Best Practices for Content Marketing: How Kraft Gets Four Times Better ROI From Content Than Ads

How Kraft Uses Content to Drive Its Broader Marketing Effort

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Kraft Director-Data, Content and Media Julie Fleischer
Kraft Director-Data, Content and Media Julie Fleischer Credit: Fallon Corporate Photo

Kraft Foods has been doing content marketing for decades -- its 18-year-old Food & Family magazine once mailed free to one in 10 U.S. households was later converted to paid circulation and is still beats such titles as Food & Wine, according to Julie Fleischer, the company's director of data, content and media.

But it was only two years ago, when Kraft split from Mondelez, that the company really started getting its act together in content, said Ms. Fleischer in a keynote speech at the Content Marketing World in Cleveland on Tuesday. Kraft now generates the equivalent of 1.1 billion ad impressions a year and a four-times-better return on investment through content-marketing than through even targeted advertising, she said.

Ms. Fleischer, the Content Marketing Institute's "Content Marketer of the Year" for 2014, said one key to Kraft's success has been thinking of content in some ways the same as paid advertising.

Ms. Fleischer calls the approach "relentlessly pursuing worthiness." But she said Facebook and other social media actually have led many marketers to de-value content by thinking of the distribution as free.

"It's not about putting something out every day to be part of the conversation," Ms. Fleischer said, adding that Kraft believes brands shouldn't post content they don't deem worth of paying to distribute.

"The days of free organic reach are rapidly coming to an end," she said. "If you wouldn't spend money behind it, then why do it? It's shouting into the wind without making a sound. How many of us are guilty of being slaves to a calendar or posting cadence?"

Other keys Ms. Fleischer sees to success in content marketing include:

Market to individuals, not segments
Kraft tracks 22,000 attributes of the more than 100 million annual visitors to its websites and has merged its content and data-management platforms. The data is used to power the increasingly individually addressable advertising Kraft does through its programmatic media buying, which Ms. Fleisher eventually expects to account for the majority of the company's buys.

Pay attention to trends and apply them quickly
If Parmesan roasted potatoes and green velvet cupcakes are doing well organically on Pinterest, then Kraft adds them to beta tests for promoted pins as well.

Realize that content and advertising are inextricably linked
Content outperforms advertising in terms of engagement, Ms. Fleischer said, "but relevant content programmed strategically with your advertising makes your advertising work harder for you."

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