Content marketing examples 2021: The 14 must-check-out examples

Content marketing examples 2021: The 14 must-check-out examples

6 minute read

Content marketing examples 2021: The 14 must-check-out examples

6 minute read

Content marketing examples 2021: The 14 must-check-out examples

Masooma Memon

GatherContent Contributor, Writer
Looking to spice up your content marketing strategy with some new content ideas? We’ve got the best content marketing examples of 2021 in this post. Use these ideas as inspiration to better engage your audience and improve your rankings.

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Before we proceed, though, keep in mind that not all examples of content marketing that we share today would be suitable for your audience or brand.

The best way to tell if an idea will work for you? Ask yourself: Does it align with our brand principles and goals? Is this something our target audience will love?

(In fact, ask these two questions with each piece of content you create.)

That said, let’s walk you through 2021’s best content marketing examples to inspire you.

1. Ebooks

We’ve got two examples here:

The first ebook is an example of personality-rich content that Handley released to celebrate the 100th edition of her newsletter, Total Anarchy.

The PDF not only dives into what helped her grow her newsletter by 2000% in three years but also highlights what didn’t work.

On the other hand, the Creative Thieves ebook is created as a workbook complete with activities readers need to do to get creative ideas flowing. This makes it an excellent example of actionable content.

Mac and Moore's Creative Thieves activity ebook is a good content marketing example of 2021.
Mac + Moore's Creative Thieves ebooks is a great example of content marketing done right.

2. Case studies

The growth.design website creates educational case study content by breaking down how other brands execute effective user experiences.

The best part? These case studies are available for watching for only a month before they’re locked behind a paid wall. This helps trigger FOMO (the 'fear of missing out'), which is an effective way to get more people to consume your content.

Growth.design's case studies are a good content marketing example of 2021.
growth.design breaks down other brands' UX as their case studies, which makes them a great content marketing example of 2021.

3. Memes – viral content

Memes are great fodder for social media content.

However, IKEA walked the extra mile by leveraging the viral Bernie Sanders meme to market their mittens and chair in a funny, light-hearted manner.

How? By using a “Get the Look” campaign:

IKEA's meme marketing is a good content marketing example of 2021.
IKEA leveraged a trending meme to market their chair and mittens. (Source)

Note that the meme aligned with what IKEA stands for – simplicity and practicality. Follow the same approach for newsjacking trends.

💡 Learn more: Using social listening to uncover audience insights for effective content marketing.

4. User-generated content marketing

User-generated content (UGC) content is a staple social media content type.

The brand, Cat Person, uses it particularly well on their Instagram.

The company encourages its audience to share pictures of their cats or to tag them in their photos as their pet enjoys Cat Person’s product(s).

Then, they share the content on their Instagram account. This helps them demonstrate social proof while growing brand awareness and engagement. They do this consistently, which helps deliver active social updates.

5. Podcasts

Podcasts are among the successful content formats to try – if you already haven’t. But why did we add Buffer’s podcast, Small Business Big Lessons, to this list of content marketing examples?

Because it’s exceptional in a few ways:

Firstly, it’s a series-based podcast. Such a podcast lets entrepreneurs and content teams test how well the episodes are received before creating more.

Buffer podcast Small Business Big Lessons is a good content marketing example of 2021.
Buffer's Small Business Big Lessons podcast is a great podcast example.

Secondly, episodes are short, which makes it easy to listen (or binge-listen) to them.

Finally, the podcast features a unique small business from a diverse background in each episode. This way, the focus is less on Buffer as a social media marketing tool and more on helping their audience win by tuning into others’ success stories.

Such valuable content that leverages storytelling is the hallmark of high-quality content that you should be creating.  

6. Checklist

Templates and checklists are common content marketing campaign material but this one’s a great content marketing example: the SEO content checklist.

It’s a brainchild of Aaron Orendorff, the VP of Marketing at Common Thread Collective. The checklist leverages video content (there’s a Loom video included to walk readers through using the checklist) and a readable format.

What’s interesting here, however, is the backstory and how Orendorff leveraged the reach.

Essentially, Orendorff created Twitter threads – a content format that’s gained a lot of popularity in 2021. And, his thread got immense reach:

Making the most of such an amazing response, Orendorff encouraged more reach before creating the checklist:

With their SEO content checklist, the team solves their potential customer's pain points. Most of all, it’s not content that was planned but something Orendorff created on demand. Having such flexibility in your editorial calendar is crucial for delivering great content to your audience.

💡 Learn more: How an editorial calendar can help you be more user-focused.

7. Lead magnet content  

Wistia’s Show Business Series is an exceptional example of using a video series for capturing links.

The lead magnet works because, firstly, it leverages video format – suitable to the brand and its audience. Secondly, it features experts for solving their target audience’s pain points.

Wistia's lead magnet, The Show Business Series, is a good content marketing example of 2021.
Wistia's Show Business Series is a good example of using video as a lead magnet.

