11 min read

Our world is filled with content.

In just one second, there are more than 40,000 web searches that happen, 2 million emails sent, and thousands of tweets and social media posts happen.

In 2014, we reached the 1 billion total websites mark on the internet for the first time. The internet keeps getting bigger because we keep creating more content.

If you’re like most small businesses out there, trying to get noticed, then you’re creating content right now. 70% of B2B companies say that they are creating more content this year than they did last year.

Almost 90% of you are using content marketing as a way to reach new customers.

And sometimes you need a little inspiration when creating content.

Look no further.

Here are 11 successful content marketing campaigns to inspire you and get the creative juices flowing.

1. Hootsuite

One of the key protests of business owners regarding content marketing?  I have a ‘boring’ business.

Not every product being sold is something that is naturally exciting or makes you feel warm and fuzzy all over.  Social media management tools probably fall on the slightly less exciting side of the scale.

That didn’t stop Hootsuite from creating a killer piece of content.

Hootsuite sells a product that allows you to manage your social media profiles more effectively. Instead of logging into multiple accounts to update them, their product allows you to do it from one interface.

To generate some interest in their product, the brand introduced a video called A Game of Social Thrones in 2014. Since the video was first released, it has generated more than 1 million views.

The concept of the content was to create a parody of the popular Game of Thrones brand from HBO and author George R.R. Martin.

Even if you’ve never watched the show or read the books, you can understand the core concept of the pitch being offered.

Fans of the show will recognize that Hootsuite redid the opening title sequence of the show to reflect the services they provide in social media management.

The lesson here is that having fun is still an important part of the marketing process. It is far too easy to get caught up following the expectations of someone else when trying to market your brand and business.

If you have an idea that makes you smile, then pursue it. There’s a good chance you might make someone else smile with your campaign.

2. Coca-Cola

Stuck under the weight of stagnant sales, Coca-Cola was looking to find something that could change the perspective people had of their product. The brand began to look at ways to re-market their product to consumers.

That led to the development of Project Connect in 2011.

Coca-Cola introduced bottles and cans which had 150 of the most popular names in Australia printed on them, replacing Coke branding.

share a coke

That summer, more than 250 million sales to 23 million people happened. It all came out of a creative brief of just 150 words which encouraged the content marketers to be disruptive.

Project Connect has now invited people in 70+ countries to share a Coke.

What we can learn from this content marketing campaign is the importance of personalization.

Lucie Austin, who was the Director of Marketing for Coca-Cola South Pacific at the beginning of Project Connect, described her reaction as “childlike” to seeing her name on a Coke bottle.

Almost 3 out of every 4 content marketers know that personalization is the key to unlocking a successful campaign. The only problem is that only 20% of content marketing campaigns are actually personalized.

Instead of trying to mass-market your small business, focus on your core consumers. Personalize your content for them. That way, you connect with people on a basic level, which establishes trust and expertise.

3. NYX

It takes a lot of time to create content.

To create a 30-second commercial, principal photography can take about a day if just one location is being used. To write a 2,000-word piece of content, you’re going to need a few hours minimum.

Content marketers are always looking for ways to lessen their time commitments without reducing the effectiveness of their work.

That is why NYX is such a great example of modern content marketing.

They allow their consumers to create their new content for them.

NYX created an annual campaign called the Face Awards.

It is a make-up competition which allows anyone to enter by submitting a video which demonstrates their personal skills. They offer different challenges throughout the year, with audience members voting on their favorite submissions.

Not only does this engage brand ambassadors, the content promotes the brand while engaging the community too. The content marketers just come up with the contest ideas and work to promote the submissions.

Here’s the lesson: there are people who are passionate about who you are and what you do.

If you give them a chance to promote your brand, you’ll find new levels of creativity. You’re also giving people some extra exposure for their work. You might just find yourself a new content marketer to hire.

4. GoPro

Human communication was originally visually-orientated.

From hieroglyphics to emojis, we have never really lost our preference for information that is quickly consumable. That is why your content marketing efforts must include visual content.

