7 Inspiring Content Marketing Examples (And How to Replicate Them)

Joshua Hardwick
Head of Content @ Ahrefs (or, in plain English, I'm the guy responsible for ensuring that every blog post we publish is EPIC).
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    Have you heard that content marketing is the key to your marketing woes, but have no idea where to start? Take inspiration from these seven successful and replicable examples. 

    Content marketing can be daunting, especially for small business owners.

    It’s easy to see things like Coke’s “Share a Coke” campaign and assume that you can’t do content marketing without a six-figure marketing budget.


    This couldn’t be further from the truth.

    Content marketing is not about expensive and elaborate campaigns. It’s about creating content that appeals to and attracts your target customers, then promoting it—nothing more, nothing less.

    In this post, I’ll share seven inspiring content marketing examples, why they worked, and how to replicate their successes.

    Let’s kick things off with one of my favorites…

    1. Superdrug’s “Perceptions of Perfection Across Borders”

    perceptions of perfection

    Key stats

    Backlinks: 1,730 backlinks from 816 referring domains.
    Social shares: 34K to the page itself. Hundreds of thousands across the board.
    Estimated monthly organic traffic: <100

    Launched in June 2015, Superdrug’s “Perceptions of Perfection Across Borders” campaign is a masterclass in content marketing. What did they do? They asked female graphic designers from 18 different countries to retouch a photo of a woman to “make her more attractive.”

    Here are just a few of the results:

    perceptions of perfection examples

    Each of the resulting images and body types is vastly different—which was the entire point.

    Superdrug aimed to show that there’s no such thing as the perfect body. It’s subjective, not definitive. What’s seen as the “ideal” body varies massively from country to country.

    Why did it work?

    Body image is a controversial and emotionally appealing topic. That’s probably why the post was shared over 33,000 times on Facebook alone.

    Furthermore, at the time of launch in 2015, the body positivity movement was starting to gain traction.

    google trends body positivity

    That meant there were—and still are—more journalists and bloggers than ever eager to cover positive, thought-provoking content around this subject.

    How can you replicate its success?

    The most interesting part about this campaign is that it wasn’t a totally original idea.

    In June 2014, roughly one year before the launch of Superdrug’s campaign, an artist did much the same thing with a photo of her face. She asked Photoshop users from 40 countries to make her beautiful.

    before and after

    The project—titled Before & After—was a huge success. It got featured on Buzzfeed, Cosmopolitan, The Atlantic, Quartz, Bustle, and many others, which led to a massive influx of high-quality backlinks.

    So, the trick here is to take inspiration from and build upon already-successful ideas.

    Here’s how:

    1. Find popular stories and themes

    Head over to Ahrefs Content Explorer and search for a broad topic. If we were Superdrug, this could be something like “beauty” or “health.”

    content explorer beauty

    Content Explorer searches over a billion web pages for relevant matches. In this case, we get over 10 million results.

    But the problem is that not all of these pages have performed well, which is what we want.

    So let’s filter for pages with plenty of links from unique websites (referring domains), or social shares, or both.

    content explorer filter

    Here are a few articles that pop up on the first couple of pages of results:

    Now we know that content about beauty expectations tend to get traction. In fact, that last example is the inspiration for Superdrug’s campaign.

    2. Take inspiration from these stories

    Look at these pieces of content and ask yourself a few questions:

    • “Can I improve upon this idea with better data?”
    • “Can I communicate this idea more efficiently through better design or a different content format?
    • “Does the content exclude important points?
    • “Do I have an opposing view?”

    Basically, if you feel that the content could be better in some way, then you may be onto a winner.

    3. Present your idea to relevant journalists and bloggers

    Most people create a piece of content, then try to promote it. That’s the wrong way to go about things, especially if you’re planning to contact journalists.

    70% of publishers would rather be pitched an idea rather than a finished piece.

