When it comes to marketing online, content is everything. It is what will set your company apart from competitors and also drive in converting leads through relevant online traffic.
According to one survey from CMI, 92% of marketers stated that their company views content as a highly important business asset.
One reason why content marketing is so effective is because there are numerous components that can be used to target and nurture visitors into customers.
B2B marketers, for example, tend to use email campaigns and educational content to nurture leads.
B2C entities use these methods too – with a stronger focus on additional content sources like storytelling, offers and incentives, as well as audience participation.
It is important to properly understand the different types of content so you can use them effectively for different campaigns – and help you better connect with audience segments.
The truth is that different customers will have their own content preferences.
According to one study, B2B buyers’ content preferences varied tremendously depending on which phase of the customer journey they were currently in.
Those in the beginning stages preferred informational content like infographics and podcasts, while later stage customers wanted concrete evidence from analyst reports and case studies.
The same goes for B2C consumers, too. They tend to utilize different kinds of content to fulfill their needs as they move through the sales funnel.
Clearly, it is crucial that your marketing team knows which content methods to utilize in order to properly nurture all of your audience segments.
So, let’s break down the basic types of content you commonly see today.
What Are the Types of Content?
1. Blog Posts/Articles
Perhaps the most dominant form of content on the web, blog posts, and articles have a great deal to offer your audience. Detailed written content can drive lots of organic traffic to your site, while also informing consumers about your products, brand, and expertise in the field.
Long-form pieces of content allow brands to match up with popular queries and searches that are relevant to their audience by answering questions or teaching concepts.
Additionally, blog sections are golden opportunities for keyword optimization and gaining inbound links, which dramatically helps with SEO and traffic growth. These types of online content allow writers to include multiple targeted keywords, especially long-tail ones, to increase link ratings on the SERPs.
According to the latest research from HubSpot, businesses that utilize blogs in content marketing specifically are 13 times more likely to increase their ROI. Another great thing about blogging is that it is quite easy to incorporate into most websites.
Blog posts are often used to drive in organic traffic by creating content that is relevant to their audience’s common searches. For instance, Harver offers a software program for hiring and recruiting, so their blog tends to focus on articles with advice on best practices.
Platforms like WordPress and Blogger can help you get started in building a following and driving traffic. But, you should also be publishing blog content on your own website for SEO. While blog posts and articles can be long, they tend to range anywhere between 300 to 2,000 words, with the optimal length being around 1,600.
2. White Papers, eBooks, and Reports
White papers, eBooks, and reports allow brands to extrapolate on their topics and incorporate more details. Typically, this type of content tends to be around 3,000 to 5,000 words in length – and is commonly downloadable as PDFs.
Long-form content has proven to be abundantly valuable to businesses of all kinds. Ultimately, the goal of this type of content is to promote an in-depth level of expertise and industry knowledge.
eBooks can boost your rankings for keywords while also collecting lead information and providing valuable insight for readers.
White papers and reports may take longer than blogs to develop, but statistics indicate that they’re incredibly effective at garnering people’s attention and establishing expertise in any content marketing distribution strategy.
According to Survey, about 79 percent of B2B buyers share white papers with colleagues, and eBooks can be shared thousands of times.
Podcasts weren’t a big deal a decade ago, but now, there are more than 29 million podcast episodes on the airwaves. Over half of American consumers have listened to at least one episode and 32% listen regularly.
According to this graph from Statista, it is estimated that there will be as many as 132 million podcast listeners by the year 2022!
This form of audio has grown rapidly over the past several years, and it’s a smart idea for businesses to jump on the bandwagon.
Podcasts are an engaging, personable tactic in which you can reach users – even people who don’t enjoy reading can learn about your products and brand ideas. Podcasts allow customers to consume content more passively. For example, they can listen to a podcast while at the gym or driving, but they couldn’t read an article and do these things.
Fortunately, there are plenty of content marketing distribution software solutions and platforms available to promote your podcast.
For example, the Penguin Random House is one of the leading publishing companies in the industry – but they noticed a shift as people were more interested in audiobooks and podcasts as opposed to printed content.
