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5 Lessons From the Content Marketing Awards Project of the Year Finalists



5 Lessons From the Content Marketing Awards Project of the Year Finalists

What makes the most successful content marketers stand apart from their peers?

They don’t want to simply sustain their success. Rather, they evolve their capabilities, iterate on their creative achievements, and expand the value they deliver to their audience.

As proof, look at the work produced by content marketers at the five brands competing for Project of the Year at the 2022 Content Marketing Awards. Each already has been honored with best in category awards.

Lesson 1: Invest in becoming a go-to source of trusted information

Cleveland Clinic’s Health Essentials blog has long been recognized as a content marketing success story. Its executive director of content marketing, Amanda Todorovich, has the 2016 Content Marketer of the Year trophy to prove it. But, in the last few years, her team has expanded a different part of the brand’s website: its Health Library. (A screenshot of its home page below shows a user-friendly search bar and previews some of the questions and answers by category.)

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The Health Library is an online encyclopedia of trustworthy, accurate health information – something today’s online consumers could certainly use more of. In fact, more than 80% of traffic to Cleveland Clinic’s main website in 2021 came from organic Google searches for health information.

To grow site traffic, the writing staff on the content marketing team tripled, and the SEO team expanded to 16. Using those resources, Cleveland Clinic evolved its Health Library into a more comprehensive and competitive resource, producing more than 2,000 new articles in 2021.

Health Library traffic grew 134% year over year (2020 to 2021). It accounts for more than three-fourths of the 10 million to 13 million monthly visitors to

Amanda says staying true to the content team’s original, simple strategy was the key.

Staying true to your #content team’s original, simple strategy is key to success, says @amandatodo of @ClevelandClinic via @AnnGynn @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

You can hear Amanda share more details on that strategy in this video included with the Cleveland Clinic’s Content Marketing Awards (starting at 1:25):

This Cleveland Clinic project earned first place in health care content marketing programs, multi-year content marketing programs, and content strategy categories in the Content Marketing Awards.

Lesson 2: Find a niche within a niche

If you think health care has a crowded content landscape, try standing out as a pet care brand.

Pet-related content practically makes the internet go round. To get answers to their questions, pet owners can wade through millions of content pieces offering advice, product information, and a never-ending supply of cuteness.

Foundry 360, the internal content agency of industry trade publisher Dotdash Meredith, identified an underserved audience niche in the crowded pet community – people who own cats AND dogs. In May 2021, with the high-profile national brand Mars Petcare as the sponsor, they launched a twice-yearly print magazine, Paw Print, to fill that content gap – and grow their share of the estimated $123 billion U.S. consumers spent on their pets in 2021.

#Foundry360 found an underserved niche in the crowded pet community – people who own cats AND dogs, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

This cover Paw Print illustrates its mission with a cute photo of a dog and kitten. Among the cover lines: Home Alone – Help your Furry Friends Cope When You Return To Work, How To Decode Your Pets’ Body Language, and Expert Advice on Caring for Senior Animals.

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While Paw Print’s content appeals to cat AND dog lovers alike, it caters to households with furry family members of both species. An extension of Dotdash Meredith’s pet news portal, the editorial covers important pet topics, such as health, behavior, nutrition, and gear. All ads in the inaugural issue highlight relevant Mars Petcare products.

For distribution, Mars Petcare tapped Dotdash Meredith’s database to identify subscribers whose records noted they owned both cats and dogs – a critical component of Mars’ marketing strategy. Those individuals were sent copies of Paw Print for free.

The hyper-niche strategy helped both brands claw their way to the top of the content dogpile. Circulation for Paw Print’s inaugural issue reached 1 million copies – the biggest for any print magazine in the pet category.

Even better, 99% of readers said they were likely to act on something they read, 93% planned to share or discuss the magazine with friends or family, and 80% said they were likely to purchase a product featured in the issue.

Paw Print magazine earned first place in content marketing launch and new print publication categories in the Content Marketing Awards.

Lesson 3: Use your brand’s voice to spark vital conversations

In June 2021, AT&T committed $750,000 to further its support of The Trevor Project, an organization aimed at suicide prevention and crisis intervention for LGBTQ youth. To highlight that commitment, AT&T and agency Hearts & Science partnered with the socially conscious media company ATTN: to share real-life stories from members of the trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming community.

