100+ Great Content Marketing Examples (With Results) – Webkad
100+ Great Content Marketing Examples (With Results)
Kyle ByersUpdated November 22, 2019
Content marketing is incredibly powerful.
But one of the hardest parts is coming up with a good idea.
So I worked with over a dozen expert marketers to collect and summarize more than 100 successful content marketing examples. It is great idea.
Just scroll down to see them all, or use the blue buttons to instantly filter by format or strategy.
Then leave a comment to let me know your favorite.
Optional: only show examples that are…
Content FormatApp / Tool Audio Dedicated Site Downloadable Email Graphical Interactive Print Social Text VideoStrategy / AngleCollaboration Curated / UGC Data-Driven Entertaining How-To Old School Product Tie-In Purpose-Driven Unique ViralContent Format: InteractiveStrategy / Angle: Curated / UGC, How-To
Avvo’s Free Q&A with Attorneys
According to Avvo’s website, someone gets free legal advice from them every 5 seconds.
Avvo is a legal services marketplace that features reviews, ratings and profiles for lawyers across all 50 states in the US.
The profiles alone are a great piece of content marketing, giving Avvo a powerful role as the aggregators of that information. (They’ve also gotten thousands of backlinks from lawyers linking to their own profiles.)
But it’s the free “ask a lawyer” feature that I’d like to bring your attention to.
It’s an incredible example of interactive content marketing:
1) Anyone can anonymously ask legal questions for free;
2) There’s essentially no cost to Avvo, either, because lawyers answer the questions voluntarily as a form of self-promotion;
3) Avvo then adds the questions to the Q&A sections of their site (here’s the one for business-related questions). These Q&As bring in hundreds of thousands of visits per month from long-tail organic search queries.Content Format: App / Tool, InteractiveStrategy / Angle: Data-Driven
Bankrate has built dozens of calculators over the years, covering financial topics ranging from mortgages to retirement, life insurance, college savings, taxes and more.
In fact, they have over 50 mortgage-related calculators alone.
The calculators have earned Bankrate links from an incredible 13,898 unique domains including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, the Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, USA Today, Bloomberg, Microsoft, Yahoo, Harvard, Wikipedia (nofollow) and many others.
As a result, Bankrate ranks #1 or #2 for many extremely competitive keywords like “mortgage calculator” (3M+ searches/mo), “loan calculator” (749K searches/mo), and “how much house can I afford” (193K searches/mo).
Update 12/2/2019: Google has started featuring their own on-SERP calculator for the keyword “mortgage calculator” and closely related queries. This will certainly have an impact on Bankrate’s traffic from those terms.
Content marketing idea:
Are there questions in your industry that could be answered with a calculator?
Use Answer the Public to see what questions people are searching for.
Or go to Google and type in a phrase like “[your industry] calculator” or “[your industry] formula” or “[your industry] how much“.
Google’s suggested searches feature will give you more topic ideas:
And so will its related questions:
Plug those keyword ideas into a keyword research tool like Ahrefs, KWfinder or Google Keyword Planner (free) to see if they get enough search volume to be worth creating a calculator for.Content Format: Interactive, TextStrategy / Angle: Unique
Basecamp’s Employee Handbook
Basecamp made its employee handbook completely public in 2017, posting it on GitHub.
It has attracted links from 238 unique domains and has gotten shared over 700 times on social media.
Since those links are to its GitHub page, they don’t directly impact Basecamp’s SEO. But that exposure is still very valuable.
Basecamp sells project-management software.
And who would care about sharing or linking to an employee handbook?
- Executives and managers
- Startup founders
- HR people
All perfect customers for Basecamp.
Maybe even more importantly, you can bet making their employee handbook public has helped Basecamp attract top talent.
Their announcement post quotes one of their newly hired programmers as saying:
“I had access to the employee handbook weeks before starting, and I loved that. I read it several times, not only because it was informative, but also because it made me feel super happy and excited about joining.”
Content marketing idea:
How could you repurpose something you already use internally to attract more customers — or new hires?Content Format: Dedicated Site, InteractiveStrategy / Angle: Curated / UGC, Product Tie-In, Unique
Although Behance started off as an independent project, Adobe’s acquisition in 2012 turned it into a massive piece of interactive content marketing for their Creative Cloud product.
And as a place for designers to showcase their portfolios, it’s the perfect captive audience for Adobe.
Behance.net gets an estimated 29 million visits per month according to SimilarWeb.
Content marketing idea:
Are there sites or communities in your industry that you could acquire?
Or simply partner with them: for example, by providing a recurring series of guest articles.
Sponsorship is another way you may be able to get consistent exposure to their audience.
And look for any off-site presence they have that you might be able to appear in: an email newsletter, podcast, or video series for example.Content Format: Print, TextStrategy / Angle: Old School, Unique
Berkshire Hathaway’s Shareholder Letters
Shareholder letters are a standard piece of financial filings for public companies.
But that doesn’t mean they can’t also be content marketing.
Since 1977, Warren Buffett’s letters to shareholders have not only contained the standard facts and figures included in all such letters, but also more general pieces of business insight, wisdom and humor that keep people reading.
Every year, the financial and business press devours the latest Berkshire letter, highlighting and applauding their favorite parts.
Obviously, Berkshire Hathaway would be a success without these letters… but they’ve certainly helped the company build a cult-like following (among both investors and non-investors).
They even sell a printed version as a book.
Like Basecamp’s open-source employee manual, I see these as cases of turning a required, boring piece of content into a powerful piece of content marketing.
Bonus: Amazon’s letters to shareholders by Jeff Bezos are also notable.Content Format: Interactive, SocialStrategy / Angle: Product Tie-In
Blitzscaling’s Book Trailer
Reid Hoffman took an original approach to creating a book trailer for Blitzscaling.
Rather than stick to video, like most book trailers do, he launched a slide deck on SlideShare.
Slide decks are like a second language to startup founders and business executives: the main audience for the book.
The Blitzscaling book trailer deck has gotten 1.3 million views, and is still listed in SlideShare’s “Today’s Top SlideShares” section at the top of its homepage — even though the trailer was released back in October 2018.
Being featured in such a prominent position on SlideShare gives the book a ton of ongoing exposure to its perfect target market. (According to SimilarWeb, SlideShare gets well over 100 million visits per month.)
Bonus content marketing example:
The same way Behance.net is for Adobe, SlideShare.net itself has essentially become a powerful piece of content marketing for LinkedIn.
Since acquiring SlideShare, LinkedIn has not only added its branding throughout the SlideShare site; it also requires a LinkedIn account in order to upload, comment on, download, or like any slide decks on SlideShare.Content Format: InteractiveStrategy / Angle: Curated / UGC
With their forums, Bodybuilding.com has created the largest bodybuilding community in the world.
Covered topics stretch well beyond strict bodybuilders, ranging from supplements to workout programs, losing fat and more.
These forums are one of the most successful examples of interactive marketing ever.
Just how popular are they?
- The “Misc” section alone has a staggering 94 million posts.
- The forums as a whole have backlinks from 9,897 different domains, as of this writing.
- And they receive over 500 thousand organic search visits per month, according to Ahrefs.
Content Format: VideoStrategy / Angle: Collaboration, Entertaining
As CEO Chris Savage has explained on Twitter, Wistia believes brand affinity marketing and original video content are the future.
“Every B2B company will make their own original content, and every B2B company will have a studio,” he wrote.
If that’s the case, what could be more fitting than for the video-software company to start its own branded video series?
On Brandwagon, Chris interviews marketers and brand-builders in an entertaining, retro variety show format.Content Format: TextStrategy / Angle: How-To
Buffer’s Marketing Library
Submitted by Shayla Price, Marketer and Speaker:
“Buffer’s Marketing Library is the go-to resource for marketers to gain knowledge about social media strategy, analytics, and customer service.
Whether it’s learning about Instagram’s algorithm or how to create a social schedule, this library is effective content marketing in action. Plus, the search bar feature makes it easy to find what you need.”Content Format: App / Tool, InteractiveStrategy / Angle: Product Tie-In
The “Burberry Kisses” web app (made in partnership with Google) allowed users create a “kiss” to send to love ones by kissing their phone screens and selecting a shade of Burberry lipstick.
This interactive example of content marketing earned Burberry dofollow links from 519 root domains, as well as media coverage from Forbes, Fast Company, Bloomberg, Vogue, GQ, Cosmopolitan, Elle, The Telegraph, The Next Web, PCMag and Vice.Content Format: Dedicated SiteStrategy / Angle: Entertaining, Purpose-Driven, Unique, Viral
Cards Against Humanity Saves America
Every year, Cards Against Humanity does something different for Black Friday.
Something REALLY different.
Once, they simply raised their prices for the day.
Another time, they took their storefront offline and accepted $5 payments for nothing. (And made $71,145.)
And another time, they sold all sorts of ridiculous items completely unrelated to their product for 99% off: a $20 bill for $0.20, a $9,750 car for $97.50, and so on.
As Cards Against Humanity co-creator Max Temkin told The Verge:
“Black Friday probably represents the worst things about our culture. It’s this really repulsive consumerist frenzy right after a day about being thankful for what you have. So it’s always seemed like a really good subject for parody to us.”