They launched their own podcast called “The Penguin Podcast”.
The content shares insightful interviews with popular authors. By utilizing this popular concept, Penguin Random House was actually able to increase their revenue as their listeners agreed that they were more likely to purchase a book from the publisher after listening to an episode on the author.
For our in-house podcast, The Marketing Microscope, We primarily cater towards B2B entities by focusing on marketing subjects. However, podcasts are just as relevant to B2C organizations.
4. Email Newsletter/Nurturing Campaigns
If your business consistently has new products, updates, or information to share with readers, a regular email newsletter is a “bread and butter” form of digital content delivery. And as you’ve seen from the previously mentioned reports, email content far and away has the best ROI of content used by both B2B and B2C organizations.
Emails are simple, concise, and generally short – making them pretty easy to create on a consistent basis. The key is to give your emails meaningful headlines so they don’t end up in the spam or trash folder.
Nurturing campaigns occur when you send a series of these emails out to your subscribers, then gather data about them to speed up the buying process and alter your content creation for the better. It is often best to create a trigger-based email system that will create semi-personalized email content based around user behavior.
For example, Salesforce often sends a follow-up email after a customer has interacted with their website and submitted their email address.
If the customer doesn’t respond, a follow-up letter then is automatically sent two weeks later.
This gives off a more personal vibe to their content – as opposed to a traditional “newsletter” approach. However, both types of emails are extremely popular and effective.
Did you know that 75 million people in the United States watch an online video every day?
The ease of use and accessibility of video over the past several years has made it a must-use form of content for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Mark Zuckerberg himself has even gone on record stating that he believes most online content will be video in the near future!
Take a look at how much time Americans usually spend watching various kinds of video platforms, including live television and social media apps.
Video has become an increasingly popular form of content production, mostly because people watch all kinds of media on their smartphones around the clock.
One reason why this content form is so popular is because it can also be consumed somewhat passively. Furthermore, you have a better chance of keeping a viewer’s attention with a 30-second video clip – as opposed to a long article they have to read.
Live video is another popular type of digital content that many brands are using to build engagement with their audience in real-time. And according to Facebook’s own research, people engage with live streams for three times as long as other content.
Many brands are jumping on the live stream train to host live tutorials or Q&A sessions that keep their audiences glued in. For example, Banish Beauty hosts weekly live streams with the CEO and other influencers to announce new products, show tutorials, or answer submitted questions.
We can expect to see this kind of media content distribution gain even more influence over the next few years.
6. Thought Leadership or POVs
People love hearing from experts. It gives them a source of information they can trust, no matter what subject or industry they’re researching.
To jump on the thought leadership train, you can conduct/publish interviews with leaders in the field to get advice and helpful information. You might even try to get some experts to do a guest post on your website here and there to give their point of view on the hot trends.
These interactions can be done in the form of a blog, podcast interview, video, or even a webinar – then shared through a variety of content distribution sites.
Infographics are great because they’re easily shareable and consumable. They create interesting visual representations of information and statistics, making them far easier to read than just a list of numbers and facts.
Readers love infographics because they often make concepts easier to understand and digest. In fact, consumers are thirty times more likely to fully consume a piece of content if it is an infographic – compared to one that is only written in text.
Content producers like them because they’re relatively quick to create but pack a powerful punch.
If lots of your content is based around facts and figures, turning these articles into visual content is a simple but highly effective way to drive in more interested traffic. There are numerous tools available to help you easily create content online, too. Visme.co is a great option, as well as PiktoChart and Canva.
Here’s a quick tutorial from Piktochart showing you just how easy it can be to create an impressive infographic with their software.
With these tools, all you really need to do is add the data you want to include, arrange it in an artful yet readable manner, then add it on your blog and/or social media profiles.
8. How-To Guides
As soon as you type the phrase “how to” into Google’s search box, the engine gives you countless suggestions. Google itself has found that queries including the phrase “how to” have increased by 140% over the past fifteen years.