A picture is worth more than 1,000 words. Pictures are the keys used by all of us to unlock the power of our imagination.

That is why the content marketing campaign of GoPro for their HERO4 camera was such a success.

They focus on their customers, like most brands, but in a way that is unique. They picture people in scenarios where their GoPro is being used through the lens of the camera.

What makes this campaign such a great example of content marketing is the different demographics that are represented within it.

You’ve got the extreme sports examples, which is a core customer for the brand, but you’ve also got a father who is having a squirt gun war with his son there too.

Now your business might not have the budget to develop videos or unique images on a frequent basis. What you can do is harness the preference for visual graphics through the use of infographics.

65% of the average audience for a business are visual learners. That means the inclusion of high-quality infographics could potentially double your website traffic.

If you want to get started, here are 13 tools that you can use to begin creating your own infographics right away.

5. John Deere

When you go to the average website today, there are 3 elements that you’ll frequently see almost immediately.

  • A pop-up box which interrupts your experience on the website which asks for your email address.
  • An option to download something that is of potential value.
  • A comment box or contact area which allows for questions to be asked.

These elements are included as a way to show people immediately that the website has something to offer.

If your business can make an immediately positive impact in all three areas, there’s a good chance you’ll score yourself a customer.

Although these elements have been refined in the internet era of information access over the past 20 years, some brands have practiced them for over a century.

One of the first brands to find success with content marketing was the farm equipment manufacturer John Deere. They published a brand magazine which discussed problems their customers were facing and how their products could solve those problems.

The popularity of their magazine peaked in 1912, when they had over 4 million subscribers.

the furrow

What is more impressive is that John Deere is still publishing this brand magazine today. They’re even doing it in the same way, with the exception that the content is now available for free on the internet.

The lesson here is one about value. When you can show, not tell, your customers how valuable your business can be, they will be more likely to choose your goods or services when they’re ready to solve their issues.

6. Buffer

Buffer is another social media management app that allows you to track growth and schedule posts.

Their content marketing campaign to generate attention for it isn’t rocket science. They just tell everyone how they get stuff done at their company on social media, then show you how to do it from the comfort of home.

Their open blog is focused on transparency.  The private company even posts its financial data publicly.

That’s why it is such a popular blog, which then creates organic search results that are at or near the top for users looking for a product like theirs.

Value doesn’t always need to be defined by the actual product or service your business offers. It can also be provided by showing people how they can take steps to become better at what they are doing.

Their content marketing effort focuses on the stories they believe their visitors will want to see. Then they find solutions to specific problems, offering a clear outline for users to follow, which produce results.

You don’t need to give away all your secrets. Showing people some basic ways to make life better is an easy way to begin developing trust. When you build trust, you create loyalty.

7. Adventures Unlimited

There are times when your content must describe the values and benefits your customers will receive. Then there are times when the pictures you take or the videos you make can do all the work for you.

What is unique about this travel agency is that it developed from a successful content marketing experience.

Starting as a travel blog, the company would transform itself into a philanthropic entity, then a full-service travel agency, while still maintaining each level of content it generates.

adventures unlimited

What brings people into their website are the pictures of the destinations they can choose. You can see videos of the adventures their teams have at each destination.

Then the company shares quotes, pictures, and videos on their social media from trip participants to create personal connections with new visitors and closer relationships with everyone involved.

Here’s the lesson to be learned: don’t be afraid of change.

Maybe you have a vision for your business right now. Your customers might have a different vision for your business.

Instead of being stubborn about what you can do or where you can go, look at each opportunity with an open mind. You may find growth opportunities appear where you least expect them.

8. Microsoft

Whether your business employs 2 people or 20,000 people, it is evolving because of the stories each person brings to the company every day.

Diversity can help a content marketing strategy develop strength.

When you tell your personal story, you connect with people on a deeper level. It becomes more than just a brand outreach effort. Your stories make you vulnerable.

It comes with a risk. You might find people who are just as ready to criticize you and your company as you will find people willing to embrace you.

