Content marketing is central to digital marketing activities in that it permeates almost every aspect of a business, from social media to website development and everything in between. To this end, content marketers play important roles in helping businesses grow their digital platforms by creating, publishing, and sharing materials designed to attract new customers, sell products or services, and increase a company’s online visibility.
In this content marketing guide, we will look at five standout companies that are leading the field. They are an inspiration for emerging content marketers and are great companies to follow for emerging and experienced digital marketing professionals and anyone looking to start their own business.
What separates digital content marketing from traditional marketing is its focus on bringing value by educating and engaging customers rather than “selling” products outright. As companies offer content that is of genuine interest, users have the opportunity to actually learn and use bits and pieces of information, thereby getting to “know” a brand before they commit to a purchase.
Great content marketing is targeted and genuine, offering products and services that speak to an audience in a real way. Marketers can choose to do this through a number of formats, some of the most effective being videos, email marketing, social media, and even webinars. The beauty of content marketing today is that, with so many incredibly accessible tools out there, we have the opportunity to be more and more innovative at a fraction of the cost that we would have back in the day with traditional marketing.
HubSpot has positioned itself as a giant in the content marketing world. Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah originally created the company after they met as grad students at MIT. Ten years later, they have nearly 2,000 employees and are true leaders in the field of digital marketing.
One reason that HubSpot stands out is that they offer so much information and even a few services for free. This free online tool can give you a taste of how quality content marketing can turn site visitors into paying customers. Other free online tools include services such as Lead Flows, Contacts Database, Integrations, Kickback Emails, and more.
As a SaaS (Software as a Service) clients can log into the customer portal in a centralized location rather than having to purchase software that needs to be installed locally. Their blog receives over one million hits per month and therefore clearly is a leader in SEO standing. Their secret to success is creating content that optimizes the potential of transitioning users into customers.
It is estimated that 70% of a customer’s journey has been completed by the time they seek out a salesperson to help them with a purchase. HubSpot has become successful by helping to steer and influence a consumer’s decision-making during that first 70% of the time.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’re most likely familiar with TED talks. TED hosts conferences around the world where influencers and experts give short, timed talks about their area of specialization. These often engaging and informative videos are shared all over social media and in blog posts.
But, did you also know that TED is a major player in the world of content marketing? It isn’t that they provide marketing services in the way that HubSpot does. But they are certainly leaders to the extent that they’ve leveraged in-person events to create high-quality educational material and made it available and accessible to anyone who wants it.
They now have over 9.5 million YouTube subscribers on just their main channel alone. With five million people receiving a notification every time a new video is uploaded, it’s easy to see the value of good content marketing, as well as the influence TED now enjoys.
TED’s main platform is YouTube, of course, where they upload a new video nearly every day, and even offer videos about content marketing itself. It is estimated that their videos have been viewed over a billion times.
Want to learn more about what makes TED talks so special and why they’ve been so successful? Check out founder Chris Anderson’s book that explains exactly how he did it.
3. Hawke Media
Hawke Media is a brand-focused agency based out of Santa Monica, California that offers a full range of digital marketing services for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Their content marketing specialities include email marketing, Facebook advertising, SEM, paid acquisition, design, influencer marketing, media buying, affiliate marketing, and more.
One way that Hawke Media differentiates itself is that offers a la carte CMO-level marketing solutions, making it more affordable for smaller businesses and startups. They strive to provide each business with the highest return on their investment by customizing their services to the unique needs of their clients.
Hawke is a small but fierce up-and-coming player in the industry and they’ve worked with several major brands including Verizon, Raleigh, and Fjallraven. Check out founder Eric Huberman’s digital marketing and PR advice in Entrepreneur.
KISSmetrics is a leader in data collection and analytics and has many services to support businesses of various sizes in their content marketing systems and strategy.
They are focused on helping clients access the right information to help develop meaningful strategies that are brand-focused and truly meaningful. They’re also known for their own excellent content library, of which they offer plenty out for free to the public in the interest of digital marketing learning and education.
KISSmetrics is one of the Top 10 Conversion Rate Optimization Software products. By delving deep into customer behaviour, the metrics provided by this company are extremely valuable. This information tells businesses how they are doing, and shows where they can impro
5. Influence & Co.
Influence & Co. helps companies connect via truly engaging and innovative content. Their key offerings include Executive Branding, Content Marketing Strategy, and larger scale specific Content Projects such as Infographics and ebooks.
Influence & Co has grown from two employees to over 75 in the past two years and has offices in Columbia, Kansas City, and St. Louis. The company has become a thought leader for various media and online publishing companies.
Influence & Co. believes that content is the strongest tool for driving business, generating leads and sales and establishing truly sustainable customer relationships. They pride themselves on being experts in the field who can deliver your company the best quality, most impactful content to help your business maximize it’s ROI.
Using Big Data for Personalization
Always looking towards new ways to customize and personalize is an integral part of a content strategy. In addition, the incorporation of data and analytics should focus on value and step away from product and sales. So, while content marketers certainly need to keep an eye on the sales funnel, they should really be always on the lookout for new and unexpected ways to offer customers an authentic experience.
Influencer marketing can offer huge opportunities for businesses across all spectrums to improve their engagement, conversions and ROI without necessarily spending a lot. Sometimes all it takes is getting a celebrity hooked on your product. Other times, it might mean collaborating on an innovative campaign that hits home for both the influencer’s audience and your own.
The great thing about influencer marketing is that it can give you the opportunity to think outside the box and focus on actions or events (for instance, sustainability or charity initiatives) to get audiences thinking beyond product.
Video is extremely popular these days and it’s not about to go away soon. But the age of the “viral” video may be disappearing -- or at last, businesses need to ensure that they focus on new ways of creating amazing stories through video and focus less on how much it may or may not be passed around on Facebook. A cat playing the piano is cool, after all, but what does it have to do with your brand? New tools like Instagram Stories Ads are inexpensive and effective ways for businesses to expand their video marketing.
Businesses hoping to succeed in 2018 and beyond need to get clear on the purpose of content marketing and keep up-to-date on the various facets of it in order to stay up-to-date with the competition. They need to not only have a grasp on the changing nature of technology but also be constantly on the lookout for new ways of engaging with customers in truly valuable ways.
Barry Feldman of KISSmetrics may have said it best:
“Content marketing took off and continues to flourish for one very simple reason: it’s what the people want. They don’t want intrusive banners, ads, and popups. They don’t want irrelevant messages and products that have nothing to do with them shoved in their face. They don’t want spam clogging their inbox. People want high quality, useful, relevant, and engaging content about things that matter to them.”