In 2017, 150,000 people paid $15 each to Cards Against Humanity in order to “save America” in different ways throughout the month of December.
Then, the Cards Against Humanity team:
- Gave away $250K
- Created a good-news podcast
- Fought against homework by donating to new teaching initiatives
- Purchased a plot of vacant land on the US-Mexico border and retained a law firm to fight the Trump administration’s efforts to build a border wall
- Purchased the naming rights to a minor league baseball stadium in Illinois
Aside from the $2,250,000 in sales, Cards Against Humanity also received a lot of attention for these efforts.
The accompanying video was viewed over 1.6 million times, they earned links from 639 unique domains, and they received press coverage from The Atlantic, The Independent, Gizmodo, NBC, CBS, The BBC and more.Content Format: Downloadable, InteractiveStrategy / Angle: How-To, Product Tie-In
ClickMinded’s SEO Checklist
Submitted by Ryan Robinson, Blogger, Founder of ryrob.com:
“I recently had Tommy on my podcast, so this killer example came top of mind: clickminded.com/seo-checklist
Tommy and the ClickMinded team have created a super unique piece of content here in the form of a checklist that walks you through the critical steps you should take in order to optimize a new website for search engines.
Rather than writing just another blog post or guide on this topic, they’ve framed this resource as a living document you can progress (and refer back to) as you check items off your list.
Even more importantly, they give tactical instructions in the form of screenshots and video tutorials beyond just a written explanation of each task.”Content Format: App / Tool, InteractiveStrategy / Angle: Product Tie-In
Color Wheel by Canva
Not only is Canva’s Color Wheel useful; it also ties into their product really well with an unobtrusive “create a graphic” button, which leads to templates using the colors you’ve selected.
Separately, they also offer a color palette generator which creates a color palette based on an image you upload.
Canva has clearly discovered that there is a different user intent behind searches for “color palette” compared to searches for “color wheel,” leading them to create separate tools for each.
As a result, their site now ranks in the top 5 on Google for both of those keywords (and many more).Content Format: Dedicated Site, VideoStrategy / Angle: Entertaining
Compare The Meerkat
Compare The Market, a UK insurance comparison website, launched Compare The Meerkat as a TV commercial in 2009.
But it was much more than a simple TV ad.
The brand also published and sold an “autobiography” by the main character, the meerkat Alexsandr Orlov, which reportedly sold better than the autobiographies of Tony Blair, Russell Brand and other notable Brits.
A veritable star in the UK, Alexsandr Orlov has a Facebook page with over 800 thousand likes and has been featured in toy figures, movie tickets, and appearances on TV shows.Content Format: Email, TextStrategy / Angle: How-To, Product Tie-In
CoSchedule’s Email and Marketing Guide
Submitted by Val Geisler, Email Conversion Strategist & Founder of Fix My Churn:
“There’s an email from CoSchedule I like a lot. First of all, it’s super long form copy, which is unusual in SaaS but speaks to their ideal customer: digital marketers. Secondly, it leads to a massive guide on marketing, also ideal for their target market. It’s simple in execution but complex in content – the ideal piece of content marketing in my book!”
Screenshot of the email (click to enlarge in a new tab):
Screenshot of the marketing guide (click to enlarge in a new tab):
Content Format: Text, VideoStrategy / Angle: Collaboration, How-To, Product Tie-In
Dick’s Pro Tips
Dick’s Pro Tips is a fairly standard business blog, but done right.
- Includes tie-ins with products sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods,
- Utilizes sports industry experts like NBA coaches to make content that would interest their customers, and
- Makes good use of multimedia.
My one critique is that for SEO purposes it’s generally better to host blogs in a subfolder rather than on a separate subdomain. (Dick’s probably has its own reasons for using a subdomain instead, but if I were starting a new blog on an ecommerce site I would use a subfolder.)Content Format: InteractiveStrategy / Angle: Entertaining, Product Tie-In
The “Quiz” section of Disney’s “Oh My Disney” subsite contains over a thousand quizzes.
For example, “Which Disney Couple are You and Your Significant Other?” and “Which Disney Princess Said It?”
However, the entire Quiz section has only received backlinks from 805 domains.
That’s fewer than one link per quiz. (And some of them are from Disney’s own sites, like lionking.com.)
But that’s okay: quizzes aren’t made for SEO.
A big 2015 study found that where the quiz format really shines is on social media.
So how have Disney’s quizzes performed on social?
They’ve been shared a staggering 11 million times.
To get even more mileage out of them, Disney also creates videos of actors taking the quizzes.Content Format: Dedicated Site, VideoStrategy / Angle: Product Tie-In, Purpose-Driven, Unique
Domino’s “Paving for Pizza”
Domino’s “Paving for Pizza” is a campaign in which they’ve been filling potholes in cities across America.
They’ve cleverly tied this in with their product by filming the inside of pizza boxes while driving them around on bumpy roads, to show how potholes can ruin their pizza.
So far, the effort has earned them backlinks from 522 domains, including coverage from The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Newsweek, Eater, The Intercept, Fast Company, Adweek and more.
Content marketing idea:
This campaign is a lot more complex than most of the examples on this list — but something similar could be done on a much smaller budget.
What it takes is finding a way to help make a positive impact, and relating it back to your brand.
For example, a credit-card processor could leave huge tips for waiters and film their reactions.
Or a non-profit food bank could serve gourmet banquets to homeless people.
Or a language-learning app or service could hire translators to help cousins who don’t speak the same language have face-to-face conversations.Content Format: App / Tool, VideoStrategy / Angle: Entertaining, Purpose-Driven, Viral
Dumb Ways To Die
Metro Trains Melbourne created their first “Dumb Ways to Die” video in 2012, using humor to get people to pay attention to a railroad safety message.
The video went viral, racking up an incredible 180+ million views since then.
And according to Metro Trains, in the first year alone it helped reduce “near-miss” accidents by 30%.
Since then, Dumb Ways to Die has become a brand of its own, with:
Content Format: App / Tool, InteractiveStrategy / Angle: Entertaining, Product Tie-In, Unique
Duplo Stories on Alexa
LEGO’s free “Duplo Stories” Alexa skill helps children to learn by playing with their Duplo products.
It doesn’t require the child to own all the LEGO parts — but of course, the more they have, the better.
As one Amazon reviewer put it, “the kids had fun with this … it let them play longer with the blocks then [sic] they normally would have.”Content Format: VideoStrategy / Angle: Purpose-Driven
End The Great Betrayal
Submitted by Matt Doell, Creative Director:
“I love whenever a marketing campaign answers a question I didn’t know I had.
It could be pretty inconsequential like making me think about wireless headphones falling out when I run. Or really important problems I don’t know exist like these lions being raised in captivity by humans to later be hunted for sport. Like they’re a crop of vegetables.
The Born Free website uses a beautiful animated video to make a harsh reality more palatable and then directs the visitor right to a simple petition sign up form. The question is singular and the answer is clear. Non profits, for example, do a great job of this in general.
Brands would benefit from not always trying to say anything and everything to anybody who’ll listen. Figure out your questions and answers and stick to them.”Content Format: TextStrategy / Angle: Data-Driven, Product Tie-In
Examine.com’s Nutrition Info
Examine.com is jam-packed with free, evidence-based information about nutrition and supplements.
So much so that it’s almost difficult to notice that they also offer more comprehensive paid guides.
But they do, and after seeing the quality of their free information, it’s not hard to understand why people open their wallets.Content Format: GraphicalStrategy / Angle: Data-Driven
Famous Writers’ Sleep Habits vs. Literary Productivity
This interesting infographic and article from Brain Pickings has picked up links from 306 referring domains, including from big sites like Goodreads and Fast Company.
And it’s gotten over 14 thousand social shares.
It’s a great example of creating data-driven content for a field that doesn’t appear to be data-rich at all.
In reality, it’s possible to create (or present) original data for any topic, if you think about it creatively. (Here’s another example of that.)
Hat tip to Siege Media’s giant list of infographics, where I first saw this piece.Content Format: Downloadable, InteractiveStrategy / Angle: Entertaining, Product Tie-In, Unique
Feast of Legends
“Feast of Legends” is one of the most original content marketing examples in this list.
It’s a full tabletop role-playing game released by Wendy’s in October 2019. It includes a 97-page downloadable PDF of the rules, including character classes like the “Order of the Chicken,” realms such as “Beef’s Keep,” weapons including sporks and frying pans, and more.
Plenty of pop-culture references and (of course) references to Wendy’s food are sprinkled throughout the RPG’s rulebook as well. For example: “Queen Wendy, first of her name, breaker of fast food chains, defender of all things fresh, never frozen.”
And if you’re eating Wendy’s while playing the game, your character will get buffs based on what you’re eating.
Feast of Legends has gotten Wendy’s coverage and backlinks from The Next Web, Thrillist, HypeBeast, PC Gamer, Ars Technica, Metro News, CNET and more.
Bonus content marketing example: Wendy’s popular Twitter account is hilarious. (At least, compared to typical corporate Twitter accounts.) Their social media team is clearly not required to get high-level approvals on their tweets, enabling them to respond to and make fun of competing chains’ social media marketing in real time.Content Format: VideoStrategy / Angle: Collaboration, Entertaining, Viral
Felix Baumgartner’s Supersonic Freefall
Felix Baumgartner’s supersonic freefall from 128 thousand feet set a number of world records, and hit the mark with its social engagement too.
