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Content marketing case studies you can actually use. Updated daily.

142 case studies in 17 categories. Last updated Thursday, Nov 23rd.

Private SEO Case Studies: A New Addition to Detailed Pro I Think You’ll Love

$496,000 in Monthly Search Traffic

You’re probably sick of me talking about how many content marketing success stories I have sitting in a spreadsheet, waiting for me to cover them here at Detailed.

What I haven’t talked about is how much research goes into finding these success stories, and what I unintentionally find in the process.

You may have heard me say that researching content ideas for Detailed was actually great for Gaps.

Some of the online businesses I found in the process led to me writing two articles for the site

But that’s not all.

I’ve found an incredible number of websites that are dominating Google, seemingly out of nowhere, which are changing my entire outlook on SEO.

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Here’s What You Can Really See from Space (Hint: It’s Not the Great Wall of China)

923,000 Facebook Shares

You’ve likely heard that the only man-made object you can see from space is the Great Wall of China.

A friend of mine likes to point out to new people he meets that it’s a common misconception, and not actually true.

Google – visa NASA – says you can’t see it from the moon, so it’s a pretty popular myth that has traveled around the globe (just not higher than it).

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I Can Only Hope of Ever Building Something As Creative as GoodUI.org

43,000 Facebook Shares, 11,800 Backlinks

As soon as I set eyes on this website I knew it would have impressive numbers to go with it, even if it only consists of a single page.

I wasn’t wrong.

With over 43,100 shares on Facebook and links from 1,570 different websites, GoodUI.org is the epitome of what it takes to create something remarkable and be rewarded for your efforts.

What I’m even more impressed by is that they’ve elegantly integrated an opt-in form into the header and footer of the website, which assuming is their only form of lead generation, has brought them over 44,000 subscribers.

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The Lazy Person’s Guide to Writing Content That Attracts Links

That headline is quite appealing, isn’t it?

You can achieve a personal goal – new links and traffic to your website – by adopting the productivity levels of someone who doesn’t try very hard to get things done.

Our brains are hard-wired to look for shortcuts in order to achieve the same desired goal, and headlines that involve ‘lazy’ and ‘success’ are one way of tapping in to that.

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The Simple Dollar is Back With Another Twist Post That Brings in 43,000 Visitors Per Month

5,590 Backlinks, 723 Referring Domains

In the early days of Detailed I wrote about ‘twist posts’ and how good they are at picking up links.

If you missed my thoughts on the topic, here’s a quick summary: Twist posts are like list posts (’11 ways to do this’, ‘top 10 tips for that’) but much more in-depth and can involve hundreds of tips or suggestions.

If you haven’t yet put together a twist post for your site, consider this a reminder of such a simple yet powerful tactic.

How to Save Money: 100 Great Tips to Get You Started (link) is a post from Trent Hamm that goes into great detail offering money-saving advice for his readers.

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The Power of Revisiting Someone Else’s Predictions

No stats as it's only 24 hours old

Before I begin, I have to say that if you didn’t check out yesterday’s Gaps article, it’s one you’re not going to want to miss. I’m really proud of it and the feedback has been incredible so far.

As is often the case, even though I have a list of hundreds of things to write about here at Detailed, I tend to write about the freshest case study that I’ve found.

As the sub-heading for this article suggestions: I don’t have any stats for the particular case study I’m going to share with you as it’s only 24 hours old.

That said, a quick Google search will find you hundreds of examples that have followed the same ‘formula’ and picked up links and social shares.

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I Have Way Too Many Ideas to Replicate The Success of This Side Project

148,000 Facebook Likes, 1,450 Referring Domains

While I really liked yesterday’s case study, I did struggle to come up with some great ideas to replicate it.

That’s not the case with Tiii.me, a side project designed to quite simply let you know how long you spent binge watching something, or how long it will take to binge watch something.

The site went viral on Facebook and picked up links from almost 1,500 websites, so while it’s something I’m not sure people will keep coming back to, its fun enough from at least one use to share with others.

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This Simple Side-Project Averages 300,000 Pageviews Per Month

300,000 Monthly Pageviews, 333 Referring Domains

There are a few things that surprise me about today’s case study.

The first is that the site receives a lot of traffic for having links from a (relatively) small number of sites, and the second is that 67% of their traffic comes from search, when I thought direct would be the dominant source of visitors.

