Within a series of different inbound marketing tactics, content marketing stands out for its complexity and variety of forms.
The only element which stays the same is the fact that we utilize unique and useful content to attract potential customers. But the kind of content that we offer and how and where we offer it can vary a lot.
We’ll start here by looking at what kind of content can be included in our content marketing strategy and then we’ll move on to see a few ways in which this content can be offered in a separate post.
What is meant by content?
Company websites used to be empty boxes which little by little were filled with information and promotional messages.
A standard company page was a mere display window of data and facts which revolved around one single subject: the company itself.
There was information about the products, the team, how to contact the company and a long list of advantages which should encourage clients to get in touch.
Pages used to include links which were primarily introduced to connect the website to the rest of the world wide web but all in all, they were only digital pamphlets filled with figures and slogans.
Little by little, also thanks to the policy adopted by main search engines, websites started to offer more and more information which is relevant and useful for potential customers and collaborators: digital content.
This content was connected to the products or services that the company offered and step by step it evolved into something a lot more complex that also included a lot more information which doesn’t necessarily need to be solely connected to the products companies sell but also to specific know-how related to the field in which the products are implemented, to complementary services and to the whole scope of application.
Soon companies and SEO strategists realised that inbound leads convert better than outbound, Content Marketing was implemented into websites.
A list of elements which can be used as content within our content marketing strategy
Blog Articles: That’s the easiest and most common form of content that your company might want to offer. These articles are exclusive posts that are collected in a company’s blog.
They should usually be relatively easy and short so that they can be digested quite quickly.
It should usually take maximum ten minutes to read a blog post and this should include links, pictures and a clear structure (bullet points, paragraphs…)
In order to run a successful blog, you should post more times a week, ideally every day and there are in turn several kinds of articles which could be generated.
Blog Content Examples
- Own blog posts vs. guest blog posts: Contacting an expert in your sector and asking them to write a post on a specific topic related to your industry might, in fact, add some variety.
- Product review/analysis: A post can also be specifically about a product or service.
- Opinion piece: Since a blog is a way your company communicates with existing and prospect customers, it’s okay to express opinions and show a clear personality.
- Lists: Lists of books, resources, applications, presentations, websites, events and conferences, courses, influencers….collecting aggregated sources of information is extremely useful and appreciated by customers.
- How-to posts: These how-to guides can be directly connected to our product or services or to a set of other skills related to the field of application.
- Case Studies: Success Stories, Projects, Events, Processes…we can tell stories and emphasize the elements which are connected to our services.
- FAQ: We can simply collect questions (through our own social media channels or through Q&A website) and create a post around that.
- Statistical Data: Lots of figures and data regarding the industry we operate in with charts, infographics, and tables.
- SAQ: Should Ask Question posts include all the questions which might have been contained in an FAQ posts, but that customers never actually asked.
- Guidelines: Share your knowledge with guidelines and expertise which should help your prospects understand and feel confident with topics connected to your sector. These posts are very useful in B2B areas and can also be a lot more specific and technical.
- Definitions: Educate your prospects and help them understand your jargon, the different components that create your business, all the elements that are included in your services.
- Solutions: Present a problem and describe a solution. A sort of how-to post specifically related to one single issue.
- Checklist: All you need to do/have/know in order to be successful in a specific area connected to the niche in which your leads operate.
- Research: Present a personal research on a specific topic. It’s time-consuming and sometimes expensive, but it’s worth the price since the article will be a one-of-a-kind experience for your readers. Be sure that all the data you present is reliable and objective!
- Interviews: You can interview experts in your sector or customers or even your own team.
- Comparisons: Similar to product reviews but placing two or more similar products next to each other. Be sure that these pieces of content are objective and useful.
- List of Experts’ tips: Collect all the tactics or opinions of experts in your sector in a post and present them in form of a list.
- Quotes: Similar to the previous point, you can also collect and present a list of quotes related to your industry.