The Red Bull event (called “Stratos”) was carried on nearly 80 TV stations in 50 countries, and the live webcast was distributed through 280 digital partners, amassing a staggering 52 million views and making it the most-watched live stream in history.
It didn’t stop there: the YouTube video of its highlights has since been viewed over 45 million times, and over 814,000 people have liked its Facebook page.
And according to research firm IRI, in the six months immediately following the event, Red Bull sales rose 7% to $1.6 billion in the U.S.Content Format: VideoStrategy / Angle: Entertaining, Viral
Fifty People Show Us Their States’ Accents
This fun video from Condé Nast Traveler has racked up 7.3 million views so far.
And they’ve used a similar format to create videos with over 4 million views several other times.
In fact, Condé Nast Traveler’s YouTube channel is filled with good examples of video content marketing.Content Format: Text, VideoStrategy / Angle: How-To, Product Tie-In
Free Keyword Research Tools (Guide)
Ahrefs rocks at content marketing.
As creators of the super-popular marketing software of the same name, they run one of the best marketing blogs out there.
They do a great job of ranking for valuable, high-volume keywords… and naturally focusing their content around using their tool in order to convert new visitors.
(After all, what good are visitors if they never convert?)
This approach also makes their content more useful for their existing customers, since it shows them how to get the most from their subscriptions.
One great example of this is their guide on free keyword research tools.
Even though it’s specifically about free keyword research tools, Ahrefs still manages to slip in a bunch of ways to use its paid tool for even better results — without making it feel like one big ad.
(It’s still useful content for people who don’t want to buy, which is crucial for a “free” topic like this.)
This piece has gotten nearly 1,500 shares on social media and earned backlinks from 352 unique domains.
More importantly, it ranks in the top 5 on Google for a bunch of competitive keywords that are relevant to Ahrefs’ business, like:
“keyword research” – 13,000 searches per month
“free keyword tool” – 6,400 searches per month
“keyword tool” – 19,000 searches per month
“keyword” – 16,000 searches per month
And many more.Content Format: Graphical, TextStrategy / Angle: Data-Driven
Freelancing In America
Upwork’s “Freelancing in America” annual studies have attracted links from 1,495 unique domains and gotten press coverage from CNBC, Forbes, Entrepreneur, MarketWatch, Fast Company and more.
By presenting an attractive piece of original research, filled with new data.
Upwork cleverly presents this data in several different ways:
- In a quote-friendly press release (including bullets points of the top findings, plus an infographic)
- In a slide deck on SlideShare
- In a high-res standalone version of the infographic
- In a full “economist’s report“
Hiring a PhD economist to write commentary about the studies is also a nice touch for additional credibility.
Content marketing idea:
As I’ve covered in detail on this blog, data-driven content is one of the best types of content marketing for attracting links and press coverage. And surveys are one of the easiest ways any type of business can create their own.
In Upwork’s case, I expected a lot of their insights to come from their internal data as a marketplace for contractors and freelancers.
But I was wrong.
Upwork’s studies are wholly based on 6,000-person surveys that anyone could run, using a tool like Google Surveys or SurveyMonkey Audience. (PhD not required.)
What study could you run for your industry?Content Format: App / Tool, InteractiveStrategy / Angle: Curated / UGC, Product Tie-In
FYI’s Free Resources for Marketing
The FYI app’s Free Resources for Marketing is one of my favorite pieces of curated content.
- Contains templates, calculators and other resources that are truly useful for marketers.
- Was #1 on Product Hunt for the month it was released. (Product Hunt’s audience has a lot of overlap with FYI’s target market.)
- Ties perfectly into the product — the FYI app. (FYI makes documents easy to find across multiple platforms. The piece of content itself — a resource list — is a collection of documents across multiple platforms. So it’s a perfect example of the usefulness of the product.)
What’s not to love?
Content marketing ideas:
What resources in your field could you curate into one place?
How can you use your product as the basis for a piece of content marketing?Content Format: PrintStrategy / Angle: Entertaining, Old School, Product Tie-In
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero
In 1982, Hasbro partnered with Marvel to launch the G.I. Joe comic-book series A Real American Hero.
This content marketing campaign had several benefits to the new G.I. Joe lineup of toys:
- It organically spread awareness of G.I. Joe as kids read and shared the comics.
- It drove demand for new G.I. Joe action figures, which were often introduced in the comic before being released as toys.
- Selling the comics also created a new revenue stream for the franchise.
- It allowed Hasbro to circumvent TV advertising regulations that only allowed up to 10 seconds of animation in toy commercials. By advertising the comics rather than the toys directly, Hasbro was able to use a full 30 seconds of animation.
- The animated commercials eventually led to the G.I. Joe animated TV show of the same name, which drove additional toy sales.
Content marketing idea:
This reminds me of the increasingly common practice of using online ads to promote content, rather than products directly.
Especially for businesses with long sales cycles or highly priced products, it can be more effective to focus your broadest advertising on getting people to enter your sales funnel via content marketing rather than by shooting for an immediate sale — even if you still use paid ads to get them in the door.
“A Real American Hero” is also a great example of branded content.Content Format: App / Tool, InteractiveStrategy / Angle: How-To, Product Tie-In, Unique
Get Started Making Music
Submitted by Cyrus Shepard, Founder of Zyppy.com:
“This is one of my all-time greatest content marketing pieces of the modern web: Ableton’s ‘Get Started Making Music‘. It’s beautifully executed, technically amazing, and gives a huge boost to Ableton’s brand of music-making hardware and software.
Music-making software can be technically challenging to the novice and this fun piece expertly targets that huge market of people who are curious.”Content Format: Print, TextStrategy / Angle: Curated / UGC, Old School, Purpose-Driven
Here’s a common, yet unique, historical example of content marketing.
The Gideons International is the reason you always find a Bible in your hotel room.
The magnitude of the non-profit’s reach has been impressive:
It took them 93 years to distribute their first billion Bibles (from 1908 to 2001).
Then they distributed another billion copies in the 14-year period 2002 – 2015 alone.
Today, they distribute more than two copies per second worldwide.
(Image source: NBC News)Content Format: App / Tool, InteractiveStrategy / Angle: How-To
Google SERP Simulator
Mangools’ Google SERP Simulator is a free tool for SEOs to preview how Google will display their sites’ search snippets.
It’s not the first tool of its kind, and it won’t be the last.
But among dozens of such tools, it’s easily the best.
It’s beautiful, fast, and has valuable features like a mobile preview, “fetch data,” heatmaps and more.
And Mangools (creator of a suite of SEO tools) went even one step further by pairing it with a short how-to guide on improving your search snippet, followed by a call-to-action to try their more powerful paid tool, SERPChecker.Content Format: App / Tool, InteractiveStrategy / Angle: Product Tie-In
Grammarly’s Free Mobile Keyboard
As a way to boost subscriptions to its paid browser extension, Grammarly offers a free mobile keyboard on both Android and iOS.
The app has been downloaded over 5 million times on Android alone, and is currently ranked #10 in the Productivity category in the iOS App Store.Content Format: TextStrategy / Angle: How-To
Groove’s 15 Customer Service Skills & How to Improve Each One
Submitted by Aaron Orendorff, B2B Content Strategist & Founder of iconiContent:
“Groove’s recent 15 Customer Service Skills & How to Improve Each One (Step-by-Step) contains a handful of key tactics every breakthrough pice of content marketing should follow.
Chiefly, (1) it’s an eminently practical long-form guide unlocked — ungated — in its entirety.
But, (2) the five-step checklists that accompany each skill led themselves perfectly to a shorter form of gated content, which is exactly what they do via download CTAs seeded throughout the article and within an unobtrusive pop-up.”Content Format: App / Tool, Dedicated Site, InteractiveStrategy / Angle: Collaboration
Growth Tools’ Free Marketing Tools
A common marketing funnel for SaaS businesses looks something like this:
1) Prospects find your free how-to content
2) Then you sell them access to your paid SaaS tool
Growth Tools does the reverse.
Created by Videofruit founder Bryan Harris, Growth Tools is a growing collection of free marketing software that helps businesses do things like increase their conversion rates, draft marketing emails, increase webinar registrations and more.
(Each tool has its own specific use.)
When someone signs up to access a free tool, they are added to an email list and eventually pitched an online course/workshop or high-end coaching service.
This flips the typical SaaS funnel on its head, giving the software away for free while selling the “how-to” content.
Two other interesting things about Growth Tools’ approach:
- Many of the tools have built-in virality: they’re clearly branded, so when you use them you are promoting them to others.
- Bryan has said that partnerships are Growth Tools’ #1 marketing strategy. For each tool they make, Growth Tools partners with a company who then helps promote it to their own customers. Past partners have included Infusionsoft and ConvertKit.
Content marketing ideas:
How can you take the most common approach in your industry and do the opposite?
