Ford Motor Company is one of the most well-recognized automotive brands in the world. In order to maintain their prominence in the market, Ford continues to find new and engaging ways to reach their customers—including a significant increase in the creation and distribution of branded content.
Ford recently pulled back the curtain and showed us how they approach content marketing, the impact it has had on their business, and the role of data in refining and perfecting their content strategy.
A Multi-Channel Approach
Some brands choose to house their content under one owned content hub. But Ford has a variety of different types of consumers, each with their own set of needs. That’s why Ford maintains multiple websites and subdomains—each catering to a specific audience.
The main domain is Ford.com. This is where a vast majority of Ford’s consumer base goes to shop for a Ford vehicle, learn about the different options available to them, get financing, and troubleshoot issues with their vehicle.
Outside of Ford.com there’s the Ford investor website (shareholder.ford.com), the Ford philanthropic information center (FordFund.org), the Ford media center (media.ford.com), the Ford racing center (performance.ford.com), Ford’s site dedicated to breast cancer awareness (warriorsinpink.ford.com), Ford’s commercial solutions page (commercialsolutions.ford.com), and an ecommerce page for purchasing vehicle accessories (accessories.ford.com).
But a bulk of Ford’s owned content can be found on their corporate website: corporate.ford.com. This is where Ford’s company blog is based, and where they publish a lot of their original content.
Ford’s owned channels aren’t the only place you’ll find Ford content. Ford also invests in paid content, such as this collaboration with Outside TV. The automaker also maintains a presence on all major social media channels, including YouTube.
Ford’s multi-channel approach is a requirement for a large brand trying to serve up relevant and helpful information to an extremely diverse consumer-base.
Ford Content Creation
Ford’s blog leans on company initiatives, product and service updates, and the brand’s rich history to create engaging, unique content designed to bolster the automaker’s public profile.
Recent examples of Ford content include this longform history of the Ford Bronco (which Ford is re-releasing in 2021) that examines the inspiration behind the vehicle, its different generations, and its place in American history. Like most content on the Ford blog, the article is not transactional. Instead, Ford aims to positively impact your perception of the Bronco through storytelling that’s engaging.
Another instance where Ford leans on its rich history to foster brand affinity is this article about Ford’s track record of helping Americans during times of crisis. The article is ostensibly about Ford’s contribution to help fight the spread of COVID-19, and also goes into detail about all the times throughout American history Ford has helped the country, including WW1 and WW2.
“We’ve been through challenges before. That’s what happens when you’re a 100-year-old company,” said Lisa Schoder, former Head of U.S. Media, Digital Optimization & Growth Audience, during our COVID-19 roundtable discussion in March. “Ford has always had great clarity of purpose in crisis situations.”
A third example is Ford’s article about their pledge to be carbon neutral by 2050. In all three cases, Ford promotes their brand without pushing their products or services. Instead, they try to get you to formulate a positive opinion of their brand by sharing their values and telling engaging stories.
Turning to Data
Perfecting your content marketing strategy requires time and data. Ford wanted to be able to collect transparent data on their paid content efforts in order to help them make more strategic decisions. Unfortunately, they were unable to obtain this kind of data from their partners.
So they turned to Knotch.
Using Knotch, Ford was able to collect quantitative and qualitative data from all their paid content to help them accurately determine if their current strategy was meeting their goals. Knotch was also able to provide Ford with tailored insights based on their historical content performance.
For example, Knotch discovered that sentiment toward Ford’s paid content varied based on the referral source. When readers found Ford paid content via social media, positive sentiment toward the content was a strong 84%, and average time on page was above the mean. However, social media traffic only made up 47% of all traffic to Ford paid content.
As a result, Ford placed a greater emphasis on promoting their paid content via social media, as the data indicated that Ford’s social media following is the most receptive to this format of content.
By using the Knotch Content Intelligence Platform, Ford is better equipped to create content that drives sales. Ford continues to use Knotch to obtain real-time measurement of its paid and owned content, as well as its COVID-19 and corporate communications.
What can other content marketers learn from Ford’s content strategy?
Here are three key takeaways:
- If you’re a big brand, meet your audience where they are. You won’t be able to reach everyone through a single medium or channel. Segment your customers and then craft messaging for each segment in a format that resonates with them.
- Measure content success through sentiment, not sales. Ford’s content focuses on brand values and company history—not Ford products or services. This content is designed to help readers foster a positive opinion of Ford. You’ll know your content is working if your customers feel good after interacting with it. If they do, the sales will follow.
- Only through data can you know if your content is reaching your target audience, or if they enjoy reading it. Like Ford, you need to systematize the collection and evaluation of data to help consumers make smarter buying decisions.
Ford’s data-driven content strategy helps them stand out from competitors and build consumer trust and loyalty.
Would you like to see how Knotch can help with your content strategy? Schedule a demo today.