Content Marketing Done Right: 8 Examples You Can Learn From

What makes content marketing truly great? Columnist Pratik Dholakiya shares some characteristics of successful campaigns so that you can implement them in your own.

More than 85 percent of brands use content marketing. But less than half think they’re any good at it.


Because content marketing makes you vulnerable.

It lets you show a side of yourself your customers wouldn’t normally see. You’re putting your thoughts and ideas on the line and hoping people respond.

It’s the marketing equivalent of dating. And it’s scary.

But the harsh truth is: While some content marketing is good, not a lot of it is great.

Thankfully, with this article, you’re going to learn what it is that makes great content marketing — and how you can use it yourself. The following are eight examples of content marketing done right.

1. Coke’s “Share A Coke” Campaign

If you haven’t seen or heard of this campaign, then you’ve probably been living under a rock.

Welcome back to the world.

Coke’s “Share A Coke” campaign gave everyone the opportunity to personalize their favorite drink.

They took the 150 most popular names in Australia and added them to the side of the bottles. And, well… people went crazy for it.

Everyone was talking about Coke.

Since then, the campaign has spread all around the world.

Why was it so successful? Personalization.

Coke made you feel special. It was just you and your bottle against the world.

And this personal touch is the crux of content marketing.

Coke wasn’t tracking online behavior, (re)targeting customers or looking at vanity metrics.

Instead, they targeted the most important thing to customers — their name. After all, everyone’s favorite subject is themselves. And if you want to get someone to pay attention, using their name is a great place to start.

Research shows that 74 percent of marketers know personalization increases customer engagement. But, only 19 percent of them ever use it.

That’s like knowing you’ve got a clean diaper in your bag but never actually changing the baby.

Coke revolutionized emotional connections by asking people to “share” its product. It’s a viral campaign in a bottle.

What You Can Learn:

Think of your customers as people with emotions, just like you. How do you want to make them feel? Personalization and emotional connection are key.

2. Buffer’s Open Blog

Buffer is a social media-tracking app. It allows you to schedule posts and track your growth via social media.

But the magic isn’t in their product. It’s in how they market it. Enter the Buffer Open Blog.

The foundation? Transparency, openness and trust.

And while that might sound simple, it’s genius.

They show you not only what they do, but how you can do it, too — giving you incredible value with each and every post.

When you read their blog, it’s like you’ve been given the key to a secret club — that there are hundreds of people wandering aimlessly, but you know the secret knock to get to all the juicy information.

It’s the velvet rope effect.

They tell the stories people want to hear. They’re finding solutions to specific problems for specific people — and doing a damn good job.

What You Can Learn:

Focus all your time and effort on value. Inform and educate your customers. Give behind-the-scenes solutions. How else will they know how awesome you are?

3. Hootsuite And A Game of Social Thrones

Hootsuite is a social media management tool that lets you manage all of your accounts from one place. Not exactly what you’d call a fun and exciting topic, right?

Well, their marketing team had different ideas. And it started with this epic viral video:

“Game of Social Thrones” was a huge hit.

It did what every marketing campaign should do. It sparked emotion.

If you’re an ardent “Game Of Thrones” fan, it’s funny, timely and makes you want to shout, “Hey, dude! Have you seen this? By the way, what the heck is Hootsuite? Let’s check it out…”

And, if you’ve never watched more than five minutes of the first episode (like me), it tells you this is an epic product that cares about its users — and, you know, more than just the hard sell

What You Can Learn:

Have fun! By all means educate, but be innovative. Find a new and exciting way to connect with your audience.

4. Microsoft And Stories

The guys at Microsoft know how to tell a good story. And what better place to do it than a blog?

It’s aptly named “Stories.”

Enjoying a good story is in your DNA. You’re hardwired to connect with it.

Storytelling releases the feel-good hormone oxytocin. And if you can get your audience to feel emotion with your story, they’ll trust you — and they’ll buy from you.

In fact, author and entrepreneur Seth Godin’s whole marketing philosophy is based on this principle. The better stories you tell, the better you’ll connect with your audience. The better the connection, the stronger the relationship.

What You Can Learn:

Be human. It’s the one trait you and all of your customers have in common.

5. HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing

HubSpot is an innovator in marketing. So much so that they actually coined the term Inbound Marketing. You’ve probably heard of that, right?

HubSpot does it with their simple process:

  1. Attracting

  2. Converting

  3. Closing

  4. Delighting

In that order.

And, much like Buffer, they create lots and lots of valuable content to help people progress their marketing. So whether you buy from HubSpot or not, you’ll always think of them as an important resource.

Their guides are detailed, authoritative and free: e-books, marketing kits, user guides, webinars and video courses. Oh, and the odd blog or two. Is there anything this company can’t do?

Their content is high-quality, relevant and engaging, which is key for great search rankings.

What You Can Learn:

Create top-notch content. This may seem like an obvious statement, but quality and relevance trump quantity.

6. McDonald’s Question Time

Ever wondered what is actually in a beef patty? You’re in luck. McDonald’s will tell you.

This content marketing strategy is changing public perceptions through honesty.

McDonald’s Canada decided to take on the challenge of answering customer’s questions: all of them.

Answering around 10,000 customer questions has a way of helping you build strong relationships. McDonald’s stepped out from behind the brand and shared the facts. And, people loved their transparency.

As Joel Yashinsky, chief marketing officer for McDonald’s Canada, told author Jay Baer, “If you have a good story to tell, tell it. But you have to do it in a way that’s authentic.”

This builds trust and belief. With this you can turn even the worst reputation on its head.

What You Can Learn:

Have superior customer service. Engage with the customer on their terms, at their level.

7. GoPro And Visual Content

Visual content is increasingly powerful. Infographics and visual content will boost traffic, and GoPro knows it.

heir marketing strategy is all about quality: quality visual content and quality products. The facts and figures? They have 3.4 million subscribers on YouTube and 6.8 million followers on Instagram.

If that’s not proof of the visual pudding, I don’t know what is.

They focus on the user. What do their customers love? Pictures. Really great pictures. So that’s what they provide.

When used properly, infographics can potentially double traffic, according to entrepreneur Neil Patel. Posts with photos are proven to engage users more than those without.

You see a funny/great/slightly weird picture or meme on social media and you share it. It creates a personal connection, and it works.

What You Can Learn:

Get friendly with pictures. Visual content is increasingly powerful in content marketing. Learn to do it well.

8. Share As Image

Another company making strides in visual content? Share As Image.

They let you create high-quality images with shareability, and Buffer recommends them as one of the best content marketing tools out there, for good reason.

On top of this, their blog churns out high-quality content, with expertise from the inside. (It’s that velvet rope effect again.)

Share As Image helps you build your own brand with premium visual content.

What You Can Learn:

It’s a visual content for dummies kind of site. They focus on the basics, do them effectively, and always strive to add value.

The 5 Key Elements To Remember

Phew! You made it to the end.

Ideally, by now you’ve got your creative juices flowing. In fact, if you’re not overflowing with ideas, go back and read it all again.

Before I send you on your way, let’s look at the five traits all of these campaigns share, so you can use them in your own campaign from today onward.

  1. Tell powerful stories.

  2. Be honest and open.

  3. Personalize where possible.

  4. Quality over quantity — but if you can have both, then do.

  5. Employ visual content at all costs.

Follow these examples, and you won’t just be good at it — you’ll be great at it.

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