Microsoft created a content marketing campaign which they call Story Labs. Although there is the occasional feature post or podcast, the majority of the content you’ll find are personal profiles of the people who work at the company.

story labs

They feature more than just the C-Suite or upper managers in these stories.

They introduce you to people who are making the products that people purchase. They’re showing companies who transform themselves with Microsoft products. The stories introduce you to their community, which makes you feel like you are part of it too.

For a small business, filling up an entire blog of individual profiles is impossible. If you have 10 people working for you, then you’ve 10 blog posts!

What you can take away from this campaign is the fact that your stories matter to your brand. Talk about why you are passionate about what you do. Show people where you went to school. Let your customers know why they matter so much to you.

9. AARP

Content marketing is often presented as a hit-or-miss scenario. It doesn’t need to be that way. You can, in fact, create content that your core customers will want to consume all the time.

That’s what AARP has always done.

Their magazine has the largest circulation in the world today. They grew into that role, however, by providing the exact content which their readers wanted to see.

Readers send in letters and emails with suggestions about what they’d like to have in the magazine. There are strong levels of engagement on their social media pages.

Whether the feedback is positive or negative, they still listen and respond.

A small business may not be able to create content on the same level as AARP, though they could create it in the same way.

Listen to what your customers are telling you. Create content which they think will be beneficial. That ensures you will be covering the topics that they want to see most often.

When there is negative feedback received, listen to the actual message being offered. Is there a way you could have prevented the negative feedback? Could you reach out to correct the situation?

You will find that some people will never be pleased with what you create, no matter how hard you try to please them. Sometimes, your business just needs to walk away from people.

If you can learn to recognize the times when you should stay and listen, your content will become effective.

10. Rolex

Content marketing does not need to be complicated.

The best content is often found in simple concepts. Their product reveal videos, found on Facebook and Instagram, show off the product with background music.

You’ll have a brief text-based intro with the post and some search hashtags – nothing more.

rolex video

You can create meaningful content without saying anything. Let your product or service do all the talking for you.

That’s the first element. Rolex also engages their customers with the stories of people who own their classic timepieces. They’ve produced videos to highlight some of the bigger names involved with the project, such as James Cameron and Sylvia Earle.

Instead of telling their story or the story of their product, they tell the stories of the people who wear their product.

Your business can do the same thing. Landscapers could present their completed work at a local business while profiling what their client does on their blog.

Show how people live, laugh, and love with your product in the picture and you’ll create more interest in everything else your company offers.

11. Blendtec

What did we say about creating content for ‘boring’ products?

This company produces a video series to promote their blenders that asks one question: will it blend?

Each video features a unique item that you normally wouldn’t put into a blender. The goal of the video is to prove that the brand’s blender is tougher than all the rest.

Each video is about 90 seconds in length, showing the product being blended.

The company has blended silly putty, iPhones, baseballs, hockey pucks, and glow sticks over the years.

Each video is entertaining on its own. When combined with the other videos, all categorized under a menu heading called “Don’t try this at home,” the content offers consumers a look at the overall strength of the product.

There is also a category which encourages you to try things at home, like blending avocados, making chicken soup, or downloading the company’s app.

The lesson to be learned from this campaign is to be willing to take a risk. Challenge yourself. Challenge your product to do something amazing.

Then make sure you document what happens. You’ll be able to make your point in a way that is fun, visually enticing, and informative all at the same time.

 

Start Your Content Marketing Campaign Today

It can be difficult to create new content on a regular basis. To be noticed, you must provide value, offer creativity, and be willing to take a risk. Many of today’s best content marketing campaigns hit those notes successfully.

Many more will not and become lost in the white noise of the internet.

Your business stands out when you let your personality shine through. Show people who you are. Let your humor become part of your identity.

Offer something of value without asking for something in return.

Then don’t give up. Not every piece of content will go viral. Not every person will come away feeling satisfied. Be proactive with your responses, admit mistakes, and celebrate your customers. That will help you build a great content marketing campaign.