Who could you partner with in order to get more exposure?Content Format: VideoStrategy / Angle: How-To, Product Tie-In
Gwyneth Paltrow’s Nighttime Skincare Routine
Submitted by Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré, B2B SaaS Consultant & Go-to-Market Strategist:
“The best content I’ve seen within the past two years has been on YouTube and Facebook Live – yes, video. Video still feels fresh, Lives still feel authentic and unpolished, and that is what breaks through to increasingly jaded audiences. At least, for now.
One brand doing video really well – it’s fresh, feels authentic and is perfectly tailored to its target market – is goop. I’m not a fan of the brand personally, but their video content (48K subscribers on YouTube) is impressive. You too can watch Gwyneth Paltrow take off her makeup at 9:30pm in her very own bathroom (along with 269,181 other people). Doesn’t get more real than that, does it? (Yes, it does).”Content Format: App / Tool, InteractiveStrategy / Angle: How-To, Product Tie-In
Headspace’s “Basics” Meditation Course
Offering a free version of a paid product is one of the most common types of content marketing for SaaS businesses and mobile apps.
It can help spread word-of-mouth, collect backlinks and shares, and of course drive conversions to paid customers.
The premium meditation app Headspace offers a two-week free trial, during which you’re encouraged to take their 10-day beginner’s course.
This hooks people by getting them to use the app every day for 10 days, establishing a new habit.
They’ve also partnered with companies like Spotify to offer extended free trials to their new customers.
Bonus content marketing example: Headspace also has a 90-second video called “Understanding Dark Thoughts” that went viral, getting over 59 million views on YouTube.Content Format: Social, VideoStrategy / Angle: Purpose-Driven, Unique, Viral
In 2012, the nonprofit WATERisLIFE cleverly “hijacked” the #FirstWorldProblems hashtag on social media to bring more attention to their cause.
Not only did the effort result in 28 million impressions on social media and over 7 million views on YouTube — plus lots of press coverage — it also brought in enough donations to:
- Drill six new wells,
- Provide thousands of water filters, and
- Install a water treatment plant to provide over a million days of clean water to northern Haiti.
Bonus content marketing example:
Also created by WATERisLIFE, the “Drinkable Book” is a physical book with instructions on proper sanitation and hygiene — printed on pages that function as water filters.
The Drinkable Book product page
The YouTube video about the Drinkable Book has gotten over 1.4 million views, and it has attracted media coverage from the BBC, The Guardian, Wired, Scientific American and more.Content Format: TextStrategy / Angle: Curated / UGC, Data-Driven
Hosting Facts’ Internet Stats & Facts
This page is a great example of curated statistics, showing that original research isn’t the only way to create data-driven content — you can also simply create a list of statistics from other sources, and still pick up a lot of links for yourself.
This page ranks #1 for “internet statistics”: a keyword with high link intent.
(While it only gets 600 searches per month, a larger-than-usual proportion of those searches are likely to be from bloggers and journalists who will link back to it.)
This takes full advantage of the “snowball effect” in link-building: the page that ranks #1 is the one that people are most likely to link to… which in turn makes it more likely to stay at #1.
As a result, this page has picked up backlinks from 1,787 unique domains.
This “curated statistics” strategy may not be sexy, but it works.Content Format: TextStrategy / Angle: How-To, Product Tie-In
How to Grow a Thick Beard
Beardbrand’s “How to Grow a Thick Beard Fast” guide is an 8,000-word master class on growing a beard.
I didn’t even realize the need for a how-to guide on this subject until I saw this blog post.
It covers things like:
- The physical aspects of growing a beard (hormones that affect it, best foods, exercises, etc.)
- The mental aspects (dealing with criticism, etc.)
- Beard issues (itchiness, patches, dandruff, etc.)
All divided up into sections with jumplinks to make it easy to navigate.
With links to relevant Beardbrand products sprinkled throughout.
This is a great example of how-to content done right.Content Format: TextStrategy / Angle: How-To
How to Speed up Your WordPress Site
Submitted by Jessica Greene, Writer and On-Page SEO Specialist:
Recently, I was searching Google for some simple things a client could do to boost site speed and came across this Kinsta guide.
As a piece of informational content, it’s perfect. It’s detailed and comprehensive, walking users through site speed optimization step-by-step. And it’s not overly technical, so it does a great job of catering to its audience.
A lot of the recommendations in the guide explain how Kinsta simplifies the process of taking advantage of each recommendation. My favorite example is the section ‘Use a Content Delivery Network.‘ You can go through the long, fairly technical process of setting up a separate CDN like Cloudflare, or you can just use Kinsta’s CDN which is built into the platform and enabled with a click.
By the time I was finished reading the guide, I was ready to switch my own hosting to Kinsta and recommend it to every client I have that uses WordPress. And beyond that, the content was so high quality and helpful that in the future I will always click Kinsta results first when I see them in the SERPs.”Content Format: InteractiveStrategy / Angle: Collaboration, Data-Driven
How Widespread Is Your College Football Fan Base?
Though the talented folks at FiveThirtyEight put this interactive piece together, its data is credited to the ticket-seller Vivid Seats.
Vivid Seats, of course, benefits from the exposure and backlink provided by this collaboration — while FiveThirtyEight benefits from hosting another piece of great content on their site.
The piece itself has gotten links from over 100 unique domains, including ESPN and ABC News.
Ice Bucket Challenge
The ALS Association’s “Ice Bucket Challenge” was a 2014 viral campaign to promote awareness and raise money to fight ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).
It was a massive social media success, with 1.2 million videos shared on Facebook and 2.2 million mentions on Twitter in just a few weeks’ time, as well as celebrity involvement from Ellen Degeneres, Chris Pratt, Oprah Winfrey, LeBron James, Conan O’Brien, Lady Gaga, Bill Gates and more.
More importantly, the movement raised over $115 million in donations (in only two months).
According to a 2018 infographic released by the ALS Association, here are some of the ways the funding has made an impact:
- 200+ new research projects have been funded to combat the disease.
- 5 new genes connected to the disease have been discovered, which will spur new therapies.
- 15,000 ALS patients have been helped with community-based services each year.
- 9 global research collaborations that have already resulted in 2 new drugs in clinical trials to target the most common genetic causes of ALS.
Content Format: App / Tool, InteractiveStrategy / Angle: Product Tie-In
IKEA’s “Place” AR app
With the release of their 2014 catalog, IKEA gave customers the ability to use augmented reality to see how furniture would fit in their homes.
IKEA has continued to improve their implementation of AR technology, with an updated “Place” app currently available on iOS and Android.
It has gotten hundreds of thousands of downloads, along with press coverage by Wired, The Verge and more.
This example shows how the shopping experience can be made so remarkable that it becomes a piece of content marketing.
It’s also an example of how tapping into a current trend (like AR technology) can lead to press coverage and excitement — even for a product as boring as furniture.Content Format: SocialStrategy / Angle: Curated / UGC, Product Tie-In
Inspiration du Jour
Every few minutes, someone tags Kat Von D Beauty on a makeup picture on Instagram.
The brand has an “Inspiration du Jour” page on their site that showcases the best makeup examples people have posted.
What’s more, they add links to buy the products that were used in the picture, so their customers can re-create the same looks.
This strategy helped Kat Von D Beauty attract $42.8 million worth of media attention in 2018, and grow the @katvondbeauty Instagram account to 5.4 million followers.
This is a great example of a brand not only using the social aspect of content marketing really well — but also employing gamification to encourage customers to engage, and tying it all back to the product really well.
And since it’s based on user-generated content, the inspiration page stays fresh without much labor on their end. (They could even fully automate it, though I don’t think they have.)Content Format: Email, TextStrategy / Angle: Curated / UGC
James Clear’s “3-2-1” Newsletter
Every Thursday, author James Clear sends out his “3-2-1” email newsletter.
As he puts it, it contains “3 ideas from me, 2 quotes from others, and 1 question for you.”
He also says that his goal is to send the most “wisdom per word” of any email newsletter.
I think he may be succeeding at that.
The emails are always short, punchy, and thought-provoking.
What I love about them most is their efficiency. Not just that they’re a fast read, but also that they probably don’t take long to create.
The first section, “3 ideas from me,” is mostly repurposed from content he’s already published in his book, on his blog, or on social media.
The next section is just 2 quotes from other people. (Curating content is always faster than creating something new.)
And the final section, “1 question for you,” is rarely more than a handful of words — which, again, are often repurposed.
This newsletter is a perfect example of simple content marketing that is still valuable.Content Format: Interactive, SocialStrategy / Angle: Product Tie-In
Keanu Reeves’ John Wick AMA on reddit
People still talk about Keanu Reeves’ “Ask Me Anything” session on reddit promoting the first John Wick movie back in 2014.
In it, his assistant dutifully transcribed his answers including every chuckle, pause, and “uh,” giving it a very candid, laid-back feel.
Contrast this with Woody Harrelson’s infamous AMA promoting Rampart, which was widely criticized for being inauthentic and focusing too much on the movie itself rather than answering redditors’ questions.
(The most upvoted comment on Harrelson’s AMA is “Question to Mr Harrelson’s PR guy, what are you planning to do with all the free time you’ll have now?”)
Content marketing idea:
Host an AMA.
The biggest platform for AMAs is undoubtedly still reddit, which not only runs them on its general main “r/IAmA” subreddit, but also on a smaller “r/AMA” subreddit and, more importantly, on many of its subject-specific subreddits.
