We applaud all of the businesses reading this who have embarked on the content adventure by creating a blog and posting regularly.
Embracing blogging required a whole new way of thinking about advertising and outreach.
You discovered the writing talent, figured out the social channels to broadcast your posts from and—most intimidating of all—you found helpful, educational and even entertaining stuff to say.
Bravo! This took GUTS and many businesses owners and marketers haven’t even gotten this far.
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Too many businesses stall at the blogging stage, however stopping at blogging leaves behind consumers who respond better to video, audio and photos. Our minds process images 60,000 times faster than text. With the digital world utterly flooded by information and brand messages, the faster a consumer can absorb a message, the more he or she can digest in the same amount of time. We’re not talking just about adorning your blogs with images, although illustrating your ideas does help. The digital assets that live on your website should be in various forms. Review this post to consider what your content strategy may be missing.
Forms of Content, Their Audiences and Their Roles in Your Business
Creating a successful content marketing campaign requires using a variety of types of content. Beyond the blog, businesses can demonstrate their unique approaches to their industries through:
- Spec sheets or white papers
- Workbooks or kits
- Social content or updates
- Case studies
- Research reports
How do you choose which to invest in? Go back to your content strategy and determine what you wanted to achieve. To determine what you want your strategy to entail, you should review the goals that you are hoping to achieve with your campaign. Some examples are:
- Reach (more fans and shares)
- Frequency (more often)
- conversions (more white paper downloads, email addresses and fans),
- Credibility (with impressive blog posts that lead to shares, comments, likes),
- Retention (with email sign ups and more fans),
- Strategic partners that lead to referrals and sales (building relationships on social media)
- Media connections (reporters find brands easily through their social media channels)
When deciding how to utilize content, companies start by considering their goals. Do they want more awareness, better retention, more media attention, more traffic to their website or all of the above? While nearly all brands express a need for more profits, sales and revenue, marketing teams must consider the most pressing goals first.
Internet marketing platform and publisher Hubspot separates the various content forms by buying state in this graphic from their blog.
These formats do not have to stay in these categories all the time. The blog post is typically used as an email newsletter article, which Hubspot has showing up in the “close” category rather than the “attract” category where the blog post lies. Made up of words and images, marketers and business owners can break apart or join each content item to create different forms. Several lines from a blog post can become several social media updates, enticing readers back to the entire post. Going the other way, several blog posts can become an ebook. Results from surveys feed into calls-to-action, emails and blog posts.
All of these pieces can be rendered visually. Survey results are perfect for creating infographics. Consumers respond enthusiastically to how-to or educational information delivered via video. They can stop it, rewind and replay as many times as possible. Plus the anxiety of embarking on a task alone is somewhat lessened when another does the same task right before their eyes.
Here are just a few alternate (to blog) content styles you may want to consider.
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Easier to read and more fun to share, infographics can spread the word about a business and promote a brand as fun, helpful, expert or cutting edge. From 2010 to today, searches for information followed by “infographics” have increased 10 times. Even from as recently as 2012 to today, searches for “infographics” have doubled. The Google Trends chart below demonstrates the growth in term’s search volume over the past eight years.
What an infographic can do for you:
- Provide content for social media channels; visitors who click come back to the website where offers live.
- Provide content for the blogs of complementary businesses, thereby raising awareness of the infographic author’s business.
- Raise open rates on email outreach via headlines like: “Marriage Infographic here!” or “Avian Extinction Rate Infographic here!” At this point, people have learned that they can get hard-hitting, meaty information through an infographic. Seeing the word tells them they’ll find something interesting and absorb it quickly.
- Raise authority: because infographics often serve to deliver survey or research results, they indicate your company is established enough to create its own survey and share it. This act indicates authority which in turn means reliability and longevity, traits consumers crave.
- Boost SEO “juice.” SEO depends on lots of elements, but one of them is the number of people singling out a piece of content by linking to it from their own sites. If you have lots of links back to your site, Google understands that others see you as an authority. Your rank rises.
Videos as Content
Last fall, Facebook put so much stock in video, it created a way for people to upload their videos to the site directly, without have to use (Google property) YouTube as an intermediary. Facebook took this step because it realized that moving images on the platform were getting robust amount of “engagement or likes,” comments and shares. They wanted those videos to live right on their website, not on YouTube. If Facebook is enamored with video, maybe your business should consider it, too. It not only makes your website larger but the lengths your business will go to enrich consumers impresses Google and other search engines.
The following specific example puts into relief just what YouTube can do for your content. In an interview with eMarketer, national manager of digital marketing for Kia Motors, David Schoonover, explains that the key benefits of using YouTube are the social opportunities. Specifically, he explains that, “…because millennials are so socially connected, if you have a message that resonates, they will embrace it, and they will share it. The amplification effect is very powerful.”
Further, Schoonover explains that millennials influence their parents, the baby boomers. How many in the over 50 crowd still turn to their children for help downloading an app or turning off a phone feature? We have some guilty parties right in our office! The baby boomers rely on their children for guidance on all things technical. The slight difference, according to Schoonover, is that boomers go to YouTube more for instructional videos, cat videos and entertainment for their own edification. Videos tell stories quickly, conveying a business’s products and services, but more importantly, their approachability and values.
Case Studies and eBooks as Content
In this day of increasingly complex products and services, B2B businesses MUST have spec sheets, white papers, and even eBooks. Even B2C businesses should frequently publish information that simplifies the use of their products and services. You may have heard about “storytelling” in marketing. Case studies illustrate exactly how your products and services made all the difference for your clients. They provide the spoonful of sugar (people, goals, and hopes) that helps the medicine (data) go down.
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The Most Powerful Content Format Springs from Overall Strategy
Including different kinds of content on your blog will help to draw in customers and mark your brand as a thought leader in their industry. Often, your business’ goals will help you to determine the best kinds of content for your content strategy. Review your competition and your internal goals to guide your content strategy over time. Use analytics and data to give you feedback on your decisions and drive future decisions. Sometimes it’s worth trying something new – you may find that it will be a huge success for your business!