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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.

Why Your Links Should Never Say “Click Here”

472 LinkedIn Shares, 129 Referring Domains

I think this is the first time in the history of Detailed updates where I have used the same headline for my article as the case study that I’m discussing.

When I first read the headline I thought “This guy is trying too hard to be controversial” but when I dug deeper, the author – Anthony – actually makes a number of great points in his few hundred word article.

Though the post was published back in 2012, it’s still picking up links today, primarily because it still challenges a common habit that we all have.

And that’s really the key to today’s case study: Can you point out something that a lot of people in your industry do that they probably shouldn’t be doing?

Don’t just try to point something out that couldn’t be improved, but if you constantly find people making the same “mistake” over and over again, it could become the basis for an article that gets people talking.

To give a few examples of how this could be used:

  • Why You Should Never Start Keyword Research With Software
  • Why You Should Never Learn a Language By Purchasing a Dictionary
  • Why Teenage Sprinters Should Never Use Starting Blocks
  • Why You Should Never Tour a Country by Following a Travel Guidebook
  • Why Beginner Programmers Should Never Start with C++

Again, you really have to believe in what you’re saying rather than just saying it for the sake of controversy, but I’m sure you hold an unpopular belief that most people in your space wouldn’t agree with (at least on the surface).

Who knows, maybe you’ll even truly educate people with your content. I know I won’t just be writing ‘click here’ in my links anytime soon.

How 377 Words and 5 Images Resulted in 1.6 Million Facebook Likes

1.6 Million Facebook Likes

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, but it’s not the images in today’s case study – no matter how critical they were to the success of the piece – that I’m concerned about.

While the article in question was useful – How to Get Rid of a Headache in 5 Minutes Without Pills – I’m much more interested in the headline formula to go with it.

The structure is simple: You tell people how to achieve something important to them, and then you take away the most commonly expected answer to making it happen.

Let me give you a few examples earlier on in an update than normal to clarfiy what I’m talking about.

  • How to Improve Your Soccer Skills, Without Touching a Football
  • How to Bench Press More, Without Hitting the Gym
  • How to Become Fluent in French, Without Visiting France
  • Knock 10 Seconds Off Your 800m Time Without a Running Coach

While the article was helped by the fact that it’s on one of those ‘viral-news’ style sites that seem to go viral with any old update, I still think the headline formula is powerful enough that it can be used in even the most professional of applications.

Remember, the key is to offer the promise of something and then removing the most common solution that people would instantly think of in their head.

Doing that alone can get people to click on the headline of your article and share it with others.

Of course, as with any “headline formula” I share here on Detailed, be sure to back up the headline with actual useful information relating to your promise. Don’t claim you can improve someone’s French without them visiting France if you don’t actually have any tips or data to back up your claim.

Hey Designer Shows How Even The Simplest Ideas Can Pick Up Links

966 Backlinks

Though I’ve shared a number of content curation success stories on this site, it still surprises me how well it can work.

Hey Designer put together a separate blog-like page on their website which simply curates the best resources related to Flexbox — a framework for web designers.

Despite its simplicity, the page has picked up 966 links from some of the biggest sites in their niche like WebPageFX.com, Speckyboy.com and even the official site, CSSFlexbox.com.

If you’re in a niche that is saturated with content on the same topic, this could be your chance to not only add value, but stand out in your space as well.

The best part is that you can reach out to everyone you’ve linked to and let them know about the page as well.

Some other examples of how you could replicate this idea include:

  • A curated collection of the best keyword research resources (SEO)
  • A curated collection of the best guides on where to go in Japan (Travel / Tourism)
  • A curated collection of the best homebrewing beer guides (Drink / Lifestyle)
  • A curated collection of the best curated collections (Internet Marketing)

OK I’m joking with the last one. Maybe.

Keep the design clean and simple and be sure to include a solid number of sources so that your offering has more value and you have a greater number of webmasters to tell about it.

Detailed 3.0: A Slightly New Approach Starting From Next Week

I'm Getting There...Eventually

They say that if you aren’t making mistakes, you probably aren’t pushing yourself hard enough.

It’s fair to say that I’ve made a few mistakes in the short history that Detailed.com has been online. While I would have liked to have launched this site with the perfect ‘approach’ in mind, this daily project of mine has involved an absolutely huge learning curve.

You may know that Detailed started with the aim to become a daily blog and podcast on content marketing case studies that I constantly find each day. Even though there are now over 125 successful examples on this site, my spreadsheet of things to write about still has more than 300 rows in it.

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MacRumors’ Buyers Guide Has More Links Than Their Homepage for a Clever Reason

90,000 Backlinks / 3,830 Referring Domains

At first glance, the buyers guide on the popular Mac Rumors website looks like any other product review / recommendation page.

