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The Best Content Marketing Campaigns

11 Brands To Learn Content Marketing From

Dec 17, 2021
13 minutes

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Make the most out of your content marketing with a creative campaign that engages your audience. Here are the best examples to learn from.

Content marketing is an essential part of an inbound marketing methodology, which focuses on drawing people organically to your brand. Instead of pushy sales messaging, content marketing offers value to potential customers, whether it’s a piece of useful information or a free tool or app that they can use.

Here are some of the brands with the best content marketing campaigns with key takeaways from their content strategies.

Spotify Wrapped: Harness the power of data

When we think about data and content marketing the first thing that comes to mind are beautifully designed infographics and charts. But a brand that really took data visualization to the next level is Spotify.

For years their Wrapped campaign (previously A Year in Music) has been one of the most successful examples of content marketing ever. Instead of showing just general data such as what were the most streamed songs, artists and podcasts, they’ve created a personal overview of listening habits for each individual user.

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In more recent years, they also used awesome design to generate even more interest in the campaign. With a few clicks users are now able to share fun, colorful stories on their social media and share their unique experiences with the world. And the results speak for themselves. People were so eager to get in on the fun of sharing their individual music taste that in December 2020, sign ups for the app increased by 21%.

spotify wrapped 2021.png The Verge

The campaign also connects fans with their favourite musicians in a unique way, since the artists themselves receive data on how many people streamed their music.

What can you learn?

It’s well known that personalization is a powerful marketing tactic. People like to feel recognized as individuals and made to feel special. Spotify’s key target audiences are

millennials and gen Z and it’s been proven time and again that these generations value a highly personalised approach.

Combine that with an awesome user experience (the data is aesthetically pleasing and easy to share) and it’s easy to see why this campaign got to be so successful.

Charmin Sit or Squat: An app for everything

Speaking of good user experience, another way in which you can really take your content marketing to the next level is to create a free tool or an app.

It’s definitely more time-consuming than writing a blog post, but it can be a great way to generate leads and keep people interested in your products or services.

A somewhat unusual example of this comes from the big toilet paper manufacturer Charmin. They’ve created an app that locates nearby public toilets and allows users to rate the cleanliness of the toilet and hence “warn” others whether they’ll be able to “sit” or will have to “squat” instead.

charmin sit or squat.png The Business of Media

What can you learn?

A little bit of humor goes a long way and this example clearly demonstrates that too. However, the big idea behind this app is to create something that addresses the real pain points of your customers.

Every product, no matter how simple or complex, should strive to alleviate a particular problem, and Charmin rightly chose something that’s close to their brand. Although the premise sounds a little silly, the app still provides valuable information to people thus helping to create more brand awareness in a highly competitive market.

Hootsuite Game of Social Thrones: Using pop culture

Popular culture references are a huge part of many content marketing strategies. They break the usual marketing and often add a little bit of humor, which produces a positive response in your audience.

This example from Hootsuite demonstrates it well. The social media management system recreated the opening credits of the popular show, replacing the “houses” with major social media (and in the end suggesting that you can “win the game” by uniting your social media under the wing of Hootsuite).

However, you also shouldn’t pass on an opportunity to make calls to action and remind people why they should buy your service. So long as it comes naturally to the content (as it does in this clever video ad), people will still probably view it as a piece of fun content they’re more likely to share than a generic ad.

What can you learn?

Unlike traditional advertising, content marketing is not designed with the purpose of quickly pushing potential customers to make a purchase. The big idea is that you offer something of value for free, which will attract people to your business. Then you use different nurturing techniques to convert them into paying customers.

Buzzfeed: Tailor-made email marketing

You wouldn’t think it, with all the crazy quizzes you’ve actually bothered to Google (and yes, Buzzfeed is the only source of truth to what kind of bread you are). But actually, their newsletter is one of Buzzfeed’s top sources of traffic.

How come?

Well, for starters they have killer subject lines. Whether it’s a “clickbait” title that actually delivers (their list articles are pretty accurate), or an intriguing title like “Are you clever”, they really know how to get people to click.

