Thought Leadership

See Who’s Setting the Storytelling Bar High in 2016

Ritika Puri

May 3, 2016

The writing is on the wall: In the coming years, content marketing is going to become more competitive for almost every brand. The reason? A growing number of companies recognize a need for an educational component to their sales and marketing concepts. Content bridges a mission-critical communication gap between businesses looking to build deep relationships with audiences and buyers who are looking for tailored, individualized solutions to their needs. 

Complicating matters is that human attention spans are on the decline. A study conducted by Microsoft showed that the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000, to eight seconds. That’s why in 2016, precision is the “name of the game” in content marketing. Success will come from more than an engaging content strategy: you need to reach the right audiences with the right messages at the right times of their buying journeys. 

So what exactly does that mean? As with many aspects of marketing, one of the best ways to learn is to follow the examples of others. Here are five brands that have been knocking their content programs out of the park in 2016.


Shopify Plus

For years, the e-commerce technology leader has maintained a blog for independent and small business store owners. But recently, the company has made a number of changes to its product, which makes Shopify a versatile enough platform for enterprise-level stores, too.

 Shopify could have gone the easy route (easy by comparison only) and started publishing enterprise-facing content on their main blog. However, the team’s content lead, Tommy Walker, decided to architect a completely new content strategy and blog from the ground up. Shopify Plus’s blog posts have a laser focus on enterprise-specific challenges like security, integration and high-volume transactions.




The content masterminds at Casper have gone where few mattress brands have gone before; they’ve managed to create compelling content about an otherwise mundane topic—our sleep habits.

Why create a content strategy to nurture customers who will only buy a few mattresses in their lifetimes? The reason is simple: mattresses are high-consideration purchases, and buyers are looking to educate themselves about what they’re buying.

Casper’s content strategy masters a delicate balance. The brand manages to create entertaining, engaging content while also communicating a value proposition as a company that cares about how people sleep.




Why force your marketing team to choose between brand-generated and user-generated content when you can have the best of both worlds? ModCloth has fully embraced this idea to integrate many types of storytelling with its overall website experience. Audiences can read through the company’s official blog for expert-vetted tips and browse through user-generated photo galleries for style inspiration.

Content permeates ModCloth’s entire brand and ties closely to the company’s core products. ModCloth can efficiently guide audiences through different stages of the conversion funnel as a result. Their content strategy is part of a larger marketing engine that builds brand awareness and sparks re-engagement of customers.




Do we really need another blog about productivity?

Zapier, a software integrations company, is proof that the answer is “yes.” The company has demonstrated that it’s possible to give a new spin to a well-explored, established topic. In writing about productivity, Zapier interjects its voice – contributing to a compelling, effective and engaging content strategy. All the while, they’ve managed to avoid being self-promotional while maintaining their ethos as a technical company that saves its customers effort and time.


When was the last time you saw a pet supply company rock their blogs with helpful, useful information from fellow pet-owners, as opposed to the far-too-common user experience of marketers trying to hawk products? BarkBox has taken the approach of creating down-to-earth content that represents dog culture authentically with BarkPost. With a light-hearted and relatable tone, they have mastered the art of creating sharable content and clickable headlines. In fact, you could say they’ve knocked it out of the dog park. To take a deeper dive into their content marketing strategy, check out this analysis of how they became best in show.

Final Thoughts

The secret to standing out in 2016 with great content is no secret at all: Know what your target audience cares about and develop powerful, compelling, human stories. Take an interesting spin on an already-popular topic and offer value. It’s the ultimate formula for a strong content strategy.

Ritika Puri is a marketer turned entrepreneur and writer. She is the co-founder of Storyhackers, a business storytelling consultancy. After years of creating profitable multi-million dollar growth campaigns, she is passionate about helping her fellow marketers achieve the same. 

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