While a whole host of companies are reallocating their advertising funds to custom publishing and content marketing, there are a few shining examples that really hit it out of the park when it comes to quality of content, consumer engagement and alignment with corporate objectives.
These multinational corporations know that if you publish quality content, consumers will flock to you. Great storytelling, customer involvement and visual appeal are all hallmarks of the following companies’ content marketing strategies. Are you thinking of new ways to incorporate content marketing into your brand’s business plan? Look no further to find examples in how to do it right.
Coca-Cola is definitely a pack-leader when it comes to doing content correctly. Their digital magazine entitled, Journey, gets 1.1 million visitors per month and their blog, Unbottled, demonstrates how visual, shareable and interactive content can align with a company’s corporate objectives.
And it seems to be working well for them. During the testing phase of Coca-Cola’s website redesign, which featured over 60 tweaks, the company noticed a 106% increase in page views and a 1,247% increase in home page visits.
The blog features content ranging from career advice, brand history, recipes and details about Coke’s alliance with their wildlife conservation partners, the World Wildlife Fund. One thing Coca-Cola is extremely successful at is using their blog as a platform to reflect the company’s global marketing strategies by balancing their business objectives with their worldly humanitarian efforts. The blog is also highly interactive, featuring clickable maps demonstrating how Coca-Cola gives back by strengthening communities and funding goodwill missions.
Another post gives readers the opportunity to click a hyperlink that brings them to a page where they can customize their own individual or 6-pack of glass bottled Coke featuring their name, part of their #ShareaCoke campaign. Demonstrating the place of company-specific content in marketing has also been a major pillar in Coke’s content strategies. Detailed posts about employees, the history of their company and background on campaigns give consumers backstage access to the inner workings of this huge company, creating a feeling of intimacy between brand and consumer.
Wal-Mart Today, the retail corporation’s title blog, humanizes this well-known company by creating emotional storytelling, providing behind the scenes access to marketing campaigns and by allowing the consumer to get to know Wal-Mart employees.
The content on the blog is inspiring, with beautiful images and innovative ideas, strategically positioned to fill in the gaps where customers may have questions, problems or ideas. These questions could be about Wal-Mart employees, how the company gives back to the community or how the consumer can save even more money by shopping at a Wal-Mart. This type of content instills confidence in the consumer and puts them on the right path to purchase.
Wal-Mart is also a master at selling ideas that translate into the need for a product, by featuring recipes, entertaining ideas and DIY projects. The company has long been a player in the content marketing game with Creative Director of Content at Walmart.com Donata Maggipinto asserting that because consumers appreciate and trust editorial-style content, that type of content now sits atop the marketing throne.
This element of trust pervades Wal-Mart Today’s human-interest stories, company history and seasonal features, with the majority of posts being written by actual Wal-Mart employees. Articles are headed with the writer’s name, job title and the store number indicating where they work, painting a picture for the consumer what the Wal-Mart lifestyle is all about. One such story details how a Wal-Mart Training Coordinator lost weight and improved his daily life through the company’s ZP program, a weight-loss support system for Wal-Mart employees and associates. By bringing a huge brand like Wal-Mart down to a human level, the company’s content marketing campaign succeeds in creating a feeling of accessibility and closeness.
3. Whole Foods
Whole Foods’ blog, Whole Story, is jam-packed with posts written by countless people involved in the healthy lifestyle movement. The blog is easy to follow, concise and clear, with posts organized by categories such as Back to School, Beer & Wine, Dairy Free and Healthy Swaps. This allows the reader to tailor their individual experience of the site.
In addition to their blog, Whole Foods markets their image through a variety of other channels. Three different email companies direct traffic to wholefoodsmarket.com (Yahoo, Google and AOL) creating a hotbed of behavioral data that allows analysts to see the impact of content marketing strategies. Whole Foods also puts power in the hands of the consumer by allowing them to tailor their own email subscriptions through filters such as product preferences, dietary concerns and lifestyle interests. Their recipe site helps to promote new or unique products and encourages and inspires consumers on different ways to use them.
In a somewhat risky move, Whole Foods partitioned their platforms into region specific content marketing strategies, tailored to the specific needs and personality of each location. This is akin in appearance to the company’s multitude of Twitter accounts, individually dedicated to promoting and discussing meat, cheese, etc. respectively. This has proved beneficial to the company and has allowed them to better customize their content and to make it more engaging by discovering what people are passionate about through these region-specific and ingredient-specific categories. This push and pull keeps the relationship between consumer and company dynamic and engaging.
4. Home Depot
The Home Depot Blog is an outstanding example of a company using what is called hygiene content correctly. Hygiene content is the type of content that shows up in a search result most readily and is aimed at getting the customer involved and connected with a brand. Inspiring posts centered on home improvement, seasonal projects and DIY projects are neatly categorized and easy to navigate, so that the average at-home DIY-enthusiast can easily find a project perfect for them.
The blog features style challenges in which the consumer is encouraged to take on a project, most of which are seasonal or holiday-oriented such as “Fake a Fireplace Mantel.” Who doesn’t love a good challenge? They also have a category of non-seasonal projects that are geared toward particular areas of the home, such as “Learn How to Retile a Bathroom” or “Storage Solutions for Small Kitchens.”
What these projects are especially successful at promoting is confidence in the mindset of the consumer that he or she can take on these seemingly difficult tasks, made easier with the guidance, expertise and products available from Home Depot. This simultaneously does the job of getting the consumer involved with the brand by grabbing their attention with the challenge of making something themselves.
The blog also has a section devoted to Top-Pinned Products, so that visitors to the site can see what are the top-trending items. Their contributors’ page allows people to meet the DIY experts and see the faces behind the articles, creating a familiarity between the company and consumer. The blog serves as an inspiration board for Home Depot customers while at the same time promoting their products.
5. General Electric
As the third largest company in the world, GE is a spearhead in the content marketing revolution. The quality of the writing on their blog, GE Reports, is superb and makes the multinational, conglomerate corporation feel intimate and accessible.
The posts about digital news, innovations in technology, medical imaging and more make science feel cool, with lighthearted storytelling and moments of scientific awe. Their top-notch talent runs the gamut from Pulitzer Prize winning photographers to Forbes journalists, with writing that can appeal to both the tech novice and expert simultaneously. Beautiful imagery threads itself throughout their blog posts to keep the eye moving and to stimulate you to look throughout the entire website.
The breadth of article topics and the amount of ground they cover helps to transform the image of GE, widely accepted in the mainstream mindset as a lighting and appliances company, into that of a leader in innovation and high growth industries such as health, transportation and energy. The blog is particularly successful in bringing all of these titanic topics down to a human level and helping the consumer identify with a somewhat lofty and inaccessible brand.
These five companies hit the mark when it comes to building a community of consumers around a topic and letting their brand be the host of the community that develops. Rather than creating content that directly focuses on shameless self-promotion, companies with successful content strategies promote a lifestyle that aligns with their respective corporate objectives.