What stands out, however, is that they’ve created a trailer (showcasing human faces) to capture their viewers’ interest – something worth copying. Plus, it only asks for their lead’s email, which removes friction from signing up.

💡 Pro tip: Use GatherContent to create a central library of all the different types of content such as infographics, landing page copy, and whitepapers you create. This way, everyone on your team can access and collaborate on all the content in one place.

Use GatherContent as a central library for all the content you create
Manage all your content production in one place using GatherContent.

8. Swipe file

A swipe file is a collection of proven examples that work in a particular category.

These could be anything from a swipe file of high-converting sales letters to social media posts or transactional emails such as one that Wonderment created.


Within 24 hours, the swipe file attracted 200 subscribers, reveals Deb Mukherjee.

The reason it worked so well? It provides what the e-commerce industry doesn’t have. This means the team found a content gap and filled it up with their swipe file.

9. Video content

Two great examples of video content marketing are that of this investing masterclass by WealthSimple and Dave Gerhardt’s When the CEO doesn't get marketing.

So what makes both a success?

The first one is great because it provides valuable information packaged in a helpful video format.

The second one takes a humorous approach – making fun of a common situation that the video’s audience often faces.

10. Blog posts

Any list of content marketing examples is incomplete without sharing blog content examples.

So, we’ve Backlinko’s blog posts here. Although they aren’t 2021-specific, the posts are perfect examples of readable, high-value blog posts.

These posts teach Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in an easy-to-digest manner, using simple language. Introductions are short and to-the-point with the rest of the content being fluff-free.

Another useful example is Ahref’s blog posts that deliver valuable information on SEO in a step-by-step manner with visual content aids such as screenshots. This makes them readable and easy to understand too.

The takeaway? Make sure your own content is readable, valuable, and thoroughly answers questions your readers have.  

11. Webinars

Clearscope has done a wonderful job leveraging webinars for its content marketing efforts.

They tackle topics that make content creation easier for their audience (providing value) and also naturally introduce their content optimization tool.

Other than the useful topics, two things help them win.

First is the consistency with which they host their webinars. And secondly, they invite micro-influencers in their space as their expert guests. This helps them tap into the influencers’ audience while giving the influencers a platform to share their insights.

With this, our list of content marketing examples comes to an end.

Whether you’re a thought leader, a startup, or an industry giant, use these examples as inspiration for creating a successful content marketing plan for 2022.

Good to Know: if you're looking for a new tool to manage your content marketing efforts in the new year, don’t forget to try GatherContent for free.

Before we proceed, though, keep in mind that not all examples of content marketing that we share today would be suitable for your audience or brand.

The best way to tell if an idea will work for you? Ask yourself: Does it align with our brand principles and goals? Is this something our target audience will love?

(In fact, ask these two questions with each piece of content you create.)

That said, let’s walk you through 2021’s best content marketing examples to inspire you.

1. Ebooks

We’ve got two examples here:

The first ebook is an example of personality-rich content that Handley released to celebrate the 100th edition of her newsletter, Total Anarchy.

The PDF not only dives into what helped her grow her newsletter by 2000% in three years but also highlights what didn’t work.

On the other hand, the Creative Thieves ebook is created as a workbook complete with activities readers need to do to get creative ideas flowing. This makes it an excellent example of actionable content.

Mac and Moore's Creative Thieves activity ebook is a good content marketing example of 2021.
Mac + Moore's Creative Thieves ebooks is a great example of content marketing done right.

2. Case studies

The growth.design website creates educational case study content by breaking down how other brands execute effective user experiences.

The best part? These case studies are available for watching for only a month before they’re locked behind a paid wall. This helps trigger FOMO (the 'fear of missing out'), which is an effective way to get more people to consume your content.

Growth.design's case studies are a good content marketing example of 2021.
growth.design breaks down other brands' UX as their case studies, which makes them a great content marketing example of 2021.

3. Memes – viral content

Memes are great fodder for social media content.

However, IKEA walked the extra mile by leveraging the viral Bernie Sanders meme to market their mittens and chair in a funny, light-hearted manner.

How? By using a “Get the Look” campaign:

IKEA's meme marketing is a good content marketing example of 2021.
IKEA leveraged a trending meme to market their chair and mittens. (Source)

Note that the meme aligned with what IKEA stands for – simplicity and practicality. Follow the same approach for newsjacking trends.

💡 Learn more: Using social listening to uncover audience insights for effective content marketing.

4. User-generated content marketing

User-generated content (UGC) content is a staple social media content type.

The brand, Cat Person, uses it particularly well on their Instagram.

The company encourages its audience to share pictures of their cats or to tag them in their photos as their pet enjoys Cat Person’s product(s).

Then, they share the content on their Instagram account. This helps them demonstrate social proof while growing brand awareness and engagement. They do this consistently, which helps deliver active social updates.

