Most business owners and marketers understand that content plays a huge part in the overall growth of the business. Based on a survey conducted by Content Marketing Institute (CMI), nine out of ten businesses consider content as a crucial business asset. This is because different types of content allow businesses to target and nurture potential customers into buyers.
Deciding what kind of content to use for marketing can be overwhelming. There are dozens of content marketing forms that marketers use and narrowing down the best content marketing formats will still leave you with a long list. Spending time and resources on a piece of content that does not deliver results is such a huge waste. And that's not something most businesses can afford.
But which types of content marketing actually work?
The Formula for Choosing Effective Types of Content
No matter how good your content is, it would be useless if it doesn't reach the right people. This is because not everyone in your target audience will relate to it. Different customers have their own preferences when it comes to different types of content marketing media.
A study conducted by Demand Gen revealed that customers prefer different types of content depending on where they are in the buyer's journey. Almost half of B2B buyers rely more on content to research and make purchase decisions and 64% of those at the top of the funnel prefer podcasts. 71% of those in the research phase also consume blog content and white papers.
Buyers in the middle of the sales funnel engage more with webinars and reports. On the other hand, case studies, peer recommendations, and assessments are the preferred source of information of customers who are in the later stages of the buyer's journey.
Clearly, it is important for your content marketing team to determine which content marketing mediums to utilize in order to effectively nurture all of your audience segments.
Importantly, you should never stick to a single type of content because you will only be limiting your reach. The best formula for deciding what kind of content to use for marketing is to understand where your customers are in the buyer's journey, and create content tailored to their needs. You will need a comprehensive marketing list for this purpose.
Best Content Marketing Formats That Really Work
To figure out which types of content for content marketing your target audience will engage with, let's look at the ROI of the different content marketing forms and how you can tailor it for your brand. We will also discuss how to optimize these pieces of content for higher engagement and rate of success.
1. Blog Posts
The first type of content on our list is the blog since it is the most dominant form of content on the web. Most websites have blogs and marketers have long figured out the benefits of publishing posts consistently.
Aside from educating your audience, having a blog can drive a substantial amount of organic traffic to your website while earning backlinks on the side. Long-form articles, in particular, allow businesses to match up with popular keywords and searches by answering questions or solving a problem.
Here are some of the benefits of maintaining a blog:
- According to Forbes, websites that run a blog have 434% more indexed pages than those that don’t.
- 97% of websites with blogs have more inbound links.
- Marketers that use blogs reported having 67% more leads.
- In the latest research from HubSpot, businesses that use blogs in their content marketing are 13 times more likely to boost their ROI.
Blog articles are golden opportunities for search engine optimization so make sure to include your keywords in the content. It helps dramatically with traffic growth and increases link ratings on the SERPs. Keep your word count above the average of 1236 words because most articles on the first page of Google have over 2000 words.
Organize your blog topics using a pillar or cluster model so that it remains focused and relevant. Blog posts are a powerful form of content that has been proven to produce positive results. Just make sure to maintain a consistent content calendar for your blog.
2. Long-form Content
There are different types of long-form content, but we're going to focus on white papers, ebooks, and reports. These types of content are considered useful by customers near the end of the buyer's journey. This means that these customers are really contemplating buying your product or availing your services, and they just need to confirm that what they're doing is correct. You can use white papers, ebooks, and reports to give them a little push.
Long-form content is usually made up of around 3000 to 5000 words, allowing brands to extrapolate on the topic and include more details. The goal of this type of content is to showcase in-depth industry knowledge and expertise.
Although ebooks and white papers might take longer to develop, the fact that they are able to sustain people's attention makes it all worthwhile. This type of content is also highly shareable, with up to 79% of B2B buyers sharing white papers and reports with their colleagues.
If you want to include long-form content into your content marketing strategy, choose a topic that would interest or help your audience while highlighting your expertise as well.
A couple of years ago, podcasts were not a big deal. But now, there are over 29 million podcasts being broadcasted today and it is expected to grow exponentially over the years.
If you haven't tried podcasting, then you're missing out on a huge opportunity to market your expertise and industry knowledge. The great thing about this form of content is that your readers don't have to read it. They just have to listen to the podcast while doing something else. In fact, the majority of podcast listeners prefer to listen while driving. It is a smart tactic to let your users consume your content passively.
You can feature interviews, discussions, analysis, and other insightful topics that would interest your listeners. You just need to choose a good podcasting platform and distribution software that would help you maximize your reach.
4. Email Newsletter for Lead Nurturing
If you think email is boring, then you're not using it right. Email delivers a strong ROI, with an average expected return of $42 for every $1 spent on marketing. It has one of the highest ROIs in the digital marketing industry.
Emails are simple, concise, and easy to set up — even on an everyday basis. All you need is your database and an email marketing platform, such as Mailchimp or ConstantContact. If you always have new products, events, or updates you want to share with your audience, sending out regular email newsletters can be very practical.
You can also use emails to run a nurturing campaign where you send a series of emails to your audience. These emails are designed to gather information from these customers to understand where they are in the buying process, and then alter the content depending on what level they have reached in the sales funnel. Launching a trigger-based email system also helps personalize your campaign according to the user behavior. For example, you can send a welcome email after a website visitor subscribed to your newsletter, then send a follow up email after a week if you did not get a reply.
- Here are some tips for an effective email marketing campaign:
- Use short but catchy headlines to get the attention of the readers.