The Love Connection is a raw documentary-style series that brings much-needed awareness to the unjust hardships people in this community frequently endure. Each video tells a person’s story with a subtly emphasis on a key AT&T brand message – the importance of staying connected.

In the inaugural video, Alok – a gender nonconforming person – describes the harassment and antagonistic remarks their flamboyant appearance incites. Despite experiencing the negativity, they encourage others to “live life on their own terms.” The video highlights the community’s sense of unity reinforced by the ability to reach out to others for support via calling or texting.

While the topic garnered hateful comments, The Love Connection sparked meaningful conversations among the LGBTQ+ community, their allies, and even their detractors. It also generated overwhelmingly positive results for the brand, its media partner, and The Trevor Project.

@ATT, @Hearts_Science and @TrevorProject partnered for The Love Connection docu-style video series and saw big positive results, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

ATTN: reports the Alok video received 5,339 comments and had a 9.5% engagement rate – more than double its agency benchmark rate of 4.6%. AT&T saw a 19-percentage point difference with the group who witnessed the campaign compared to those who didn’t when (32% to 13%) in those who agreed AT&T supports the LGBTQ+ community through digital access and active allyship.

The Love Connection took first place in the topic-specific video as part of a content marketing program category in the Content Marketing Awards.


Lesson 4: Take a warm, personal approach to build audience trust

Like the people in The Love Connection video series, people who live with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UC) often feel isolated and misunderstood.

Symptoms of these chronic inflammatory bowel diseases are unpredictable, disrupting daily activities without warning. In Belgium, only an estimated 30,000 people suffer from Crohn’s or UC. Because relatively few people experience or understand the debilitating conditions, patients can struggle to explain their reluctance to make plans or why they often cancel at the last minute.

To support and inspire these patients to manage their symptoms more effectively, content marketing agency The Fat Lady created two blogs for its pharmaceutical company client, Takeda: Wijhebbencrohn and Wijhebbencolitis (both can be accessed through

This screenshot shows some of the blog’s articles – a first-person story of how their doctor confirmed their diagnosis, a recipe for a red fruit smoothie, the search for a personal diet – and a video about one person finally managing to control their disease.

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Takeda filled both blogs with personal testimonies contributed by real-life patients. It creates an open, supportive space where patients can connect with others who understand what they’re going through, and their friends and loved ones can learn about what they experience.

Blog visitors also find helpful information about Crohn’s and UC, along with recipes and tips that can help them reduce the stress that leads to inflammation and lessen the number of flare-ups they experience.

@TakedaPharma’s blogs around Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis reaches over 200,000 visitors per year, with 70% finding it organically, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

In four years, Takeda has grown to more than 50 regular contributors. The site reaches more than 213,000 visitors per year, with 70% arriving organically. Taking such a warm, personal approach helped Takeda quickly earn the trust of this audience – and grow both visits to the site and participation in the program.

Takeda won first place in the topic-specific blog category in the Content Marketing Awards.


Lesson 5: Innovate by building on a strong foundation

How does a powerful and influential B2B brand achieve ambitious growth goals, despite a lingering global pandemic that hindered attendance at live events?

If you’re Salesforce, the answer is to reimagine your most valuable offerings and assets and build them into something that’s never existed.

In August 2021, the company launched Salesforce+, an innovative, business-focused streaming content service. It bundles 12 broadcast-quality live events and 14 original series into a centralized, owned media product that Salesforce built from scratch.

@Salesforce created an innovative, business-focused streaming #content service – Salesforce+. It includes 14 original series, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

This image promotes Trailblazer, a docu-series on the service. It features five Black leaders using Salesforce technology to change their lives and lift up those around them.

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The inspiration for this platform came through an observation: Salesforce’s B2B audience increasingly prefers engaging with video over other formats. Yet, the company’s biggest audience acquisition tool – its flagship Dreamforce event – remains at the center of its strategy.

The brand shifted many of its live experiences to digital as it began video-centric programming. It tapped the internal Salesforce Studios team to write, direct, and produce a slate of original video shows that would resonate with the Dreamforce audience.

Salesforce says initial results greatly exceeded their traffic and user engagement expectations. The brand is also preparing to enhance the platform’s features and functionality before the second Dreamforce event hosted on Salesforce+ in September 2022.

Salesforce+ earned top honors in content marketing program and use of video in content marketing categories in the Content Marketing Awards.


Which campaign reigns supreme?

