With the rise of digital media, people are finding, consuming, and sharing more content than ever. Many of them are looking for content to help them get ahead in life. Whether it’s achieving their professional goals, improving their personal relationships, or making better decisions about their health, lifestyle, and finances, people are constantly looking out for helpful and relevant content.
During recent years, this search has fuelled the incredible growth in content marketing. In this post, we look at the different types of helpful content that marketers should be producing to connect with their target customers.
What Is Content Marketing (and Why Do You Need Different Types of Content)?
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as a targeted marketing approach that primarily focuses on creating and distributing valuable and relevant content to help move prospects along the stages of the buyer’s journey — from the Awareness Stage to the Consideration Stage, and finally the Decision Stage.
Whereas traditional marketing calls for pitching your products and services to your customers, content marketing is geared toward providing informative and useful content as a way to help solve consumer problems. In other words, it’s more about them and less about your brand. By producing this type of content, businesses are able to build their audiences and attract more ideal customers.
So how can marketers like you produce relevant and helpful content? The first step is to identify your buyer persona.
The Buyer Persona
According to Hubspot, a buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer that’s based on market research and real data about your existing customers. A detailed buyer persona will help you determine how to focus your time, guide product development, and allow for alignment across the organization.
As a result, you will be able to attract the most valuable visitors, leads, and customers to your business. Creating a buyer persona is important for the following reason: In order to produce content that will pique the interest of your readers, you need to know who they are, what they’re looking for, how your brand can help them, and how you can reach them. To get started, feel free to use our effective buyer persona template.
Your Guide to Building a Buyer Persona
There’s more to creating a buyer persona than just filling in gaps on the fly. To map out the right buyer persona for your brand, you’ll need to gather pertinent client information, which. will help you create a buyer persona that perfectly resonates with your target clients’ demographic profile and consumer habits.
Some of the things you need to know about your ideal customers includes their background, their demographic profile, their challenges, their goals, and how and where they usually retrieve online information. You can follow these steps to create your buyer persona. By putting this information together, you will be able to create a content plan that will inform, educate, and get the attention of your ideal customers, and pitch the products and services of your brand as a possible solution.
Once you know what matters to your potential customers, the next step is the type of content you’ll produce for them. However, there is a myriad of content formats to choose from. Do you know what they are, and how they can benefit your strategy?
If you’re not quite sure what to produce, here’s a comprehensive list of 15 content marketing formats that lend themselves well to relevant and helpful content:
1) Blog Posts
Blogs are some of the most common content formats, and it’s easy to see why. A lot of marketers opt to include blogs in their content plans because these types of content are ideal for creating lead-generation opportunities, building and engaging your audience, and establishing an authority in your niche. If you’re into design, check out the top design blogs (and their best articles).
2) Long-Form Content
Long-form content or pillar articles are articles that have a word count of 1,200 to 2,000 or more. In the past, the standard for blog articles was fewer than 600 words. Now, as more marketers are using content to attract their prospects, the industry is seeing more benefits in producing longer articles, since this type of content creates more opportunities to inform and educate readers.
Another benefit of long-form content is that it tends to rank better in organic search results, especially in terms of competitive, informational searches. Here at our agency, we regularly develop long-form content for the purposes of both content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO).
Infographics are one of the best options for illustrating data or process-based information. It’s also more visually appealing since it breaks up the text. Without an infographic, it would be more difficult for the reader to see the relationship between the data and processes mentioned in the article.
Creating useful templates like calendars and worksheets provides your readers with the perfect starting points. And it saves them time, too, so it’s a quite valuable tool.
An eBook works well at establishing your credibility as a subject-matter expert. By producing eBooks, it will be easier to earn the confidence of your target customers, since it gives them a clearer picture of how much you know about the industry. In addition, eBooks are strategic ways to build email lists. Because potential customers perceive eBooks as valuable types of content, they would be willing to give you their contact details in exchange for copies of eBooks.
eBook – Image from Hubspot
6) White Papers
White papers are stark contrasts to eBooks. While an eBook is informative and educational, its structure is still on the casual side. Most eBooks are also heavily designed. On the other hand, whitepapers follow a more academic writing style. This type of content is more authoritative, detailed, and informative. Get started with creating a white paper by using our white paper template.