5. Podcasts

Podcasts are among the successful content formats to try – if you already haven’t. But why did we add Buffer’s podcast, Small Business Big Lessons, to this list of content marketing examples?

Because it’s exceptional in a few ways:

Firstly, it’s a series-based podcast. Such a podcast lets entrepreneurs and content teams test how well the episodes are received before creating more.

Buffer podcast Small Business Big Lessons is a good content marketing example of 2021.
Buffer's Small Business Big Lessons podcast is a great podcast example.

Secondly, episodes are short, which makes it easy to listen (or binge-listen) to them.

Finally, the podcast features a unique small business from a diverse background in each episode. This way, the focus is less on Buffer as a social media marketing tool and more on helping their audience win by tuning into others’ success stories.

Such valuable content that leverages storytelling is the hallmark of high-quality content that you should be creating.  

6. Checklist

Templates and checklists are common content marketing campaign material but this one’s a great content marketing example: the SEO content checklist.

It’s a brainchild of Aaron Orendorff, the VP of Marketing at Common Thread Collective. The checklist leverages video content (there’s a Loom video included to walk readers through using the checklist) and a readable format.

What’s interesting here, however, is the backstory and how Orendorff leveraged the reach.

Essentially, Orendorff created Twitter threads – a content format that’s gained a lot of popularity in 2021. And, his thread got immense reach:

Making the most of such an amazing response, Orendorff encouraged more reach before creating the checklist:

With their SEO content checklist, the team solves their potential customer's pain points. Most of all, it’s not content that was planned but something Orendorff created on demand. Having such flexibility in your editorial calendar is crucial for delivering great content to your audience.

💡 Learn more: How an editorial calendar can help you be more user-focused.

7. Lead magnet content  

Wistia’s Show Business Series is an exceptional example of using a video series for capturing links.

The lead magnet works because, firstly, it leverages video format – suitable to the brand and its audience. Secondly, it features experts for solving their target audience’s pain points.

Wistia's lead magnet, The Show Business Series, is a good content marketing example of 2021.
Wistia's Show Business Series is a good example of using video as a lead magnet.

What stands out, however, is that they’ve created a trailer (showcasing human faces) to capture their viewers’ interest – something worth copying. Plus, it only asks for their lead’s email, which removes friction from signing up.

💡 Pro tip: Use GatherContent to create a central library of all the different types of content such as infographics, landing page copy, and whitepapers you create. This way, everyone on your team can access and collaborate on all the content in one place.

Use GatherContent as a central library for all the content you create
Manage all your content production in one place using GatherContent.

8. Swipe file

A swipe file is a collection of proven examples that work in a particular category.

These could be anything from a swipe file of high-converting sales letters to social media posts or transactional emails such as one that Wonderment created.


Within 24 hours, the swipe file attracted 200 subscribers, reveals Deb Mukherjee.

The reason it worked so well? It provides what the e-commerce industry doesn’t have. This means the team found a content gap and filled it up with their swipe file.

9. Video content

Two great examples of video content marketing are that of this investing masterclass by WealthSimple and Dave Gerhardt’s When the CEO doesn't get marketing.

So what makes both a success?

The first one is great because it provides valuable information packaged in a helpful video format.

The second one takes a humorous approach – making fun of a common situation that the video’s audience often faces.

10. Blog posts

Any list of content marketing examples is incomplete without sharing blog content examples.

So, we’ve Backlinko’s blog posts here. Although they aren’t 2021-specific, the posts are perfect examples of readable, high-value blog posts.

These posts teach Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in an easy-to-digest manner, using simple language. Introductions are short and to-the-point with the rest of the content being fluff-free.

Another useful example is Ahref’s blog posts that deliver valuable information on SEO in a step-by-step manner with visual content aids such as screenshots. This makes them readable and easy to understand too.

The takeaway? Make sure your own content is readable, valuable, and thoroughly answers questions your readers have.  

11. Webinars

Clearscope has done a wonderful job leveraging webinars for its content marketing efforts.

They tackle topics that make content creation easier for their audience (providing value) and also naturally introduce their content optimization tool.

Other than the useful topics, two things help them win.

First is the consistency with which they host their webinars. And secondly, they invite micro-influencers in their space as their expert guests. This helps them tap into the influencers’ audience while giving the influencers a platform to share their insights.

With this, our list of content marketing examples comes to an end.

Whether you’re a thought leader, a startup, or an industry giant, use these examples as inspiration for creating a successful content marketing plan for 2022.

Good to Know: if you're looking for a new tool to manage your content marketing efforts in the new year, don’t forget to try GatherContent for free.

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About the author

Masooma Memon

Masooma Memon is a pizza-loving freelance writer for SaaS. When she’s not writing actionable blog posts or checking off tasks from her to-do list, she has her head buried in a fantasy novel or business book. Connect with her on Twitter.

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