By Leslie Carruthers published March 30, 2020 Est Read Time: 9 min

6 Brands Share Real Content Marketing Examples That Convert

With the glut of content, how does a brand create and distribute content that works for it AND its audience?

To answer this question, my team and I put out a call on LinkedIn and through HARO (Help A Reporter Out) for examples of awesome content marketing. Allow me to share the highlights with these six ways to create content-based, real-life success stories. Each demonstrates how content marketing can be used to create and convert an audience of buyers.

Tactic 1: Research

Case study: Shutterstock Creative Trends

Shutterstock provides high-quality licensed photographs, vectors, illustrations, videos, and music to businesses, marketing agencies, and media organizations around the world.

Now in its eighth year, Shutterstock’s Creative Trends report is driven by data from its customer downloads and searches over the past year.

The report details trends that will influence creative direction and design aesthetics across images, videos, and music. It’s a single piece of content useful to Shutterstock’s two core audiences – businesses that purchase the use of the images and the visual artists submitting work for sale. It’s a great example of the use of research and owned data to create content highly valued by the brand’s community members and customers.

Krystina Puleo, senior manager of communications at Shutterstock, details the response to the release. On launch day, the infographic was publicly released in 20 languages and it earned over 170 articles and mentions across the web in its first two weeks. Those articles spanned media for creative, business, and marketing audiences, including Adweek, Campaign, Vogue Australia, Design Jungle, Follow the Colours, and W&V. Many of the articles also included commentary from members of Shutterstock’s senior creative team who worked on the project.

Among the other results:

  • Over 160,000 page views and 146,000 unique sessions in the first two weeks of 2019 infographic release (This number has nearly doubled to date.)
  • A 22% open rate of email promoting this infographic, which also resulted in direct revenue results
[email protected] says its 2019 Creative Trends report generated 160,000 page views in the first two weeks, says @TheSearchGuru via @cmicontent. Click To Tweet

Takeaway: Use data already available to you. Don’t be afraid to share proprietary data if it could provide insights your audience can’t get anywhere else.

Don’t be afraid to share proprietary #data if it could provide insights your audience can’t get anywhere else, says @TheSearchGuru via @cmicontent. Click To Tweet

Tactic 2: State of the industry report

Case study: Coding Sans

A small software development agency, Coding Sans creates web and cross-platform mobile applications. The company wanted a way to build trust online while generating quality engagement. The goal was to produce great content, get quality backlinks, and as a result, increase organic traffic and more online leads.

The Coding Sans team knew a way to satisfy its audience’s hunger for new information and to get quality backlinks was great content. In 2017, it began publishing a State of Software Development report (gated). The now-annual report, the result of an industry survey, explores trends and information about software development and the main challenges tech leaders are facing. The report makes it attractive for links and shares while staying highly valuable to its target audience.

Such a report is no small feat. Tamas Torok, head of marketing at Coding Sans, explains that the project took 260 hours of work in a little over six weeks. The effort paid off. The first year the report was published (2017), traffic to the Coding Sans site doubled, and those numbers have been maintained.

Among the 2019 report results:

  • 26,700 visits
  • 600 to 700 downloads within the first week
  • 5,000-plus downloads
  • 291 backlinks
  • An estimated $300,000 in new projects attributed to the indirect positive impact of the report

Takeaway: Invest the time in creating content that provides value to your audience

Tactic 3: Lead generation

Case study: Colgate Palmolive gamification

A global household, consumer goods brand, Colgate-Palmolive wanted to boost product awareness and online sales for several Palmolive gift sets during Christmas 2019. It sought a nontraditional way to do that.

Allan Kronfeld, chief operating officer of 24ttl, an e-commerce consultancy and technology solutions provider for Colgate-Palmolive, says the special promotion included a landing page, then combined gamification and Facebook augmented reality (AR) to attract new users. To participate, people had to provide proof of purchase. Then they played a game popping bubbles in the bath with their noses.

With this interactive experience promotion, Colgate-Palmolive saw:

  • A 12% increase in total sales year over year
  • Over 1 million participants in two weeks on one channel (Facebook)
  • 10,000-plus participants driven from the special promotional landing page to the retailer’s website to shop online
[email protected]’s bubble-popping gamification #content drew 1 million participants in 2 weeks, says @AllanKronfeld of 24ttl. Click To Tweet

Takeaway: Create interactive content for audience engagement and brand awareness. In highly competitive markets, a new approach can make a difference.

Tactic 4: Consumer-generated content

Case study: Stewart Surfboards

An iconic brand in San Clemente, California, Stewart Surfboards offers artistically styled, handcrafted, customized surfboards in an industry where the product has largely become a commodity.

Stewart’s audience is middle-aged men, what they call “surfer dads.” Stewart sought to transform the “dad board” into the “family legacy board.” They developed an Instagram strategy involving consumer-generated content.

