OK, so offline translates to online one way or another. But hasn’t content marketing really been all about the interwebs from the beginning?
Yup, it has.
Brands are huge on it, and some do a pretty good job.
And that’s why it’s time to look at some of the best examples of content marketing that originated online.
Online example #1: The First Viral Video Ever
Back in 2005, when Google Video was still Google Video and when people used to download videos to watch them offline, the first viral video came out.
The IT company LiveVault hired two independent marketers who decided to make an entertaining video for them that would stand out among IT professionals, who were their target audience.
After all, disk-based backup systems for corporate data were not very sexy, so they decided to go for a few laughs.
John Cleese, the famous actor and comedian, made sure that they got them.
Cleese demonstrates the severe consequences of a fictional disease called “Backup Trauma” and leaves the viewer with several options to continue exploring the company’s products and services by clicking buttons at the end of the video.
It was great content because it was funny and interactive, yet it still promoted their services.
Internet users downloaded the video almost 300,000 times in the first few months after its release – and remember, this was 12 years ago!
Of course, with so many people publishing so many videos daily, it’s gotten harder to stand out. But, if you create high-quality video content, you can still land a hit!
Online Example #2: What is Code?
“What is code?” was an article that Bloomberg Business Week published in June 2015.
Let me rephrase that. It’s not an article.
It’s a book.
The article is the longest piece they’ve ever published. It’s 38,000 words.
Yet, they didn’t publish it as a book or a magazine, and they didn’t put it in a newspaper.
They just released it online for free.
It has animated graphics, chapters, sections, examples, notes, statistics, and all kinds of great stuff.
So, what was the result? It got 126,000 social media shares. That’s 127,000 people who now know about Bloomberg.
And, they’re likely to return to read more and eventually, one day, become customers by buying a magazine subscription.
Will it hurt them that they published it for free? I doubt it.
Pro tip: You don’t even have to go as nuts as Bloomberg. Look at this 7,000-word productivity guide on how to stop multitasking and focus on what matters.
As Brian Dean from Backlinko would say, it’s an example of an expanded list post.
You know all those long list posts, right? For example, consider this one from Boost Blog Traffic with 77 traffic building resources.
Instead of just listing out all of the items, adding detailed instructions to each list point will make your post ten times more valuable. And before you know it, you’ll have a great piece of long-form content.
Brian is the master at this.
Online Example #3: Infographics
You probably already know that I’m a huge fan of infographics.
They are a neat way to bundle up valuable information, summarize it, and present it in a clear way.
Remember that a solid content marketing strategy isn’t only about written content. It’s also about visual content, audio content, and more.
But, when should a prospective blog post become visual content? With infographics, it’s all about taking a subject that might be hard to explain in words and explaining it with images.
They usually get lots of shares, and the reference section is a great way to load up on influencers who you’d like to connect with.
They’ll often be happy to share it with their audience, in their blogs, and on social media if you mention them.
Plus, when your audience has future questions about the same topic, who will they turn to?
They’ll turn to you.
“Let me look up that email infographic guy again. Maybe he has something on this as well.”
That’s exactly what you want.
Online Example #4: Podcasts
Podcasts are the radio of the 21st century, and they’re a very powerful content marketing tool. There is just less advertising and more value.
Most podcasts have a sponsor or advertise a product at the beginning and the end of the show. But that’s it.
People love them because they can listen to their idols and heros spill their guts about whatever topic they’re interested in.
When I listen to Pat Flynn interviewing Ramit Sethi, I deepen my relationship with both of them. I get to know them more, and since they’re helping me out, I’ll be happy to turn to them in the future for further advice.
Sometimes, I might pay for that advice, and that’s fine.
If you think interviewing people is a waste of your time, you couldn’t be more wrong. John Lee Dumas, the host and founder of Entrepreneur on Fire, is the best example to point to.
He has simply interviewed one entrepreneur per day and pressed publish. With that approach, he built a huge vault of recordings pretty fast and massive success right along with it.
A multi-million dollar business from picking up a microphone and calling a bunch of people on Skype.
That’s not too shabby, huh?
Online Example #5: Guides and E-books
Think through this scenario with me.
You’ve done what few people do and have created an actual product for your online business.
You’ve created a sales page and sent it around. But, no one buys.
There’s something missing. Then, it hits you.
You need to learn copywriting.
That’s easy enough. You just turn to Google, right?
