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Content Marketing: What Every Learning Practitioner Needs to Know

Where does content marketing end and instructional marketing begin? 16 experts offer advice that learning practitioners need to know about content marketing

Where Does Content Marketing End and Instructional Marketing Begin?

On the surface, marketing and learning may seem like separate disciplines. But if you look closer, you’ll see that these worlds are deeply intertwined. And the overlap continues to spread as digital content channels, strategies and tools weave themselves more deeply into the fabric of modern educational experiences.

Our Lead Analyst, John Leh, says that today’s learning practitioners are more accurately described as “instructional marketers.” I couldn’t agree more. And I would add that, in this brave new world of instructional marketing, the common denominator is content. Here’s why…

For both disciplines, creating high-quality educational content is essential. But content alone is not enough. You also need to draw the right kind of people to this content, encourage them to engage with it and then lead them to a logical next step.

In other words, an instructional marketer’s mission sounds a lot like the definition of content marketing.

What Does Content Marketing Mean To You?

The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) says content marketing is:

“A strategic approach to creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable action.”

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Content marketing is so powerful because it’s about sharing educational experiences with your constituents anytime – even before they’ve established a formal relationship with your organization.

Also, because content marketing emphasizes ongoing interaction, you can strengthen and expand relationships over time.

But why take my word for it, when you can learn from the masters? Below are 16 excellent blog posts about various aspects of content marketing:

  • Strategies for Success
  • Managing Content Marketing Programs
  • Measuring and Improving Results

All are written by industry experts who’ve been leading the pack for years. I hand-picked this collection of posts because each is particularly useful for anyone involved in offering educational content to customers, business partners, suppliers, association members or even employees.

I hope this advice helps you push new marketing boundaries!

 


Content Marketing Advice That Will Raise Your Instructional Marketing Game

STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESS

The Key to Content Marketing: Be Less Self-Centered
By Shane Snow, Co-Founder, Contently
(via FastCompany)
In this classic thought piece, one of the most brilliant minds in the content world explains why it pays to put customer interests ahead of your own.

17 Essential Content Marketing Templates and Checklists
By Michelle Linn, Co-Founder, Mantis Research
(via Content Marketing Institute)
Want great tools to make your efforts more efficient and effective? Try any of the free, proven resources featured in this collection.

5 Questions to Ask Customers When Creating Word-of-Mouth Strategy
By Jay Baer, Founder
Convince & Convert
Your organization has a story to tell. But how can you make that story truly buzz-worthy? Take your cue from conversations with customers and prospects.

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How to Win at Generation Z Content Marketing
By Francisco Serrano, CEO, 121Corp
(via MarketingProfs)
Just when you thought you had cracked the code for marketing to Millennials, along comes the next generation! Is your content ready for Gen Z primetime?

How to Use Events in Your Content Marketing Strategy
By Michael Brenner, CEO
Marketing Insider Group
Do you think of events as a separate aspect of marketing? Think again. Here’s how you can benefit from a strategy that leverages live and online events of any size.

 

MANAGING CONTENT MARKETING PROGRAMS

How to Create Personas and Map Content to the Buyer Journey
By Giuseppe Caltabiano, Head of Content Strategy, Contently
(via NewsCred)
A helpful introduction to the fundamentals – audience personas, the buyer’s journey and how they inform content development choices.

Why And How to Map Out Your Customer’s Journey
By Marcia Riefer Johnston, Senior Technical Writer, Amazon
(via Content Marketing Institute)
Precisely what content would be worthwhile for your organization to create and share? This step-by-step guide helps you clarify and prioritize.

5 Keys to Developing a Strong Tone of Voice in Your Content Marketing
By Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer
MarketingProfs
Too often, brands overlook brand “voice” as a differentiator. But one of the world’s best-known content experts explains why a consistent, definitive tone can make all the difference.

