As a marketer, the trajectory of your career is typically shaped by the direction of the marketplace. As technology develops and demands change, so must your strategies and approaches. And while this is true in any aspect of marketing, it’s particularly relevant when it comes to content marketing.
The Value of Content Marketing
Study after study consistently proves the value of content marketing, yet 70 percent of marketers lack a concrete or consistent content strategy. Why is this? Well, in most cases it’s a direct result of a lack of understanding. Marketers find it difficult to quantify the dollar and cent value of content marketing, so they choose to forgo it in exchange for paid strategies that are easier to track.
While there is certainly value in PPC advertising and paid media, the reality is that content marketing delivers longer lasting value. And unless you plan on going out of business in the next few months, any money you spend on content will ultimately trump the upfront benefit you glean from expensive paid advertising.
7 Types of Content to Focus On
Over the years, content has changed quite a bit. What worked in the early 2000s is no longer effective. If you want to be successful in 2016 and beyond, then you need to leverage what works and avoid what doesn’t. Here are the seven basic types of content you need to master.
1. Product Demonstration Videos
There’s no denying the power of video. Consumers are becoming more and more inclined to choose video over text-based content and marketers must shift their approaches to appease this demand.
There are a number of different types of video content – and we’ll discuss two in this article – but product demonstration videos are the most effective. This is especially true if you’re marketing a physical product. Over the past few years, we’ve seen brand after brand effectively leverage video with incredible results. If you want to be relevant in the coming months, get your foot in the door with product demo videos.
2. Brand Feature Videos
Another fantastic video format you need to master is the brand feature video. This is the video that describes the brand you’re marketing, who they are, and what they stand for. These videos typically feature a brief history of the company, testimonials from big clients, and future plans and aspirations. Brand feature videos are the perfect solution to modernizing the outdated “About Us” page that most websites have.
3. How-To Articles and Listicles
The how-to article has always been a favorite go-to for marketers, and will continue to be in the coming years. The reason how-to posts are so valuable is that they highlight a pertinent pain point and provide actionable advice on how readers can solve their problems.
It’s important to note that there is a specific structure you need to follow when constructing a how-to post. Begin by introducing the problem, briefly highlight the solution, discuss each step of the solution in detail, summarize the solution in light of the information previously laid out, and provide a brief conclusion with a call-to-action.
The next most popular blog post or article format is the listicle – hence, the title of the article you’re reading. According to research, the human brain is actually wired to love lists – so don’t expect this content format to ever disappear.
There are many different schools of thought on the topic of which numbers to use – some say even numbers, others say round numbers, etc. – but the basic rule of thumb is to focus less on the actual number of items in the list and more on the detailed content you provide.
4. Case Studies and White Papers
In certain industries, thought leadership-quality content is preferred. For example, B2B industries and highly technical niches generally prefer case studies and white papers over casual blog posts.
If you have the budget for case studies and white papers, these can be fantastic evergreen pieces that deliver value for a number of years. You can also use them to generate leads, as most people have come to expect to give their contact information in return for research-backed content.
The ability to create a relevant and well-timed infographic is a skill every marketer needs to have up their sleeve. While we may very well be past the peak of the infographic’s popularity, these visual masterpieces still have their place. When used sparingly, they can add tremendous value to your marketing efforts.
When producing infographics, make sure the audience is able to connect the graphic with the brand – otherwise, it’s a pointless investment. Include links for embedding and attributing the infographic at the bottom of the image to encourage sharing.
6. Social Media Content
Social media content is the sixth important content format you need to become proficient at using. When we say social media content, we’re referring to Facebook posts, well-timed Tweets, Pinterest pins, and Snapchat videos.
While you won’t be able to master all of these social platforms, you should aim to specialize in a few. Facebook and Twitter are probably the highest returning platforms at the moment, but Snapchat – and even Periscope – are on the rise.
Finally, don’t underestimate the value of eBooks. Not only are eBooks a great way to establish a brand’s thought leadership, but they also serve as an avenue for monetization and advertising. Consider publishing an eBook on an annual basis and you’ll find that it complements the other strategies you use throughout the year. HubSpot has a nice guide on how to write your first eBook.
Focus on the Content That Matters
Creating quality content is time-intensive and expensive. You can’t afford to waste your resources focusing on content that doesn’t resonate with your target audience. In 2016 and the coming years, these are the formats that are worth your time. Allow them to serve as the building blocks for the foundation of your marketing strategy and you’ll be in a position to experience healthy growth.