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The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Content Marketing

Dos and Donts

Companies of all sizes in all different industries are using content marketing to attract and retain customers in their target market.  In fact, every year more and more companies are investing their money in this type of marketing, in the hopes of delivering relevant and useful information to their potential and current client base. (Content AutoPilot for example creates this great content that brands absolutely loooove.)

There are several big brands that get their content marketing right time after time (and a few that don’t!), which helps drive action from the customer and ultimately drives profitability.  The following examples of content marketing will help you distinguish the good from the bad, and give you inspiration for your own content marketing plan.

Personalized Content

Coca Cola’s “Share a Coke” marketing campaign was pure genius, and the perfect example of personalized marketing content.  In case you are not familiar with it, the company put popular names on the side of the cans or bottles, so you could Share a Coke with ‘Joe’, or ‘Bob’, or ‘Michelle’.  They also made all-inclusive labels, such as sister, mom, boyfriend, etc. so basically everyone could identify with drinking a Coke, in one way or another.   This personal approach to drinking a Coke with someone turned into a worldwide marketing effort.

What makes this content marketing strategy so successful is the personalization aspect.  Because who doesn’t want to see their name on the side of a can of Coke, right?  Any time that you can personalize the experience of using or buying your brand, it is content marketing at its best!

Content Quantity/Quality

Hubspot makes the list based on the sheer amount of content marketing the company invests in.  Hubspot has two blogs—a Marketing and Sales one, with tons of informative articles for the company’s target audience.  And that’s not all.  Hubspot utilizes just about every Social Media platform out there to connect with its audience.  And, they are a valuable resource for marketing guides, case studies, ebooks, and webinars, as well as pricing tools and review pages.

However, there is a difference between putting a ton of useless posts on your channels just to have the most, and putting out intelligent, useful, and relevant content, which is exactly what Hubspot is so good at.  They are able to manage the amount of content they generate by targeting users across various marketing topics.  To better manage your incoming leads, take the lead from Hubspot, and separate your blog into various headings and you’ll better understand the customer you want to convert.

Relevant Content

If you are shopping at Whole Foods, chances are, you are interested in healthy eating.  Whole Foods does a great job of featuring its products in recipes on its website in a healthy and appetizing way.  The pictures of the recipes make you want to try the dishes, and hence, buy the ingredients from this store.  Since the company prides itself on the quality and freshness of the food they sell, the graphics in their content must convey these aspects of their products.

Their blog is full of useful information that would interest consumers in their target audience.  Recent interesting blog articles have ranged from ‘How to Shop for Sunscreen’ to ‘How to Prep Spring Veggies, from the Produce Butcher’.  Their social media is equally informative and remains relevant to their market.  Whole Foods succeeds at making using the products they sell look easy.  Their content further drives their brand, and because it is informative, never comes across as an advertisement for the brand.

The examples above are of companies who are getting it right, in terms of their content marketing strategy.  However, it is equally important to learn what not to do when it comes to content marketing.

Impersonal Content

We’ve all gotten the generic email from a sales person prospecting you as a potential client.  They aren’t sure if you need their services but they’ll drop you a random email to check.  So even though you work in Product Development, their email and services offered are more geared toward the IT Director.

Just finding a name and email address at a certain company and sending off an email about what you do is 99.9% of the time not going to generate a response, based on that email alone.  You have to do the research to find out what your target audience needs and then introduce how you can service this need.  Once you do that, you can then craft an email that addresses an issue they have and how your company can solve it.

Blog Articles with Too Many Keywords

Have you ever read an article and you can tell the writer was asked to mention this keyword 6 times and that keyword 8 times?  The result is a very choppy and insincere article.  Often times, it comes across as a bad advertisement, rather than informational.

Your blogs should be informative for your reader and provide real solutions to the problems or issues your target audience might be trying to solve.  A well-written article will help gain a following long-term (and help generate real leads) in comparison to a poorly-written article that is laden with too many similar keywords that just sound plain awkward.

Social Issues

If you are going to tackle social, political, or economic issues in your content, makes sure the potential reaction is well thought-out.  In 2015, Starbucks sought to bring light to the racial issues in the U.S. with their #racetogether content marketing campaign.  The goal of the content was to bring everyone together to discuss racial tensions across the country, however the campaign backfired as many customers felt uncomfortable at the thought of discussing race while in line at Starbucks, as the campaign suggested.

While Starbucks certainly had good intentions with this marketing campaign, taking on such an emotional and historical issue with the flippant suggestion to talk about it at Starbucks produced a lot of negative feedback.  If you are going to go down this route with your content, make sure it really speaks to your customers (and is relevant to them), without making them feel uncomfortable about it.

Avoid these content marketing pitfalls and focus on providing value to your audience will ensure a successful content marketing campaign.  This will in turn, help you retain clients and gain new customers.


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