Let’s get right to it. Great content marketing is more than just plopping an infographic on your site. Great content marketing is knowing what an audience wants, what stirs up emotion, what gets those people excited, and dangling whatever that is in front of their noses, sometimes for weeks or months before they can attain it. And being successful at this in competitive verticals like travel and finance and entertainment online takes a bit of ingenuity and creative thinking.
At SMX Munich this year I showed four different examples of content marketing that are all different types of pieces with a variety of methods of marketing them, but all of which have one thing in common: their audiences loved it (translation: shares and links). I’ll share the first three examples in here in part 1 (saving the best for last in part 2), with the added disclosure that as far as I know, only one of these had any hint of doing what they did with SEO in mind (rankings, search traffic and/or links).
Since genuine creativity that generates natural popularity factors is the way of the new SEO (in other words, real marketing), I hope these example inspire you to think creatively about the kinds of remarkable content you can generate and how you can get that in front of the people who will get excited about it and share it.
Swissotel: A simple visual guide generates gobs of shares and links
The audience: Business travellers
What gets them excited: Useful and easy-to-digest local travel information.
The problem to solve: Get Swissotel more visibility among business travellers (and links while we’re at it).
The approach: Current content in the SERPS around worldwide etiquette is boring. It was a no-brainer to create a simple informational piece that a traveller could use to easily reference etiquette like handshakes and tipping procedures around the world. The interactive piece allows you to simply choose a country and see useful etiquette tips right there on the screen.
See it online: http://www.swissotel.com/promo/etiquette-map/
Shameless plug: This is an SEOgadget piece of work.
On the first day of launching this piece it was shared like wildfire, generating new visibility for Swissotel (and even generating a few bookings). Now, several weeks later, it has over 2,000 Facebook Likes, over 600 tweets, 344 Google+’s, over 19,000 Stumbles and 137 shares LinkedIn.
The piece also generated more links than the website has ever had.
And since it’s an evergreen piece of content it will likely continue to generate shares, links and of course visibility over time.
MahiFX: Generating links to a website before it even launches.
The audience: Traders, serious finance geeks.
What gets them excited: Making money.
The problem to solve: Generate interest and awareness around a new brand with a new website in a highly competitive market.
The approach: A highly interesting and slightly demoralizing piece of content compares your measly salary with what day-trader John Paulson makes (it doesn’t matter how much you make, unless you’re Oprah your salary is measly in comparison).
See it online: https://mahifx.com/john-paulson/
The content piece, which can now be found at a new URL, was launched before launching the actual site content. It was so popular that it generated more links than the website ever has since then.
And the sharing isn’t so shabby either (this is sharing of the homepage URL, since the numbers would have been reset when they moved the content to a new URL after launching the site.
AskMen: Utilizing multiple channels before, during, and after a piece is published.
The audience: Men
What gets them excited: Generally speaking, women.
The problem to solve: Generate more brand awareness, higher readership, ranking for hot women.
The approach: AskMen does a few big content pieces called Specials. This example, AskMen’s Top 99 Women is an annual piece that successfully generates a lot of awareness, involves the community, is naturally talked about, linked to, shared, and even anticipated, and is also actively promoted year-round.
See it online: http://www.askmen.com/specials/2013_top_99/
Before the piece is published it’s promoted heavily in social networks, especially Facebook. The Facebook cover image for any current Special campaign is updated to promote the campaign, and AskMen asks it’s community to vote and comment on the hottest women.
This is shared a lot, which gives the campaign and the brand added visibility while they build up to the content piece.
When the piece is published, each woman has their own page (Mila Kunis at #2 in the 2013 piece below) with a link to the woman’s canonical page on the website. So while this Top 99 Women special is getting a ton of links and shares, it is linking directly to the women’s individual pages on the site which is helping to boost those pages’ popularity.
Even though the chatter around this 6-month-old piece has died down a lot, AskMen still ranks on the first page of SERPS for women’s names (some of the highest search volume terms there are).
Publications pick it up and run stories about it, announcing the results with fervor not unlike a Miss America Pageant.
AskMen also does guest blogging on sites like Yahoo, announcing the results like news stories and linking back to the women’s pages and the Special, and providing more visibility and shares in other places where interested audiences are reading online.
And even when there is not a special, women’s pages on AskMen.com are promoted in other places like Technorati, IMDB, BuzzFeed and various social networks.
There is a glaring issue though, that the latest piece is given a new URL rather than replacing the previous content on the main URL for the Special and archiving the previous content (making me think they’re doing regular marketing, not the SEO-driven kind (therein missing the mark on this important detail).
That said, here are the links to the latest 2013 Top 99 Women special that lunched in December 2012, and the main Top 99 Women specials page.
Getting inspired? Go off and get creative! Let these sink in, put some new ideas to work, and then come back for the example in Part 2 – it’s going to blow. your. mind.
Know some other ridiculously amazing examples of great content marketing pieces and/or processes? Please share them with us in the comments! (no spam please – hint we know what it looks like ;) ) #SEOgadgetBracesItself
Editor’s note (well, from Richard) – we’ve published some of our work right here – take a look!