But the reason why they can get so creative with their subject lines is also thanks to great email segmentation. Before signing up to receive their newsletter you can click what type of content you’re interested to receive—whether it’s recipes from Tasty on Buzzfeed news. This allows them to create tailor-made newsletters for almost anyone, which of course corresponds to their vast and diverse audience.

buzzfeed newsletter.png

What can you learn?

Don’t let your email marketing efforts go to waste! A company newsletter shouldn’t be just a formality and there’s no reason to settle for abysmal open rates.

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By segmenting your audience properly, finding out exactly what their interests are and why they’ve come to your brand will help you deliver content to them that they actually want to consume. And of course, this will keep them invested in your brand in the long run.

Burberry Kisses: Encourage engagement

The point of great content is to help users memorize a brand even beyond a single purchase. Makeup is something people buy all the time and often it’s not a hugely memorable experience.

Burberry definitely changed that with their Kisses campaign which allowed people to send virtual kisses to people across the globe. For this Burberry partnered with Google to make the experience even more interactive as people could leave a kiss print on their screens for a more realistic experience (sure, this wouldn’t work so well in covid times but in 2013 it was futuristic brilliance.

What can you learn?

There are two important lessons to be learned here. The first one is that you should create content that achieves an emotional impact. Nobody would think to associate Burberry with connecting people, yet this campaign effectively played on our most basic need for showing affection towards our loved ones. It’s simple, symbolic and it works.

The second lesson to be learned is a lot less romantic. Gamification is a term used to describe the introduction of gamelike elements to your content (or products or services). This tactic is increasingly used successfully in employee onboarding processes, but many brands have also increased their sales when introducing game aspects into the purchase process.

Apple Shot On an iPhone: Great user-generated content

Apple’s campaign is probably one of the most famous examples of user-generated content marketing that ever existed. But what’s particularly striking about this campaign is that it’s essentially very simple.

People take photos with their phones all the time, so why not encourage them to get creative and snap something that’s worthy of being displayed on a large billboard or at their local bus station?

apple shot on iphone.png Amani Willett

Apple challenged the notion that a professional-looking marketing campaign had to have an expensive design team behind it and instead used images sourced from their customers. The eye-catching images alone were often enough to get people to pause and notice them, but the fact that they were “shot on an iPhone” was what really brought the “wow” factor to the campaign.

What can you learn?

The key takeaway here is that a great piece of content can also be used to show your products in action. Sure, you can also create an explainer video and get loyal customers to share it across their social media.

But user-generated content will not only help you build trust in your brand (people trust peers much more than they trust marketers), but it will also help you engage with your audience and create more lasting bonds with them.

L’Oreal: Using AR Technology

Another great example of technology and beauty industries making a good pair comes from the brand L’Oreal. In physical stores people have testers, but what happens when you want to purchase some makeup online?

L’Oreal responded to the real need of its clients by allowing them to “try” their makeup products in an online environment (something that an increasing number of beauty companies have been doing).

But they also took the campaign further. Creating the YouCamMakeup they allowed people to test different types of products on the go, including hair colors, which is arguably even more useful (making a mistake with a shade of lipstick is much less tragic than opting for the wrong hair color - speaking from personal experience here!).

loreal AR.png L’Oreal

What can you learn?

A great content marketing strategy involves creating additional value for your customers. Creating a freebie doesn’t have to be complicated, but your content won’t perform unless it’s useful.

Something as simple as a filter, if used with a purpose, can be a great way to sway potential clients towards your brand over other similar ones. In addition to that, don’t forget to keep reviving your successful campaigns. Find a new narrative or add an extra feature to keep your campaign fresh or respond to the changing needs of your clients.

Ikea Bernie Chair Look: Moment marketing done well

Here’s a somewhat sillier and simpler example that still demonstrates an important aspect of good content marketing: timing. Moment marketing refers to the sharing of marketing messages that are relevant to current news and events. The simplest ad can go a long way if it finds a creative way to talk about a topic that’s trending.

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A fun example comes from the Swedish design giant, Ikea. After the inauguration of President Biden, one image took the internet by storm: senator Bernie Sanders wearing his mittens and his iconic frown. The image itself resonated with so many people (supporters of Bernie mostly) who have been feeling disillusioned with the state of world politics for a long time.