FontsinUse.com is the descriptive domain for a daily gallery of fonts being used in the real world.

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This Side Project for “Lazy” People Has Over 40,000 Backlinks

40,400 Backlinks / 1,860 Referring Domains

If Detailed isn’t your first introducing to my writing, you may be familiar with Gaps, where I once did a challenge to build a profitable startup in 28 days.

In my article revealing the niche I was tackling, I went into quite a lot of detail on the topic of ‘condensed learning‘ and the companies that were making a lot of money from it.

Today’s example – TOSDR.org (the DR stands for “Didn’t read”) – gives you something else in a more consensed format: The Terms of Service forms you agree to when you sign-up to popular websites.

While this side-project has no doubt succeeded because it provides a genuinely useful offering, in my last link I’ve shown they’re not the only site to have became hugely successful from condensing longer information.

  • Philosophers Notes condenses the best business books and reaches millions of people per month
  • BBC’s two-minute daily podcast recapping the news is one of their most popular
  • Blinkist is generating millions of dollars by making it easier for people to get the main points of a book
  • Youtube channels around animated book summaries are exploding in popularity

What is often produced in long-form content that you could condense for other people?

Books are a bit of a saturated market, and we know Terms of Service’s aren’t an option either.

I truly expect you to have better ideas than me of other ways to implement this, but a few thoughts off the top of my head:

  • 5-minute summaries of the best podcasts in your space (that typically go on for one hour or more)
  • 300 word briefs of the best political articles (e.g. New York Times 5,000+ word articles, summarised)
  • The key points of the best free eBooks in your niche
  • Rate restaurants by the first sentence of every single critics’ review

This one is a little more tricky for me as I remember struggling with it back when I started the case study. Funnily, my own version of summarising content proved to be a little too popular.

Hopefully in the niche you’re working in there’s some ‘obvious’ long-form content (whether that’s text, audio or video) that you think your audience would love to see produced in a more digestible way.

If so, you may be on to something special.

A Simple Reddit ‘Trick’ for When You Need Content Marketing Inspiration

The Power of Reddit

I’m slightly hesitant to write this article for two reasons. The first is that if you already know the ‘trick’, today’s update may feel a bit disappointing.

The second reason is because I have to admit that some days I have absolutely no idea what content to write for my own sites or my client sites that might get people talking.

To combat the first point, let me share another tip that you might not know about. If you add a ‘+’ to the end of a bit.ly link you can see how many clicks it received. I still find them being used a lot on Youtube and Twitter and I’m always curious how big and active someone’s reach really is.

For example, New York Times World (@nytimesworld) has a bit.ly link in their Twitter bio. If we add a ‘+’ to the end we get this, which shows that their profile link has been clicked over 17,000 times in October alone.

Getting back on topic…

Yesterday I was struggling to come up with some good content ideas in the automotive niche, and going through my usual tools of Ahrefs and BuzzSumo didn’t really give me much inspiration.

Fortunately, Reddit quickly came to the rescue. Or more specifically, Reddit’s ability to show you the most shared content from any domain, in any sub-Reddit.

As I was looking for inspiration in the automotive niche, I decided to check the top posts from Car Throttle.com (I once interviewed their founder).

All I did was go to Reddit.com/domain/carthrottle.com and then I could instantly see the most shared posts from their site in any sub-Reddit.

To take it a step further, you can click on ‘Top’ and then ‘All Time’ to rank them by popularity. If you would like the URL, it looks like this: https://www.reddit.com/domain/carthrottle.com/top/?sort=top&t=all

You can do this for literally any website and likely find some good content inspiration (unless the site is really new).

This little trick is also useful for finding sub-Reddit’s that might be interested in your content as well if you’re looking for more traffic.

Sorry if this wasn’t new to you, but I really hope you enjoy it if it was.

Either way, Happy Halloween!

The Power of Literally Asking People to Judge a Book by its Cover

11,100 Facebook Likes / 193 Referring Domains

I had to place today’s case study in the ‘Favorites’ category as there are just so many possible applications of this idea.

Play Judgey allows you to do what your teachers and parents advised against: Literally judge a book by its cover.

With a sliding scale star-rating system, you’re presented with the cover of a book and have to see how close you can get that to the overall ratings of the actual book contents.

At first I didn’t really get the concept. I thought I was judging the cover of a book rather than the book itself.

