Here’s an interesting stat straight out of 2022 for you: Nearly 60% of companies surveyed by Semrush report having a formal content marketing strategy. If that number surprises you, it’s important to understand how content marketing gives you almost endless opportunities to connect with audience members and move them deeper into your sales funnel. But what types of content marketing should you be using?
The best answer is, as many as possible. Whether it’s for the purpose of reaching different people with varying interests or simply creating a well-rounded experience for the same end consumer, it’s important to diversify. Instead of betting the house on your podcast or focusing exclusively on blog content, make sure your content strategy includes several tried-and-true methods of attracting visitors to your website, generating leads, and turning those leads into paying customers.
Here at The CMO, we’re all about providing the information you need to drive business growth and accelerate your marketing career. So, we put together this content marketing guide to help you understand what your digital marketing team should be doing to engage potential customers and put them at ease.
Types of Content Marketing
According to documentation, blogging has been around since 1994, but don’t let its age fool you—this type of content marketing is hardly outdated. Small businesses and Fortune 100 companies alike still use blog posts to improve their search engine rankings, increase their conversion rates and build strong relationships with customers.
If you want to succeed at blogging, follow these tips:
- Aim to have every post speak to a narrow segment of your audience. It’s tempting to create content aimed at multiple groups of people, but this can dilute your message. Instead of writing for a broad audience, have a specific audience segment in mind when you write each post.
- Format your long-form content so it’s easy to read. That means using plenty of subheadings, bullets, and numbered lists. Be sure to also break up paragraphs into smaller chunks so there’s plenty of white space.
- Be original. Unless you offer something truly unique, such as custom clothing for ceramic garden gnomes, you’re probably competing against dozens of other businesses. Use your blog to show potential customers why your company is different.
Long before we had thousands of digital marketing tools at our disposal, a wise person said, “the money is in the list.” That saying still holds true today. If potential customers trust you enough to give you their email addresses, you can build an email list that helps you generate even more revenue.
Remember, your content always needs to be relevant to your target audience. To increase your open rate, make sure every edition of your newsletter contains valuable information that isn’t just a rehash of what everyone else is saying, or what you've said before. Better yet, don’t give all of the magic away in the subject line–make them need to click inside for the details.
Encountering writer’s block? Here are five ways to use your email newsletter as an effective marketing tool:
- Publish a profile of one of your customers. Think of this profile as a mini case study or testimonial that explains how a customer benefited from using one of your products or services.
- Give visitors an inside look at what happens behind the scenes at your company.
- Send out an announcement when you launch a new product or service.
- Make customers aware of important deadlines. If customers need to order by December 10 to guarantee delivery by Christmas, for example, give them as much notice as possible.
- Share exclusive discounts, contests or early access to sales that are only available to those on the list.
Social media isn’t just for millennials anymore. It’s one of the first places potential customers look for information about a business—and more and more often, it’s also where they go for customer service. If your company isn’t doing any social media marketing, you’re missing out on an opportunity to connect with people who might become loyal customers.
If you don’t have a social media presence, consider creating profiles on the following networks:
- Facebook: With nearly 3 billion monthly active users, Facebook is one of the largest social media platforms. You should also know that men make up more than 56% of the platform’s user base.
- Instagram: The majority of Instagram users fall between the ages of 18 and 34. If you sell a product or service aimed at younger people, consider signing up for an Instagram account.
- Pinterest: Women make up nearly 77% of Pinterest’s user base, making the beauty and style categories extremely popular. Pinterest is also a good place to post about home renovation, health and wellness, travel, and food and drink.
- YouTube: YouTube isn’t just a website filled with videos—it’s an extremely powerful social media platform. Best of all, more than half of all millennials report that they use YouTube to discover new products.
- LinkedIn: Well-suited for promoting B2B products and services, LinkedIn was designed for professional networking. The platform also has more than 200 million members.
- Twitter: Despite all the recent controversy, Twitter is still useful for connecting with potential customers and increasing brand awareness. You can use the platform to share announcements, promote your products or services, and answer questions about your business. The site has more than 41 million daily active users.
Once you set up your accounts, make sure you create in-depth profiles to help users understand what you offer. If you operate a brick-and-mortar business, post your hours of operation, physical address, and directions to help potential customers find you.