Among these five wonderfully originated and executed projects, only one can be selected as Project of the Year. The winner will be announced Sept. 14 at Content Marketing World. In the meantime, which of these is your favorite? Let us know in the comments.


Join us at Content Marketing World 2022 for new ideas to drive your business, fuel your inspiration, and speed up your career. Register today and use promo code BLOG100 to save $100.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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Take back your ROI by owning your data



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Other brands can copy your style, tone and strategy — but they can’t copy your data.

Your data is your competitive advantage in an environment where enterprises are working to grab market share by designing can’t-miss, always-on customer experiences. Your marketing tech stack enables those experiences. 

Join ActionIQ and Snowplow to learn the value of composing your stack – decoupling the data collection and activation layers to drive more intelligent targeting.

Register and attend “Maximizing Marketing ROI With a Composable Stack: Separating Reality from Fallacy,” presented by Snowplow and ActionIQ.

Click here to view more MarTech webinars.

About the author

Cynthia RamsaranCynthia Ramsaran

Cynthia Ramsaran is director of custom content at Third Door Media, publishers of Search Engine Land and MarTech. A multi-channel storyteller with over two decades of editorial/content marketing experience, Cynthia’s expertise spans the marketing, technology, finance, manufacturing and gaming industries. She was a writer/producer for and produced thought leadership for KPMG. Cynthia hails from Queens, NY and earned her Bachelor’s and MBA from St. John’s University.

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Revolutionizing Auto Retail: The Game-Changing Partnership Between Amazon and Hyundai



Revolutionizing Auto Retail: The Game-Changing Partnership Between Amazon and Hyundai

Revolutionizing Auto Retail The Game Changing Partnership Between Amazon and Hyundai

In a groundbreaking alliance, Amazon and Hyundai have joined forces to reshape the automotive landscape, promising a revolutionary shift in how we buy, drive, and experience cars.

Imagine browsing for your dream car on Amazon, with the option to seamlessly purchase, pick up, or have it delivered—all within the familiar confines of the world’s largest online marketplace. Buckle up as we explore the potential impact of this monumental partnership and the transformation it heralds for the future of auto retail.

Driving Change Through Amazon’s Auto Revolution

Consider “Josh”, a tech-savvy professional with an affinity for efficiency. Faced with the tedious process of purchasing a new car, he stumbled upon Amazon’s automotive section. Intrigued by the prospect of a one-stop shopping experience, Josh decided to explore the Amazon-Hyundai collaboration.

The result?

A hassle-free online car purchase, personalized to his preferences, and delivered to his doorstep. Josh’s story is just a glimpse into the real-world impact of this game-changing partnership.

Bridging the Gap Between Convenience and Complexity

Traditional car buying is often marred by complexities, from navigating dealership lots to negotiating prices. The disconnect between the convenience consumers seek and the cumbersome process they endure has long been a pain point in the automotive industry. The need for a streamlined, customer-centric solution has never been more pressing.

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Ecommerce Partnership Reshaping Auto Retail Dynamics

Enter Amazon and Hyundai’s new strategic partnership coming in 2024—an innovative solution poised to redefine the car-buying experience. The trio of key developments—Amazon becoming a virtual showroom, Hyundai embracing AWS for a digital makeover, and the integration of Alexa into next-gen vehicles—addresses the pain points with a holistic approach.

In 2024, auto dealers for the first time will be able to sell vehicles in Amazon’s U.S. store, and Hyundai will be the first brand available for customers to purchase.

Amazon and Hyundai launch a broad, strategic partnership—including vehicle sales on in 2024 – Amazon Staff

This collaboration promises not just a transaction but a transformation in the way customers interact with, purchase, and engage with their vehicles.

Pedal to the Metal

Seamless Online Purchase:

  • Complete the entire transaction within the trusted Amazon platform.
  • Utilize familiar payment and financing options.
  • Opt for convenient pick-up or doorstep delivery.
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Hyundai’s Cloud-First Transformation:

  • Experience a data-driven organization powered by AWS.
  • Benefit from enhanced production optimization, cost reduction, and improved security.

Alexa Integration in Next-Gen Vehicles:

  • Enjoy a hands-free, voice-controlled experience in Hyundai vehicles.
  • Access music, podcasts, reminders, and smart home controls effortlessly.
  • Stay connected with up-to-date traffic and weather information.

