When a company has a great understanding of its marketplace and has developed one or more buyer personas, the next step is to determine the best content formats and delivery channels for communicating with the targeted prospects. The following is an overview of some of the most common types of content marketer’s use, along with insight on which stages of the buyer journey where each format makes sense:
A company blog is typically attached to its website, and it includes articles on various topics of interest to targeted market segments or personas. As it is the best platform to consistently deliver fresh, diverse content, blogs play a crucial role in a long-term content strategy. This role is discussed in more depth shortly.
Case studies are stories about how a business has successfully delivered a solution to satisfy the needs of a given customer. A good case study analyzes the situation of the prospect that led to the buyer journey, and then outlines how the business worked with the person to evaluate needs, identify and implement the best solution.It also points to the benefits achieved by the customer after implementation. The goal is to demonstrate for prospective customers how their needs would be addressed in a similar situation.
More lengthy and in-depth than a blog, a whitepaper allows a brand to establish itself more as a thought leader, while also giving targeted prospects perspective on important factors to consider during the evaluation step of the buyer journey.
Similar to whitepapers, eBooks allow for more in-depth content on particular topics. They allow you to expand beyond the information you can provide in a typical blog post. Whitepapers and eBooks are routinely offered as download options for people who consume blog content and want more. You also have flexible to
distribute eBooks through off-site delivery platforms to expand your reach.
Video content continues to increase in consumption; it is one of the most common content types consumed on mobile devices. With videos, you can tell more intricate stories, bring them to life, optimize emotional appeals, establish credibility, and provide testimonials and demonstrations that support the value of your solutions.
In general, digital marketing places heavy emphasis on engagement. Among the content channels, social media offers the more effective methods for interacting directly with the marketplace. You can share your content, provide concise insights, participate in industry and brand-related conversations, and combat negative news and comments. A brand’s approach to leveraging social media for addressing negative views is critical to online reputation management.
Like video content, live-streaming and audio podcasts allow for more thorough explanation of benefits and enhanced storytelling relative to traditional communication forms. You can develop weekly, bi-weekly or monthly podcasts that relate to the interests of your audience, and establish your brand’s industry credibility.
A Webinar allows you to train your audience on a relevant topic or tool, including product tutorials. In addition to strengthening your industry authority, Webinars allow you to build rapport with the audience by assisting in their needs.
Whether a standalone piece in a social media post, or a feature embedded within other types of content, photos, images and infographics amplify content value by delivering appealing visualization.
Role of the Company Blog
Within the scope of content formats, company blogs deserve special attention. Over time, a blog is normally the heaviest platform for content development and distribution.
Blogs also play a significant role in your ongoing interaction and dialogue with the marketplace.
You provide the initial impetus in the conversation by providing tips, insights and information in the post, and readers can respond in comments to perpetuate the engagement. Sharing content on social media drives a multi-channel conversation.
Your blog is integral in your ability to leverage quality content to generate traffic through search engine optimization. Social sharing buttons on each post give opportunity to satisfied readers to share your content across their social media channels. This sharing attracts additional readers, and can indirectly influence your SEO success. When other people embed your article links within their own site content, the SEO benefits are more direct and impactful.
Rules for Online Content
Due to differences in consumption habits and marketing priorities, rules for creating quality online content are quite distinct relative to those applied in traditional media. The following rules apply in various content formats, but are particularly important to apply in your blog content:
A picture is not only worth a thousand words in online content, but it may also be worth 1,000 shares, $1,000 and much more. Pictures concisely convey the key messages of your typed content. They contribute to emotional appeal. They also break up the content, which helps drive interest from readers and longer on-page duration.
Make It Scannable
Arguably the most important online content rule is to make your content scannable. People move quickly through their online consumption or buying process, and often don’t read every word of your message. Thus, you want to offer an efficient scan, where readers can identify primary topics or sub points to review. The scan may create a domino effect where the reader does feel compelled to move through other sections.
Along with visual elements, subheadings contribute to scan ability. Subheadings break up sections of your content thesis into critical sub points. Readers may have keen interest in one or more secondary elements as opposed to the entire article. The next article on Search Engine Optimization addresses address the dual benefits of using Header Tags to create subheadings.
Craft a Compelling Introduction
Your introduction should offer a concise answer to the thesis of your content, an interesting anecdote or a relevant fact. The goals of the introduction are to quickly establish credibility, and to entice the reader to continue through the content.
Use a Conclusion
Most content pieces, especially blog posts, should have a clear conclusion. This component is used to concisely summarize the key points of the piece, along with presenting the call-to-action.
Create a Call-to-Action
Whether you operate a corporate, e-commerce, media or personal site, your content normally has a specific purpose. In general, that purpose usually includes motivating the reader to take a next step, such as downloading additional content, subscribing to your blog or emails, completing a questionnaire or making a purchase. A distinct and compelling CTA is vital to guiding people through the buying journey.
Bolding or underlining words and phrases, and using block quotes, are examples of a technique called markdowns. This tactic is used to call special attention to important words, phrases or statements. It may also influence SEO, as it conveys to Google and other search engines that the highlighted phrase is important.
As with journalistic writing, short paragraphs are necessary to keep readers interested and engaged with your content. It pushes the reader to continue from one paragraph to the next based on the limited additional consumption time required.