    So head over to Content Explorer and run a “title” search for a topic, then add a website filter and name some relevant popular publications.

    content explorer website search

    This will find journalists who’ve covered your topic before and might be worth reaching out to.

    journalists body image

    You can even click a journalist’s name to see all the sites they write for.

    author search

    Find email addresses for these people, tell them about your idea, and ask whether it’s something they’d be interested in featuring.

    4. Create and promote your content

    Listen to journalists’ feedback and ideas, create your content, then promote via blogger outreach to all interested parties.

    2. Buffer’s Marketing Library

    buffer content library

    Key stats

    Backlinks: 203,000 backlinks from 13,000 referring domains.
    Shares: 193,000+ social shares across the board.
    Estimated monthly organic traffic: 580,000+

    Buffer’s Marketing Library is a hub of resources to help people level up their marketing skills. Basically, it’s a non-chronological blog.

    Still, the 229 pages under their /library/ subfolder get an estimated 580,000 monthly organic visits. That accounts for 52% of all traffic to Buffer.com!

    Via the Top subfolders report in Ahrefs Site Explorer

    Why did it work?

    Buffer created their Marketing Library in December 2018, but most of the content in the library isn’t new. They got rid of blog.buffer.com and redirected all its content to buffer.com/library/*. Then they created the Library homepage.

    The moving of content is more a technicality than anything else. It wasn’t this reorganization that contributed to the success of Buffer’s content marketing endeavors, but rather that they worked hard to build up a bank of content around topics that their audience are searching for.

    Take Buffer’s list of free image sites, for example:

    buffer free images

    They get an estimated 84,400 monthly organic visits to this page, mainly because it ranks for “free images”—which has a monthly search volume of 144,000 in the US—plus thousands of other keywords.

    How can you replicate their success?

    The lesson here is simple: learn what your customers are searching for in the search engines, then create industry-leading content around those topics.

    That’s what we do here at the Ahrefs blog, and our strategy is somewhat inspired by Buffer.

    Here’s how:

    1. Do keyword research

    There’s no way to know what people are searching for without doing keyword research. So head over to a keyword research tool like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer and search for a few seed topics.

    If you were Buffer, these would be things like:

    • social media marketing
    • facebook ads
    • twitter marketing
    • social media

    From here, browse the keywords ideas reports. I recommend starting with the “Questions” report.

    keyword ideas

    Save any worthwhile topics that add value to your business to a list.

    2. Create industry-leading content

    Ranking for these terms requires content, so that’s your next step.

    But this isn’t just about paying a writer $10 to create any old article on a topic. You should aim to create the best, most authoritative resource on the topic at hand. That’s the only way you’re ever going to rank and build organic traffic.

    To do this, focus on the quality and value of your content.

    3. Promote your content

    Use blogger outreach, paid ads, whatever is more convenient for you.

    3. Tasty’s YouTube channel

    tasty youtube

    Key stats

    Backlinks: 29,124 from 1,527 referring domains
    Views: Millions per day (source)
    Subscribers: Tens of thousands per day
    Estimated monthly organic traffic: 94,600 (to their YouTube channel)
    YouTube views: 2.8 billion+

    Tasty is a YouTube channel with recipes and other food-related content.

    Their videos have racked up a staggering 2.8 billion views since launch, which was just over three years ago. You may also have seen some of their videos on Facebook, which is actually where I first came across them.

    Why did it work?

    Tasty’s success on YouTube seems to come down to three things:

    1. They published great content, consistently.
    2. They used eye-catching thumbnails.
    3. They began with a unique video format that nobody else was doing.

    You can see an example of this format in their earlier videos:


    These videos are short, easily digestible, and explain the cooking process as simply as possible. Compared to most other recipe videos on YouTube—which usually showcases a pretentious chef in an overpriced kitchen—these are much more down to earth.

    How can you replicate its success?

    Simple. Find the topics that people are searching for on YouTube in your niche, then create unique and engaging content around those topics.

