Last Monday, soft drink giant Coca-Cola overhauled its corporate website for the first time since 2005. Through seven years of change in SEO and web trends, the corporate site was a stopover for employees and investors to get up-to-date information on company affairs. Now, Coca-Cola is making a smart move by repurposing the website to drive a new corporate site called Coca-Cola Journey. But how smart are we talking? Well in my opinion, Coke might just be onto a new approach to content marketing that others can emulate.
In a piece last Sunday, the New York Times told the world that Coca-Cola is "telling its story" after years of sliding toward marketing irrelevancy. But marketers know that the story is really just the hook. The best new websites have great narratives supported by a host of content marketing & Inbound Marketing tools like landing pages, CTAs, interactive content, and opportunities to connect with a company in social media. So far, Coke's strategy looks really strong, and there's a lot that other marketers can learn from taking a look at the new site.
To give you a run-down of what Coca-Cola has going for it, here are five key ways that marketer's can milk the new site for its content marketing mastery.
1) The NYTimes article wasn't lying about Coke's new commitment to online storytelling. Rather than going with conventional approaches to web design, Coca-Colacompany.com has become a creative, soda-themed news outlet. As you venture on to the page, it's obvious that this is not your average corporate site. There are no "About Us," "Investors," or "Media" links. Instead, users are encouraged to think of the Coca-Cola Company as a community and a forum for content activity. As the New York Times explains, the site's management has reoriented its staff to work less like webmasters and more like publishers. The goal is to create good content that people will actually enjoy reading.
The neat thing that marketers can really draw from this approach is that Coca-Cola isn't just doing content creation on its blog or through media updates. They are taking a holistic approach. The site has multiple channels of content, including entertainment news, video, audio, op-eds, and interviews. Coca-Cola is doing what any good sector leader should: using its expertise and know-how to make their site a hub of information. Just take a look at their investor page (arguably the most boring section of most corporate sites - but not this site!).
2) Let's take a critical approach at what Coca-Cola is doing. By taking on the role of a media website, the Coca-Cola company stands a much better chance of building links across the web through the variety of articles that Coke is offering to the world for citation, in social linking, and on blogs. Coca-Cola realized that by adopting a media outlet's format and approach to online content creation, they could grow their base of links and visitors much more broadly. This will help boost their SEO in a number of categories because they are connecting their well-established brand to any of the articles they produce.
3) A jump from 2005 to 2012 is certainly not all about content. Coca-Cola seems to have brought its company up to speed in terms of design also. I would liken the site's format to a large, multifaceted infographic that explains Coke with a many smaller information components--there's something for everybody. By holding to a recognizable yet well-branded design approach, Coca-Cola is doing itself a huge favor in terms of page view retention. In more ways than one, Coca-Cola is capitalizing on good design by providing users with multiple, well-placed CTAs.
4) An armchair critic might suggest that Coke will experience a weakness in its news-style website because it could be hard to connect content to a strong sales funnel. However, for this site, the goal seems to be to connect everything back to social media. As with many consumer products, the sales goal is not to make the initial sale online. Instead, the sale comes as a longterm investment with the brand. Coca-Cola draws users to longterm interaction by utilizing social media as its main funneling objective. On Coca-Colacompany.com, almost every article, video, or blog leads to a Facebook integrated section, a recent update on Tweets, or other sites like LinkedIn or Pinterest. Coke takes a step past your basic list of social buttons, and emphasizes close integration with social media.
5) Coke is careful not to orient users just toward social media, however. They still want viewers to actively browse, comment, and interact on the company site itself. One of the most unique ways the designers at Coke did this was by integrating social media using self-designed social plugins, rather than using the default options from Facebook, Twitter, etc. This helps integrate social content onto the page, while keeping viewers on-page. The various Coca-Cola brands even have their own on-page Facebook feeds. Social integration is key, but Coke is making strides toward a more carefully controlled social participation among its website viewers.
The overall takeaway of Coke's big changes is not that every company needs to reshape their website in the direction that Coke is taking things. The importance of Coca-Cola's company page is all in its approach. They're using content to drive their marketing, when their marketing efforts were already very strong--that is corporate-level proof that content marketing and Inbound Marketing is on the up swing.
Whether overhauling your website or starting up a blog, every company needs to make content the priority in their marketing strategy. Check out our blog content tip sheet for ways to get started.