I write about 200,000 words for my client every year.
(Yes, I counted.)
Over time, I went from focusing on B2B brands across many industries to zooming in on SaaS companies whose products are made for marketers within B2B companies. The process of niching down didn’t reduce my workload—the exact opposite happened.
The number of in-house content marketing jobs, as well as the need for freelance writers like myself, seems to be consistently growing.
Why? Companies want to make the most out of content marketing. For the last decade, everyone is trying to figure out how to get ahead of their competitors with the most fresh, original, appealing content.
Here’s the problem with that: for many companies, content marketing has become the equivalent of the get-rich-quick scheme. They’re looking for a hack; a way to go viral.
The Challenge of Viral Content Marketing Campaigns
When marketers look for examples of content marketing to inspire them, they come across the same examples over and over:
- Blendtec’s “Will it blend?” video series
- The Dollar Shave Club viral launch video
- Coca Cola’s “Share a Coke” social media campaign
There’s nothing inherently wrong with these examples—in fact, they’re created by genius, creative minds—but the problem is that marketers then aim to replicate them.
Which is not just unrealistic, it’s also pointless. Here’s why:
Unrealistic, because campaigns like the one above market extremely visually appealing products and have come up with what seems a once-in-a-lifetime idea. There’s also typically a larger budget behind them than most companies would have.
Pointless, because these campaigns happened as a result of the tone of voice, messaging strategy, past experiences, product positioning, and other details of those specific companies. You can’t, nor you should, replicate that—your products and services are unique in their own way.
Furthermore, for content marketing to be a sustainable practice that creates return on investment, it’s valuable to consider the library versus publication approach to it.
The point of the library approach to content marketing is:
- Vertical integration: each topic is addressed from the top of the funnel to the bottom
- Evergreen content is in the center because content production is slower
- Content is built for people who need it, when they need it
Library approach means that your blog becomes an evergreen catalog of easy-to-access information sorted by key topics and categories.
With the publication approach, you have a feed of loosely related posts, none of which are developed in-depth. They’re sorted chronologically instead of by category, which means it’s harder for readers to become hooked on a category that they need solutions in.
Below, you’ll find some of my favorite examples of content marketing from both B2B and B2C side of business. While you can’t (and shouldn’t) copy these examples, they’re the perfect range of inspiring examples of what content marketing can be for you.
B2B Content Marketing Examples
Example #1: ClassPass
ClassPass is a fitness subscription service.
It’s key offering is a weekly or monthly subscription that gets its users into classes such as yoga, strength training, pilates, and more, across multiple studios and health clubs in available cities.
However, I wanted to put the B2B side of their business in the spotlight here.
To be able to provide such a service to the end consumer, they partner up with gyms and fitness studios. So beyond their consumer-focused blog, The Warm Up, they have a B2B-focused blog called After Class:
Here’s what I love about this. ClassPass could have gone the expected route and create content that regurgitates a basic topic such as “5 steps to running a successful gym” until they’re blue in the face.
But they have gone deep into the trenches and created a true library that any gym owner, whether a ClassPass member or not, can greatly benefit from.
Example #2: InVision
InVision is a digital product design platform.
It enables designers to create prototypes, communicate easily, gather feedback, and hand projects off into development.
Their blog, Inside Design, is a well-categorized resource for designers with millions of subscribers:
Here’s the kicker: the best thing about InVision’s blog is that the majority of its post are written by its readers.
Kristin Hiller, InVision’s senior manager of brand and content, shared some details about it in an interview with Managing Editor. Here’s a snippet of that interview:
“When I first started, I’d email InVision users to introduce myself and ask if they’d be interested in sharing something on the blog. Every single person said yes.
I also spent time every day reading Medium and other design blogs, and I’d contact writers whose work impressed me to see if they’d be willing to either let us publish their post or write something completely new, or both. And they always said yes, too.
It took about two years, but eventually we started getting people writing to us asking how they could contribute. These days, we put out a call for contributors every few months, but for the most part it’s designers writing to us to pitch story ideas.”