    Here’s how:

    1. Do YouTube keyword research

    Head over to Ahrefs Keywords Explorer and switch the search engine to YouTube. Enter a few seed keywords to begin (e.g., food, recipes, whatever is relevant to your niche).

    Check the keywords ideas reports to find ideas for videos. Save any good ones to a list for future reference.

    youtube keyword research

    Not sure which seed keywords to use?

    Find a popular and relevant channel on YouTube, install the TubeBuddy Chrome extension, take a look at their videos, then sort the list by popularity from high to low.

    Click to view one of the videos, and TubeBuddy will show all the tags associated with that video.

    tubebuddy tags

    Paste any relevant ones into Ahrefs Keywords Explorer, then navigate to a keyword ideas report.

    eggs ideas youtube

    Check out our full video on YouTube keyword research to learn more:


    2. Create video content around those keywords

    Knowing what people are searching for is only half the battle. You then have to create industry-leading content around those topics and actually get it to rank.

    For that, I recommend Sam Oh’s guide to YouTube SEO.

    4. Cars.com’s Auto Loan Calculator

    car loan calculator

    Key stats

    Backlinks: 18,700 from 470 referring domains
    Shares: 26 social shares.
    Estimated monthly organic traffic: 206,000

    Ever wondered how much your car payments might cost per month over the life of your car loan? This is precisely what Car.com’s Auto Loan Calculator does.

    Enter your vehicle price, down payment, the length of the loan term plus a few other data points, and it’ll spit out a number.

    But here’s the genius part:

    Once it calculates the monthly payment amount, there’s an auto-generated search box underneath that lets you “search for cars by price up to $XXX.” Of course, the $XXX matches the price that you entered.

    car calculator search

    Why did it work?

    The phrase “car loan calculator” gets an estimated 656,000 monthly searches in the US.

    car loan calculator keywords explorer

    Car.com’s auto loan calculator ranks in the top spot in Google for that query and ranks in the top 100 for 7,944 other keywords, which also send traffic to the page.

    car loan calculator serp

    That traffic then converts into leads when people search for cars on the website within that price range.

    How can you replicate its success?

    Find one very specific topic that your target audience is searching for, which is also super relevant to your business. Create something useful around that topic—it could be a tool, calculator, or even just a blog post or guide.

    Optimize the content piece and get it to rank higher in Google, so it gets traffic.

    Here’s how:

    1. Find a relevant topic

    Head to Content Explorer and run a “title” search for a topic or tool that’s super related to what you do.

    If we were doing this for Ahrefs, we might type “backlink checker” or “SEO tool.”

    content explorer title search

    From here, sort the results by organic traffic to bring the most popular pages to the top.

    Sift through the results looking for relevant ideas.

    For us, creating a free backlink checker looks like the way forward, as many such tools get tons of organic traffic.

    backlink checker results

    You don’t have to limit yourself to creating a tool or calculator. You can do this with any type of content. 

    2. Look for issues with the current results

    The easiest way to beat competing pages is to create something better.

    So your next job is to pick apart any relevant results. Ask yourself:

    • What’s good about them?
    • How could they be improved?
    • What are they missing?

    3. Create something better

    Take what you learned from analyzing popular pages and create something similar, but better.

    4. Replicate links from competing pages

    Because there’s a clear correlation between the number of backlinks to a page from unique websites and where it ranks…

    referring domains vs keyword rankings ahrefs content explorer 1

    … you need to promote and build links to your awesome content.

    Given that your content is better than everything else that ranks for your target keyword, one way to do this is to reach out to those who link to similar tools/pages.

    The aim here isn’t to try to steal their links, but just to introduce them to your content.

    You can find who links to another similar tool by pasting the URL into Ahrefs Site Explorer and checking the “Backlinks” report.

    backlink checker

    5. NeoMam’s “13 reasons your brain craves infographics” infographic

    why your brain craves infographics

    Key stats

    Backlinks: 9,290 backlinks from 1,320 referring domains
    Shares: 279 social shares.
    Estimated monthly organic traffic: 63

    Launched in 2013, this is an interactive infographic about why your brain craves infographics, created by an infographic design and marketing agency in the UK. #meta

    It’s well-designed, well researched, and one of the few interactive pieces of content I’ve come across that actually resizes correctly and works on mobile.