And Ikea found a way to join in the fun with this simple play on common “shop the look” ads from clothing stores. Instead of showcasing their most glamorous and eye-catching products, they tap into the feeling behind the Bernie meme.

bernie ikea.png Clio Awards

What can you learn?

The most important lesson to learn here is to pick relevant moments and make them unique. Everyone found a way to photoshop Bernie into a picture for a humorous effect, but Ikea actually used the viral image to promote its own products.

Of course, when deciding to jump on the bandwagon, make sure you’re not being offensive and insensitive. Some topics deserve a serious approach rather than lighthearted fun and you should respect that.

Adobe Honour Heroes: Beautiful video content marketing

Video content is huge these days. A recent survey from Lemonlight showed that 99% of consumers enjoy watching videos from brands online, while 98% of marketers believe videos will play an important role in the coming years.

There are plenty of examples of video content that stand out thanks to clever writing or an emotional impact it makes. But Adobe arguably did a lot more with a lot less. They’ve created a video to honor all the essential workers during the covid 19 pandemic using of course their powerful design software.

The video had millions of views on their YouTube channel since the beautiful graphic design is simply captivating to watch and, of course, it was yet another nice way to recognize those who were doing the most in these hard times.

What can you learn?

Many people forget that graphic design also has a place in video content. If you’re shy in front of the camera, or simply want to make something a little more interesting and original, graphic design can be a real ace up your sleeve.

Illustrations, simple animations and playful typography can spice up any video. Need help with those? Make sure to check out our service!

MindBody Content Hub: Extensive knowledge base

Content creation should be an ongoing part of your marketing strategy. It’s one of the most effective ways to improve your search engine ranking and drive traffic to your website. But since a well-researched piece of content takes a lot of time and effort to produce, you should try to find ways to extend its lifecycle.

For blog articles, this might mean tweaking them every so often with relevant information or current examples. But a more strategic approach means gathering similar pieces of content together to form one powerful knowledge hub.

An example to learn from is the SaaS company MindBody which provides business management services to different types of businesses. Their content hub combines several types of useful content, including a blog, webinars, listings of local events and even their so-called MindBody University which is actually a three-day conference to sign up for where you can learn about business management specifically tailored to your business and industry.

They’ve also created an online community called MindBody One which brings together business owners and managers and provides them a platform to share their experiences and skills, as well as network.

mindbody hub.png

What can you learn?

Effective content marketing means getting the most out of every piece of content you create (and especially the “good” ones). There’s no shame in repurposing content - creating something that’s more easily digestible (e.g. an infographic or podcast from an ebook) will delight your audience and probably get more people interested in what you have to say.

Another lesson from MindBody that concerns a more technical side of things is to keep everything organised and easy to find. The simple layout of their content hub helps viewers to easily find what they’re looking for, to go on and explore one of their content platforms in more detail.

Hubspot: Inbound Marketing

The last, but definitely not least is the content marketing giant that is Hubspot. The reason why I decided to leave it for the very end is that Hubspot hasn’t just excelled in a single campaign or content marketing effort. Their entire content strategy is virtually perfect.

I can’t even begin to imagine how complex and thorough their content mapping is, but it’s evident that each topic that they write about has been thought of through almost every possible aspect. Simple listicles with illustrative examples, immense topic cluster pages that cover everything you need to know about a topic, ebooks, webinars, free templates… they literally do it all!

hubspot video.png

hubspot form.png

hubspot infographic.png

Videos, downloadable freebies and short infographics—three different types of content all used in just one of Hubspot’s article pages!

What can you learn?

Content creation shouldn’t be thought of as a quick fix for boosting your website traffic or social media engagement. It’s a long-term investment in your business, which, if done right, will keep bringing in new leads and clients for years to come.

It’s important to keep your content fresh and relevant to the current issues of your target audience, always striving to provide useful solutions to them.

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Danica Popovic

December 17, 2021

Having lived and studied in London and Berlin, I'm back in native Serbia, working remotely and writing short stories and plays in my free time. With previous experience in the nonprofit sector, I'm currently writing about the universal language of good graphic design. I make mix CDs and my playlists are almost exclusively 1960s.