We Got 1,000 Subscribers from a Single Blog Post in 24 Hours.” They wrote one version with a story as the intro to the post, and another with no storytelling aspects.

Guess what happened?

The storytelling post generated 300% more scrolls to the bottom. And the average time on page was a whopping 5X higher. Now THAT’S what I’d call engaging content!

Same post with the only difference being a story. Storytelling is one massively effective way to captivate your audience and drive higher content engagement rates.

What is engaging content, exactly?

Engaging content” is copy that draws in your readers. It stimulates emotions, provides actionable advice and keeps users intrigued so they read every last word.

But that’s not all. Truly captivating content also prompts readers to take action. That’s critical if you want them to share, link, bookmark or fill out a form.

Take a moment and think about all the content that you produced over the years. How much of it is pure gold? Or does it put you right to sleep? It’s time to kiss the dull stuff goodbye and earn more ROI with content marketing that drives SEO results.

Don’t worry. You won’t have to nuke your entire blog strategy to create engaging content. Instead, start with the content you already have.

Ready to transform your dull content into captivating content? Let’s get started!

How to spice up your content strategy

I’ll bet that some of your old blog posts probably don’t rank well in the search engines. Whether Google views them as thin content or just “meh,” those posts aren’t doing you any favors. So why not shine up your content strategy to improve user experience as well as search visibility?

Look for content that ranks on the second or third page of search results. Google recognizes that it has some value, but not enough to land a spot on page one.

That type of content represents a potential gold mine of organic search traffic for you. If you can incrementally increase the value of the content and make it more engaging to readers, there’s a chance it will steadily climb the search rankings.

How can you improve the value? Here are a few methods…

Modernize the content

If you have content that’s four, five, or even 10 years old, dust it off and update it. Consider a new introduction and any new points to be made. Explore the inclusion of new information based on new technology, new research, new stats, new stories, new interviews, new quotes, new examples, new…well, everything, and explore ways to delete older content with information that’s fresh and modern.

It’s just as if you took your 1965 Ford Mustang and made it lightning fast with performance tires, lighter rims for less drag load, 3.73 rear gears, cold air induction, an aluminum driveshaft, etc. You’re not turning it into a Camry. Rather, you’re making your Mustang a better, faster, and more modern Mustang.

Incorporate case studies

Providing real-life case studies that relate to your topic is a fantastic way to capture readers’ interest. It puts flesh and blood on your concepts and allows readers to better understand abstract points.

Additionally, case studies can attract links from other websites, which is also a major factor in where your content ranks in the search results.

Buffer (a social media scheduling platform) is a master of case studies. They’ve partnered with the Denver Broncos, Business Insider, Fortune, and numerous other organizations to create in-depth case studies about optimizing social media usage. They not only include the situation and solution, but they add flavor with direct client quotes and statistical results.

Add stories

Just as the Groove blog experienced higher engagement when stories were added, you can use stories to transform  your old, dull, personality-less pieces into great content. People are hard-wired to like stories. Use them to captivate your readers and drive them to greater engagement and action.

Keep it fun

So much content online is boring, dull, and uninteresting. Adding in elements of fun (where appropriate) is a fantastic way to set yourself apart from your competitors. Obviously, this needs to fit the overall tenor of your brand, but some possible options include:

  • Jokes
  • Funny stories
  • Humorous images
  • Mind boggling stats
  • Video content
  • Games

Case study: how MailChimp uses fake products to create fun, community-driven, engaging content

MailChimp, the email marketing software company, created an ad in which the producer would ask people on the street to read a script. One pedestrian she recruited had sincere difficulty pronouncing the company name.

Rather than take offense, MailChimp decided to have fun with the flub. They launched the “Did you mean MailChimp?” social campaign with the hashtag #MailKimp. The campaign centered on nine name variants, each with its own website and fake (but hilarious) product offering. The names included FailChips, NailChamp, and MailShrimp (not to mention MaleCrimp and KaleLimp).

FailChips offered bags of crumbled potato chips. Per the website:

“How do you eat them?

“Our packaging is designed with one-handed chip-chugging in mind. Just tear off the corner, and then pour the chips straight into your mouth.

Now, if you’re wondering how to eat things in general, that’s a separate and more troubling question.”

Revitalize your existing content strategy template by taking your dingy and dusty content, and see if you can put a fun spin on it that will help your brand stick in the minds of your current and potential customers.

Add impactful imagery

Approximately half of the human brain’s neurons are dedicated to vision. In fact, the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text.

Adding images, videos, and other visual media that enriches the experience can keep readers on the page longer, hold shorter attention spans, and deliver greater value to them. For example, adding an infographic that illustrates an article’s main points transforms the piece of content into a piece that’s intriguing, engaging, and makes it easier for readers to digest the big picture.

Want to dig deeper? Check out these great video SEO techniques to dominate YouTube and the SERPs!

Case Study:

Let’s look at how software company DOMO uses visual content to make huge data sets relatable and digestible

DOMO, a dashboard software company that helps to “create a digitally-connected organization,” periodically publishes an infographic displaying the number of activities online in an internet minute, documenting the increase in frenetic activity by an always-on population (e.g., 3,877,140 billion Google searches every minute, etc.).

The “Data Never Sleeps” infographic generates a great deal of online sharing with each new iteration of the data analysis, and on top of this generates a significant number of inbound links from high profile sites such as AdWeek, Yahoo, Inc., Social Media Today, and Business Insider.

It’s amazing how just about any data set can be converted into a visualization. For example, an infographic outlining how the top five tech companies make their billions was shared more than 26,000 times over the past year alone. (That’s not a typo!)

Combine lackluster content to create amazing content

If you have several shorter posts that all speak to a similar subject, combining them into a single, in-depth post can result in a better reader experience and as significant increase in search rankings.

However, this isn’t about simply copying and pasting a bunch of text and republishing it. Creating high-quality content is about bringing the concepts together, organizing it in a way that will captivate and engage the target audience, and creating an enjoyable reading experience.

It’s crucial to always keep the reader in mind. It’s pointless to combine old content if it results in a jumbled mess that doesn’t pull the reader in. Creating something engaging means strategically combining your content so it speaks to more problems, answers more questions, and adds significant amounts of value.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that Google favors content that’s at least 1,000 words long and often populates the first page of search results with content around 2,000 words each. This isn’t because Google likes words for the sake of words. It’s because it knows that longer usually means more value.

HubSpot calls this tactic “historical optimization” and has used this tactic to increase blog traffic by approximately 106%.

Captivate your readers, dominate rankings RankBrain-style

Transforming old posts into engaging content isn’t particularly complicated. Your goal is simply to make it more valuable and captivating for the reader. And for the content marketers, a reader finding value in your content will lead to more social shares and inbound links, all of which help with organic search rankings.   

Captivating content also leads to greater engagement, as we saw with the Groove blog example above. From an enterprise SEO perspective, engagement is now more important than it’s ever been in the past.

With Google RankBrain, Google’s machine learning technology used to decipher context and relevance, the search engine now values post-click engagement more than ever. When Google sees searchers engaging more with your content, it’s a sign to Google that it matters, and the more that Google’s algorithm detects deep engagement with search results, you can start to see higher rankings for such content.

Should you pay attention to Google RankBrain? According to Greg Corrado, a senior research scientist at Google, RankBrain is now the third most important signal contributing to the result of a Google search.

So, now you have more incentive than ever to update your content marketing strategy by transforming your content into an engagement platform. Work to captivate your readers and watch as you climb the rankings.

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Learn how consumer insights can drive consumer connection

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