- Use a legitimate business email with the same domain extension with your website to prevent the email from getting stashed to the spam folder.
- Include visual graphics in your email, such as photos, videos, and infographics.
- Optimize your emails for mobile devices, since that’s where most people check their emails nowadays.
Wyzowl’s 2020 report found that 89% of video marketers state that video gives them a good ROI and 87% say that it has helped increase traffic to their website. What makes video successful is the way consumers respond to video marketing. Did you know that people watch at least 16 hours of videos per week? And 84% of them have been convinced to buy the product or subscribe to the service by watching videos, leading to an increase in sales.
Video is one of the best content marketing formats right now and it is a smart strategy to incorporate this type of content into your content marketing plan. Here are some ideas you can try:
- Use video to showcase the features of your products
- Create an explainer video to introduce your brand
- Come up with video tutorials that show step-by-step instructions in using your products
- Gather testimonials from your customers in video format
- Shoot a live video of an event
Don’t forget to give your video a catchy headline and to optimize for video search. Yes, videos can also contribute to your SEO campaign by adding tags, optimizing the description, and inserting keywords in the text.
6. Thought Leadership
Which article would you believe: one that provides general information about a topic or one that came from an expert in the field? Of course, you’d choose the latter. People like hearing from experts because this source of information can be trusted, regardless of the subject or industry they’re in.
This can be a bit tricky if you are not an expert yourself, but you can conduct interviews with experts in the field to ask for advice and helpful information. For example, you can ask renowned doctors about their view on the new coronavirus vaccine and the possible dangers it might pose to the vaccinated people. Or you can ask people in the education sector about the long-term effects of distance learning.
All you need to do is decide on a relevant topic that you think people might be interested in, and come up with a list of experts you can reach out to. You can even try to get them to do a guest post on your website. Once you have your interview, you can then choose the content marketing mediums you want to use for publishing. It can be in the form of a blog, an interview, a video, or a webinar.
This form of visual content is highly shareable and consumable. They present information and statistics in a visually appealing and easily understandable format. And consumers love infographics because they make numbers and ideas easy to digest. In fact, 30% of people are more likely to consume information in this format compared to written text.
You don’t have to be a graphic designer to be able to create infographics. Here are some tools to help you design infographics in less than an hour:
- Mind the Graph
When you create infographics, here are some tips you should keep in mind:
- Keep your design simple and organized
- Make sure your data is understandable
- Refer to your content marketing playbook to keep your branding consistent
- Double-check your facts and make sure they are updated
- Don’t forget to include your sources
8. How-To Guides
When you type in “how to” into Google, the search engine comes up with a lot of suggestions. And the amount of queries that include this phrase has grown by 140% over the years. People are always looking for guides on how to do things. Whether they are learning how to fold origami or trying to cook an unfamiliar dish, how-to guides are extremely helpful.
So as a business, think about what consumers would want to learn in your field and what informative directions you can give. If you play your cards right, you can create a how-to guide that goes viral within your industry. How-to guides can be in the form of videos, infographics, or long-form articles. Just make sure to include lots of visuals to make the instructions easier to understand.
If you’re looking for inspiration on what to create, check your website’s Q&A or your customer service department’s most common inquiries. You can help your customers deal with issues by creating how-to guides that show the step-by-step instructions.
9. Social Media
There is no question about the power of social media, but are you using it to its capacity? Social media has become a brand-focused search engine, with four out of ten consumers researching businesses and products using this platform. Plus, consumers are more likely to buy from brands that are active on social media.
Social networks have also made it easier to buy products just by clicking on their posts. Instagram and Facebook are leading in this department, and the other platforms are quickly catching up.
Some tips when creating content for social media:
- Don’t be overly promotional.
- Include user-generated content in your content marketing plan.
- Create engaging content.
- Communicate and engage with your audience.
- Answer the consumer’s questions.
- Share different types of content marketing media.
Webinars are great for educating your customers and they are also highly engaging. This form is generally used by B2B brands because it is extremely effective in boosting marketing results, engagement rates, and sales. ClickMeeting reported that 76% of B2B buyers immediately made a purchase after watching a webinar.
Webinars should feature interesting topics that would bring value to the attendees. A good webinar session should last between 30 and 45 minutes, with a live Q&A session at the end to allow the viewers to ask their questions.
Are you using slides to promote your business or introduce it to investors? Why not use those presentations to improve brand awareness and gain more sales? Repurposing presentations for your content marketing is quite easy with SlideShare. It can help generate traffic, increase social media followers, and improve engagement.
To get started, simply upload a presentation and tag it using three keywords. You can also add it to your LinkedIn profile, which is SlideShare’s parent company, for more visibility.
This is one of the easiest content marketing forms to create and it is extremely popular. Checklists can be in the form of:
- Tip sheets
This social media content ideas cheat sheet is a good example of a useful checklist. Just extract the key points from any of your content, such as a blog post or a video, then lay them out as a checklist using Word or Google Doc. You can also use Canva to convert into a graphic and export as PDF.
Once you have decided the best content marketing formats you want to include in your marketing plan, you can then proceed to distribute your content using various platforms. Remember, you don’t have to stick to a type of content that the internet considers effective or your competitors are using. Go back to your target market, see where they are in the sales funnel, and create different types of content marketing to cover all segments. If you need help, reach out to us for a detailed content marketing discussion and we’d be happy to help.