Then when I started to play I realised why this game has become so viral: You are seeing whether you can predict whether the topic of the book resonated with its readers.

It’s actually quite addictive, and it also opens the doors to a lot of similar ideas.

Some other applications of this I could see working well include:

  • Showing a picture of a car and guessing its top speed
  • Showing a picture of a celebrity and guessing their age
  • Showing a DVD cover and guessing the IMDB rating of the movie
  • Showing a picture of a painting and guessing if it’s from a child or a professional artist

I realise I may be a little cruel with that last one but I think that’s something that could definitely go viral.

While I accept my suggestions slightly miss the point of the original idea, I think a fun twist on this concept would be to not focus on comparing your answers to the real answer, but to compare your guess to everyone else’s guesses.

That way you can either try to predict what other people would have entered, or just submit your true feelings and see how close you were to the average.

The Best Newsletter I’ve Seen in a Really Long Time

7,900 'Claps' on Medium

Today my friend Jesse shared on Twitter one of the best newsletters I’ve seen in a really long-time. The site barely has 30 words on it yet I signed-up instantly.

While his recommendation no doubt holds a lot of weight to me, I honestly believe I would have signed up just as fast without it.

The site is barely 100 words but their focus is clear: They’ll show you before and after case studies of how some of the world’s biggest websites could look with just a few simple UI changes.

The graphic on the homepage (shown above) really sold me on the concept.

What’s really smart is that their newsletter updates send you straight to Medium, which tends to boost post which pick up external traffic, helping the Refactoring UI developers reach more of the tens of millions of people who find themselves on Medium each month.

Here’s the first article they’ll send you after joining which went viral on Medium.

Not long ago I shared one the best articles I’ve read in a whole – primarily because it broke down concepts in a really smart way – and this almost seems to be the newsletter equivalent of that.

I already know how powerful offering reviews and feedback are (I’ve raised over $2,500 for charity with mine) but I never thought of turning those reviews into documented guides that anyone can follow and learn from.

I didn’t sign-up to the newsletter to become some kind of design god that can charge clients thousands of dollars (I would hate to offer web design as a service) but instead to pick up simple tips to improve my own website.

Is there some angle in here that you could use to offer your own readers?

If you have a running blog, could you analyse people’s running styles on video and recommend changes?

If you’re a top photographer, could you offer critiques of how people could have framed or composed their shots better?

If you’re a great copywriter, could you break down some of the best articles in any niche and show how they could have been ‘tidied up’?

The most popular posts on Detailed tend to be the ones that make me the most excited to replicate them for my own projects, so I hope you have a few sparks firing in your brain over the weekend, because I know I’m going to be taking action with this one.

P.S. We’ve just had our plugin approved by WordPress (after two disapprovals) so I’m happy to say that Gaps will be coming back really soon. Thank you for your patience!

Collect 10X More Emails and Empower Your Subscribers with a Private Challenge

2,100 Facebook Likes / 149 Referring Domains

No matter what you think of ‘I Will Teach You To Be Rich’ founder Ramit Sethi, there’s no denying that he knows how to create content that get people talking.

I could probably write 10 different Detailed updates from his blog alone, but today I want to focus on an ingenius idea he had for a squeeze page: A challenge for his readers to save $1,000 in the next week.

As you probably know, email subscribers are incredibly valuable to have (that’s why every site asks for your email address) and starting a challenge with your audience is a great opportunity to help grow them.

I have a feeling that Ramit’s challenge is completely automated these days since it’s ‘starting’ in three days yet has been around forever, but that doesn’t take away from the concept. In fact, it probably makes it more enticing as it’s something you can keep running continously.

While the page has picked up a respectable number of links and likes, I’m sure Ramit is more concerned with how many people it brings into his community and how empowering them with such a relevant concept is a sure-fire way to make people stick around.

What’s something you could challenge your audience to achieve in one week or one month?

Lose 10 lbs? Write 10 words per minute quicker? Bench press 30lbs more? Land their dream job interview? Get a raise?

Whatever your answer, instead of turning your advice into a blog post, why not map out a week of email updates that give people concrete, step-by-step tips they can use to make it happen.

If you use an email marketing service like Drip or ConvertKit, you can also automate the entire thing so every week (or month) the challenge ‘starts again’ for a whole new batch of readers.

I really like the idea behind this one so don’t be surprised to see me starting an SEO or content marketing challenge pretty soon 😉

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