Think about the ways your customers and community members can contribute to your blog and your content marketing efforts.
Example #3: Airtable
Airtable is a cloud collaboration service.
In a nutshell, it’s a tool that lets you organize anything, similarly like spreadsheets do, but prettier.
To be honest, if you told me this without showing me any examples, real-life applications, or tips on using this, I’d run as far as I can away from it.
I can only assume that there are many others that feel the same, and that Airtable knew that.
Which is why their blog, For the Record, looks like this:
And their library of templates lets anyone start using their product quickly and easily:
Airtable’s collection of tips, tricks, and stories of their product being used by real people and teams (look at HubSpot’s holistic project management with Airtable) are among the most value-rich content libraries I’ve seen in B2B.
Their content categories cover the entire purchase journey, too, from early awareness all the way through to “how can this product best solve my pain point?” stage.
Bonus points: With all of their case studies, you can view the demo version of whatever the company in the case study is using. When it comes to software, that’s the closest you can get to proving your product’s worth!
B2C Content Marketing Examples
Example #1: Blue Apron
Blue Apron is a meal subscription service.
The service includes the delivery of fresh ingredients that are already measured and ready to be used with recipes that come along with them.
Their blog is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to keep a consistent cooking routine, maintain a functional kitchen, and choose the best cooking tools and ingredients:
It’s divided into four categories: Eat, Learn, Live, and Video.
The Ingredient Love subcategory, for example, covers everything from ways to use fresh peas in cooking to sustainable seafood.
It’s obvious why Blue Apron is winning with the library approach to their content compared to a publication approach:
Their blog needs to provide a well-categorized source of tips and inspiration rather than a new recipe each day, which most people wouldn’t have the time to try out and keep up with.
Example #2: Away
Away is a luggage brand that focuses on modern travel.
One of their main (and most well-known) products is a suitcase with a built-in battery so travelers can charge their smartphones on-the-go.
Their blog is more than a blog; it’s a digital magazine, and it’s called Here:
Their content is far more than just travel tips or best places to take photos. They feature cities that aren’t on most traveler’s bucket lists, share packing tips from people from various backgrounds and doing different jobs, and publish personal essays and interviews.
Away’s content strategy is so story-driven that they even have a podcast called Airplane mode, sharing tales of travel, journeys, and lives lived on the road by all kinds of adventurers.
When you think about it, they could be talking all about how practical it is to have a charger in your suitcase. That content would likely do great on search engines. But this content does great with their community and sparks shares, loyalty, and connection—and that’s all they need.
Example #3: Ellevest
Ellevest is an investing platform made specifically for women.
Their blog—or magazine, as they call it—is divided into four main categories: Investing, Money & Life, Career, and Disrupt Money:
Because the company’s mission is to close the gender-investment gap by giving women the tools, place, and voice to invest for themselves, their goal with content appears to be to empower their readers to take action.
As you scroll down the magazine, you’ll also find the section with a dropdown menu of what your goal is when it comes to money. This yields a grid of recommended articles:
Finally, when you click through to either of the four main categories, you see a page with dozens and for some even 100+ articles, all tackling a very specific pain point around women and finances:
For a woman that wants to start investing, save for retirement, or upgrade her finances in any way, Ellevest’s blog is a surefire way to get started on the right path.
What to Take From These Inspiring Examples
I like to think about content marketing as the way we—individuals and companies alike—exist on the internet.
If there’s not much content, most people, including your target audience, won’t know you’re even there.
And if your content is bad, well… You can imagine how that works.
Use the above examples to get inspired and think about what your ideal customer wants to read, learn, and spend time doing.
When it comes to your content, ask yourself:
- How do they want to feel while reading it?
- How will they be consuming it? In the office, on the go, while working on a key challenge that you’re solving?
- Why is it something people are going to share on social?
- Why this topic, and why now?
Answer these questions, and you’ll be well on your way to reach the exact people you want. Not only that: they’ll resonate with what they read, remember you for it, and keep coming back.