    Why did it work?

    Many reasons, but timing was almost certainly one of the biggest contributing factors here.

    NeoMam published this piece of content in July 2013, which, according to Google Trends, is the height of popularity for the topic at hand.

    google trends infographics

    This is an important point.

    By publishing content about trending topics, you increase the pool of prospects that are likely to be interested in featuring the content. It’s akin to publishing something about Game of Thrones in 2019—if the content is good, journalists and bloggers will be falling over themselves to cover it.

    Do the same thing in 2025, and I’m sure interest will have died down.

    Danny Ashton, the founder of NeoMam, also puts some of the success down to the quality and depth of research.

    Back in 2013 you could get away with sources that didn’t quite make sense or just link to a blog. But one of the things I said to the team when we did this was to only talk about things that we could cite with a scientific journal. Going the extra mile when it comes to research quality was key for getting the trust from journalists looking to cover the story.
    Danny Ashton
    Danny Ashton, Founder NeoMam Studios

    How can you replicate its success?

    Create an exceptional piece of content around a relevant trending topic. Promote it to those who are likely to be interested via outreach.

    Here’s how:

    1. Find a trending topic

    Head over to Google Trends and paste in some topic ideas. Look for a relevant topic that is currently trending. (Set the period to “2004 - Present” for this).

    Here’s a super meta example:

    content marketing trend

    IMPORTANT! You’re not looking for something that is trending today, or this week, or this month. You need a topic for which interest is on the rise over time.

    2. Find sites that have covered this topic recently

    Head over to Content Explorer and search for your chosen topic. Filter for pages that were only published recently, i.e., within the past few months.

    Hit the “One article per domain” checkbox to make sure you see only one result from each site.

    content marketing content explorer

    3. Pre-outreach (optional)

    The next step is to come up with an idea for a piece of content around this topic, then reach out to some of the sites you found in Content Explorer. Ask them if they like the idea, and whether they’d be interested in seeing and featuring it once it’s ready.

    This is an optional step, but it saves you from creating content that nobody cares about.

    4. Create and promote your content

    Make sure it’s well-researched and visually appealing. Tell journalists and bloggers who’ve already covered this topic about your content via blogger outreach.

    The golden rule here is to make journalists’ lives as easy as possible by supplying everything they need to cover your content. That might be a link to a high-resolution image/video, cheat sheet of main facts and figures, or whatever.

    another interesting point…

    While NeoMam doesn’t get much organic traffic to this post, my hunch is that their referral traffic more than makes up for that. I summed up the total organic traffic to all of the linking pages in Ahrefs, and it came out at over 63,000 estimated visits per month. That means thousands of people are reading about and being exposed to this particular piece of content every month.

    NeoMam is a content marketing agency that focuses heavily on infographics. So I’m sure this generates plenty of leads for them.

    6. Lodge Cast Iron

    lodge cast iron

    Key stats

    Backlinks: 1,707 backlinks from 403 referring domains.
    Shares: N/A
    Estimated monthly organic traffic: 70,985

    I’ve included this one to show that great content marketing doesn’t always have to be some elaborate infographic or expensive “big idea.” Content marketing is literally just content that appeals to and attracts your target audience.

    Lodge—a manufacturer and retailer of cast iron skillets—nails this.

    How? By teaching you how to cook with and care for cast iron pans.

    Why did it work?

    Lodge focused only on topics with very high business value and good organic traffic potential.

    For example, one of their guides is about “seasoning cast iron,” a term with 25,000 monthly searches in the US alone. That guide now ranks #3 for this term and gets ~21,000 highly-targeted organic visits per month.

    lodge cast iron serp

    But the real genius is this:

    Because these guides are so focused and closely-related to their core business, they were able to link to relevant products from within the content.

    product links

    This doesn’t feel spammy either. It’s actually helpful.

