How & When to Use 9 Different Content Types

   Image via   Unsplash

Image via Unsplash

This post was written by Boston Content committee member Juliana Casale, content marketing manager at Nanigans. Follow her, @attackofthetext.


Whether you’re being asked to drive leads, establish thought leadership in your vertical, or raise brand awareness through content marketing, there’s an asset that can help. The key is knowing which content type is appropriate, and how to use it to your advantage. To that end, I’ve compiled a list of suggestions below to help get you thinking about your options and why you should work them in to your editorial calendar. 

Depending on whether your business is B2B or B2C, and whether you’re targeting end users or decision makers, the effectiveness of these assets will vary, so make sure to test each one out to your best ability and use the results to inform where you’ll be investing most of your time.  

Without further ado...

BLOG POSTS

Marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13-times more likely to enjoy positive ROI.

The magic of a blog is that posts are completely versatile according to your business goals. If you need to educate someone who doesn’t understand your industry, dive into a niche topic or call out why your product is better than the competition, everything goes.

Content can include: 

  • How-to's
  • Lists, expert Q&As
  • Industry news roundups
  • Opinion pieces
  • Customer interviews
  • Summaries (webinars, reports, e-books)
  • Guest posts

Example:

InsightSquared - True Crimes: Apologetic Sales Emails


E-BOOKS 

"Fat content will become the focus of marketers everywhere.” — Jesse Noyes, senior director of content marketing for Kapost

Whether it’s “Social Media Advertising 101” or “The CMO’s Guide to Assessing Ad Automation Software,” form-gated e-books can be educational resources for top-of-the-funnel customers who can be followed up with through email, and qualified sales lead drivers for bottom-of-the-funnel customers ready to make a purchasing decision.

As a long-form (read: “fat”) content type, e-books can be composed of bundled blog posts around a common theme, or original content that is then spun out into smaller pieces. 

Example:

Pressly - Create, Curate, Dominate: How To Nail Content Marketing (Or Screw It Up)


REPORTS

According to the B2B Content Marketing Report, 32 percent of the 600 professionals polled use analyst/research reports as a content tactic.

A report is a structured document that presents data as clearly and succinctly as possible. The purpose is to translate research into insights or recommendations for action that your customers can implement immediately, or show what’s going on behind the scenes of your business. 

If you’re looking to raise brand awareness, industry publications are always looking for new information to incorporate into their reporting, and will likely cite your data if their audience overlaps with yours. 

Releasing reports quarterly or annually is a best practice for getting prospects to keep checking in with you

Example:

Annual Reports From Warby Parker, ProviderTrust and MailChimp


CASE STUDIES

Fifty-four percent of respondents to Ascend2’s 2015 “Content Marketing Trends Survey Report” said that articles and case studies were the most effective content type versus level of difficulty to produce.

A case study is a narrative that describes the beginning, middle and end of a customer challenge that led to increased revenue, time savings or shinier hair thanks to you. If you need to convince a prospect they can get fantastic results from using your product or service, a case study is your new best friend. 

A sample storytelling arc: 

  1. Intro to customer
  2. Customer’s goals
  3. Challenges
  4. Strategy
  5. Positive results
  6. Takeaways

Example:

Aeropostale’s Partnership With Bethany Mota Drives Leads, Sales and Fans


SLIDESHARES

With 60 million unique visitors a month, SlideShare ranks among the top 120 most-visited websites in the world.

SlideShare is a way of translating copy into digestible, clickable, shareable visuals that can educate or convince someone your business is an authority in its space. The site allows you to upload PDFs, videos, webinars and other forms of presentation to its searchable database, which also provides code that can be embedded into a Wordpress post or website. 

In the example below, the presentation is form-gated for lead generation. You can also wrap up slides with a call to action button. 

Example:

Guy Kawasaki: Let’s Stop the Glorification of Busy


PODCASTS

An estimated 39 million Americans have listened to a podcast in the past month.

Reasons to podcast: 

  1. The human voice is a powerful connective tool
  2. You only need a laptop
  3. You’re in control of the length, time and frequency of publishing
  4. Reach a niche audience
  5. Show off your expertise
  6. Podcast hosting sites like SoundCloud can act as powerful search engines
  7. Build a long-term customer relationship

Example: 

Product Hunt Radio


INFOGRAPHICS

Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text.

Many studies have shown that people absorb and retain information better when text and images are combined on screen. Infographics allow you to explain concepts and research in a way that a layperson can more easily understand, and also facilitate a deeper dive into a particular topic. They are not likely to be effective as sales closers. 

As you incorporate stats and facts, numbers and symbols, don’t forget to explain why this data is important to your audience. And remember to repackage bite-sized pieces of your infographics into social media and incorporate them into blog posts.

Example:

Mint.com - Visualizing the US/China Trade Relationship Across the Globe


WEBINARS

According to B2B professionals, webinars or webcasts are the second most effective content marketing tactic (64 percent).

Why and how you should add webinars to your content arsenal:

  1. Demo your product, launch a project, explain features, discuss an industry trend
  2. Small budget; big impact
  3. Great for lead generation and nurturing; collect emails at registration and follow up 
  4. Infinite co-branding opportunities
  5. Connect up to 1,000 people in real time 
  6. Record so you can upload for future visitors
  7. Allows your customers to ask questions live
  8. Incorporate takeaways into future blog posts

Example:

Course Report/Startup Institute: How to Get a Job at a Startup


VIDEOS

Eighty-two percent of marketers indicate that video content marketing has proven to be successful.

Videos can be short or long, educational or amusing, off the cuff or intricately edited. They can be suitable for targeting all parts of the sales funnel and can easily be incorporated into your website or blog posts. 

Sample styles:

  • Explainer (introduce a new product or feature)
  • Behind the scenes (self-explanatory)
  • Tutorial (step-by-step instructions to solve a problem)
  • VLOG (diary style; let an expert weigh in on a topic or highlight a staff member)
  • Vine or GIF (looping, often funny or clever)
  • Events (Periscope or Meerkat; on the ground reporting)
  • Interviews (live or rehearsed Q&A)
  • Presentations (keynotes or sessions)

Example:

Wistia: The 2014 Rap-Up