This can be a great way to tap into an engaged, relevant audience of potential customers and partners.
- This literary agent’s AMA on r/writing
- This style blogger’s AMA on r/malefashionadvice
- This Android engineering team’s AMA on r/androiddev
You can find examples from your own industry by searching Google (which often works better than searching reddit directly) with the phrase “reddit [your industry] AMA“.
Or if you want to check a specific subreddit, you can navigate to it and search “AMA” using reddit’s built-in search bar.
Then, read the sidebar rules and reach out to the mods offering to host one.
Depending on your industry, there’s a good chance you’ll find a lot of new customers with this content marketing technique.Content Format: VideoStrategy / Angle: Entertaining, Product Tie-In
Ken Block’s Gymkhana
Hoonigan’s video series has been a remarkable success since its first episode debuted in 2010.
The series has over 550 million views across all platforms, and its 5th episode scored over 5.1 million views within 24 hours of its release on YouTube, making it the most-watched video of the week.
Like Blendtec’s “Will It Blend” series, what I like about these videos is that they’re really just product demonstrations (for Ford and Subaru in this case).
20 years ago, those brands would have had to buy airtime to show their products to the world.
Today, by making content that’s entertaining enough, they can get their target customers to spread it for them.Content Format: Dedicated SiteStrategy / Angle: Data-Driven, Unique
Country Time Lemonade’s campaign to legalize lemonade stands across the U.S. generated over 1 billion media impressions, including more than 255 broadcast segments aired in national and local TV stations.
It received coverage from The Washington Post, Newsweek, CNN, Fox News, CBS News and more.Content Format: SocialStrategy / Angle: Entertaining
Librairie Mollat’s Instagram
Submitted by Hannah Smith, Director, Worderist:
“I really love what this bookstore is doing on Instagram.
Coverage is here: https://www.boredpanda.com/people-match-books-librairie-mollat/
I think it’s both playful, and creative; also it demonstrates that you don’t need big budgets to create engaging content.”Content Format: AudioStrategy / Angle: Entertaining
GE’s branded sci-fi podcast “The Message,” and its sequel, “LifeAfter,” not only have thousands of five-star reviews on Apple Podcasts — they’ve also won the Webby Award for native advertising as well as the Cannes Gold Lion award.
With these podcasts, GE has successfully produced engrossing stories that have attracted actual fans — despite being nothing more than content marketing.Content Format: TextStrategy / Angle: How-To
Link Building for SEO: The Definitive Guide
This awesome blog post from Backlinko features a beautiful design and comprehensive, actionable content.
That sounds to me like a recipe for success.
And I’m not the only one who thinks so: the post has received 10,835 social shares and links from 1,414 referring domains as of this writing.
By consistently publishing incredible content like this, Brian Dean has turned Backlinko into a leading blog in the competitive SEO industry.
Content marketing idea:
What topics can you publish truly definitive guides on?
And how can you design them to stand out, so people will want to share them?Content Format: App / Tool, InteractiveStrategy / Angle: Entertaining, Product Tie-In
Living Wine Labels
The “Living Wine Labels” app by Treasury Wine Estates uses augmented reality to animate the labels of the company’s various wine brands.
This unique idea has earned coverage from CNBC, Bustle, Oprah Magazine and more.Content Format: InteractiveStrategy / Angle: Product Tie-In
Lowe’s Paint Visualizer
Lowe’s interactive Paint Visualizer displays an image of a living room (or several other rooms) and allows visitors to change the color palette in order to visualize what paint colors they may want to buy.
It also suggests coordinated and similar colors, taking away much of the guesswork.
Visitors can download the customized image along with the precise paint color names and codes, and can also easily buy paint samples of those colors online.Content Format: VideoStrategy / Angle: Product Tie-In
Lush: How It’s Made
Lush’s “How It’s Made” video series debuted in the summer of 2014 and has been going strong ever since, with 89 videos in total now.
Of those, 8 episodes have over 1 million views on YouTube, and another 17 episodes have racked up over 500 thousand views each.
Content marketing idea to try: Aside from its results, what I really like about this content marketing example is that it is creating content from something they would have to do anyway: make the product. That both makes the process easier and creates a natural tie-in between the content and the product.
Jason Fried of Basecamp writes about this concept of using your byproducts for other purposes in a blog post here. (Another example of this is his own company publishing its employee handbook on Github. But I’ve covered that in its own entry on this list.)
How could you turn your own behind-the-scenes processes into content marketing?Content Format: App / Tool, InteractiveStrategy / Angle: How-To, Unique
Make My Persona
Interactive tools are a growing trend in content marketing, and I love this example of one from HubSpot.
Rather than a simple how-to blog post, the “Make My Persona” tool offers a beautifully designed, guided process to creating a buyer persona.
At the end, you can download a printable PDF of your persona overview — though you’ll need to provide your contact info first. (Lead magnet alert!)
The Make My Persona tool has attracted backlinks from over 1,600 external sites, according to Ahrefs.
Bonus content marketing examples:
For more inspiration, check out HubSpot’s other free tools here.Content Format: Interactive, VideoStrategy / Angle: Collaboration, How-To, Product Tie-In
Marie Poulin’s Notion Webinars
This collaboration helps both Marie and Notion:
- Notion gets an expert to create how-to content for them for free (which is much-needed, considering how complex the app is).
- Marie gets exposure to a large audience of people when Notion promotes her webinars to their audience. (Note: this is a relevant audience for her because they care about productivity, which she offers consulting for.)
In each webinar, Marie also takes the opportunity to invite people to her website by offering free Notion templates there.
As a marketing technique, I love partnerships like this.
Whether you’re a brand in need of content or an expert who can provide it, teaming up can be a great opportunity.
Marie even takes it one step further by sometimes inviting guests to co-host the webinars with her, providing additional content angles while having to do less of the work.
Content marketing idea:
Who could you collaborate with to reach new potential customers (or to help your existing ones)?
Take a step back from your immediate competitors and think more broadly about how your space overlaps with others. Look for companies and people who are offering something different than you, but for the same basic audience.
Email marketing services can team up with marketing analytics providers.
Personal trainers can team up with nutritionists.
And landscapers can team up with real estate agents.Content Format: Audio, VideoStrategy / Angle: Collaboration, How-To
Marie Forleo’s YouTube channel is filled with great content — not to mention its very high production values.
As a result, she’s built a following of 600 thousand YouTube subscribers.
She publishes several different show formats on her channel, including live call-in shows and interviews (which are neatly organized as themed playlists).
At the end of each video, Marie cleverly directs viewers to her site by asking questions or offering a chance to interact with her or her guests.
She also repurposes many videos into podcast episodes, increasing the impact of every ounce of content-creation effort.Content Format: Downloadable, GraphicalStrategy / Angle: Data-Driven
Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Reports
Once a year, for a few days, Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends Report becomes the biggest story in the online marketing world.
Actually, its coverage stretches well into the mainstream business and tech media, including Fortune, Inc, Vox, TechCrunch, CNBC, Forbes, AdAge, Quartz, Business Insider, Fast Company, and even The New York Times.
The report is absolutely massive — 2019’s version was 333 slides long.
It covers important data points like:
- The growth in global Internet users
- How much time Americans spend on mobile devices vs. TV (2019 is the first year mobile overtook TV)
- How data is being used as currency
- Which social networks people are spending the most time on
- How the gig economy is affecting existing businesses
And so on.Content Format: Dedicated SiteStrategy / Angle: Data-Driven, Product Tie-In
Measuring the “Filter Bubble”
DuckDuckGo’s study of Google’s customization of search results perfectly aligns with DuckDuckGo’s mission of making the web a more private place.
(And increasing DuckDuckGo’s market share as a search engine.)
As the world frets about divisive politics, privacy invasions, and potential monopolies by the largest tech companies, DuckDuckGo created a study that brought all three issues together.
- Links from 700 root domains
- Over 4,000 shares on social media
- Coverage from The Verge, Wired, TechCrunch, The Next Web, Search Engine Journal and more
All based on a study with a sample size of only 87 people.
Content marketing idea:
The fact that DuckDuckGo’s study only relied on 87 participants proves how easy it can be to create original research.
Hit the “Data-Driven” filter button above to see more examples of data-driven content…
Then read my case study for a step-by-step method of putting together your own study.Content Format: Print, TextStrategy / Angle: Old School, Product Tie-In
Modern Methods of Antiseptic Wound Treatment
In the 1880s, Johnson & Johnson found itself backed into a corner.
Although Louis Pasteur had found decades earlier that germs caused infection, methods for conducting sterile surgery were still not widely covered in medical textbooks. (Source)
This made it hard for Johnson & Johnson to sell the sterile-packaged surgical dressings and sutures they had begun mass-producing.
They needed to show surgeons how (and why) to conduct sterile surgery.
So they decided to publish a manual.
Johnson & Johnson’s “Modern Methods of Antiseptic Wound Treatment” paired step-by-step healthcare instructions with a catalog of their products to use.
Their sales team distributed the free guide to pharmacists, doctors and surgeons across the U.S. starting in 1888, disseminating the first 85 thousand copies within months.
