Many businesses struggle with determining exactly what type of content to invest in, specifically what’s worth their time and money.
Videos, ebooks, white papers, and so on—the list seems endless.
So how do you choose?
If you’re unsure what kind of content is best for your business, look no further. Below, we’ll highlight 10 effective types of content marketing, and explain how each one benefits your business’s overarching content strategy.
But first, a quick refresher.
What is Content Marketing?
Companies that use content marketing strategies produce content to attract more readers, establish relationships with them, and drive sales through these relationships. This style of marketing isn’t anything new—it’s been around since long before the internet, in the days of print-only publications.
But now, given how saturated modern advertising has become, content marketing has transformed into an absolute must for any brand trying to stake a claim in the world today. To get your business out there, consider trying these 10 unbeatable types of content marketing.
Think blogs are just for online journaling?
Think again—blogs are among the most popular form of content marketing, and for good reason.
Businesses and individuals alike use them to cultivate their brand voice, connect with readers, and establish their expertise in a broader niche.
For an idea of how that might look, check out GoDaddy’s blog.
GoDaddy is known for its domain registration and web hosting services, but that doesn’t mean it only produces content about these topics. Instead, by publishing regular blog posts about marketing and web design, GoDaddy has established itself as an authority for aspiring small business owners and entrepreneurs.
Of course, it’s not just large corporations that benefit from having a blog. Many thought leaders and professionals rely on them as well to develop their own personal branding—think author Mark Manson and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss.
2. How-To Guides
How-to guides provide step-by-step information on how to do something. They tend to be long-form articles that cover a subject in great depth, making them perfect for establishing your expertise.
Moreover, they can be written on virtually any topic. Check out the following examples for some inspiration:
- How to Fix a Broken Diet
- The Science of Sleep: A Brief Guide on How to Sleep Better Every Night
- How to Land Your Dream Job (And Make More Money)
Of course, for optimal results, you’ll want to create guides relevant to your product/service and target audience.
To brainstorm ideas, try asking yourself: what do your buyers struggle with? What questions do they have related to your product or service?
Your guide should ultimately help readers understand how to achieve something; done well, it can generate significant traffic to your website. Many people refer to the internet when they want to learn how to do something, after all, so by creating well-optimized instructional guides, your site will benefit from driving more visitors to your site.
3. Expert Interviews
Expert interviews are as straightforward as they come.
Conducted with an influencer in your space, they’re a win-win form of content for both you and your interviewee. How so? Both parties benefit from gaining exposure to the other’s audience.
Of course, when looking for someone to interview, it’s important to identify an individual who is relevant to your users. Think: why should your audience care about their insight?
Interviews can be presented in various ways, too. These include:
- an embedded video or podcast interview
- a written transcript of a recorded interview
- a simple Q&A conducted via email
Check out these winning examples to see how you can incorporate an interview into your own content marketing strategy:
- “You Can Approach Life with Both Fierceness and Grace”: An Interview with Brené Brown
- Webmaster Ninja’s Interview with Tim Soulo of Ahrefs
- How Pat Flynn Lost His Job & Then Made $203,219.04 In His First Year Online
Videos are becoming an increasingly popular form of content marketing, and it’s no surprise. Many marketers agree video content has the best ROI because it provides an engaging and highly shareable way of delivering your message—making it perfect for enhancing brand awareness.
There’s no single way of creating effective video content, but more often than not, you’ll generally find it as:
- demos and tutorials
- product reviews
- educational webinars
- customer success stories and testimonials
- humorous skit
And there’s certainly room for overlap between these different types. Take a look at Squarespace’s video featuring actor Jeff Bridges for an example.
The video functions as a brief product demo in that Bridges explains how he used Squarespace to host his Sleeping Tapes project. However, this particular example happens to also double as a customer success story, as well as a celebrity endorsement. And with a CTA at the end, the video not only showcases Squarespace’s value to users, but it also invites them to check out Bridges’ album and build their own websites.
5. White Papers
Though some business leaders may write white papers off as having low ROI, white papers can enhance your content marketing strategy.
They’re packed with information meant to provide solutions to problems and expertise on a certain topic. And although white papers generally have a technical and scholarly connotation, they don’t need to be stuffy or academic; many include sleek designs and visuals rich with data.
Most importantly, publishing white papers can build your brand’s authority and help establish you as a thought leader in your industry. And besides educating your audience, you can advocate for a particular position or solution to an issue.
You can find an excellent example of this on the website of the environmental and sustainability publication Environmental Leader.
White papers don't come in just one shape or size. Find out the three types of white papers and how to use each of them in your content strategy.
Want to make eye-catching, shareable content?
Then consider creating an infographic.
In a study by Venngage, 40% of marketers named original images like infographics and illustrations as their best-performing visual content.