    How can you replicate its success?

    Replicating Lodge’s winning strategy requires focusing unequivocally on topics and keywords with high business value and utilizing your expertise in that area to create industry-leading content.

    Here’s how:

    1. Find keywords with high business value

    Head over to Ahrefs Keywords Explorer and search for something directly related to the product or service that you sell. In Lodge’s case, this would be “cast iron.”

    Because you’re looking for keywords with informational search intent here, it may be worth starting with the “Questions” report. You can also filter for keywords with low Keyword Difficulty and reasonable search volumes to narrow things down.

    cast iron keywords filter

    2. Publish content around those topics

    If you picked your keywords wisely, none of this content should be too difficult or costly to produce. That’s because you can utilize your existing knowledge and experience to write them.

    (That’s the beauty of talking about topics that are so closely related to what you sell!)

    For example, many of Lodge’s guides are very short and wouldn’t have taken much time to put together. But because of their knowledge and authority in the industry, they’re packed with good, trustworthy advice.

    tip lodge

    The better you understand your target audience and their pain points, the easier this process is.

    For example, I got a cast-iron skillet for Christmas. It’s now July, and I still haven’t properly seasoned it (something that needs to be done to cast iron pans before use). After finding Lodge’s seasoning guide on Google, I learned that Lodge sells a pre-seasoned cast iron pan.

    You have no idea how close I came to buying that, despite already owning a perfectly good cast-iron pan already.

    7. Zendesk Alternative

    zendesk alternative

    Key stats

    Backlinks: 130 backlinks from 84 referring domains
    Shares: N/A
    Estimated monthly organic traffic: 253

    In 2013, a new rock band surfaced in the alternative music scene—Zendesk Alternative.

    But it was fake. The folks at Zendesk—a customer support solution—created it.

    The concept?

    1. There’s a band called Zendesk Alternative.
    2. Zendesk (the customer support software) stole their name, and they’re bitter about it.
    3. Zendesk hires Zendesk Alternative to write a customer service concept album.
    4. The band struggles and is generally annoyed by the whole thing.

    What’s impressive is the level of effort Zendesk went to with this.

    Zendesk Alternative are on MySpace, Facebook, Bandcamp, YouTube, Reverbnation—basically, everywhere you’d find a real band.

    Why did it work?

    Not only is it funny and insanely well-executed, but it actively targets customers considering other alternatives to Zendesk and attempts to win them over.

    Because it was so well-executed, the page now ranks #1 for “zendesk alternative,” which gets 400 searches per month in the US.

    zendesk alternative keywords explorer

    This is a keyword for which the bulk of traffic would ordinarily go to some other website.

    Also, according to this article on Radius.com, Zendesk closed five deals that originated from the Zendesk Alternative page within six months of the campaign going live.

    How can you replicate its success?

    This is a tough one to replicate because it’s just such a unique idea. It’s not really something you can do twice.

    But it is possible to replicate the underlying concept—which is to hijack the rankings for “[yourbrand] alternative” with a creative piece of content or mini-site. If done well, this can be a useful endeavor because it keeps customers on your side and allows you to control the conversion.

    You can use Ahrefs Keywords Explorer to find relevant, branded keywords. Just search for seed keywords like [your brand name], check the Phrase match report, then add terms like “vs” and “alternative” to the Include filter to find comparison keywords.

    mailchim comparison keywords

    IMPORTANT! Make sure you’re targeting a keyword with some search volume and traffic potential. There’s no point making a lot of effort to rank for something that gets no searches.

    Final thoughts

    Did you spot a trend yet?

    Every single one of these examples relies on creating something of value (content) and promoting it to interested audiences (marketing). Furthermore, they’re all relatively replicable and straightforward ideas at their core, even if you’re on a budget.


    Do you know of any other cool content marketing examples? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.

    • Linking websites 75
    • Tweets 322
    Data from Content Explorer