7 Triggers That Make People Want to Share Your Content
By Jonathan Gorham, Founder, Engine Scout Digital Marketing
(via Content Marketing Institute)
People may read and enjoy your content. But there’s no guarantee that they’ll share it with others. Here are some smart ways to give them the “nudge” they may need to pass it on.

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How to Create the Right Amount of the Right Kind of Content
By Sharon Shapiro, Sr. Content Marketing Manager, BlueCore
(via MarketingProfs)
How much content is enough? In a world where time and budgets aren’t endless (much less audience attention) this is an important question for every organization to address.

How to Use Supplemental Content to Get More Mileage From Big Content
By Miranda Miller, Consultant, Miranda-Miller.com
(via Search Engine Journal)
Long-form content is gaining traction in marketing circles, for a variety of excellent reasons. But are you fully leveraging these important narratives? Here’s how embedded content and other complementary elements add even more value.

 

MEASURING AND IMPROVING RESULTS

Content Marketing Measurement: 37 Most (and Least) Useful Metrics
By Andy Crestodina, Co-Founder & Chief Marketing Officer
Orbit Media Studios
What’s the best way to measure the performance of your efforts? This post is packed with ideas you can use (and some you should definitely avoid)!

Why Do Content Marketing Campaigns Fail?
By Shelley Walsh, Founder, ShellShock
(via SiteVisibility)
Your initiatives can miss the mark for multiple reasons. This helpful podcast interview explores six of the most common issues, within the context of SEO practices and today’s rapidly changing marketing environment.

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How to Score Your Content for Long-Term Success
By Lindy Roux, VP & Managing Director, Tendo Communications
(via Content Marketing Institute)
Do you know if your approach is working? How can you combine qualitative and quantitative measures to analyze performance, isolate issues and track overall progress? Try this “scorecard” methodology.

Are Your Personas Outdated? Know When to Revise
By Kim Flaherty, User Experience Specialist
Nielsen Norman Group
Like the people they represent, personas are always evolving. But how often should you review personas? And how can you tell when a refresh is due? Check this guidance from a digital design expert.

The Future of Content Marketing: It’s Not What You Think
By Neil Patel, Co-Founder
Neil Patel Digital
Any digital marketing professional can tell you that change is the only constant. But when an industry authority like Neil Patel talks about what’s ahead, it’s worth taking time to listen. In this post, Neil looks at how to achieve more with every new post you publish.

 


Closing Notes

Obviously, this list only scratches the surface. A wealth of freely available advice is always at our fingertips, thanks to marketing-minded authors and bloggers. Do you have a favorite resource that isn’t included here? What would you add to this list?

Tell me about marketing advice that has been most helpful for you as a learning professional. I look forward to hearing from you, so I can write a follow-up post focused on lessons you’ve learned and ideas you’d like to share. Thanks!

 


 

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Beyond the Course: Content Marketing for Continuing Education

With countless ways to promote and package instructional content, what’s the best investment of your time and budget?

Join our Lead Analyst John Leh and Tiffany Mack, Senior Marketing Manager of Careers & Education at Community Brands, as they explore solutions. You’ll find practical ideas and real-world examples, including:

  • Must-have elements of a marketing-led learning strategy
  • Motivational techniques to engage new and existing participants
  • Methods for improving content quality and relevance
  • Tools to scale your audience reach and involvement
  • How to measure marketing’s impact on program performance

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About Kathleen Kruse (9 Articles)
Kathleen "KK" Kruse has been exploring communication, innovation and business dynamics for more than 20 years. As an independent consultant, she focuses on the space where humans and digital technology intersect - including content strategy, learning, user experience and information design, community building and social media. A storyteller at heart, KK blends analytical insight, creative vision, and the power of the English language to define and develop narratives that are relevant, useful and persuasive. Her efforts have won credibility and market momentum for some of the world’s most innovative companies, such as Adobe, Apple, Netscape and Yahoo! You can connect with KK on Twitter at (@kkruse) or on LinkedIn at in/kathleenkruse.

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