Yet, if you take the time to read the small print on their website, you’ll see it has an interesting twist: They tell you when the best times are to purchase (or ignore) Apple products.

I’ve never seen another site adopt this approach before and think it’s really interesting.

If you run a technology site or even an Amazon affiliate site (which are tough to build links to) then this could be the angle you’ve been waiting for.

How to Delight Your Audience By Telling Them to Give Up

61,000 'Claps' on Medium

I don’t mean this in some backwards way that you become successful because you no longer have any goals.

I mean literally giving up all of the distractions that stop you focusing on what you need to get done in order to become the best in your space at anything.

Today’s update was inspired by a Medium post which received over 61,000 claps (their version of Likes) and is the sixth most shared post on the website. Ever.

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The Ingenious Way This Bicycle eCom Store Got People Talking

Picking Up Links in Tough Industries

I’ll be honest: Today’s case study isn’t going to blow you away with how many links or social shares it picked up.

In fact, the example I’m about to share with you “only” picked up 67 links from 10 different websites, which is possibly the least successful piece of content marketing I’ve ever shared here.

That said, those 60 links were from some powerful and highly-relevant sites, and it’s never easy to get links to internal pages on an eCommerce store like they did.

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How to Combine This Idea + Your Niche to Pick Up Thousands of Backlinks

4,370 Backlinks / 1,450 Referring Domains

As you’ve likely seen time and time again with my updates here at Detailed, some of the most successful content marketing case studies are incredibly simple.

That rule rings true with todays example from Canva.com, who provide a tool that gives you suggestions on which fonts go well with any other font that you input.

If you don’t trust your own creative eye when it comes to web design, Canva help make sure your site has a clean look throughout.

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How to Copy the Success of The Best Article I Read Last Month

Hundreds of Tweets from 'Influencers'

The post is so new that I don’t have any impressive statistics to share, but I’ve saw a number of ‘big names’ posting this on Twitter (as did I) that I had to share it here.

The article is so good that I’m going to link to it right now so you don’t have to click that little grey external link icon if you so please.

It’s fair to say that the premise is simple, but not fair to say that writing the post was easy. Author, Will Hoekenga, put together an in-depth post highlighting the copy and design lessons you can learn from 13 years of Basecamp.com homepages.

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How to Attract 14,000 Facebook Shares By Comparing Two Similarly Priced Products

14,000 Facebook Shares / 136 Referring Domains

Links are great. They help with Google rankings, send traffic from the site that links to you and make you feel good about something that you’ve written.

They’re even better when they suddenly help you to start ranking for an additional 2,800 keywords in Google, for a single article.

That’s what happened this year when SLR Lounge decided to compare a $4K iMac versus a $4K custom made PC.

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This New Weather Side-Project Has Already Picked up 25,000 Backlinks

24,400 Backlinks / 370 Referring Domains

Who knew that a new website about raining would be drowning in link juice?

Terrible opening sentences aside, the side project I’m about to share with you is almost like a weather version of DownforEveryoneorJustMe.com which lets you know if a website is online or your internet is playing up.

IsItRaining.In let’s you – you guessed it – check any city to see if it’s currently raining in that area. Simply put a forward slash and type in a city name and you’ll get results for a particular area.

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It Seems Like Every Member of the ‘Blawg 100’ Is Happy to Link Back

161,000 Backlinks / 560 Referring Domains

I’ve been doing quite a lot of link building in the law / legal niches lately and there’s one thing I keep seeing over and over again: Websites linking back to ABA Journals list of the top 100 bloggers in the space.

If you click on the Awards category in the sidebar of this site you won’t be surprised to see how lucrative hosting awards for your industry can be, but this example is perhaps the most successful I’ve seen yet.

While “just” 560 websites link to this internal page on the ABAJournal.com website, because those sites link from every page of their site, it has amassed over 160,000 backlinks.

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I Purchased an $80 Plugin Today Because of Content Marketing

It's Easy to Forget Why We Do This

While I put in a lot of hours to make sure that Detailed updates highlight side projects, blog posts and tools that picked up a lot of traffic and links, it’s easy to forget what they’re all for: To make more sales.

There’s no point in getting tens of thousands of people to your website (like getting on the homepage of Reddit) if they aren’t actually going to purchase, subscribe, promote or at least bookmark your content for future reference.

Today I headed over to the Wordfence blog – a company I trust to secure my WordPress websites – for advice on managing WordPress backups.

As Detailed Pro begins to grow, I wanted to make sure we have multiple levels of backups (it’s not installed on the same place as Detailed.com) as our data is becoming increasingly valuable by the day.

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