Whether people are attempting to learn how to boil eggs for the first time or download a YouTube video, a comprehensive how-to guide can be extremely helpful.
Think about what people need to learn in your field and what kind of informative directions you can provide. If you play your cards right, you can create a how-to guide that goes viral within your industry.
How-to guides can be videos, long-form articles, or infographics. The most important aspect is that it is easy to understand, so including lots of visuals is usually a good route to take.
If you need inspiration on what to create, take a look at your customer service department’s most common inquiries. Help your customers troubleshoot issues by creating content that shows them step-by-step instructions to answer those FAQs.
Shopify does a great job of this on their own blog, with numerous guides to help entrepreneurs launch their online stores with the platform.
9. Social Media Posts
There is no question that every single business should be utilizing social media in some capacity. But using your social media platforms as content distribution networks isn’t enough; you should also be creating content that’s specific to your various channels.
Social media platforms are essentially turning into brand-focused search engines. 40% of consumers have used a social media site to research new businesses and products. Furthermore, consumers are more likely to purchase from brands who are active and engaging on their social accounts.
Many social channels have released new features that businesses can use to engage even more with their followers and speed up the sales cycle.
For instance, on Instagram and Snapchat, you can create stories or share live chats with your viewers. You can even include tools like polls or Q&A submissions to make things more interactive.
Social platforms are also making it easier than ever for customers to buy products directly through posts. Instagram now allows brands to embed direct product links on published posts as well as in their stories.
Other platforms like Pinterest and Facebook have similar offerings, too.
Remember, be sure not to keep your social content strictly promotional. Most users tend to find this behavior quite annoying and will most likely unfollow your account if you are only trying to sell them stuff. Instead, they prefer brands to be honest, friendly, and helpful.
Explore the various options on the social media platforms you use, then experiment with different kinds of content for your followers.
10. Case Studies and Client Profiles
Case studies and client profiles are more difficult to find on most business websites because they take a great deal of time and energy to create.
However, they also hold a substantial amount of weight with readers – they’re essentially success stories that show the power of your company and its services.
They are also extremely influential on B2B buyers. 79% of these consumers preferred case studies over any other type of content marketing – as they helped them make a more informed purchasing decision.
Creating this content does take time, and you will need to reach out to past customers and clients to make sure they are ok with you building a case study around them. You will also need concrete data to prove these results.
Remember that these do not always need to be long-form content either. Testimonial videos can also be extremely effective, like this case study video from Pioneer Business Systems featuring their clients at Elliot Lee Real Estate.
By researching and taking an in-depth look at a specific subject (most likely a positive story from your own body of work), your business can increase its trustworthiness and expertise in the eyes of users – backed with proven success.
The more specific results you can showcase and the deeper you can dive into your process; the more effective people will believe your company can be.
Webinars are another form of engaging content that can do wonders to educate customers. These are typically used by B2B organizations – as they tend to be quite factual.
Webinars have proven to be extremely effective for increasing marketing results, sales, and engagement rates. According to research from ClickMeeting, 76% of B2B buyers have made a purchase after watching a webinar.
Obviously, webinars need to be interesting and relevant to keep your audience engaged. The majority of viewers prefer webinars to last between thirty to forty-five minutes. Also, 92% of viewers want to interact through a live Q&A session at the end, so be sure to include this option.
Another smart tip here is to collaborate with other thought leaders in your industry to hear their expert opinion and provide exclusive content. For example, Kissmetrics created a webinar featuring the CEO of Mammoth Growth, who is an expert on marketing.
Good content has been (and always will be) the foundation of a successful marketing strategy. It is what will drive in customers through organic searches and work to turn those leads into paying customers.
Content is also highly controllable. It gives your business the opportunity to control the storyline and tell your customers why they should love your brand and buy your products.
In the past, marketers were far more limited in their options when it came to branded content. Nowadays, there are numerous options of which companies can pick and choose from to create their own marketing mix that fits best for their target market.
So, what kind of content will you be creating next?
Content creation and marketing has been our bread and butter since day one. If you need any help getting your content strategy moving, please reach out to our highly seasoned team!