Emmy Ciabattoni, content and social media manager for Brand Buddha, a branding agency working with Stewart Surfboards, explains what they did. One part of the Instagram strategy was creating content related to travel, a category that is applicable across all ages and is closely tied with the surfing industry. It added the brand name to create the “Stewart Surf” experience on Instagram, sharing a photo of a customer on a Stewart longboard in an exotic place while communicating Stewart’s global impact.

For every piece of content shared on Stewart’s Instagram page, Stewart also posted it to its story to further engagement. During the launch period, Stewart posted four Instagram posts and four accompanying stories each week.

Recently, Stewart has posed the question “Where has your Stewart board taken you?, using Instagram’s ask-a-question feature that lets people respond anonymously on the Instagram story. The brand received 47 responses with fun answers ranging from the Shark Attack Capital of the World to Unstad for Arctic surfing. Stewart turned the user submissions into a video to repurpose on all social media channels to showcase all the worldly places its surfboards have been.

The results (all Instagram stats) during the launch phase:

  • First direct sales from social media (four)
  • A 272% increase in month-over-month average story views impressions, from 550 to 1,500
  • An increase from about three to 17 in average profile visits month over month
[email protected] #Instagram campaign led to its first direct sales from #socialmedia, says @BrandBuddha’s Emmy Ciabattoni, according to @TheSearchGuru via @cmicontent. Click To Tweet

Takeaway: Provide space for your customers to share their stories on the channels where they live.

Tactic 5: Niche SEO focus

Case study: Florida Physical Medicine

Florida Physical Medicine is a health care practice that developed an audience-focused, niche SEO marketing campaign using keyword-driven content, according to Maria Mora, vice president of creative and content strategy at Big Sea, the design marketing agency for Florida Physical Medicine.

Its SEO niche was treatment from injuries suffered in automobile accidents rather than a broader focus of joint-related surgeries (the bread and butter of orthopedic health care practices). They worked on these niche keywords over four to six months, with a continuing content production schedule.

Florida Physical Medicine sought to be at the top of the search engine result pages for terms related to car accidents and aftermath injuries and processes. They created highly valuable content that answered accident victim pain points (brand awareness goal) and ultimately lead those readers to request a free evaluation to determine the best course of treatment (lead generation goal). They followed up with automated emails and retargeting ads to provide related resources and encourage accident victims to schedule an appointment online (conversion).

The results over four to six months:

  • A 153% increase in site sessions year over year
  • A 121% increase in leads (51 to 133) year over year
  • All existing keywords ranked in top 10: up 152% (134 to 338) year over year

Takeaway: Focus your keywords on a niche in your industry and consider the sales funnel as you do.

Focus your #keywords on a niche in your industry and consider the sales funnel as you do, says @TheSearchGuru via @cmicontent. Click To Tweet

Tactic 6: Data-driven content planning

Case study: LogoMaker

LogoMaker is a do-it-yourself design platform that allows customers to create a logo in a matter of minutes. Small-business owners and startups make up most of the audience.

LogoMaker bases its information-, guide-focused content marketing strategy on keyword research and data for logo design, branding, and all things startup. The plan centers on content that shows how easy it can be to create a professional-looking logo. Blog post topics focus on logo design aspects such as shapes, colors, font styles, and layouts. The company also features how-to articles about small business marketing and the needs of startups, such as how to name your business, how to trademark a logo, and how to make a logo for a specific industry.

The content plan is designed for longevity too. For example, a 2012 article on how to create an email (Gmail) signature with a logo still receives nearly 5,000 visits every month.

Audrey Strasenburgh, former SEO strategist at LogoMaker, shares the percentage-based results:

  • A 47% increase in blog sessions year over year
  • A 548% increase in revenue year over year
  • A 49% increase in new users year over year

Takeaway: Use data, including keyword searches, to plan and prioritize content creation.

Get results

As content marketing continues to grow as a priority for companies, especially for those with longer and more complex sales cycles, these six successful tactics can serve as inspiration and examples of what’s possible – and how content marketing adds real value at nearly every stop along the customer journey.

Hear from brands firsthand talking about their strategies, tactics, and results at Content Marketing World this October. Register today for the best rates.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Leslie Carruthers

Leslie is founder and President of The Search Guru, a 14-year-old digital marketing agency providing businesses visibility, targeted traffic and improving conversion rates. A seasoned Internet marketing professional (1999) trained by early SEO icons, Leslie holds a journalism degree and was named one of the Top Women in SEO for 2012 and Content Marketing Influencer and Expert to Follow into 2019. Leslie has presented to the national Direct Marketing Association, SMX West, General Electric and other national and regional groups. Follow her on Twitter @TheSearchGuru.

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