Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A beginners guide to Content marketing!

Content marketing is no longer a buzz word or a passing fad. Statistics show that 82% of the marketers who blog daily acquire customers from their blogs and that consumers feel more positive about about a company after reading custom content on its website. As an IMC student at Northwestern university, I have studied various aspects of content marketing and want to share with you 2 articles that I think do a great job of explaining the 'how' and 'why' of content marketing.

Pam Dayer in an article on, does a great job of breaking down the steps involved in creating engaging content.

1-Define the audience and business goals. The first step in creating a content strategy is defining the desired outcomes and understanding the target customer. This step answers questions like- the need for content marketing, buyer personas, key motivators, the social media platforms they are on, etc
2- Plan the content marketing strategy. This includes managing the work flow - who would be responsible for content creating, and the content marketing calendar - when does the content need to be published.
3- Create, Publish, Promote. Content should be created in different formats, for each stage in the buying cycle and should be optimized for SEO and Keywords. The next step would be to publish the content through the company website, blog, you tube, social media like Facebook, twitter, Pintrest, etc. Finally we need to promote the content via- social media, social bookmarking sites such as Reddit, internal links, by managing comments and feedback and maybe through mass media too.
4- Analyze. It is very important to understand whether the published content is engaging customers and is helping us achieve the goals that were developed in step 1. Various media analytic tools can be used for this process. Performance can also be monitored using KPIs

Now that we know the steps involved in content marketing, lets look at a company that is doing a great job of reaching its customers through great content.
In 2013, as a part of its content marketing plan, Chipotle released a 3 min video called ‘The scarecrow’, which was a follow up to its immensely popular video, ’Back to the start’. As explained by Karlene Lukovitz of, the video tells the story of a dystopian world in which a scarecrow is forced to work in an industrial food factory, the message being, ’cultivate a better world’. The Scarecrow” was also designed to serve as the trailer for a free iOS game that let players earn buy-one-get-one free (BOGO) deals from
Chipotle. Supported by a small online and mobile ad campaign, plus PR outreach that generated more than half a billion media impressions, the game — which delivers sustainability messages in a fun way — was downloaded 500,000-plus times by mid-October. The Scare crow video has had over 12.5 million Youtube views to date.
Every aspect of Chipotle’s brands strategy, including content marketing is deeply focused on reinforcing and building awareness of the “Food with Integrity” brand mission that supports its core differentiation— its promise to deliver “fast” food that’s not only fresh, but from sustainable sources wherever possible. Chipotle continues to be the envy of much-larger chains and brands because of the massive exposure it enjoys, despite its super-lean measured-media budgets.’ While it increased ad spending a little in 2013, its marketing costs as a percentage of sales is only about 1.6%. Chipotle has also taken an unconventional approach to its first loyalty program- The Farm Team. Instead of the typical frequency-based BOGO rewards system, this invitation-only program builds engagement by using a gamification strategy, and rewarding members for learning about food sourcing by taking online quizzes, and for sharing the knowledge via social media. One of Chipotle’s latest content marketing initiatives is a sponsored-content, “Food for Thought” area, within The Huffington Post site, dedicated to “creating awareness about how food is grown, raised and prepared and the effects this system has on us.” The platform offers posts and articles from experts and knowledgeable consumers — along with links to Chipotle’s videos and apps.

So how can you, as a marketer, learn from Chipotle's success and create a successful content marketing plan? Here are 3 action items to get you started-
  • Create content marketing goals and KPI. The goals should look at content marketing as a strategy and not as a short term tactic.
  • Get the buy in. Content marketing cannot be a success unless it resonates as a strategy throughout the organization. Make sure that the decision makers agree with your plan. 
  • Create a content publishing calendar: Plan your content marketing strategy to reflect who will be working on content creation and when. 
As evident by Chipotle’s marketing success, content marketing is a great way to engage with customers in the long run. A well thought out content marketing plan can be as effective, if not more, than advertising, in moving customers through the purchase funnel and in helping them build a lasting relationship with a company.

Kavita Jain is currently working on her Masters in Integrated marketing communications at Northwestern university. With a keen interest in Digital marketing and Analytics, she is constant trying to make sense of the ever changing world of Digital marketing. You can follow her on twitter at @jainkavita and on LinkedIn at


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