How to Win (and Lose) at Content Marketing

win and lose at content marketing

Content marketing can be an inexpensive and creative way for businesses to showcase their offerings to potential customers. But in order to make the most of it, you should look at what is (and isn’t) working for other businesses.

For example, software startup Zapier publishes a blog that focuses on productivity, workflow automation and other related topics. And these topics go hand-in-hand with the company’s product offerings.

CEO Wade Foster shares similar insights in posts on other online publications, too. These connections bring people back to the company’s site, where they find more valuable content and learn about Zapier’s software.

In a recent analysis of Zapier’s content marketing strategy and the strategies of other brands, Forbes contributor John Hall writes:

“Then, once readers are drawn to the company site, they have access to on-site content that’s extremely valuable to the audience — not just “throw up” content that somebody just spewed out. This results in quality leads and a following of brand advocates who amplify the company’s content. Brands are consistently looking at paid ways to amplify content when the No. 1 way to amplify it is to make sure it’s valuable and engaging to the audience.”

By contrast, larger companies like Verizon haven’t always been as successful in the content marketing arena. The company launched a tech lifestyle website over the summer. But Verizon’s content restrictions and lack of transparency brought it a lot of criticism.

So what do these examples show? In general, engaging, quality content works. Lack of transparency doesn’t. And neither does content that fails to provide something helpful to your audience.

Startups and small companies seem to have an advantage here when it comes to content marketing. This is because communicating on a more personal level comes naturally to them. Larger companies may be more focused on and more restricted by their brands. And this can seem less genuine.

So when you’re coming up with a content marketing plan, remember to keep your communications transparent, personal and engaging.

Image: Several members of Zapier team, Zapier


Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

3 Reactions
  1. Seems right.. the examples stated here might not be the applicable to all the cases.

    • Yes, not every example will apply to every single business. But the general lessons could still be useful to a lot of brands.