As content users, we all experience content overload.
As content marketers, we may find it tough to uncover the valuable gems in that same big sea of content. It can be hard to learn about brands – beyond Red Bull, GoPro, and BlendTec – that are executing successful, creative content marketing.
Some Content Marketing World presenters are here to help you cut through the content marketing clutter with 38 brands doing great work that you may not know about. These examples range from a blog created by a 70-year-old paint company to a veterans magazine publishing over 100 years, and from an amusement park’s website previewing the customer experience to a site featuring heroes by a church-administration software company.
If you have a particular tactic that you’d like to see, you can go directly to that section. We’ve broken the examples into the following categories – blogs, integrated marketing, newsletters, personalization/segmentation, SEO effect, visuals/video/audio, and websites.
Please know that if a contributor shared more than one brand, we wanted to make sure you knew about it. Thus, we included all examples and picked the best single category. That means you may see a few examples that don’t neatly fit in that category.
Play it again
The Humane Society of Silicon Valley deserves infinitely more credit than it’s getting. If it sounds familiar, it’s likely because its Eddie the Terrible blog post in 2014 was a tremendous success. (Eddie’s story reached over 5 million viewers and appeared in Huffington Post Good News [32,000 “likes,” 6,300 shares, and 200 comments], Good Morning America, People, USA Today, and more.)
But HSSV is far from a one-hit wonder, and its staff members have since realized that they need to create a better experience and better mental pictures in the United States of what it means to donate to humane societies. Without further ado, I give you Mutual Rescue. Good luck not smiling and crying all at once.
Jay Acunzo, vice president of platform, NextView Ventures
Target your audience
I love to use examples to show businesses how other brands are using content marketing to deliver reach, engagement, and conversion of customers that they would have never seen using traditional marketing tactics. Some of my favorite and possibly lesser-known examples include:
- Wistia Video Library
- First Round Capital Review
- National Association of Realtor’s House Logic
- Acorns’ financial site Grow
- Blackboard Blog on Education
Michael Brenner, CEO, Marketing Insider Group
Go outside the paint can
Farrow & Ball is a 70-year-old UK-based paint-and-wallpaper supplier. In 2014, it turned its attention to blogging but was concerned that a blog could turn into a “look-at-our-paint” site, which would add little value. A separate site was created called The Chromologist (a chromologist is someone who interprets color).
All the content follows the idea of owning color. From showing how to paint a door to what a sunset looks like, The Chromologist embodies the idea of consistency and providing value on a wealth of topics on color – not just paint. Its only on-brand promotion is a mention at the footer of the Farrow & Ball website. It’s a huge shift to an approach focused on a long-term mindset that isn’t joined at the hip of the main brand.
Mark Masters, managing director, The ID Group
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One of my favorite brands is Cabot Creamery, which is owned by a farm collaborative. It puts a face to the owners/farmers (and their cows!) in its content. You feel like you’re part of the family, and are an important customer because you know who is behind the brand.
Chuck Hester, managing partner, The Hester Group
Count on a global story
A well-known bank in Brazil, Itau strongly believes that a bank “changes the world.” Every piece of content and every channel (online and offline) tell the same story. They not only teach people how to manage investments properly but inspire them to see money as an enabler for making the world a better place to live.
For example, the bank realized that replacing cars with bikes can improve the world. Now it offers free bike rentals in parks and beaches. They use this benefit to share stories about bike users and everything bike-related. It’s pure content following the truth of that brand. It is a continuous content program rather than a one-time campaign. People simply love it.
Cassio Politi, consultant, Tracto
Jump for your visitors’ content
My favorite example of public-sector content marketing is the award-winning Wild About Whales. The NSW Parks and Wildlife service had a problem. While coastal parks were busy in summer, they were quiet in winter. They struck on the idea of “whale watching” to increase visitors in winter. It was a cracking success, all driven by content marketing.
The program was directed at moms looking for school holiday activities for their kids and relied heavily on user-generated content from visitors. Local businesses jumped in with recommendations for people to stay, eat, and shop. Supporting content included guides on where to see the whales and how to take photos at sea. It’s collaborative, it’s useful, it created a community, and solved a business problem. Visitation to the parks increased by 10% in the first year of the program.
