Content Marketing: Looking Back and Looking Ahead

2021-03-22 by Jim Crickell
digital apps

When the 16th annual Content Marketing Awards for 2020 were announced in October, it predictably generated a wave of excitement for the winners but also raised questions about the future of content because of the pandemic.

Enter TURN ON – Das Saturn Magazin, winner of not just CMI’s Project of the Year, but also their Best Content Marketing Program and Best Content Marketing Program in Retail. As Europe’s largest electronics retail chain, Saturn’s goal was to reach a young demographic known for blocking and avoiding online ads and who didn’t pay much attention to traditional advertising channels. Gaining their trust and loyalty has also been an ongoing challenge for brands marketing to young audiences.

Saturn assembled a team of 20 influencers who represented every corner of technology to reach this evasive audience. The team included gamers, photographers, binge-watchers, technology aficionados, and others who lived and breathed tech. These folks were the nucleus of a storytelling team that set the tone for Saturn’s channel strategy.

Not only did the format appeal to Saturn’s young audience, but it also benefited Samsung, Microsoft, and Dyson, Saturn’s promotional partners. Instead of publishing their ads, the partners were featured as centerpieces for the different stories highlighted in TURN ON.

Exposure and engagement were astronomical. In addition to running on Saturn’s website and its print publication, these tech-driven stories also ran on other channels popular to this young audience, like YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. In its content marketing program for Samsung’s new Galaxy smartphone, Saturn estimated that users spent more than 4 ½ million minutes with it even though it had only been on the market for five months. Add to that more than a million viewers who saw the video on YouTube.

Saturn’s strategy and success may be a blueprint for other marketers to follow in the future. Other finalists also displayed innovation and novel ideas worth considering.

A close runner-up to Saturn and Project of the Year finalist was Service Now’s Workflow Quarterly, a publication that leverages research and insights to make work more manageable for leaders dealing with digital workflows. The firm and its publication were also winners in the sub-categories of Best Content-Driven Website and Best New Digital Publication. ServiceNow created the quarterly magazine to showcase its research and added it to its thought leadership program. Workflow Quarterly’s issue is theme-driven around how tech is changing business and features CEOs and CIOs discussing their personal experiences.

Another Project of the Year finalist and winner of Best Transportation Publication and Best Hospitality/Travel Publication was Jetstar Magazine. Faced with decreasing readership levels, the Australian airline revised its passenger communications strategies to include new additions like videos on its social media pages, including Facebook, as well as a mix of new and inspiring stories of recent travelers.

Another Project of the Year Finalist and Best Content Strategy winner was Unilever’s All Things Hair. What appealed to the judges was the brand’s approach to its brand-agnostic platform. The research revealed that consumers predominantly searched media and beauty sites rather than brands for information and tips on topics like hairstyles. That discovery led them to publish hairstyling information by experts and select beauty editors with no reference to the brand.

The information was empowering and reliable and published along with professional photographs on platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and All Things Hair’s website. In the fourth quarter of 2019, there was a 101% increase in website traffic over the previous quarter. And by the end of 2019 and in less than a year, 39 million page views had been generated, all this by being brand-agnostic.