7) Case Studies
A case study presents a clear, in-depth narrative about how your brand was able to help solve your customer’s problems. It showcases the results of your products and services, thus convincing potential customers that your brand has value. Our case study template will help you to create your first impressive case study.
Case Study – Image from Zoho
8) Email Newsletters
An email newsletter is a way to nurture your leads and regularly promote your products and services. An email newsletter is sent to people who have previously subscribed to your email list. In other words, they have expressed some interest in your brand at some point. Regularly sending email newsletters could be a good way to cross-sell, upsell, and otherwise to reengage your prospects.
9) Email Courses
Email courses are tutorials offered to prospects who are interested in learning more about your product or service. It usually comes with a free trial that gives prospects a glimpse into what the tutorial is all about. If they’re interested in take the course, they need to sign up, which is how you’ll get their contact details. If you want to go one step further, you can also use dedicated software to create and sell online courses.
Email Course Sign Up – Image from ClientPortal
Checklists are short-content offers that prospects can use as guides. Usually, marketers post brief descriptions of the checklist and its advantages. The more useful your guide is, the more willing your prospects will be to share their contact details with you.
11) SlideShare Presentations
Some marketers share their SlideShare presentations to convert their readers into leads. By providing bullet points that highlight the value of the presentation, marketers are able to establish their credibility in their niche while generating the right kinds of leads.
SlideShare – Image from WordStream
12) Quora Posts
By posting on Quora, marketers can boost their authority, and more importantly, learn about their audience. And by engaging with their audience on Quora, marketers will have a clearer view of what readers deem important. Even better, posting on Quora drives more high-quality traffic to your website.
Quora Post by Filestage’s CEO Niklas
Your first few episodes may not generate a big audience, but as you establish your expertise in your niche, more prospects will listen in. Ask them to subscribe for more updates, so you can build your network and generate more leads. Interested in marketing? Check out the best 20 marketing podcasts for more inspiration.
Podcast – Image from Marketing School
14) YouTube Videos
You can use a variety of YouTube videos in your content marketing plan. They may include customer testimonials, educational videos, explainer videos, brand videos, and expert interview videos. The type of video you produce for your audience depends on various factors, such as your target audience, your niche, and the resources available to you. Filestage’s YouTube marketing tutorial will help you to create your first videos.
YouTube – Image from Measure School
15) Email Series
Think of an email series as long, information-heavy articles that are sent straight to your prospects’ inbox. The beauty of an email series is that this type of content is sent incrementally, so it won’t overwhelm the reader with too much information. Plus, if the readers are genuinely delighted with the content they’re getting from you, they would be more open to considering the products and services offered by your brand.
How to Fine-tune Your Strategy
Believe it or not, content is still king. But remember, you aren’t obligated to produce all of the types of content mentioned in this article. It’s more effective to use a strategic approach to decide which type of content best suits your brand. Important factors to consider are your writing style and the frequency with which you publish content.
To get everything on track, revisit the buyer’s journey, and make sure you’re offering content for each stage. Come up with a shortlist, and make further adjustments, based on the goals of your content marketing strategy, your buyer persona, and your niche. Consider creating a content calendar as well, which will help consistently guide your content strategy and keep your articles and content offers on schedule.
Is your content marketing strategy already in place? Of the types of content described in this article, which ones are you including in your current strategy? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment on this post.
Donald Chan is the Founder and Business Director at IMPACT! Brand Communications, a leading content marketing agency for Technology, B2B and Healthcare brands. He frequently shares his insights on the IMPACT! blog and also helps run several vibrant online communities for web and marketing professionals.