Driving into the Future

The Amazon-Hyundai collaboration is not just a partnership; it’s a revolution in motion. As we witness the fusion of e-commerce giant Amazon with automotive prowess of Hyundai, the potential impact on customer behavior is staggering.

The age-old challenges of car buying are met with a forward-thinking, customer-centric solution, paving the way for a new era in auto retail. From the comfort of your home to the driver’s seat, this partnership is set to redefine every step of the journey, promising a future where buying a car is as easy as ordering a package online.

Embrace the change, and witness the evolution of auto retail unfold before your eyes.

Revolutionizing Auto Retail The Game Changing Partnership Between Amazon and Hyundai

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How to Schedule Ad Customizers for Google RSAs [2024]



How to Schedule Ad Customizers for Google RSAs [2024]

It’s no wonder that responsive search ads have steadily grown in popularity in recent years. Through Google’s machine learning capabilities, RSAs provide a powerful way to automate the testing of multiple headlines and descriptions to ensure a closer match to user intent. The benefits are clear: RSAs mean broader reach, better engagement, and improved performance metrics.

However, all these benefits come at a significant (but reasonable) cost – they can be extremely difficult to manage, especially when it comes to updating ad copy to promote limited time offers.

I know this firsthand – I work with several ecommerce clients with promotions that constantly change. Not too long ago, I found myself going through the consistently tedious process of updating a client’s RSA headlines and copy. As I was making the changes, I thought to myself: “There must be a better way to update this ad copy. I shouldn’t have to use find and replace so many times while pausing and enabling my ad campaigns.”

After expressing this to my colleague, Jordan Stambaugh, the two of us agreed there must be a better way. But we’d have to make it happen. A few weeks later, we put that idea into action and created a more efficient process for updating RSA ad copy on a scheduled basis. If you want to try this process for yourself, just keep reading.

Responsive Search Ad Customizers 101: Basic Options & Execution

Before diving into the process of scheduling automatic updates for your RSA customizers, it’s essential to understand some key Responsive Search Ad fundamentals.

First, you can customize three main options within RSAs: the Attribute Name, the Data Type, and the Account Value. Each of these plays a vital role in personalizing your ads:

  • Attribute Name: This is essentially the identifier for the customizer. It is how you’ll reference the specific piece of information you’re customizing within the ad. For instance, if you’re running a promotion, you might name an attribute “Promotion.”
  • Data Type: This indicates the kind of data the attribute represents and it determines how the information can be formatted and used within the ad. Common data types include Text (for plain, non-numeric text), Percent (to represent percentage discounts), Price (to denote monetary values), and Number (for any numerical value).
  • Account Value: This is the default value for the attribute that you set at the account level. It acts as a fallback if more specific values aren’t provided at the campaign or ad group level.

For example, if you wanted to promote a 10% off discount using RSAs, you’d use the “Discount” attribute, a data type of “Percent,” and an account value of “10% off.” Then, when someone is searching for products, Google would test automatically inserting a copy regarding a 10% off promotion into your ad.

Once you’ve set up the right customization options, you can start to format your RSAs with customizers.

Here’s how:

  • Start by typing in {
  • Click on Ad Customizer then select your attribute
  • Google will populate your attributes that are already uploaded
  • For a simple offer, use the “Default text” attribute as a catch-all. This will ensure your ads run smoothly if Google can’t pull the right messaging from your RSA feed



How to Schedule Your Ad Customizers with a Feed

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s cover how to schedule your ad customizers.

Just follow this three step process:

1. Create the feed

Start by creating two sheets: The Parent sheet, and the Child sheet. The “Parent” sheet will act as the primary data source, while the child sheet will pull data from the parent sheet.

We’ll start by building the parent sheet. After opening the sheet, start by renaming the active tab to “Promotions.” Don’t skip this step, it’s crucial for referencing this range in formulas later on.

In your “Promotions” tab, head to the top row and label columns A, B, and C with the headers of your ad customizer attributes. For example, you might have “BrandSaleHeadline” as your attribute in column A, “text” as the Data Type in column B, and “Shop the Collection” as the Account Value in column C.

Once your headers are in place, move to cell C2. Here, you’ll input the expression =lookup(today(),F:G,E:E). This formula will play a key role in dynamically updating your RSA customizer based on the current date.