David Pembroke, founder and CEO, contentgroup
Plant the conversation and inspiration
Procter & Gamble’s feminine hygiene brand Always built the #LikeAGirl campaign. What seemed like a movement “going viral” was a carefully thought and executed campaign that started with a strong on-brand concept and high-quality content behind it (videos, pictures, clever tweets). It had a massive distribution strategy everywhere on social, and most importantly the involvement of both celebrity and community influencers in the content and distribution.
De Grisogono is a high-luxury watch and jewelry brand that has managed to vastly expand the reach of its exclusive events online through the curation of highly targeted influencer content. The brand content seeded the conversation that was then carried by influencers invited at events. During the week of each event, De Grisogono managed to increase its website traffic almost five times, all sourced by influencers.
Pierre-Loic Assayag, CEO and co-founder, Traackr
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Give a voice
VFW Magazine isn’t often used as an example of good content marketing, but it’s one I am excited to see continue year after year for over a century. The magazine provides members with information about veteran services, continued efforts with Congress and the other government branches to fight for veterans’ rights, and to provide a voice for those who served this country in a foreign campaign.
Jeff Julian, chief marketing officer, AJi Software
Czech beer brand Bernard produces a special print magazine for beer lovers who are loyal customers of the brand. The magazine is a combination between art, beer, and some lifestyle and has won numerous awards.
Primož Inkret, co-founder and partner, Poslovni Mediji
Offer exclusive access
Parker Car Service in London, has a cool magazine that’s only distributed in the cars themselves. It’s cool, fun, smart, and well-designed. It adds value to the trip, especially when you’ve already squeezed your phone dry.
Doug Kessler, creative director and co-founder, Velocity
Don’t sell? Be an expert
GORE-TEX ® has created a phenomenal outdoor magazine called, Experience More. They recently converted it back to their blog, but it’s consistently great content. As a manufacturer not a retailer, GORE-TEX builds its brand’s cache by being an expert in outdoor activities.
Travis Wright, chief marketing technologist, CCP Global
Just add beer for more fun
Chubbies shorts does an awesome job creating content that gives their target market – men – a fun and memorable brand experience. From the tagline, “Sky’s Out. Thighs Out,” to the Friday at Five blog, the content is part boozy, part sexy (for real, not as in “this can make you that sexy”) and all male.
Its weekly Friday Eve newsletter gets subscribers excited about the weekend – and of course wearing shorts – with entertaining snippets like How To Discreetly Add a Beer-Dispensing Cooler to Your Office Chair and new product announcements that remind you of how fun it is to wear shorts. They even include a free gift in each shipment like leather coasters with a handwritten note from the CEO explaining the importance of using a coaster.
Dechay Watts, co-founder and chief content strategist, SPROUT Content
For over 30 years, Jack Covert’s 800CEORead has been playing matchmaker for business book authors and readers. Informed content sets it apart. Here are some of the ways that content helps sell books:
- The Keen Thinker is a weekly newsletter with reviews of the newest business books, company news, bestsellers, and book giveaways. A quick read and easily scanned, the newsletter incorporates timely links to books on the website.
- Change This is sent monthly to help authors promote their books by preparing a beautiful, landscape-format, multi-page PDF Manifesto. The Manifesto format allows the author to describe the book as if it were a presentation.
Roger Parker, founder, Published and Profitable
Personalization and Segmentation
Show and guide your buyers
Leesa, Stitch Fix, and Warby Parker use content to help drive better personalized buying experiences online. Buying a mattress online? Crazy. But Leesa carefully walks you through the process and gives you a lot of content to guide your experience. Want fashion advice specific to you? Stitch Fix asks a ton of questions to get your style down and has a great blog for your reading pleasure. Need a new pair of eyeglasses? Warby Parker shows you how to get the best pair for your face. By showing people what to expect and then delivering on that promise, these brands are paving the way for new types of interactive and offline customer experiences.
Ahava Leibtag, principal, Aha Media Group
Of all the great brands out there, here are some of my favorites:
- Optimizely – great example of a company who uses its own technology and data-driven insights to tell captivating stories.
- DocuSign – great job of serving up personalized content on its website tailored to specific industries to ensure the right audiences get the right content.
- Concur – good work honing business segments and spending time to create and tailor content to fit its needs.
Peter Isaacson, CMO, Demandbase
Answer your audience’s questions
My wife and I have a rooftop deck. But when the sun is out, it’s hot up there. We needed to add some shade. We don’t buy a lot of tarps. After a few minutes of looking, my wife finds a website that sells nylon tarps as sunscreens in any size and color in various materials. Perfect.