It was so successful that they later increased its circulation to 4.5 million copies worldwide, translated into three languages.Content Format: Email, TextStrategy / Angle: Entertaining
Moosejaw’s Oddball Brand Voice
Submitted by Alaura Weaver, Content Marketing Strategist & Founder, WordWeaver Freelance:
“One of my favorite examples of eCommerce content has to be Moosejaw outfitters. They are beloved for their cheeky, oddball brand voice and it makes shopping with them a delight from the moment you see them in the search results…
To landing on their home page…
To their social media content…
To their blog.
Moosejaw is one of the rare companies I get excited about getting emails from.
Their content contains little comedy nuggets in the most unexpected of places, and the joy their content team takes in creating moments of fun throughout their customer journey is contagious.”Content Format: App / Tool, InteractiveStrategy / Angle: Product Tie-In
Moz’s Free SEO Tools
The SaaS business Moz offers free SEO tools with limited usage.
Anyone can use the tools a few times per day, or sign up for a free Moz account (becoming a lead) in order to raise the limit significantly.
And of course, when people use up their limited daily access, they are invited to pay for (or sign up for a trial for) the full tools.
The main “Free SEO Tools” page has earned links from 3,695 referring domains including Forbes, HubSpot, Business Insider and more.
It ranks #1 on Google for the high-value keyword “SEO tools” (which gets 12,000 searches per month).
Content marketing idea:
What I love about Moz’s approach to the freemium model is that it’s a miniature marketing funnel all on its own:
Step 1: Someone searching for “SEO tools” finds the free tools page.
Step 2: Without any login requirement to add friction, the person tries the tools.
Step 3: After a few uses, they are prompted to create a free account (signing up with their email address).
Step 4: Now that Moz has their email address, the person also starts getting content dripped to them to build trust and deepen the relationship.
Step 5: Once they hit the usage limits on the free account, they’re invited to sign up for a trial for the full premium tools.
A clever aspect of this approach is that Moz only pitches the full tool versions to the people who are using the free tools a lot.
Moz knows that people who are just dipping their toes into SEO may not need a full $99+/mo suite of tools…
But many of those people will gradually do more and more SEO work over time, using Moz’s free tools as they do. As those people learn SEO, they will become comfortable with Moz’s tools and develop an affinity for the brand.
And when the moment is right — based on the user hitting the free tier’s usage ceiling — Moz will prompt them to sign up for the full, paid suite of tools.Content Format: App / Tool, InteractiveStrategy / Angle: Product Tie-In
Pablo by Buffer
Buffer’s Pablo tool is an easy way to create images for your social media posts.
It’s exactly the kind of lightweight tool that gets the job done without any unnecessary friction or unnecessary content on the page to distract you.
It doesn’t add a branded watermark to the images or make you sign up for a free account to use it.
As a result, people actually use it — exposing themselves to Buffer’s brand and the subtle invitation at the top of the page to “Get started with Buffer.”
The tool’s page has picked up links from 4,682 referring domains as of this writing.Content Format: App / Tool, InteractiveStrategy / Angle: Curated / UGC, Purpose-Driven
Patagonia: Action Works
Patagonia’s Action Works web app enables users to find and join environmental action groups, protests and demonstrations.
This fits in perfectly with Patagonia’s pro-environmental brand, while tapping into the urgency of the climate crisis.
Press coverage for the program has included The New York Times, Forbes, Today, The SF Chronicle, Vogue and more.Content Format: PrintStrategy / Angle: Product Tie-In, Unique, Viral
Pee On This Ad
This IKEA print ad was also an ingenious content marketing idea and PR stunt, all rolled into one.
It included a special section that would appear blank at first, but if a pregnant woman peed on it, would reveal a coupon code for a discount on a baby crib.
4.3 billion global impressions, $12 million in earned media (including a mention on the Jimmy Kimmel Show), a sold-out product, 1,700+ articles re-published about the ad, and 33% awareness/observation in the native country, Sweden. (Source)Content Format: Graphical, InteractiveStrategy / Angle: Curated / UGC, Data-Driven
People Map of the US
Submitted by Ross Simmonds, Founder & CEO, Foundation:
“The Pudding consistently publishes amazing content and while content is their bread & butter – marketers can take a lot from their approach.
Take this people map as an example: https://pudding.cool/2019/05/people-map/ – This is a brilliant asset that combines data, design & insight to deliver a brilliant piece of content that is both educational and entertaining.”Content Format: Graphical, InteractiveStrategy / Angle: Data-Driven, Purpose-Driven
Perceptions of Perfection
Submitted by Niall Doherty, Founder, eBiz Facts:
“One example I really like is: onlinedoctor.superdrug.com/perceptions-of-perfection
According to Ahrefs, that piece has picked up backlinks from 838 unique domains so far, and over 33k shares on Facebook according to sharedcount.com.
It’s a perfect piece to illustrate how beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and empowering for women of all shapes and sizes since so many different shapes/sizes are represented. No wonder it has done so well. It’s a good fit for the website that produced it: Superdrug Online Doctor. And it probably cost them very little to produce this content.”Content Format: Dedicated Site, Print, TextStrategy / Angle: Data-Driven
Massachusetts General Hospital’s Proto Magazine features stories on the leading edge of medicine.
This piece of content marketing is undeniably influential in the medical field, with many of its articles reprinted and cited by publications like The Washington Post.Content Format: Graphical, TextStrategy / Angle: Data-Driven
Race and Attraction, 2009 – 2014
OkCupid’s “Race and Attraction, 2009–2014” report made great use of the anonymized data of its massive userbase.
Highlighting racial preferences and biases in the world of online dating, the report earned links from 523 unique domains including coverage in The New York Times, Forbes, BBC, The Guardian, The Washington Post, Wired and more.Content Format: SocialStrategy / Angle: Collaboration, Entertaining, Product Tie-In
Rebuild the World
LEGO’s fun “Rebuild the World” Instagram series features famous people building things with the colorful bricks.
The raw numbers behind Steve Schoger’s “Refactoring UI” Twitter Moment may not seem impressive, until viewed in context.
For a B2B subject as dry as user interface design, earning 9 thousand likes on a Twitter Moment is nothing to shake a stick at.
(Plus even more on individual tweets, and thousands of retweets).
And the content itself is so specific that a high proportion of the people engaging with it are naturally potential design clients.
Finally, these tips have the added benefit of proving Steve’s expertise as a designer.
Content marketing idea:
Package together a group of your best tweets on a single theme into a Moment — even if those tweets have taken place across the span of multiple years.
Then repurpose the same tips into a story on Instagram, and as a blog post on your site.Content Format: SocialStrategy / Angle: Purpose-Driven
Reveal’s Investigation Tweetstorms
This tweetstorm has all the ingredients of an excellent piece of investigative journalism, distilled into a thread of bite-sized tweets.
In it, Reveal manages to use Twitter to effectively describe a complex issue, complete with expert quotes and more.
The thread finishes with two CTAs:
First, a link to the original news story on their site.
And second, an invitation for people who had similar experiences to come forward.
Reveal frequently posts new stories on their Twitter account this way, publishing a thread to summarize the story and linking to the full story at the end.
To me, this is a much more engaging way to share news than the more typical method of simply sharing one post with a brief description and headline. The typical method probably leads to more consistent click-throughs to the site, but sharing more information in the form of a thread probably helps the story spread farther.Content Format: AudioStrategy / Angle: Old School, Unique
Roll On, Columbia, Roll On
Its goal: to increase support for the federal regulation of hydroelectricity.
As NPR writes, “the government faced powerful opposition from private utilities and hoped that folk songs would prompt more public support” for federal dam projects.
The power administration commissioned Woody Guthrie to write “Roll On, Columbia, Roll On” along with 25 other songs, which he did in the span of just one month, recording them in Portland, OR in May 1941.
According to the University of Washington’s Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest, “Guthrie celebrated the fact that Uncle Sam would build the dams and distribute the kilowatts they generated, because he expected the federal government to help check the power of corporate utilities. A dramatic increase in the supply of electricity and water for irrigation would also make life easier for the downtrodden of the West—poor farmers, urban workers, the many unemployed.”
“Roll On, Columbia, Roll On” has since become one of the most famous folk songs ever recorded, as well as Washington State’s official folk song.Content Format: Interactive, Social, VideoStrategy / Angle: How-To, Product Tie-In
Seth Godin’s Live Videos
Seth Godin regularly hosts Facebook Live and Instagram Live videos that attract tens of thousands (and sometimes hundreds of thousands) of viewers.
For a B2B audience, those are massive numbers.
By answering people’s questions in real time (as he often does in these videos), Seth also deepens his audience’s relationship with him. These videos have undoubtedly driven many signups to his courses and workshops.
Bonus content marketing example:
Seth’s daily blog is filled with short insights about business, marketing and life, and has been named a best blog by Time magazine.Content Format: Graphical, Interactive, TextStrategy / Angle: Curated / UGC
Siege Media’s “100 Best Infographics”
This massive, filterable list of infographics has received 118 social shares and links from 84 referring domains so far, and currently ranks #3 for “best infographics” — a keyword that gets 2,300 searches per month and matches Siege Media’s target customer.
This example was also one of the inspirations for the post you’re reading now.
Hat tip to Brian Dean of Backlinko, who I first heard about it from.Content Format: Audio, Interactive, TextStrategy / Angle: Entertaining
Siri Is Dying
Submitted by Andra Zaharia, Freelance Content Marketer and Host of the “How Do You Know?” Podcast:
“One of my absolute favorite pieces of content ever is how Typeform chose to tell Susan Bennett’s story, the woman whose voice brought Siri to life on millions of iPhones and other Apple devices.
Not only is the article an example of great storytelling, but the production itself includes original content creation, delightful UX, and an interactive format that makes it a pleasure to peruse.
The article immediately became a link magnet, attracting the attention of top-ranking publications focused on Apple products, tech, and even business. With over 2000 backlinks and 475k visitors, this piece of content brought in massive traffic and also made a splash on social media (10,000+ shares according to this Leadfeeder case study).
Even though it was published in 2017, I still reference it as one of the best content marketing assets I’ve ever seen.
The prize for Best Blog Post at the 2018 Content Marketing Awards was definitely well deserved!
I wish more CEOs were open to projects like these that focus on creating content or experiences so good that they basically promote themselves, helping the brand and rewarding readers for the time spent enjoying it.”Content Format: App / Tool, InteractiveStrategy / Angle: Curated / UGC, How-To
Sit or Squat
Charmin’s public restroom finder app is one of the more creative examples of content marketing on this list.
Powered by crowdsourced data, it has earned Charmin SEO-boosting backlinks from 1,282 domains, as well as mentions in the The New York Times, The Washington Post, Forbes, Time, NBC News, Fox News, TechCrunch, Wired and more.Content Format: Graphical, Interactive, TextStrategy / Angle: Data-Driven
Stack Overflow’s Annual Developer Survey
Stack Overflow’s annual developer survey produces a lot of fascinating data for the industry.
It’s impressive to read through the summary report with genuine interest, while organically being reminded of the reasons to use the website. (It never feels like a sales pitch but, in many ways, it’s a great one.)
2019 marked their 9th annual survey, which was completed by nearly 90,000 developers.
The 2019 survey results page been linked to from over 2,500 referring domains, including industry giants like Microsoft.com, Oracle.com, Google’s official blog, TechCrunch, Ars Technica and more.
Content marketing idea:
Could you run a survey to create annual reports for your industry?
You don’t need 90,000 people to fill it out, either.
For example, Credo’s study of digital marketing agency pricing only had 271 respondents, but has picked up links from dozens of domains including some of the largest sites in the marketing industry.
And my own domain extensions study only had 1,500 respondents, but many months later it’s still attracting new links almost every day.
You can read my step-by-step guide to creating data driven content right here.Content Format: SocialStrategy / Angle: How-To
Starter Story’s Automated Social Sharing
Pat Walls of Starter Story has gotten millions of views from Reddit, thanks to an automated sharing system he built for his content.
This Twitter thread covers the details of his approach to Reddit.
As he says:
“I have hit the top of Reddit hundreds of times.
Through all of the love and hate that I get on the platform, I think I’ve found that it’s here to stay.
After years of posting on Reddit, I’ve slowly built an automated system that is now 100% hands off.”
You can also read Pat’s blog post about how he automates his other social media posting here.
Content marketing idea:
While it wouldn’t be automated, you could take a similar “scaled” approach to social media marketing by answering questions on Quora with your existing content as the basis for your answers.Content Format: Graphical, TextStrategy / Angle: Data-Driven
State of Startups
Submitted by Benji Hyam, Co-Founder of Grow and Convert:
“This is an annual survey of venture backed founders that talks about controversial issues around startups. Because it hits on a lot of controversial issues and uses data visualization to easily display the results, it often gets picked up by top publications. It’s well executed on a yearly basis and has a great design.
Companies could mimic this strategy for themselves.
They could survey customers or people in their industry, come up with questions on controversial topics around their own industry, create a name or brand for this piece of content, interpret the data, design it well, and pitch this type of article to industry publications.”Content Format: Downloadable, Graphical, TextStrategy / Angle: Collaboration, Data-Driven
Talkwalker’s Social Media Trends
Submitted by Gini Dietrich, founder and author, Spin Sucks:
“I love how Talkwalker uses influencers every year to create a massive piece of content about trends for the following year.
This year, they partnered with HubSpot and worked with nearly 70 influencers to compile the most complete trends piece I’ve ever seen. You can get trends and information on everything from TikTok and virtual reality to customer experience and digital transformation.”Content Format: VideoStrategy / Angle: Purpose-Driven, Viral
The #LikeAGirl Campaign
Always’ #LikeAGirl video has been on YouTube since 2014 and is still receiving comments on a daily basis.
The campaign to redefine the phrase “like a girl” started as a YouTube video, but was later repurposed into a Super Bowl ad.
In that time, this moving video has piled up more than 67 million views, 289 thousand likes and 42 thousand comments.
- Over 4.4 billion media impressions in the first three months, including coverage from The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Time, Fast Company, CNN, The Chicago Tribune, Business Insider and more.
- Always’ Twitter followers tripled in the first three months, and the brand’s YouTube subscribers grew 4,339%.
- 177 thousand #LikeAGirl tweets in the first three months.
- 50% lift in purchase intent among target audience. (Source)
Always said their challenge in creating this campaign was getting people to actually share things with the Always logo on it.
To me, its success is proof that even if your product isn’t something people want to talk much about, your content marketing can make them want to talk about your brand.Content Format: Interactive, SocialStrategy / Angle: Entertaining, Product Tie-In, Unique
The Chef (Chatbot Novel)
The Chef is a novel by James Patterson, released in its entirety as a Facebook Messenger chatbot.
By first releasing the novel this way, it was able to generate buzz with coverage from Bloomberg, Variety, CNBC, The Verge, TechCrunch, The Evening Standard and more.
In addition to the free chatbot novel, fans were able to interact with Patterson directly via Q&A sessions on Facebook Live, check out Instagram profiles for the main characters of the book, and browse an official, dedicated Facebook group.Content Format: Audio, VideoStrategy / Angle: How-To
The Dave Ramsey Show
Today, it’s the 3rd-most-listened-to radio talk show in the U.S., with over 13 million weekly listeners across over 600 radio stations and digital platforms.
With a show length of 3 hours every weekday, the Dave Ramsey Show proves that short attention spans are no match for good content.Content Format: PrintStrategy / Angle: Old School, Product Tie-In
An early example of content marketing, The Furrow‘s first issue was printed by John Deere in 1895.
By 1912, the magazine’s circulation had grown to over 4 million subscribers.
Though it has shrunk since then, it still reaches approximately 570,000 consumers in the U.S. and Canada, and over 2 million globally. (Source)
Quoting the writeup over at Express Writers:
“The magazine was distributed to customers at no charge, and the only sign that it came from a John Deere dealer was a small inscription on the cover that recounted that the magazine had been sent ‘with compliments of your John Deere Dealer.’
With the exception of the small inscription, however, there was virtually no indication that John Deere published the magazine. The company ran no ads, and the articles included within the little magazine didn’t focus on John Deere’s products. Instead, they covered topics ranging from how best to address various farming challenges to trends in the agricultural community as a whole.”
Content marketing idea:
One of the most important things to get right with content marketing is how promotional to make it.
There’s usually a tradeoff:
Focus too much on your product or brand, and people won’t pay attention. It will feel too much like an ad.
Rather than featuring their own tractors on every page, John Deere was smart in creating The Furrow as a source of truly good, useful content.
That restraint has allowed it to remain in circulation for over 120 years, boosting affinity for the John Deere brand generation after generation.Content Format: Graphical, PrintStrategy / Angle: How-To, Old School, Product Tie-In
The Guinness Guide to Oysters
The Guinness Guide to Oysters was published as a print ad, written in 1950 by legendary copywriter David Ogilvy.
But it’s essentially an infographic (a content marketing mainstay).
Designed as a reference sheet, it was so successful that it spawned further guides to game birds, cheeses, and other foods that go well with Guinness. (Source)Content Format: PrintStrategy / Angle: Old School, Product Tie-In, Unique
The Michelin Guide
In 1900, the French tire company Michelin had a problem.
There were fewer than 3,000 cars in France.
You can’t sell many tires when there are only 3,000 cars in your market.
So to increase demand for cars — and tires — the Michelin brothers began publishing a free travel guide.
The Michelin Guide included maps, tire repair and replacement instructions, car mechanics listings, hotels and gas stations in France. Michelin gave away nearly 35,000 copies of the first edition. (Source)
It worked so well that in 1904, they began publishing a similar guide to Belgium, then expanded to Algeria and Tunisia in 1907, the Alps in 1908, and so on.
In the 1920s, they began selling the guides rather than giving them away for free. They also expanded their restaurant coverage, including hiring a team of reviewers to anonymously visit restaurants.
Since then, Michelin has become one of the largest tire manufacturers in the world.
And the Michelin Guide — which is still produced by the company — provides what is probably the most respected global ranking system for high-end restaurants: Michelin stars.
(As a testament to their importance, Gordon Ramsey once said, “I started crying when I lost my stars. It’s a very emotional thing for any chef.”)Content Format: AudioStrategy / Angle: Collaboration
The Mixergy Podcast
I love Andrew Warner’s Mixergy interviews with startup founders, which are released as a podcast and also available for streaming directly on the Mixergy site.
