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Future of Content Marketing: 10 Brands Killing It in 2017

  • 30 October 2017
  • Dean Schmid

Constantly being interrupted by advertisers is annoying.

Look here, click this, buy now, direct advertising is misaligned with how we use the internet and how we actually make purchase decisions.

When was the last time you bought something because an ad outright told you to?

Never.

You want to do our own research, curate peer reviews, read, learn, and work out how this product fits into your life. You want to buy from an authoritative brand, with a community and influence.

People talk about the modern funnel likes it’s this detached, abstract thing. I think, it’s very human.

Jon Morrow puts it nicely when he says, “The point of content is to create influence, and the point of marketing is to convert influence into action.”


Future of Content Marketing: 10 Brands Killing It in 2017


Blue Apron

Blue Apron is a startup that delivers recipes and the ingredients to bring them to life. It’s an impressive idea, but what’s more impressive is the content they use to market this unconventional product.

“The team at Blue Apron spent the first few years of their company’s life explaining what their product was and how it works,” said Fitzgerald.

The Blue Apron Blog is a vital part of that strategy. Now they’ve moved past the introduction stage and are creating content that showcases what they care about as a company.

They use video content to explain their product and drive conversions towards the end of the funnel.

What's Inside Your Delivery – Blue Apron

And a strong social following, built across Facebook (1,748,735 followers), Instagram (286,000 followers), and Twitter (56,000 followers) keeps their audience in the loop.

User-generated content from an Instagram competition they ran around the hashtag #BAChef. The prize was a pair of skillets.


Sweetgreen

Known for their commitment to ethically sourcing high-quality ingredients, Sweetgreen is a healthy food store in DC that makes killer lunches from local produce. They have also invested heavily in a content strategy that follows their food from farm to store, and fills in the gaps with human interest stories, and educational content.

The Sweetgreen page opens with an opt-in. In exchange for an email address, you can join their community and be privy to their seasonal updates.

Most of Sweetgreen’s content is delivered via their blogs on Medium and Tumbler. Stories about local farmers and educational content. People trying to make informed ethical choices about what they eat care about this high-quality content.

Lauren Drell, Sweetgreen’s Director of Content, says that Sweetgreen is also working on a VR film that will take users to a working farm.


Adobe

Adobe has always been great at content marketing, but since they started CMO.com and vamped up their efforts to create a leading publication for senior marketing leaders, people have started to view Adobe as a leading authority in digital marketing.

Articles, opinion pieces, and interviews with industry leaders are published on CMO daily. Adobe has kept up this content frequency year after year.

Adobe’s Digital Insights are published research from leading marketing minds. This is what CMO really does to stand out. Sure, there is Kissmetrics, eMarketer, and HubSpot, but CMO only targets the upper tier of marketing professionals and makes itself invaluable by doing so.

CMO by Adobe

LeadPages

Founded in 2013, LeadPages has worked with over 35,000 customers and increased overall conversion rates by 400%. It creates custom landing pages and has a suite of marketing tools bundled on top of that already impressive functionality. If you expect a startup that helps companies with their content marketing efforts to have an impressive content marketing strategy themselves, you won’t be disappointed.

LeadPages’ blog has tips and tricks for improving opt-ins with examples and case studies from their successful landing pages. Their content is either educational, top of the funnel, posts, or consideration stage and decision stage posts with more of a brand focus.  

LeadPages – Blog – Tips and Guides

They use salesy videos to encourage conversions in the decision and consideration stages. They are product orientated and explain the finer points of how the landing pages are created.


Denny’s

Now time for a company that doesn’t take itself so seriously. Denny’s has a social media heavy content plan that’s effective because of its humor and consistent voice across all channels.

Denny’s zoom in on the syrup tweet is one of the most shared and liked in the history of branded tweets.

Then they made a greatest hits remastered campaign that made the connection between classic Atari games and the classic Denny’s breakfast. They even released an app.


MailChimp

Any content marketing strategy that can make you want to spend time on an email service provider’s site is doing something right. MailChimp helps a lot of companies better their own content marketing, and some of it must have rubbed off on them because they’ve found a way to have some fun in a boring niche.

Their ‘Did You Mean Mail Chimp’ series of videos acts out hypothetical situations inspired by mispronunciations of MailChimp. JailBlimp, MaleCrimp, KaleLimp, and FailChips. For the company’s first large marketing campaign you would expect something tame to introduce the brand to the world, but they went for authenticity, and it paid off. MailChimp won a Grand Prix and garnered millions of views.

MailChimp also has a blog that focuses on email marketing but occasionally drifts to other marketing disciplines.


GE

GE’s content marketing is the stuff of marketing legend. They pump out incredible content to get consumers and even future tech and engineering talent interested in the company.

GE uses Snapchat to show off a more casual side of their brand.

The Draft Science videos were massive on Twitter.

Ravens Lineman, John Urschel, has an undergrad and master’s degree in Math, so GE partnered with him and posted a series of tweets. GE was creating content that was worthwhile, and they found an intelligent way into the conversation.

Compare this informative tweet

To this cringe-worthy hack trying to achieve relevance.

GE Reports are informative blogs the delve into whatever incredibly cool thing GE happens to be doing and give their readers a chance to nerd out.


The Dollar Shave Club

Brands lose their authenticity when they refuse to take risks. In the modern hypersensitive world, I can understand why big companies feel like they need to tip toe, but Dollar Shave Club released a digital publication called MEL that deviates from sanitary brand content to produce something more genuine.

By tackling the big issues, with more integrity than most major news outlets, Dollar Shave Club has created a worthwhile online presence.  

Dollar Shave Club's first taste of viral success came from their launch video. The no-nonsense explanation of their product was a hit with men, who viewed shaving as a no-nonsense sort of thing.

Similar to their Mel publication they weren’t afraid to use some four-letter words and speak like a real person. This confidence and playful style humanizes the brand and creates a strong voice across platforms.


Autodesk

Autodesk sells content for design, engineering, developing, architecture, and entertainment. That is a pretty broad demographic, but the ingenious content strategy they began in 2012 took it all in its stride and decided to target their very small business segment.

“Dusty DiMercurio convinced leadership to let him hire the company’s first content marketing manager: Kylee Swenson, a long-time journalist, writer, and magazine editor. Together the duo launched a digital publication called Line//Shape//Space (now Redshift). “ – Content Marketing Institute

Redshift – Autodesk

They also host regular online webinar teaching people how to use their products, and these are promoted on social media.


Hamburger Helper

One of the more interesting content experiments of recent times was Hamburger Helper’s mixtape. Watch the Stove got over 4 million plays in one weekend, a success that surprised the brand more than anyone.

They built a reputation for themselves by commenting on Hip Hop news and rewriting the lyrics to songs. Then this happened.

The five-track mixtape featuring local Minneapolis artists and influencers was released on April Fool’s day, to an audience who would soon discover it was no joke.

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