Content marketing – journey to the hearts of customers

As the fight for the customer intensifies, companies are increasingly turning to content marketing to build a deeper emotional connection with their customers.

Toni Ambler, head of travel company Contiki has taken content marketing to a whole new level. “When it comes to content it’s very easy to be lazy in the travel space. You put up the picture of the beach at sunset and the hotel and think that will go down well, my work here is done I’m off to the pub,” says Ambler. “We are trying not to do that, we want to connect at a deeper level. We are focused on separating our brand from others and this is what our entire content strategy is about.”

She says the key is to establish an emotional connection between a brand and a customer: “Here is an example: I only wear Nike shoes, not because Nike shoes are better or the rubber is better or the shoe laces are better, but because I buy into the brand proposition of Nike. Or Apple – I don’t know how much space my computer has or if it is technically better than HP, but I buy into the brand proposition because they have emotionally connected with me on a deeper level and that’s what we are trying to do with travellers,” says Ambler.

To achieve this ambitious goal, Ambler thinks that simply creating a blog, or posting some interesting links or articles on social media is not enough, so they’ve created a separate publishing platform that generates content: articles and videos, which attract and engage their target audience - the millennial.

“We’ve been on a journey for the past five - six years and it’s certainly been a slow beginning. We have a publishing platform that is separate from our e-commerce platform and has an entire team that’s dedicated to editorial content, but doesn’t necessarily sell Contiki products. So what we are doing is looking at various triggers that connect us with young people, and creating content around those.”

She says the editorial content doesn’t necessarily have to be around travelling, it can be about social or political issues in different countries, something that would attract young people’s attention. The editorial theme for March, for instance, was Feminism, which tied into International Women’s Day, so the publishing site Six-Two collaborated with a US YouTuber Alli Speed to tell the story of equality between the sexes in Iceland, portraying the country as a feminist traveler’s paradise:

Sometimes, she says, to engage with their customer, they take on risky projects, which are only very loosely associated with the actual company and the products they offer, but she says, the risk very often pays off. One of those projects went viral on YouTube:

“We partnered with star YouTuber Devin Super Tramp. We wanted to work with him so we gave him a pretty open brief and told him to create content around Europe. And he came back to us with a cliff diving video from the Amalfi coast, a very loose connection to our brand. Risky content, but risky content gets engagement and we had a million views in the first two weeks of posting that video on our YouTube channel,” says Ambler.

To create interesting stories and enhance their content, Ambler says they’ve opened up their publishing platform Six Two to their audience, inviting millennials to send them interesting stories, and the author of the best performing story of the month wins a Contiki holiday.

“It’s been amazing to see the amount of new submissions we’ve had in terms of content telling the most phenomenal stories. Some of the content that we are publishing from our community, is outperforming our own, in terms of engagement,” says Ambler.

See Toni Ambler, Director of Brand Strategy at Contiki Holidays speak alongside other industry experts at the Digital Content Summit in London on the 23d of March.



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