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13 Examples of Content that Engages

With the help of our CMI contributors, we’re tackling how to make content more engaging, which was the biggest challenge identified in the new research about B2B Content Marketing.

Over the past four weeks, our contributors answered these questions:

This week, we asked our contributors to share your examples of engaging content and explain why it is engaging.

For Velocity, the B2B Marketing Manifesto was designed to engage B2B marketers with an in-your-face tone of voice, an explicit challenge to B2B marketers and a bold design (using spray paint and stencils!).

For BT Global Services, we sent 150 Chief Security Officers an iPod Shuffle pre-loaded with great podcast content. Things like ‘Anatomy of a Security Incident’ and a interview with an ex-FBI agent. It was engaging because no one throws out a free iPod — and even these super-senior executives put in the time to listen to the content (we know because it drove them to a microsite).

For ShipServ, we did a stop-motion animation with Lego men to tell a simple story about their online directory — not something the shipping industry is used to (surprise is a key part of engagement).

For dotMobi, the Internet registry for the .mobi domain name, we created, a content-packed site for mobile marketers. It’s engaging because it’s full of something marketers are hungry for right now: advice, insight, best practice and lots of examples showing what good looks like in mobile marketing. A top blog, a mobile site showcase with mobile emulator, video interviews with top mobile innovators, lots of eBooks and papers. To reward return visits, you’ve got to keep feeding the engagement machine.

– Doug Kessler (@dougkessler)

I discovered taking a stand is a really good way to get people engaged. I wrote a blog post titled, 6 Reasons for Refusing a LinkedIn Invitation and struck a nerve. The post went viral, garnered many comments on my blog and on LinkedIn, and continues to draw a reasonable amount of traffic months later. I started the post with a question and ended with one too. I got an earful of both positive and negative comments. I call that an engaging piece of content.

– Sarah Mitchell (@globalcopywrite)

Simply put, engaging content moves your audience towards some kind of response. As a starting point, let’s take a closer look at how video content can achieve that.  Most marketers aim for a positive response, either through emotion (look at this inspirational Charity: Water video) or humor (such as Heineken’s clever “activation” of male football fans in Europe).  Some take a different tack, and will attempt to walk the line with a more confrontational approach like Kill the Gun.” I love all three examples, but, in the end, Kill the Gun may “only” be powerful storytelling. I just can’t find success metrics on the campaign.

Why does that matter? The best marketers don’t confuse “engagement” with “consumption.” Instead, they look at what the audience did after the tape stopped playing or the post ended or the content was consumed.

Your job as a content marketer has two parts: 1) create and distribute compelling content, and then 2) take a hard look to see if the project’s numbers show a correlated uptick on activities and/or conversions. Once you use that definition of engagement, the examples are harder to find but the lessons are more fruitful.

Elizabeth Sosnow (@elizabethsosnow)

Engaging content comes in many forms. Here are a few examples that have drawn in audiences, moved them further along the buying cycle, and generated measurable results for the companies that produced the content.

Dow Jones Taxonomy Folksonomy Cookbook
This eBook features a really fun design and offers a refreshing – and easy-to-understand – exploration of the topic of enterprise metadata. First launched in June 2008, the eBook was downloaded more than 1,600 times and pumped 50 solid business opportunities into the sales pipeline by 2009.

FireEye microsite
This customized site offers a range of content – including podcasts, video, eBooks and white papers – intended to educate IT administrators and executives on the confusing topic of malware. In the four months after the site was launched, about 28% of all inbound leads came directly from the microsite.

Suitemates by Kinaxis
This hilarious six-episode video series offers a satirical look at frustration with ERP offerings for the supply chain. Featuring accomplished actors, the series won BtoB Magazine’s Best 2010 Award for creative use of online video to drive site traffic and create buzz among its audience.

You Don’t Know Jack About Online Marketing
This interactive online quiz by Marketo allows marketers to test their knowledge of demand generation, lead generation and nurturing, and marketing automation. It also includes links to educational information, encouraging marketers to stay engaged. Marketo didn’t require registration to play, terming the approach “seed nurturing – the process of building relationships with qualified prospects before you have their contact information.” During the first week alone, the game generated:

  • Page Views: 3,318
  • Prospects: 20
  • Inbound Links: 15
  • Tweets: 142

Since then, the game has generated over 100 prospects and hundreds of inbound links. People spend an average of more than seven minutes on the page, and more than 90% of people visit other pages on the site.

– Stephanie Tilton (@stephanietilton)

The example I’d like to share with you is taking place this very week, from October 25 through 29. It’s called the Bathroom Blogfest and it has been going on since 2006. I consider it an example of engaging content because it creates conversation both online and offline regardless of industry or area of expertise. This year’s event brings together 33 bloggers writing 41 blogs from the US, Canada, the UK and India to address the Mad Men-inspired theme ‘Stuck in the 60s?’ that calls attention to improving the experience of spaces like bathrooms that tend to be overlooked, ignored or otherwise not accorded the attention they should receive.

The fascinating aspect of the Bathroom Blogfest is that the bloggers participating come from a wide range of industries and interests. They are experts in marketing, customer experience and service, public relations, library sciences, museums, home and interior design, life, retail, flooring, user experience and healthcare IT/RTLS and each blogger addresses the same subject from a radically different perspective. They are all experts in creating content relevant to their audiences.

The learnings are real as they all focus on improving the user experience. The content engages because it addresses a universal reality: that we all need bathrooms. Furthermore, we have all experienced situations ‘stuck in the 60s’ that need re-evaluation.

I bet you’re intrigued and considering exploring situations you’ve encountered that are ‘stuck in the 60s’ during the yearly Bathroom Blogfest. It’s worth creating conversation to figure out ways to improve upon them.

Be part of Bathroom Blogfest 2010; use it as a means to connect with your audience to improve their experience. Read the press release; immerse yourself in UX, Bathrooms, and Mad Men. Follow the Bathroom Blogfest on Twitter @BathroomBlogfes where you can look for #BathroomEXP. Become a fan on Facebook and visit the Bathroom Blogfest Blog where you can read through the content from past Bathroom Blogfests.

Disclaimer: I am the Chief Organization & Inspiration Officer for the Bathroom Blogfest.

– CB Whittemore (@cbwhittemore)


Engaging content doesn’t come in one format, but it’s often distributed in multiple ways. What other examples do you have of engaging content? Share them in the comments below!

Other posts in this series: