By Kiera Abbamonte — Contributing Writer
When we hear “content marketing,” most of us think about blog posts and white papers. Some people probably imagine those blog posts to be stuffed with keywords for Google and other search engines, with a clickbait headline that works for Facebook.
But content marketing is much more than this. It includes all kinds of formats and lives in all kinds of channels — from social media content and email marketing to print magazines, webinars, and, yes, SEO blog posts.
In a typical week, a content marketer might contribute to a video series for their Youtube channel, write posts for their LinkedIn account, and create shareable infographics.
The quality of content marketing on the web is also getting better. As SEO becomes more competitive, and the ROI of algorithm-driven content reduces, more organisations are turning away from vanity metrics (like page views or organic traffic) and investing in immersive visual content to build the reputation of their brand.
What does this look like? To support your content marketing efforts, we’ve pulled together content marketing examples and case studies in a range of formats, from all sorts of organisations — including brands, universities, nonprofits, and even a library.
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What is content marketing?
Content marketing is the use of content — including written, audio, visual, and multimedia — to further the aims of an organisation.
It’s a broad definition because content marketing campaigns are used by many kinds of organisations. Nonprofits turn to content creation to raise awareness and secure donations. Universities use content to woo potential students and alumni. Ecommerce companies use content marketing to convert potential customers.
And private companies use content to attract investors, to help with recruiting, and for internal marketing, in addition to marketing to potential customers.
What does successful content marketing look like?
With all the variety in goals and formats, content can look like a lot of different things — and good content can vary greatly across industries, use cases, and channels.
That said, there are a handful of universal principles of great content marketing. These are the principles we keep in mind for our own content, and we looked for them when selecting the examples below.
- Don’t sell, educate: Great content marketing stays away from any hard-selling and focuses on benefits over features to help the audience understand why they should care about the topic and what their next step should be.
- Engage your audience: Content can only be effective if the target audience actually reads/listens to/watches it. The best content engages by telling a story and using visual design to engage and maintain the attention of its audience.
- Be strategic: The most beautiful and visually-engaging content in the world won’t help market anything unless it exists as part of a broader content marketing strategy.
- Create a good user experience: High-quality content is easy to consume, where it lives — whether that’s on social media, a company blog, or anywhere else.
15 examples of great content marketing
With those principles in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best content marketing examples we’ve seen lately, along with why we chose each one. They may just help inspire content ideas to help drive your marketing team’s initiatives.
What it is: A long-form written and visual guide to marketing on Twitch
Who created it: Amazon Ads and Twitch
Why we picked this example: From the moment you land on this beginner’s guide, its visual appeal is obvious. The design doesn’t look like much else on the web, using an inverted colour scheme and animation to draw the reader in. The guide also uses bright colours to highlight key numbers that emphasise why marketers should care about Twitch. (“One trillion hours of content watched in 2020.”)
The creators use short paragraphs and frequent headings to make it easy to scan. Plus, the guide doesn’t take any knowledge for granted — taking the time to help marketers understand Twitch lingo and basics while explaining why they should bother.
What it is: A virtual program for a particular Manchester City versus Tottenham Hotspur match
Who created it: Manchester City
Why we picked this example: This piece from Man City is a very specific type of content marketing—the matchday programme. The team use multimedia assets, including photos and video content, to create an engaging introduction to the match. Whether you’re a devoted Man City fan, or you’re not even sure what sport they play, this piece is a great template for immersive content marketing.
From background information on the visiting Spurs to the context surrounding the lead up to — and significance — of the match, the program creates a clear narrative that really sells the upcoming match.
What it is: An exploration of the library’s Maps Department
Who created it: University of Cambridge University Library
Why we picked this example: This immersive story from Cambridge University Library is one of the best examples we’ve seen of integrating written and visual content.
With large images and minimal text in a plain, simplified font, the story creates an experience more akin to seeing the maps in person. It feels like being right there in the library, while the text is there to help add context and significance to the images.
It’s a perfect teaser on the stories that lie behind each map, and funnels audience members to explore further with a compelling call-to-action at the end.
What it is: A timely story and call to arms on the climate emergency
Who created it: World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
Why we picked this example: This example is our favourite use of photos and imagery to create a sense of urgency. If the headline wasn’t blunt enough, the visuals — which show how the climate emergency may impact the 2048 Olympics — are far from subtle, with the copy echoing this urgency.
We like how the story focuses on the impact of climate change, rather than straightforward facts about rising sea levels and air pollution.
What it is: Photographic project and digital presentation
Who created it: The Sydney Opera House
Why we picked this example: This digital presentation of photographer Garry Trinh’s Giant Bonsai project is a perfect example of letting imagery speak for itself. The project feels a lot like walking around a gallery in person — with large, imposing photographs and minimal text.
After sharing the background of the project upfront, the story goes a step beyond the gallery feel by adding short quotes from the photographer that help add additional context to the photo series.
