A Guide to Choosing from 12 Different Content Marketing Formats in 2021
What Seth Godin said about content marketing in 2018 is slowly and surely turning out to be true in 2020. According to him, this is the only form of marketing that will hold water today and tomorrow. So, it doesn’t come as a surprise that more than 69% B2B marketers have a documented strategy in 2020. Now, to make your strategy effective, you need to pick the right content marketing formats or channels, be it written text, audio, video or images.
But before we get into that, check out the steps you need to take to target the right people and align your strategy with your ultimate goals.
Know your Audience
The most important step is to understand each of the channels better, and the type of audience each of them retains. No two content marketing channels are the same, and thus, a simple repurposing of content won’t be the best strategy to follow. For example, individuals who read blog posts on a daily basis and especially those who engage with long-form content typically have a longer attention span as compared to those who interact with social media posts.
Understanding the difference between these segments is highly important and relevant if you want to create and curate content which not only stands out but also converts. Along with this, it is important to note that just understanding the type of content that is present in every channel won’t be of much help, if you don’t have an understanding of your audience. Hence, to understand your audience better, you can adopt any of these three methodologies.
- Collect Demographic: One of the easiest and most effective ways of understanding your audience is to collect the right demographic data which you can further use to curate and create content exactly to their liking and needs.
- Collect Feedback: If you have an established brand and a decent following, you can ask your audience for feedback, through which you can better understand what type of content you need to create to best suit their needs.
- Create Audience Personas: By taking the help of tools like HubSpot, you can create buyer personas of your target audience and use that for creating your content.
Understand and Establish Your Goals
Now that you know your audience, understand and clearly establish the goals you want to achieve through your content marketing strategy. For example, a simple goal can be to increase the number of engagements your brand receives on Instagram. Or a more complex goal can be to attract better engagement on social media posts, followed by a higher number of visits to your website.
Or, your broad goals might be to boost brand awareness, build a community, drive traffic to the website, generate revenue, or improve SEO ranking. Whatever the goal might be, make sure you are aware of the time commitment and resources that will be required to achieve the goal, before you pen it down.
Establish your KPIs
KPIs or Key Performance Indicators are the metrics you need to use to understand if you are on track to achieve your goal, or are falling behind. In order to understand this better, let’s follow up with the earlier example of getting more engagements on Instagram.
As you might know, engagement on Instagram is measured by four different metrics which are:
Now, depending on the type of content you are publishing and the goal you are trying to achieve, either of these can be your KPI. For example, if you were getting an average of 50 likes per post on Instagram before working on a content strategy for a month, and afterwards you start receiving an average of 75 likes per post, you are on track to achieving your goal.
In short, understanding and establishing your KPIs while crafting a content strategy is important, because then you are better equipped to measure your milestones as you keep achieving them.
Now, it’s time to take a close look at the popular types of content marketing formats in 2020.
12 Different Content Marketing Formats :
First things first – content marketing is not just about writing blogs and articles. And if you thought so, it’s time to update your horizon with the latest and trending content marketing formats.
Although blogs and long-form articles comprise a major part of the content marketing strategy; it isn’t only about blogging anymore. Just like you need different targeting skills for customers in different parts of the sales funnel, you need to use different content formats too.
So, let’s dive in and check the 12 types of content formats to boost your audience engagement and achieve your strategic goals.
Blogs are easy to produce and easier to market. No wonder, they are a rage these days. So, why should you use blogging as your main element in content marketing?
- First, it helps you establish leadership in your niche.
- Second, it helps in building backlinks (that help in improving your SEO rank).
- And finally, it builds a community and brings in traffic to the landing pages.
A famous example of using blogging most effectively is “River Pools and Spas”. They have literally rebuilt their brand only based on blogging and resolving customer problems.
YouTube has around 2 billion monthly active users. This shows how popular videos are in today’s age. How can you use videos for content marketing?
- You can start with a video to introduce your brand.
A legit and textbook example of video content marketing format going viral is The Dollar Shave Club.
- You can also add features of your products/services in the video.
- Finally, a tutorial guide video can never go wrong.
A wonderful example of such guide videos is How To Cook That channel.
Also Read: Why Great Brand Stories Need Videos
3. Infographics/Visual Content
The attention span of most people on a digital platform is decreasing every day. Right now, it is around 7 seconds. So, you have very little time to convey your point. And what’s a better method than visual and engaging content?
So, how can an infographic help you?
Well, I can start by stating that it tells the story like a blog. With interesting headings, subheadings, and by visually conveying your point, an infographic can turn out to be more useful in attracting customers than just plain text. So, you can expect more engagement and landing pages traffic. If you are looking for an example of an infographic to kickstart your train of thoughts, have a look at how to invest in content marketing.
While we are talking about visual content, let’s not forget images on social media posts. Every minute, nearly 1.73 million posts on Instagram receive engagement. Now, that’s huge!
Another tool to increase brand loyalty and build relationships is podcasts. In fact, above 35% of the population listen to a podcast monthly. Podcasts have all the features that are in high demand these days. Firstly, they contain industry-specific knowledge. And secondly, your customers can access these anytime, as per their convenience, even on the go.