Except, which material is right for us?
She leaves that website and goes back to Google to search for “which tarp is right for me?” She finds an article called What’s the Right Tarp for Me? It’s a tarp-buying reference guide produced by Tarps Supply. Amazing.
This perfect little bit of content answered every one of her questions about tarp selection. It’s a great piece of content. It’s detailed. It ranks. It was easy for her to find and helped her make the right buying decision. And they have all the options available right there. Last night, she got out the credit card and placed the order.
Find. Learn. Trust. Buy. Shade, here we come.
Andy Crestodina, co-founder and strategic director, Orbit Media
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Visuals, Video & Audio
Draw in the crowds
Invision creates amazing content on the realm of graphic design – from industry best practices and trends to advice from experts. Its blog is well-thought with easy to follow and explore categories. From challenging the reader to think deeper about UX, to providing mentorship on graphic design tools, Invision’s posts are always top-notch and deliver on the value they’re now renowned for.
From traveler’s blogs to breathtaking photography, and from videos to a giant screen movie, Brand USA combines award-winning visuals with content crowdsourced from thousands of partner and tourist organizations throughout the United States.
David MacLaren, CEO & founder, MediaValet
Crank it up
Hamburger Helper’s trap mix tape was probably my favorite piece of branded content ever. The way they put it together was freaking genius.
Joe Lazauskas, editor-in-chief, Contently
Let me see it first
I’m a huge fan of brands that use content in multiple formats to preview the customer experience. This helps set appropriate expectations, reduces downstream customer service issues, and increases revenue by reducing uncertainty among prospective customers.
My favorite example is the family-owned amusement park near my home in Indiana, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, which goes into great detail describing every facet of the guest experience on its website, with videos, and through social media.
Jay Baer, founder and president, Convince & Convert
One-stop shops for news and information
More than 43 million Americans have student loans and the average 2016 college graduate owes over $37,000 in student loans. It’s no wonder that all things loan- and budget-related are trending. Student Loan Hero does a great job acting as a one-stop shop for all things student loan-related.
- Want to refinance? They tell you how.
- Want to find out the details of the student loan grace period? They provide answers.
At the end of the day, they are selling a service, but they’ve also positioned themselves as the leading educational resource on student loans in the United States.
By having its own coordinated newsroom, PETA has been able to position itself as a powerful organization that is the leading authority on animal welfare worldwide. It was one of the first outlets reporting on the death of Harambe the gorilla after a child fell into his zoo habitat. PETA’s Facebook post about Harambe received 42,000 “likes” in a matter of hours, and people who clicked were directed back to the organization’s site where they could make a donation or purchase merchandise.
Leslie Carruthers, founder and president, The Search Guru
Dream, laugh, and stay
I have a bunch of favorites for different reasons, including:
- PrideStaff – multiple work-related things and humor
- DirectBuy – getting customers to dream about a better home creates huge engagement
- Intel Developer Zone – daring and funny content by the software giant
- Funny Facebook videos by Big Sandy Superstore – the average view of this video was 292 seconds, whereas most videos on Facebook are viewed an average of about 12 seconds
- Zombie Video by PayPal – audience insights showed their customers were fans of The Walking Dead, and this was their most engaged with non-advertised post
Brian Carter, founder, The Carter Group
Wake up (or not)
Casper does an incredible job of creating content around one core topic: sleep. It even has a cleverly named content site – vanwinkles.com – in honor of the sleepy fictional character Rip Van Winkle. The site is devoted to journalistic coverage of sleep topics, from new research studies to adventure stories like how scientists sleep in the South Pole.
Allen Gannett, CEO, TrackMaven
Celebrate the heroes
I really like what ACS Technologies, which sells church administration and accounting software, is doing with its advocacy program. Ministry Heroes celebrates the great work church leaders are doing across the country. It’s measured on engagement and referrals and customer loyalty, but the content is pure value.
Matt Heinz, president, Heinz Marketing
As you can see, examples of great content marketing aren’t limited to the well-publicized few. They come in all formats and target all kinds of audiences. It’s content that’s funny, educational, news, shareable, motivational, or just helps you find the right tarp.
It’s content marketing inspiration.
Now, what will you create that inspires your audiences and your fellow content marketers?
Want to meet and learn from these experts in person? Register today for Content Marketing World Sept. 6-9. Use code BLOG100 to save $100.
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute