When you’re producing new content all the time, it can be easy to get stuck in a rut and find yourself churning out the same old thing time and again. For the sake of keeping your marketing campaign fresh and interesting for your readers, it’s important to take a step out of your comfort zone and try new ways of presenting information. What’s more, you want to be publishing the right information at the right time to the right lead, depending on where they are in the buying process (see Content Marketing Explained). For example, a written or video buying guide would work well for potential new customers who are on the fence, whereas a retargeting email is ideal for previous customers to encourage them back to your store.
If you want to mix things up – and perhaps you should, if you want to increase engagement and see those sales rolling in – here are seven different content formats you can use to get started.
1. ‘How to’ articles
‘How to’ content always goes down well, as it offers actionable, step-by-step information that will provide your audience with the ability to do something that they perhaps couldn’t do before. The best ‘how to’ articles are specific and to-the-point, and what’s more, they are ideal for creating evergreen content that won’t date too quickly on your site.
‘How to’ articles are usually written as a sequence of instructions, sometimes in a numbered list. Your ‘how to’ article should be easy to follow and include images to help the reader along, if possible. We like to accompany our ‘how tos’ with videos here at eMarketeer. Here are some examples of ‘how to’ articles we’ve written in the past:
- How to Successfully Host a Webinar and Build Your Audience
- How to Craft the Perfect Holiday Email
- How to Pick the Right Marketing Automation Tool
2. List articles (listicles)
Made popular by Buzzfeed, the ‘listicle’ is a type of short-form article that uses a list-type structure to hold the article together, but with enough content under each point to justify being called an article and not simply ‘a list’. A listicle is any article that appears as a list, and can include any number of points, from one to several hundred!
List articles are super popular on the web and some say they are over-used – but they are a perfectly good (and consumer-friendly) form of content, provided you are offering some genuine value for the reader. Writing a list article is not an excuse to be lazy with your writing – the opposite in fact. Many blogs now use them because the fact is, they work well online. A sure-fire way to spot a listicle is to look for numbers in the title. This article, it could be argued, is a mash-up of a ‘how to’ and a list article, in that it provides a ‘how to’ angle (How to mix it up) but also a numbered list (7 different content formats). Here are some of our previous lists – notice how they are all numbered:
- 6 Marketing Automation Mistakes
- 4 Email Marketing No-No’s (And How to Avoid Them)
- 15 Must Know Marketing Automation Stats
By combining graphics with text, infographics provide a visual representation of data that is far easier to absorb and digest than a solid page of writing. Infographics can be used for all sorts of topics and reach 54 percent more readers than blog posts (Source), which makes them a wise investment for your content marketing strategy.
Here’s an infographic that was created for eMarketeer about email authentication standards:
4. Courses and webinars
Have you thought about offering courses and webinars to open up your content marketing strategy? Courses can be offered online, via email, or even in person at offline events. This is a great way to build a community around your brand, as well as to impart information and grow your email list. Take what you know and use it to your advantage with slides and presentations that will bring value to your visitors and show a little of your company’s personality at the same time.
At the eMarketeer Academy we offer several pre-recorded webinars that allow our readers to catch up on past events and learn new skills. View our on-demand webinars here.
Of course, not all content has to be written or visual. Audio content, such as podcasts, is an increasingly popular form of content marketing. They’re easy to consume and inexpensive to produce. A podcast can be published as a standalone piece, or you can produce an entire series of episodes if you really want to go in-depth on a subject. This is a great way to keep your listeners coming back for more.
With a podcast, you can talk about what you like – almost anything goes, as long as it’s relevant. You might choose to discuss industry news, interview experts, or review a new online tool or piece of software. The same goes for video, which may be just like a podcast, but with the visual side as well. Podcasts can be published to a platform such as iTunes, or made available to play/download directly from your own website with the right app or plugin. Encourage your listeners to subscribe and let them know what’s coming up.
Customer testimonials have one great thing going for them – they establish trust. A short, positive customer review is worth a thousand branded words on just how great you are, because your visitors know you’re biased. Encourage happy customers to leave reviews by prompting them and even providing incentives, such as discount codes or free postage on their next order. Once you have five or six good reviews, that’s enough for its own page, and you can keep adding more as you go along.
Testimonials can be written of course, but why not consider photos and videos too? Video testimonials perform incredibly well, in fact, videos on landing pages can increase conversions by as much as 86% (Source). As always, variety works wonders. Check out Boast.io for more information on collecting video testimonials from customers.
7. SlideShare presentations
The clue’s in the name: SlideShare displays information in a presentation-style format. Using SlideShare is a great way to repurpose your old content, whether it’s an old presentation, a blog post, a report or a white paper. Often used by professionals to disseminate information on topics like leadership, design, social media and marketing, SlideShare is the world’s largest online community for sharing presentations and receives 500 percent more traffic from business owners than Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn (Source).
Here are some examples of top-performing presentations on SlideShare:
- How to Become a Thought Leader in Your Niche
- Visual Design with Data
- Hype vs. Reality: The AI Explainer
Content marketing inspo
If you’re looking for some inspiration for mixing up your business’s content marketing strategy, then you don’t have to look far. There are some digital companies doing great things right now, from stores to SaaS platforms. Take heed from the following examples of content marketing done right:
- Shopify – This SaaS company does virtually everything in the content marketing book. Alongside its popular blog, its resources include: guides, videos, podcasts, success stories, forums, tools, apps, and expert advice. What more could a budding ecommerce entrepreneur want?
- ASOS – This fashion and beauty brand regularly publishes content that appeals to its readership, from outfit inspiration to beauty tutorials. Therefore, the majority of the content that it publishes can naturally link to its product offering, which after all, is what content marketing is all about. Active on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, ASOS has nailed the mindset of its customers.
- Patagonia – Outdoor clothing brand Patagonia used its content marketing strategy to build a passionate community of brand evangelists who share its same values of social responsibility. Through its blog ‘The Cleanest Line’, its large social media following, its partnership with the Dirtbag Diaries podcast, and its compelling video marketing, Patagonia is a master at getting its message across
Of course, you are by no means limited to these seven forms of content marketing – these are just the tip of the iceberg! Experiment and see what works for your business, and what you can reasonably produce on-budget. You may want to try gamification, vlogging, newsjacking, live tweeting, expert Q&As and video problem-solvers. The trick is not to fall into the same old routine. There is always a fresh angle to explore. How will you keep your customers on their toes?