Many companies shy away from producing videos, but this form of content is one of the most effective, so it should be part of your content marketing strategy. In January 2022, Hubspot released survey results indicating that 86% of marketers reported video content helps them generate leads.
One of the main benefits of using video is that you can pack a lot of content into a single clip. If you struggle to write long-form content, video makes it easier to convey the same message in much less time. Here are a few ideas to get you started with video marketing if it’s not something you’re already doing:
- Demonstrate a new product or show off one of its features.
- Interview a customer about how using your product or service has helped them.
- Post videos of customers enjoying your products.
- Publish a Q&A video about one of your most popular offerings.
- Take customers on a tour of your office or manufacturing facility.
In 2021, more than 120 million people in the United States were listening to podcasts. Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and other apps make it easy to deliver your message to hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people. As an added benefit, you can turn a podcast episode into a transcript or summarize it in a video, giving you more bang for your buck when it comes to content creation.
When you think of creating a podcast episode, does your mind go blank? Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Create an audio advice column. When audience members call in to ask questions about your industry, you can provide detailed answers that demonstrate your expertise and help you build trust.
- Interview the CEO of your company about a new industry trend.
- Do a Q&A session with several industry professionals.
- Interview a client to find out why they chose your company or how their relationship with your company has helped them.
- Do live reports from industry events.
Infographics combine graphics with a limited amount of text, making it easier to communicate with audience members about complex topics. It’s common to see infographics with pie charts and line graphs in them, but you can also use photos, clip art, and other design elements to get your message across.
This type of content is especially helpful for summarizing data, introducing a topic, distilling long form content into a few key points, or comparing multiple product options. If you’re not using infographics, or you’re not using them to their full potential, try at least one of these ideas within the next week or two.
- Create a checklist or a step-by-step guide to completing a task.
- Release a small collection of memes or inspirational quotes.
- Open with a quote from an influencer in your industry and then follow up with a bulleted or numbered list of key points about the topic.
- Summarize your latest case study or white paper.
- Show how your product stacks up against the competition.
- Share some of the most important takeaways from your most recent survey.
For B2B marketers, one of the most effective types of quality content is the humble white paper. On the surface, a white paper looks like a detailed report about a topic of interest to your audience. Underneath, it’s a secret weapon for positioning your company as a leader in its industry. White papers are chock-full of useful information that helps readers understand a complex issue or identify potential solutions for their current problems.
Your white papers should contain the following components:
- Attractive title page
- Table of contents
- Executive summary
- Discussion of a problem
- Potential solutions to the problem
- Examples of companies that used those solutions
- Short conclusion
A white paper should also be well-researched and as detailed as possible. B2B customers don’t want surface-level summaries; they want information that can help them ease pain points and solve their problems.
If your company sells B2B products or services, case studies should also be part of your inbound marketing campaigns. A case study tells a story about how a company implemented a product, service, process, system, or best practice. The key to using this type of content successfully is to use the story to persuade readers that your product or service is the best fit for their needs.
Case studies have many uses in the marketing world:
- Introducing new offerings
- Generating new leads
- Positioning your company as an industry leader
- Showing that your products or services work as advertised
- Increasing brand awareness
- Making it easier for your sales team to upsell to existing customers
- Retaining your most valuable customers
Like your other marketing efforts, case studies must be relevant to the target audience. Generally, case studies are written for mid-level managers, department heads, and company executives, as they have the most decision-making authority. Although customer service agents are important, they typically aren’t involved in the purchasing process, so it wouldn’t make sense to write a case study with an entry-level customer service agent in mind.
To create a high-quality case study, you need to conduct an in-depth interview with one of your customers. Here’s a list of questions to help you gather the information you need:
- What challenges were you experiencing before you started using our product/service?
- Why did you decide to buy from us instead of another competitor?
- What product features have helped your company the most?
- How many team members use the product/service?
- Do you use the product/service in every department?
- How would you describe the implementation process?
When you launch a new marketing campaign, you need somewhere to send all that traffic. Enter the landing page. A landing page is where a visitor goes once they click a link to your website, whether the link is in one of your social media posts or on a video review of your company’s latest product.
