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In my last blog post I went over the basics of content marketing, also known as inbound marketing. (If you missed it, you can check it out here). Content marketing is a great way to draw targeted segments of the population onsite—great content attracts interested audiences who are much more likely to earn you conversions. The challenge, then, is to create awesome, engaging content that will draw the right audiences to your site. But that’s no mean feat! Not to worry: there are plenty of examples of great content marketing out there to study.

Companies With Awesome Content Marketing

Though no two companies have the same content marketing strategy, successful marketing campaigns all have certain things in common. The best content marketing always does the same things: it creates engaging, well-written content, ensures that the content benefits the target audience and adds value to the reader experience, and subtly embeds a branded promotional message throughout without ever interrupting the user experience.

These precepts are easier said than put into practice, perhaps. But although there is no one-size-fits-all content marketing strategy, there is much to be gained from examining the tactics of highly successful content marketing from other companies.

Birchbox

With their goal of redefining the retail process (“Discover your next everything” is their spot-on slogan) through monthly subscriptions of new and interesting product samples, Birchbox offers their customers, both ladies and gents, personalization, distinctive content, and a fun way to research and purchase beauty and lifestyle products. Birchbox interacts with its customers almost entirely over the internet, and they’re growing quickly–while they started in New York City, they’ve now expanded to France, Spain, and the United Kingdom. So how do they get the word out? Awesome content marketing.

birchboxtweetBirchbox offers all kinds of great features to their audience. They post videos regularly featuring how-to’s, trend updates, and behind-the-scenes fun. These three areas appeal to different user profiles as well–a how-to is perfect for someone who may not be familiar with how to use the products they received (for example, I had no idea how to “contour my face”, which is apparently a thing), while the trend to watch segments might be exactly what a fashion-savvy subscriber craves.

The company also releases a women’s magazine and a men’s magazine every month. Both versions include sample recommendations both for established brands and those just emerging, interviews with experts in the field (from exercise to grooming), advice on upgrading daily routines, inspiring photos from the community of subscribers and more, all written in the same charming branded voice.

The takeaway here is engaging content–in theory, Birchbox’s customers could sign up for their service and never return to the site. What keeps them coming back is the excellence of the content: the on-point branded voice, the videos appealing to different kinds of subscriber, and the titillating hints at what might be coming next. Do all these features mean more conversions? Absolutely. I seldom wear makeup, maybe once a month, and after about 30 minutes checking out their site I was thisclose to signing up for a Birchbox of my own.

Modcloth

modclothtweet2An online vintage and indie fashion retailer, Modcloth provides website visitors and customers a chance to experience the clothing industry in a totally different way. While the company’s adorable and cleverly written blog is nothing to sniff at, the company’s real content marketing genius shines through in their curation of the community. Modcloth encourages their users to “Be the Buyer“, allowing them to vote and comment on designs and patterns for dresses that could wind up available in the storefront.

The company also invites users to create and share wishlists of items they particularly like by email or on Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon and Kaboodle, allowing their community to form their own fashion-focused collections and, more importantly, to broadcast those branded collections to their entire social networks. They even offer a monthly prize to a randomly selected subscriber who shares his or her list. This part is key–by inviting their users to post on different social media outlets, and offering them a chance at a prize for doing so, Modcloth’s customers get to share their quirky sense of fashion with their friends and Modcloth gets free, relevant, self-targeting advertising. It’s a match made in marketing heaven. The users get the satisfaction of belonging to a community and designing their own fantasy wardrobe (and then showing it off to their friends), and the company gets to learn exactly who their target audience is, what they like (and what they don’t), and how they describe it. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Tablespoon

tablespoontweetPart of the General Mills empire, Tablespoon is a creative site that reminds people that food is fun. In a layout that’s sort of like a Buzzfeed of food (which, with a target of Millennials, is exactly what they’re going for), Tablespoon offers cooking tips, pictures and descriptions of food that is, in their own words, “OMG awesome,” cocktail recipes, coupons, and tips for hosting parties. Tablespoon’s recipes can be sorted to fit a myriad of different tastes and diets, from low- or no-sugar to gluten free to vegan, spicy or mild, exotic or familiar. You can even sort by how you’d like to cook, so if you’ve got a slow cooker and no idea what to do with it (guilty as charged) you can find some fun foods to try for yourself.

The strategy here is meeting their audience–a young generation who’s just moving out, trying new things, and learning to cook for themselves–where they already are: on social media. Millennials are already using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social networks to find, post, discuss, and share new and interesting ideas. Tablespoon capitalizes on this congregation by posting awesome content–new and interesting rainbow-themed recipes, creative uses of familiar ingredients, new “hacks” to make favorite recipes diet-friendly–that their audience will get excited about and spread around. Users get to explore new and fun cooking options (and maybe clip some coupons to save on ingredients), and Tablespoon gets the kind of viral buzz that Millennials on the internet are known to generate when they spot a great idea.

The Future of Content Marketing

The companies mentioned here demonstrate the tools needed to make content marketing effective; lots of businesses would do well to take a leaf out of their book and follow suit (but no copying!). As for content marketing as a whole, it seems to be here to stay, though expect it to adapt and change in the next few years. How will it change, exactly? There will likely be a stricter focus on quality content (and hopefully fewer blatant pleas to reblog), more and better cross-platform adaptation and integration with social media, smart phones, and tablets, a larger investment in the user experience, and a push toward leveraging both blogger and publisher relationships to spread that awesome content to more sites.

The biggest component to content marketing is, perhaps obviously, the content. Having great content will win you a larger, happier audience than a thousand tweets a day promoting lame duck content will. Words For Less can produce excellent, engaging content that will keep your readers coming back from more. From press releases to blog posts and tweets, we’ve got you covered. Drop us a line and see what we can do for you.

 

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