More Than Meatballs: What IKEA Can Teach Us About Content Marketing

July 7, 2014 Sam Brennand

If you’ve shopped in an IKEA, chances are at some point you’ve probably felt like you were lost in a maze of Smörbolls, Grundtals, and Knutstörps. 

As you weave through the winding path of an IKEA showroom, it all might seem a bit random and discombobulating. But the truth is, the IKEA experience is anything but random.

When it comes to the world’s favorite Swedish furniture giant, there is definitely a method to their madness. After all, you don’t sell $35.5 billion worth of furniture every year if you don’t know a thing or two about designing memorable and engaging customer experiences.

As content marketers, there’s a lot we can learn from them. 

Creating Immersive and Contextual Content Experiences

The bright minds at IKEA understand better than most that today’s customer is looking for a great experience — not necessarily just great pieces of content. 

How else can you explain a retailer that welcomes you in with offers of free childcare and a great sit-down restaurant?'

IKEA knows that by establishing itself as a destination, not just a retail store, it can better engage, delight, and retain its customers. And while the experience starts with childcare and great food, the real marketing magic happens when you’re ready to shop and enter the “natural path” (what IKEA refers to its wonderful maze as).

By guiding customers on a carefully planned path through each of its departments, IKEA knows that it will sell more when people finally decide it’s time to call it a day (funny how you never seem to know that you need another Holmö or Lövbacken until you see how great they look in one of IKEA’s faux living rooms).

Why? Context.

By surrounding its core content (furniture) with carefully arranged pieces of other content (such as kitchen or living room accessories), IKEA is able to paint a bigger picture for its customers; context and a healthy dose of inspiration are the primary colors. Buying a new sofa? Try resisting the side table and lamp you noticed next to the display.  

Even certain unnamed mid-20s employees at Toronto-based technology startups can feel like Martha Stewart when immersed in an IKEA showroom. That’s impressive. 

As marketers, the extent of our content experiences naturally won’t be quite as far reaching as IKEA’s showroom flows are. But we still need to ensure that we’re structuring our content flows to be part of a process that helps us achieve our goals. If your goal is customer engagement, make your customers a part of your marketing efforts by curating their tweets, posts, and comments. If your goal is lead generation, sprinkle relevant CTAs throughout your content or certain offers to collect contact information. 

Here at Uberflip, our marketing team does a great job of surrounding our core content with a mixture of curated and original secondary content. The result is a great experience that introduces context, relevance, and elements of social proof into our marketing strategy. Just check out our Latest Content stream to see what I mean. 

Don’t Forget the Shortcuts 

If you’ve ever gotten lost in an IKEA showroom, you’ve probably found a few handy shortcuts that allow you to jump between rooms and find exactly what you’re looking for. While obviously IKEA would prefer you to stay on their predefined journey, they’re smart enough to realize that sometimes a shortcut goes a long way.

By providing your audience with the opportunity to jump into the content that interests them most, you can start to create highly targeted experiences that still encourage engagement.

Here at Uberflip, we use Custom Streams to create these types of highly targeted content experiences. If you’re unfamiliar with a Custom Stream, you can think of them as blank canvases that allow you to tailor your content experiences for a specific audience/ buyer persona, or according to a topic, vertical, or marketing campaign. 

Our own Hub's Marketing Automation Custom Streams, for example, allow visitors with an interest in HubSpot, Marketo, Eloqua, or MailChimp to easily find and engage with content that is relevant to their interests and structured to nurture them through the buying process.  

The Light at the End of the Tunnel 

You know you’re nearing the end of your time in IKEA when you find yourself in a magnificently gigantic warehouse just packed to the brim with flat-packed boxes.

Getting you to the warehouse is what it’s all about at the end of the day for IKEA. It’s the light at the end of their tunnel. Once you’ve moved through the showroom, chances are you’ll bound into the warehouse eager to track down a long list of bins and boxes in dozens of aisles. 

As marketers, it’s important that the content experiences we create end with the same zeal. Every great adventure needs a conclusion and your content marketing is no different. If you can’t tie your content strategy to specific and measurable goals that you’ve set for yourself, whether they are related to engagement or have to do with lead generation, then what’s the point?  

Using compelling and contextual call-to-actions to gate high-value content is a logical place to have your content journey come full circle. At Uberflip, we use contextual overlay CTAs to easily create highly converting landing pages. 

Because our marketing team works hard to structure journeys of content, we’ve found that our conversion rates have gone through the roof (we’re talking 800% growth month over month) and our audience has never been more engaged with the content we work so hard to produce.

Embrace the Experience 

A truly great content experience is ultimately about designing for enduring engagement, content cross-discoverability, and customized content pathways that help keep things personal and relevant for each and every member your audience.

At IKEA, from the moment you ride the escalator up to the showroom to the moment you load your car full of flat-packed boxes of happiness, you are fully immersed in a carefully constructed experience. 

As marketers, isn’t it team we put in a similar effort level when designing our own content experiences? 

Try out a Hub for free to test all of the features listed here (and more!) and create a great content experience. 

 

About the Author

Sam Brennand

As the leader of Uberflip's Customer Success team, Sam is focused on helping customers amplify their content marketing to tell better stories and generate more leads.

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