In the in-depth interviews, Andrew asks questions no other interviewers venture to ask, and gets incredible responses in return.
The effort has given a massive boost to Mixergy’s SEO, attracting backlinks from 2,894 unique domains (including Forbes, NY Times, TechCrunch and more).Content Format: Social, TextStrategy / Angle: Curated / UGC, Purpose-Driven, Viral
The New York Public Library’s Insta Novels
The New York Public Library wanted to get more young people reading and talking about literature, so they set about putting classic novels into Instagram Stories.
They certainly succeeded with this clever project. The library’s Instagram account gained 13,000 new followers in the 24 hours following its first “Insta Novel,” Alice In Wonderland.
Since then, it has grown to 412 thousand, with hundreds of thousands of novels read on the platform.
The project was covered in over 700 publications including The New York Times, USA Today, Entertainment, Vice, Fast Company, The Daily Beast, The Economist and Fortune.Content Format: Dedicated Site, Social, VideoStrategy / Angle: Purpose-Driven
The marketing campaign has also scored media coverage from The New York Times, The Washington Post, Bloomberg, Jezebel, LA Times, Teen Vogue and more.Content Format: Interactive, PrintStrategy / Angle: Entertaining, Old School, Unique
The Tour de France
Perhaps one of the most successful, and original, examples of content marketing was launched in 1903 by the French newspaper L’Auto.
To boost circulation of the struggling paper, its directors decided to create an event it could cover over the course of multiple days.
They organized a 19-day bike race around France, and called it the Tour de France.
It almost failed.
To attract enough entrants, in addition to significant daily and grand prizes, L’Auto paid all racers a daily allowance equal to a factory worker’s wages (as long as they averaged a certain minimum speed).
The impact of all of this on the newspaper was immediate and long-lasting.
Circulation of the newspaper during the first race grew from 25,000 to 130,000.
And the profile of the race rose each year, growing the paper’s circulation to 250,000 in 1908 and to 500,000 by 1923, and hitting its peak in 1933 at a staggering 850,000 – an increase of 3400% since the first Tour de France in 1903.
And, of course, the race itself remains the most famous bike race in the world today.
(Hat tip to Harry Dry for this historical content marketing example.)Content Format: Graphical, TextStrategy / Angle: Product Tie-In
The Ultimate Guide to Chatbots
Submitted by John-Henry Scherck, B2B content strategist and SEO consultant:
“This is a great example of mapping your buyer journey to a content strategy and maximizing on SEO at the same time.
If you have questions about chatbots that are keeping you from getting started, this guide works to answer those questions and get you into the Drift product. It takes you from ‘what is it’ to ‘how do I get started now’ in less than ten pages of content.”Content Format: Email, TextStrategy / Angle: Curated / UGC
Tim Ferriss’ 5-Bullet Friday
“5-Bullet Friday,” the weekly newsletter sent by Tim Ferriss, has millions of subscribers and a purported open rate of over 50%.
Putting something like this together would take very little time, thanks to its short form, simple structure, and “curated content” focus.
It’s a great example of how a piece of content marketing can be very simple and still deliver amazing results.Content Format: Email, TextStrategy / Angle: Curated / UGC, How-To
Ann Handley sends out her long-form email newsletter “Total ANNARCHY” once every two weeks.
And when you see it in your inbox, you smile.
In it, Ann includes summaries of some of the top marketing stories of the moment, shares several notable pieces of content she’s found, makes book recommendations, and calls out great quotes in a section called “standout sentence of the week.”
And more — all with her trademark sense of humor.
At the end of each email, she invites people to buy her book and also calls out her upcoming events.Content Format: Audio, Text, VideoStrategy / Angle: Data-Driven
“Tradeoffs” is a video series by Hiten Shah and Patrick Campbell in which they analyze software products and businesses.
Each video is based on data from surveys Hiten and Patrick run, in which they ask different businesses’ existing customers satisfaction-type questions.
They often break down how those responses relate to their competitors, and how each company’s strategy drives its results. For example, one of their videos includes a Net Promoter Score comparison between Office 365 and G Suite.
The videos are “softly” gated (asking for an email address to access, but not requiring one).
To make the most of their efforts, the videos are also repurposed into audio as well as text blog posts on the Profitwell site.Content Format: App / Tool, SocialStrategy / Angle: Product Tie-In
Ultimate PowerPoint Slides
24Slides is a design agency that focuses on one service: creating custom presentations.
Specifically, slide decks.
An extremely effective piece of content marketing they’ve put together is this collection of free templates for PowerPoint and Google Slides.
Their free templates have gotten links from 610 external domains as of this writing, including Behance, Dribbble, The Next Web and more.
To access them, visitors are required to sign up for a free account (becoming a lead for the paid service in the process).
24Slides cleverly launched the collection on LinkedIn — the perfect place to promote a B2B service like theirs. In the post, they asked people to leave a comment saying “yes” if they were interested.
How many comments did they receive?
Over 62,000.Content Format: App / Tool, InteractiveStrategy / Angle: Data-Driven
Verywell Fit’s Recipe Nutrition Calculator
Verywell Fit’s recipe nutrition calculator turns any recipe into a set of nutritional facts, which you can then embed or print.
The calculator page has received links from 1,600 unique domains including BuzzFeed, PBS, Healthline, The Knot, The Next Web, Ars Technica, USC.edu and more.
Part of that is thanks to its embed feature, which links back to the calculator when used.
But mostly, it’s simply due to being a great example of content marketing.
It has also been shared on social media over 17,000 times as of this writing.Content Format: Graphical, Interactive, TextStrategy / Angle: Unique
What Is Code?
Submitted by Tom Zsomborgi, CFO of Kinsta:
“I love Bloomberg’s long read on What is code. This is an excellent example of 10x content (the term invented by Rand Fishkin).
I like how detailed it is from the basics up to the more advanced aspects of coding. The visual elements and the design of this page is stunning. The creators must have spent several hundreds of hours putting it together!”Content Format: TextStrategy / Angle: Data-Driven
What Is the Average Website Lifespan?
Submitted by Britney Muller, Founder of Pryde Marketing and Senior SEO Scientist at Moz:
“Orbit Media’s article on the average life span of a marketing website has naturally generated hundred of backlinks (including one from Wikipedia).
Which shows how powerful original research is for content marketing!”Content Format: VideoStrategy / Angle: Collaboration, How-To, Product Tie-In
Moz’s Whiteboard Fridays have been a staple in the SEO industry for years, taking an original approach to explaining online marketing concepts and strategies in weekly video episodes.
While Rand Fishkin (Moz’s co-founder) originally hosted every episode, now Whiteboard Fridays feature a rotating group of SEO experts from both inside and outside the company.
Special recognition to their six-part series, “The One-Hour Guide to SEO.” It’s a great example of content presented in a fresh — yet repeatable — way, and it starts out with an excellent introduction to tell multiple different audience types why they should watch and share it.
Something clever Moz does with each Whiteboard Friday video is fully transcribe it into text on the same page, essentially creating full blog posts out of each one.
This gives Moz’s audience an additional way to consume the content, and it also makes the videos more valuable for SEO purposes.
Moz’s Whiteboard Fridays pages have attracted links from thousands of external domains, including from mainstream publications like Entrepreneur, Forbes and Fox News, as well as industry sites like Smashing Magazine, Buffer, Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, Ahrefs, SEMrush and more.
(Those last two are even major competitors of Moz’s.)
And the phrase “Whiteboard Friday,” which Moz coined, gets 900 searches per month.
Content marketing idea:
Are there concepts or strategies in your industry that you might be able to simplify and explain with a whiteboard on video?
Could you give it an original name and turn it into an ongoing series?
Could you repurpose existing blog content this way… or repurpose the videos to create new blog posts?Content Format: App / Tool, VideoStrategy / Angle: Entertaining, Purpose-Driven, Viral
Will It Blend?
Blendtec’s “Will It Blend” video series peaked with its iPad-blending video in 2010, which went viral and scored 19 million views on YouTube.
But even as recently as 2018, they were still blending things like the iPhone X and Amazon Echo, receiving hundreds of thousands of views each time.Content Format: AudioStrategy / Angle: Entertaining
“Wireframe” is Adobe’s branded podcast about design.
Specifically, it explores the stories the stories behind UX design.
Produced by Gimlet’s branded content division, the quality is top-notch — almost to NPR standards.
Adobe also repurposes some of the content in “Behind Wireframe,” a blog series that takes readers behind the scenes of the podcast.Content Format: Dedicated Site, VideoStrategy / Angle: Entertaining, Unique
“[Product] alternative” is a common phrase people search when comparison-shopping different tools or SaaS products.
Naturally, whoever actually owns the “[Product]” would like to rank well on Google for that keyword.
But that’s hard to do.
(For example, search for “Salesforce alternative” and you’ll see Salesforce itself isn’t in the top 3, despite being a massive company.)
Zendesk took a creative approach to this problem.
They created ZendeskAlternative.com, a site dedicated to the fake grunge band Zendesk Alternative — complete with hilarious songs about customer service.
As of this writing, the site ranks third on Google for the keyword “Zendesk alternative”.