Landing pages are separate from the main navigational pages on your site, as their purpose is to persuade visitors to take a desired action. The CTA might be to download a free report, schedule a consultation, or subscribe to an email newsletter. Separating your landing pages from other types of content can help you increase your conversion rate.
Webinars blend everything you love about live events with the ability to connect with audience members from the comfort of your office. On a live webinar, audience members can listen to your presentation and engage by asking questions or sharing their experiences with the topic. It’s also possible to provide handouts and other resources, making webinars one of the most valuable forms of content.
Successful webinars typically have one clear objective. Rather than providing a narrow overview of a broad topic, niche down to provide audience members with highly relevant content. Something like “7 Tips for Generating More Leads on Facebook” works better than “An Overview of Social Media Marketing.”
This type of content is especially effective for lead generation, but you can also use webinars for increasing brand awareness, delivering customer training, or building rapport with potential customers.
The Benefits of Using Different Types of Content Marketing
Done right, your content marketing efforts give you access to a variety of benefits:
Improved Page Rankings
Content marketing has many benefits for search engine optimization (SEO), including opportunities to build backlinks to your website. Because valuable content serves as a quality signal for Google and other search engines, content marketing can also help you build a reputation as an industry thought leader.
The best content is highly shareable; in other words, people want to email it to their colleagues or share it with their friends on social media. This can help you connect with new audiences, increasing your company’s market share. To grow your audience even more, try publishing interactive content, such as quizzes, calculators, or image sliders.
Better Lead Quality
When you create content with a specific audience in mind, it’s easier to attract leads who have a genuine interest in your products or services. It’s as simple as that.
Publishing multiple types of content positions you as a thought leader, or someone with expert insight into a particular topic. As a result, people see your company as a relevant source of information.
Increased Brand Awareness
The more content you publish, the more opportunities potential customers have to come across your brand, increasing awareness about your offerings.
The term social proof sounds complex, but all it means is that people tend to copy each other when performing certain actions, such as buying a product or service. Testimonials, reviews, case studies, and other types of content can give you plenty of social proof to persuade potential customers that they should buy from you.
Creating Relevant Content for Your Brand
Know Your Target Audience
To succeed with content marketing, you need to know your target audience like the back of your hand. Find out as much as you can about them, such as where they live, what problems they have, and how much they’re willing to spend on solutions. Once you have this information, find out what publications they read, what shows they watch, and whether they prefer a formal or conversational writing style.
Consider the Purpose
Before you write a single word or record even a second of audio or video, you need to have a purpose in mind. Here are just a few of the reasons you might need to create new content:
- You want to share information about a product or service.
- You need to educate audience members on an important topic.
- You want someone to visit a landing page on your website.
- You want readers to sign up for free demos when they’re finished reading your latest newsletter.
- You want to add more visual content to your website to connect with people who don’t necessarily have time to read long articles and blog posts.
- You want to improve your site’s page rankings.
Tracking Metrics for your Content Marketing
Whether you want to monitor your email marketing open and click-through rates or find out how many people are following your company on social media, there are many marketing tools available to help you track key performance indicators. Use them to keep an eye on the following KPIs:
- Page views
- Bounce rate
- Social shares
- Subscriber growth
- Inbound links
- Cost per lead
- Click-through rate (CTR)
- Number of form responses submitted
- Number of case studies/white papers/e-books/reports downloaded
- Conversion rate
- Revenue generated
- Leads generated
Optimizing Your Content Marketing
Don’t be afraid to try new types of content marketing or experiment with the formats you’re already using. Remember, diversity is key. For example, you may want to consider adding user-generated content to your site or creating a set of templates and using it as a lead magnet.
It’s also wise to repurpose your existing content. As we mentioned earlier, you can easily turn an audio podcast into a written transcript or a video script, allowing you to reach different audience members with the same information. You can even turn webinar or podcast transcripts into thought leadership pieces; just have a skilled writer turn the transcript into a compelling story.
Go Forth and Implement Your Content Marketing Strategy
At The CMO, we’re cheering you on as you ramp up your content marketing efforts and seek to diversify your marketing strategy. Sign up for our newsletter to get even more tips on producing high-quality content that gets results.