- Personal Experience/Story: A distinctive post that tells a personal story related to your niche.
- Buyer’s guides: All you need to know to make an informed decision when buying a complementary product or service related to your own.
- A Day-In-The-Life posts: Share portraits and experiences of highly successful people in your sector or even your own employees!
- Inspirational Posts: Try to inspire and motivate your prospects with stories and ideas.
- Behind the scenes: Talk about things that people don’t know which happen behind the scenes in your own company or whole industry.
- Rant posts: Introducing negativity in your posts might be a little risky, but being bold sometimes pays off and people often relate to you when you complain about something.
- Seasonal and Holiday posts: You can create specific posts related to a specific occasion or event during the year.
- Off-Topic Posts: This might have some negative effect on SEO and such but if you have a loyal group of followers you can also try and entertain them with a completely unrelated post on something that can be revealing, shocking, funny or just unexpected…
- What-if posts: Create interesting scenarios (realistic or totally unrealistic) that can be useful to present specific dynamics within your industry.
- Humorous posts: You can use cartoons, satire, memes, parodies…make sure these posts match the personality of your company and that they’re suitable to present topics in your industry or you might not be perceived as a serious player.
- News: Cover pieces of news which are related to your sector and analyze the effects.
- Newsjacking: Connect the above pieces of news to your own content to boost visibility.
- Trends and Forecasts: Present a proper analysis of your industry.
- Best of: Create a list of best websites, ideas or practices that can be useful for your prospects.
- Time-saving Tips: Help your followers streamline their operations.
- Glossaries: Explain Terms and concepts related to your niche
There usually are no strict rules when it comes to length. But generally, as mentioned, short articles (between 700 and 2,000 words) are more accessible and enjoyable.
Although it must be said that, if the topic is particularly relevant, also longer posts work fine and really interested readers are happy to go through the whole text.
If you feel that you have more to say
If a blog post is not enough to contain all the information you’re willing to share with your prospects and existing customers you can also consider other options.
- Series posts: Creating a weekly or monthly series of articles on a single subject which can then be linked together. The reader themselves will then decide whether or not they’re interested in knowing more.
- White papers: These publications usually include 10 to 20 pages on a single topic and can also be generated by gathering different blog posts of a series. You can include research and analytics, forecasts and reviews. It’s the best way to show your customers that you’re an expert in your field.
- E-Books or booklets: You can also go as far as offering an entire e-book. In this case there is really no limit to how much information you can include in this form of content. A very generous and precious gift for our visitors!
- 101 Guides: Extremely succinct and straightforward guides for neophytes in your sector.
- Mobile Magazine: Instead of a booklet you can create a monthly magazine which can be accessed on your site or through a mobile app…you can create unique content for it or work on proper content curation and gather the best material you find online on a specific topic.
Other ways to present content
As we previously mentioned, blog articles and other publications MUST also include charts, graphs, tables, infographics, pictures and links as visual aids and support.
Text is very important because, besides representing useful content for our visitors it also represent a very good way to show search engines what we do, think and intend to offer.
But within our SEO strategy we can also include other forms of non-textual content.
- Podcasts: These audio presentations are extremely useful for customers and guests who might want to access content on the go. They can listen to our presentations while driving to work or jogging and they can always go back and take notes if some piece of information is particularly salient. Besides, you can also be so kind and also offer a transcript of the podcast to download.
- Videos/Vlog: A video post can be as short as a 10-second message which you can also broadcast on Instagram or Vine or a very long series of video presentations which replace a proper blog post.
- Slides: You can also create a deck of slides which treats an important topic related to your industry and in turn, every slide can contain lots of different aids (charts, tables, videos, audio….)
- Surveys and quizzes: You can ask your audience to be part of your own content by surveying them or you can simply ask them to take a quiz to analyze their own situation within a field related to your sector. Be sure that these elements are well designed and that the process is enjoyable. Quizzes can be educational (if analytical) or simply offer some form of entertainment.