Well, as an experiment a few years ago, I searched for “learn copywriting.” When I did, Copyblogger turned up.
So I clicked onto that link. Now hold onto your chair because I’m going to show you what I saw next. Here’s what Copyblogger did:
That’s insane! It’s not a PDF or a blog post or some paid course.
It’s a series of 16 e-books plusa 20-part course.
And it was all for free!
You could learn copywriting in a week just from these guides. If you took these courses and ever ended up needing more, it’s highly likely that Copyblogger would be your first stop.
Online Example #6: Red Bull Stratos
This one’s remarkable. It’s like Red Bull created its own mini version of the Super Bowl.
On October 14, 2012, Felix Baumgartner, the Austrian skydiver, jumped out of a hot air balloon floating in the stratosphere. He basically jumped toward the Earth from space.
He fell down 24 miles at 843 mph. He broke Mach one and three while simultaneously breaking three world records: first human to break Mach one without any engineered vehicle, world’s highest balloon travel, and highest jump.
Never has anyone done this before.
And who was the sole sponsor of the event? It was Red Bull.
They made history – and marketed it.
Not only did the event get insane media coverage and buckets of social media activity, but it also went into the Guinness Book of World Records.
It was full of excitement and gripping suspense. It was entertainment at its best. And needless to say, it was a total home run for Red Bull.
Online example #7: GoPro’s Sponsorships
“Hey, when you surf that next huge wave, want to film it? Here’s a camera that’s perfect to do so!”
GoPro is wherever sports are, which is pretty much everywhere.
Since their product is a way to create visual content, the best way to market it is to show how great it is at doing what it does.
Therefore, they sponsor all kinds of events, athletes, and artists like surfers, bike racers, and even Rubiks’ cube jugglers.
Their marketing strategy is to hand people cameras and let them do what they do.
Their product does the rest for them. It basically markets itself.
All they have to do is edit the video and throw some cool music on top of it, and they get millions of views.
I don’t know how many times I watched that video. But I’m sure that you can guess what camera I bought when I went to Mexico on a vacation with friends.
Online Example #8: Social Media Campaigns
The important part to get right when running a social media campaign is to respect the context of the platform.
You can’t publish a series of ten tweets on Twitter. No one would see them all.
If you decide to go all in on a specific social media channel, be sure that you know how users use the platform.
Disney decided to run a Twitter campaign. But on Twitter, you only have a few seconds to catch your audience’s attention.
They did a great job at that by playing a pun on the way that the platform works.
Since Twitter limits tweets to 140 characters per message, Disney set out to create the “Ultimate Twitter Hashtag in 140 Characters.”
Way to go, Disney.
That’s Disney characters. They rounded up 140 of their performers to form a hashtag symbol, snapped a photo of it, and tweeted it out.
And here was the result: over 1800 retweets and 2600 favorites to date.
So, be sure to research the social media platform that you’re running your campaign on. It’s not only about providing valuable, high-quality content, but also providing it in the right form.
Online Example #9: British Airways and the Live Billboard
Remember how I talked about billboards in another guide?
Well, they still work if you use them properly.
British Airways came up with a really cool way of doing so. They installed a video billboard in London’s Piccadilly Circus that showed a kid who would point up to the sky every time a BA plane flew over.
Not only that, but the billboard would then also show the flight information and number.
The #lookup campaign has reached 350 million views.
Imagine seeing your sister’s plane as it leaves for a trip to Europe and having that kid point to it.
Doesn’t it make you think, “Hm, wouldn’t it be cool if my family could see my next flight like this, too?”
British Airways just got to you. All it took was a few LEDs, a creative way of packaging flight information, and the natural sense of wonder that flying still carries today.
Online Example #10: Ford’s Text Message Marketing Campaign
Don’t you dread going to an annoying car dealership where you expect that a sleazy salesman will paint you into a corner the second you get on the lot?
Well, that doesn’t have to be your experience anymore. A Ford dealership offered a “text-for-more-info” service for its customers. The customer would see the poster, text FORD at a certain number, and choose the model that they wanted to learn more about.
It’s a simple matter of providing information to save you some time. Don’t we all value our time?
What a nice change of pace it is to have a company not shove their products in our faces but instead give us the time to think about it for as long as we want!
Although Ford would follow up three times, in case you didn’t respond, it’s still a great way of giving me control over the experience.
This marketing strategy landed Ford a 15.4% conversion rate.