Next, go to columns E, F, and G, which will be used to manage your scheduling. In these columns, you’ll list out the different values your chosen attribute might take, alongside their corresponding start and end dates. For example, under the “BrandSaleHeadline” attribute, you might schedule various promotional headlines to appear during different sale periods throughout the year.

Here’s how your sheet might look:

Now look back at the first 3 columns on your sheet. They should look like this:

Now create a second sheet. We’ll call this sheet the Child sheet. It’s going to automatically pull in data from the parent sheet you just created, and will be the one you link to Google Ads later on.

Columns A, B and C will be almost identical to the child sheet, but we will be using a special formula later so we can automatically populate this. So, start by labeling Row 1 Column A “Attribute,” then the next column as “Data type,” then column C as “Account value.” 

Then go to C2 and use this expression to populate the right account value from the parent document: =importrange(“[PARENT DOCUMENT URL HERE]”,”Promotions!C2″)

Your sheet should now look like this:

We recommend adding a date range with default text for any days you’re  not running a promotion. In the example above, we have “Shop Our Collection” appearing as default text.

2. Input attributes

Once you have your feed created, the next step involves inputting your attributes into the Google Ads platform. This can be done either manually or through a bulk upload.

For the manual approach, navigate to “Tools & Settings” in your Google Ads interface, then go to ‘Setup’ followed by “Business Data.” Here, you’ll find an option for “Ad Customizer Attributes.” Click the plus sign to add your attributes. It’s crucial to use the same attribute names that you’ve established in your Parent Google Sheet template to ensure consistency and proper data synchronization.



Alternatively, if you prefer the bulk upload method, again head to “Tools & Settings.” This time, select “Bulk Actions” and then “Uploads.” For this process, you only need to upload columns A to C from your template. 

Be aware that it might take some time for your uploaded attributes to be reflected in the business data section of Google Ads.

3. Set up an automatic schedule

At this point, you’ve almost finished scheduling your ad customizers. Navigate to Tools & Settings, then Bulk Actions, then Uploads, then click the Schedules tab at the top. Select your Child Google Sheet as the data source, and share your Google Sheet with the appropriate email.



And there you have it – Google will automatically pull in the data you populated in the sheets into your RSAs.

Common Challenges When Scheduling RSA Ad Customizers

When we test these sheets with our clients in the wild, we’ve uncovered five common challenges. Be on the lookout for these issues – solving them before they happen can save you a lot of trouble down the line.

Not scheduling your upload when the site changes 

The first and most significant hurdle is the mismatch between the scheduled data upload and website content updates. For instance, if the Google Sheet is set to upload at 11 am, but the website changes occur at 3 pm, there’s going to be a discrepancy where the wrong message could be displayed for several hours, or new messaging could appear prematurely. Conversely, if the website updates happen before the scheduled sheet upload, outdated promotions might linger until the new data is imported. Synchronizing these schedules is crucial; it’s best to align them so updates occur simultaneously.

Skipping QA during a message change

Another pitfall is neglecting quality assurance (QA) during message updates. It’s vital to regularly check the business data section to verify that the correct values are in place post-update.

Issues with the IMPORTRANGE function

Then there’s the technical aspect of setting up the IMPORTRANGE function correctly in the Google Sheets template. The ‘child’ template must reliably pull data from the ‘parent’ sheet. If this function isn’t configured correctly, data won’t be imported as needed.

Not sharing access of the Google template for automatic uploads

Pay attention to your access permissions for the Google Sheets template. Google will prompt you with the email address that needs permission to access the ‘child’ sheet for automatic uploads. Overlooking the sharing of your sheet with this address will prevent the system from working.

Having date range gaps in your parent sheet

Lastly, a common oversight is leaving date range gaps in the ‘parent’ sheet. Every single date must be accounted for without overlaps. A practical tip is to have an ‘evergreen’ backup message ready, scheduled to run continuously, ideally through the end of the year, to cover any potential gaps.


Leveraging Google Sheets in conjunction with Google Ads to schedule RSA ad customizers is a game-changer for managing dynamic promotional content. This process not only streamlines your workflows but also ensures that your ads remain relevant and up-to-date, reflecting current promotions without the need for constant manual intervention. 

By adopting this method, you’ll save significant time and effort, allowing you to focus more on strategy and less on the minutiae of ad copy updates. Give it a try and experience a more efficient way to manage your RSAs, keeping your campaigns fresh and engaging with minimal hassle.

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