- Cheat Sheets: Share tips, charts and shortcuts which can be useful to your customers. Everything they need to know in a single page that they might even want to print out and hang on their wall!
- Webinars: You can organize proper online seminars and interact in real time with you prospects by offering precious information while also being able to react to questions and offer solutions in a conversation. You can combine that with your eLearning resources such as eBooks and White Papers and offer an incredibly immersive and unique experience for your clients.
- Apps: You can also design and create apps that can be useful to your prospects. You don’t need to create a revolutionary solution…it’s not your core business. But maybe offer a free tool for solving an annoying daily problem which has something to do with the area of application of your product.
- Photo-galleries: Using pictures or GIF’s can generate a strong impact if you can find a way to present your services or products through images.
- Live-Streaming: Are you attending a particularly interesting industry event? Let your audience be part of it.
- Debates: Invite employees or external experts to debate on a topic related to your sector. Present the results in a blog post or in form of a video or podcast.
- Mini-tutorials: You can use video tutorials to explain functions and features of your own product or of other complementary products or services connected to your niche.
- Screencast: A simple version of the previously mentioned video tutorials. Show a trick or a shortcut that would make your customers’ life easier.
- Mindmaps: Create useful brainstorming ideas and represent difficult concepts in useful and friendly graphs.
- Microsites: Why not go as far as creating a whole new mini website dedicated to just one single topic or maybe designed to attract one single, specific segment?
- Templates: You can offer useful Excel spreadsheets or beautifully designed PowerPoint templates that your clients can customize and utilize for their own calculations or presentations.
- Icons or images: You can also offer free pictures or icons that your clients can download and implement in their own publications.
- Widgets and Tools: You can offer specific calculators or analytical tools which can be accessed on your site or even downloaded (and they can also become mobile applications.) Something similar to the interest rate calculators you find on real estate websites.
- Code snippets: Did you develop an interesting feature for a website or an open source program? Share the code and teach your clients how to implement it!
- Forums and Communities: Share a place on your site, where guests can interact with each other and with you.
- Frameworks: Create a proper framework which can be used as a basis for your readers and their own activities.
- Demos: Let users download and interact with your product or with parts of it.
- Freebies and Contests: You can create a long series of ideas connected to interactive activities and challenges which ultimately involve prizes and giveaways. Vyper.io is a great tool to create high converting contests.
- Fun Activities: Some companies (such as Pepsi) even created events such as scavenger hunts…try to be creative!
Still…don’t forget to present your own company and include promotional aspects
Of course, content must also include the classic antiques included in the standard internet pages of yore: information about who you are and what you offer.
And this can include:
- About Page: Make sure you write interesting and personal information about your company in your about page. Be specific and avoid jargon. Keep it simple and human!
- Mission/Manifesto: What is the mission of your company? What are your values? Why are you working in that sector? What makes you special? Why does the world need your company? What do you believe in? Be honest, coherent, consistent and genuine and present your company and its personality.
- Team: A company is made of people. Software and hardware resources are the same for every corporation. Ideas and skills are the only elements which make you special. As discussed, you can use interviews and profiles also as blog posts!
- Your Supply Chain: Present your collaborators, partners, and supporters. Show people where your products come from, how they’re conceived, designed, produced, distributed…generate trust by showing all the elements that add quality.
- Data and Facts: Think of it as a mini version of an annual report. Include thoughts and analysis, forecasts, and personal views. Transparency and an open policy always pay off.
- Project Showcase: Present projects and processes your organization is currently working on.
- Updates: News, ideas, people, projects, products…show people what’s going on in your company.
- Press Releases: Deliver news and updated in for of press releases to reach more people within your audience.
- Testimonials: And finally, let’s not forget how important it is to read what customers, cooperators or partners think about your company! That’s definitely one of the most important pieces of content that we need to present.
As you can see, a website is nothing but an empty box that we need to fill with precious information.
Variety is extremely important and we can all profit from different sources of content in order to create a unique experience for our visitors.