It’s no wonder—infographics effectively summarize the highlights of complicated material in a visually appealing way. Designed well, they drive more people to your site, and since they generally include your company’s branding, they also improve brand recognition.
Some infographics even go viral.
Case in point, Zero Cater’s Generation Z infographic.
This visual overview of the members of Generation Z has been shared over 33,500 times on Facebook. What’s more, the original landing page displaying the infographic encourages others to share it on their own websites by providing an embed code. This common feature of infographics makes them pack another punch for your website—a way of getting backlinks.
7. Case Studies
Case studies provide readers a detailed look at how your product or service can benefit them. Your goal is to target customers who are curious about your products and services, and want some evidence that you’ve helped people in their shoes before.
They’re typically formatted as follows:
- A summary or explanation of the problem or hypothesis you’re studying
- Your solution or approach
- Your results and what they mean for your target audience
Treat your case study like a blog post that pays special attention to “how” and “why” questions.
Unfortunately, many case studies fail to attract readers because they simply state the facts without providing a strong and engaging narrative. Remember that they should not bore the reader—instead, they must offer reasons why the reader should care about your business and its solutions.
To see what makes an effective case study, check out the following examples:
- How Shake Shack Flipped the Burger Restaurant: A Case Study
- Redesigning the Workout Experience — A UX Case Study
<div class="tip">If you’re still building your customer base, consider offering your product or service for free to a major brand or influencer. In return, you can ask for a case study, and use their audience and reputation to promote yourself. </div>
8. Email Newsletters
If you want people to visit your website, look at your content, and make a purchase, you’ll need to invite them to do so; simply waiting for people to stop by of their own volition won’t be enough.
This is where your content strategy could benefit from email newsletters.
Email newsletters are especially useful for strengthening relationships with customers and driving sales. In fact, email newsletters boast a fairly high ROI: every $1 spent on email marketing provides a return of $45-$50.
But sales aside, email newsletters help to:
- Generate repeat traffic to your website from potential customers
- Build authority on your niche subject
- Provide updates about your business, particularly those that will affect your customers, or when you have new products or services to offer
- Retain current customers by keeping them engaged
<div class="tip">With so many brands sending out newsletters these days, it may be difficult to separate yours from the crowd. Not to worry—here's how to make your newsletter stand out.</div>
9. Downloadable Content
Readers love downloadable content. That’s because this type of content serves as a concrete takeaway from your website; it can include images, spreadsheets, PDFs, or something else that your user can download and use.
That said, downloadable content has the most value when it’s relevant and meaningful to your readers.
For instance, check out our very own on-page SEO checklist.
We created this downloadable template for content marketing professionals looking to improve their sites’ SEO. Why offer it for free? Aside from goodwill and altruism, providing free downloads can increase your brand exposure and even help establish your authority in a space.
What’s more, this type of content doubles as an effective lead-capturing tool. Simply create a form that users must fill in and submit before they can access your freebie.
Think that downloadable goodies aren’t possible for your industry?
Get a little creative—there are plenty of ideas for downloadable content for every niche. Consider:
- Education - student worksheets, puzzles, mazes, and other activities
- Business/Finance - business letterheads, budgets, and invoicing templates
- Lifestyle & Health - recipe cards, meal planning calendars, and greeting cards
Ebooks are downloadable long-form content made for reading on computers, mobile devices, and ebook readers. You can think of them as longer how-to guides, as ebooks generally explain a topic in great depth.
And they’re a useful form of content marketing for several reasons:
- Monetization - Turn your ebooks into a passive stream of revenue by selling them on your website.
- Lead generation - As with downloadable content, you can gate your ebooks so that interested readers must provide their name and email before they can access them.
- Develop readership - As long as your ebooks are designed and written well, you can cultivate a strong base of readers that value your content and are eager for more.
- Build expertise - Producing ebooks about topics you’re well-versed in will showcase your knowledge and familiarity with them.
Given these benefits, it’s no wonder organizations like the Content Marketing Institute frequently publish ebooks.
If you’re planning on incorporating this type of content into your strategy, though, be sure your ebook provides real value to your readers. If its contents are overly salesy and promotional, readers will find your brand less reliable as a source of information.
<div class="tip">Intrigued by ebooks? Check out our ebook writing guide—it explains in more depth why ebooks can benefit your business, and also outlines eight steps for creating one.</div>
To continue growing your business’s online presence, you’ll need to take advantage of different types of content marketing. Yes, that’s right—you should mix and match different formats in your larger content marketing strategy.
This is because a diverse strategy can ultimately help you reach a broader audience. Not to mention, it can distinguish your brand from others.
So don’t feel limited to just one type of content—try your hand at a wide variety to increase your site’s traffic, gather leads, and push sales.
What kinds of content marketing are your favorites? Which do you find particularly challenging?
This point was originally published in May 2018.