What it is: An audio tour of the Barbican Conservatory
Who created it: The Barbican
Why we picked this example: This audio tour is perhaps the most literal example of storytelling — each section crafts a fictional (we assume!) story about different areas within the conservatory. It’s an immersive experience even if you’re just listening from your couch at home, thanks to the variety of formats from visual and audio to written content.
The tour is also a great example of accessibility. While the audio tour is designed for listening when you visit the conservatory, the content includes written transcripts as well as sounds designed to help audiences feel and experience the visuals (both on the page and in the conservatory itself).
What it is: Sparta versus Olomouc match programme
Who created it: Sparta
Why we picked this example: Similar to the City versus Spurs example, this digital programme was created to market a particular match to fans. The programme tells a story about the team, their season so far, and the opposing team. Beginning with a podcast, the program goes on to draw heavily on imagery and the words of players and team personnel to create a dynamic and engaging piece of content.
Plus, the table of contents at the top makes it easy for readers to navigate to the content they care about.
What it is: A business report
Who created it: Gowling WLG
Why we picked this example: This business report from Gowling WLG is a great example of how you can use imagery and animation to break up what would otherwise be a text-heavy, dense piece of content. Plus, like all the best kinds of content marketing, the focus here is clearly on educating readers, rather than driving a sale.
The report uses simple animations to add visual interest and keep readers engaged. Short paragraphs and frequent headings make it easy to scan, while strong calls-to-action (CTAs) create clear next steps for the reader.
What it is: Magazine article
Who created it: School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Why we picked this example: Visually, this article from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s fall 2021 issue is a masterclass in contrast. The bold colour scheme is balanced by simple, legible text in a clean font, and the scrolling effect keeps readers engaged.
Beyond that, the article favours simple, passionate written content. In the content marketing world, there can be a tendency to over-editorialise, but this article side-steps that by letting the experts’ opinions speak for themselves, without adding a lot of extraneous fluff.
What it is: Year-in-review report
Who created it: Tripadvisor
Why we picked this example: This year-in-review content from Tripadvisor is one of our favourite examples on this list. The strong use of design emphasises the numbers the company shares, while minimal text helps craft a narrative that tells the story of the year in travel.
Visually, the design also stays true to Tripadvisor’s own visual brand, keeping fonts and colours consistent.
The report also pulls in user-generated content (UGC) from customers and influencers, including reviews, forum posts, internal customer data, and name-checks the users behind them. That helps to make the content even more engaging, while keeping the tone of Tripadvisor’s audience front and centre.
What it is: Sponsored content
Who created it: Xandr and Campaign
Why we picked this example: This article from Xandr and Campaign is a great example of content creation that speaks the language of its audience. The topic is incredibly important, particularly in the digital marketing world, and speaks to a significant pain point for Xandr’s target customers.
The compelling and dynamic design uses animation to keep the audience engaged as they scroll, but it largely stays out of the way of this meaty subject. The copy is also straightforward and actionable, giving readers a clear set of next steps.
What it is: Brand awareness landing page
Who created it: CityFibre
Why we picked this example: This brand content from CityFibre is a great example of traditional content marketing done well. It exists to sell a product to a customer, but it doesn’t fall into any of the traps that content marketing often can.
- isn’t overly focused on search engine optimisation,
- doesn’t hard-sell, and
- focuses on educating.
Right out of the gate, the headline makes it clear why the page (and CityFibre) exists. From there, it’s built like the kind of landing page audiences are familiar with — scannable text, with well-designed images.
What it is: Branded storytelling content
Who created it: Savoir Flair and Gucci
Why we picked this example: Gucci is well known for its intense, immersive branding, and this brand story is no exception. The mix of content types offers something for everyone in Gucci’s target audience, starting with a music video that promotes the designer’s ‘Aria’ collection.
The written content creates a narrative story around the creation process for the music video and is peppered with still images from the shoot.
And the coup de grâce: readers can easily “shop the story” at the end.
What it is: Brand story
Who created it: Honda
Why we picked this example: One part history lesson, and two parts product marketing — Honda’s article on the Café Racer Revolution showcases a strong balance of storytelling, interwoven with marketing a product. Its focus on the story keeps readers engaged, while interactive product imagery ensures they can shop at the same time.
The choice to expand on the history is something Honda knows its target customers are interested in — clearly a key part of its broader content marketing strategy.
What it is: Nonprofit campaign
Who created it: Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) Charity
Why we picked this example: This campaign from nonprofit GOSH is incredibly effective content. The entire page is focused on telling a story, and it does so from multiple viewpoints — using the words of children, donors, parents, and employees.
The copy focuses clearly on the benefits of donating (i.e. getting sick kids healthy and back home for Christmas) instead of the minutiae of what donations actually buy. Photos of children in hospital and their families add emotional weight to the written content.
And for those ready to give, frequent and compelling CTA buttons make it easy to “donate now.”
Kiera’s a content writer who works with SaaS and other B2B companies. Located near Boston, MA, she loves cinnamon coffee and a good baseball game. Catch up with her @Kieraabbamonte or KieraAbbamonte.com