Another important feature of investing in a podcast is that you can reuse other content formats. Like, you can create an audio file of an existing video or simply read out your blog.
Although many people think that email marketing is a thing of the past, it still holds value. Yes, the technique of using emailers as a content marketing format has changed indeed, making it less annoying and more informational.
With 3.9 billion email users worldwide, when used properly, email content marketing can deliver impressive returns on investment. A weekly email or newsletter is a perfect tool to engage your customers, promote your products in a subtle way, or simply ask them to sign up for the upcoming events or webinars.
6. Long-Form Content (E-books, Whitepapers, Webinars)
You should never underestimate the power long-form content boasts in the field of content marketing. Whitepapers and e-books are smart engagement tools. According to Forbes, around 79% of B2B customers will share their whitepapers with colleagues. This means more business opportunities for you.
Here are some key points to follow while drafting whitepapers and e-books:
- Focus on only one issue and use in-depth knowledge on the same.
- Include graphs, charts, statistics, and quotes to make the content interesting and credible.
- Add a powerful CTA that lets readers know about their next step.
Another important type of long-form content can be webinars. Readytalk states that around 20-40% of webinar registrations turn into qualified leads. This is a clever way to turn your target audience into paying customers.
7. Cheat Sheets/Templates/Checklists
People tend to reciprocate if you help them out with the right kind of content. This is where the importance of checklists and templates come to light. For instance, you can offer your website visitors a downloadable checklist for to-do tasks or readymade templates to get their business running. And in return, you can ask them for their email IDs. So, ultimately, it is a win-win situation for you and your audience.
You can mention these cheat sheets at the end of blog posts or even share them on social media for maximum impressions. Here are some tips to follow while creating the checklists:
- Pay attention to organizing items. Keep in mind that people will follow these as a guideline.
- Make sure to add whitespace. It gives the copy room to breathe.
- Add your brand mark somewhere on the copy. So, when your audience shares them, it is like free publicity.
8. Case Studies
Imagine when your customer wants to know more about your business, process, and past projects, where will they find it? This is where case studies come into play. Case studies prvide in-depth insight about a consumer’s journey from start to finish. It acts as an important tool, especially when the targeted audience is at the bottom of the funnel or about to make a purchase decision.
What do you achieve with case studies?
- You can build trust and authority in the community
- Show off your work and clientele
- Highlight your unique selling point (USP).
How can you achieve these? Well, a well-constructed and planned format of case study is all you need.
9. Quizzes and Polls
Want to boost audience engagement in a simple way? Quizzes and polls are your answers. They are likely to grab attention quickly by sparking curiosity. When you add funny, shareable content along with an interactive one, it just acts as a bonus for you and your audience.
The best example of quizzes can be found on BuzzFeed. They are vibrant, quirky and take little time to complete.
If you have a decent number of followers, an interview is the next step you need to take. Why? First of all, you can connect with an industry expert, which means exposure to more potential customers. Secondly, your visitors will find more informative stuff from the interview and understand their needs in a better way.
How to include interviews in your digital marketing strategy?
- Make use of Facebook Live and host a live interview like a webinar.
- Use the YouTube platform to publish a recorded interview.
- Create a blog with the interview content.
You can also interview your customers. This will create trust and connection among your brand community.
Now that you are aware of content marketing formats for engaging the audience and bringing in traffic, learn how to create and rank ahead of your competition with exhaustive content.
11. Slide Decks
As the terms suggest, this content writing format involves the use of PowerPoint slides and is particularly handy if you have to explain something to a large number of people simply. By using the right color combinations, fonts, shapes and pictures, you can make your slides attractive and eye-catching. This also makes it easy for you to list points, explain flowcharts, highlight graphs and charts, and tell a story in a cohesive manner.
Just keep a few things in mind. Keep the design clean and provide enough space around the text to avoid a crowded look. Make your images as self-explanatory as possible to keep the text minimal. Spare a thought on how you will transition from one topic to another smoothly. And go easy on the effects while transitioning from one slide to another.
12. User Generated Content or UGC
Did you know that almost 80% people say that the content created by other users affect their purchase decisions? In other words, people trust what other people say about your brand rather than what you claim.
You can generate such content by simply resharing glowing reviews or testimonials or asking existing customers to participate in campaigns or contests by providing videos or images of them using your product. You can also request micro-influencers to review your products and post on social media channels like Instagram or Facebook. Plus, you can promote UGC by using paid ads.
Just remember to ask for the user’s permission before sharing or reposting their content and give them due credit for it too. User generated content is a wonderful way to build customer relationships, loyalty and spread brand awareness at the same time.
Also, content formats will only work if you use them wisely
Here are some tips to do your research before investing in any content marketing strategy.
- First, think about the format that works best with your niche or the topics you want to cover.
- Always go by your strength. Look which content format suits you the best, and focus more on creating those.
- Next, research where your audience likes to spend their time on (I mean the platform).
- Lastly, consider the type of content format your audience is most likely to appreciate. I mean, someone from the field of interior designing will look for visual content rather than long-form articles.
- Take another example. Say you are a market research industry expert crafting whitepapers. