It’s no surprise content marketing is here to stay. Over 91% of marketers say they use it and 58% of B2B marketers plan to increase their content marketing budgets in 2014.
But when we asked, “Who are the top 50 content marketing brands out there?” we knew adoption wasn’t enough. We wanted to identify those organizations who consistently deliver great content, experiment with new formats, build engaged communities around their content and design immersive, engrossing experiences.
The Kapost 50 honors these brands. This list is the result of months of research and evaluation, and selects the 50 top brands to watch in the content marketing arena this year. Its primary purpose is to show marketers in all sectors what successful content marketing looks like, and to inspire marketers to move from adoption to innovation.
So without further ado, here are the brands that made the Kapost 50:
- NYSE Big Stage (Digitas)
- Red Bull
- Sun Life Financial
- American Express
- Kelly OCG
- General Electric
- Content Marketing Institute
- General Mills
- Corporate Executive Board
- Farmers Insurance Group
- Stanford Graduate School of Business
- ion Interactive
- First Round
- Allstate Group & Esurance
- Forrester Research
- Moz (formerly SEOmoz)
- Altimeter Group
- Towers Watson
- Exact Target
- Fair Isaac Corporation
- Electronic Arts Inc.
- Harvard Business School
- Invitrogen Corporation
- Whole Foods Market
Our researchers have evaluated each of these brands (here’s our methodology), and in the process, noticed five consistent patterns and tactics from these top executors.
1. They leverage internal thought leaders.
SAS, IBM, HubSpot, Intel, Moz…most of the brands featured in the Kapost 50 have a process for tapping internal resources. Whether through a hub of employee blogs, video tutorials by subject matter experts, or aggregated insights, these organizations know how to access the brilliant minds working down the hall.
2. They don’t rest on their laurels.
Several brands on the Kapost 50 were on last year’s list. But we only included brands that truly stepped up their game and showed consistent growth and innovation in content marketing. They don’t rely on the same old song and dance. As examples, Marketo pursued new formats (marketing coloring books, anyone?), LinkedIn has expanded their influencer network and preference-based content delivery, and, well, Red Bull launched a man through the atmosphere.
3. They create content experiences.
The best brands create experiences – challenging perspectives and visceral reactions – with content. Anthropologie‘s online content (drink recipes, decorating tips) mirrors the playful, yet sophisticated style of their in-store set-ups. First Round Capital shares inspiring stories from the wild ride of entrepreneurship and venture capitalism. Birchbox readers feel like they’re flipping through a magazine, catching up on the latest trends and ogling over incredible products.
4. They pay attention and react quickly.
Etsy is dedicated to covering trending topics throughout the blogosphere, and Electronic Arts share videos, memes, and commentary around live football, hockey, and soccer games. They’ve established teams and processes that make them agile, quickly reacting to important news, events, or trends their audiences cares about. In an always-connected world, timely responses allow these brands to participate in active conversations with buyers.
5. They distribute content strategically.
Content can only deliver when put in front of the right audience, and the Kapost 50 have mastered distribution of targeted, persona-based content via the right platforms and channels. Stanford Graduate School of Business reaches bright young minds through the Tumblr platform, primarily used by 18-24 year olds. Birchbox turns each of their online magazines and guides into smaller, digestible content pieces shared across social channels.
These are only 5 lessons from the Kapost 50. As you read through the list, look closely, and view their initiatives with your marketing plans in mind. What can you take away from their efforts? Where do you see gaps, or an opportunity to do it even better?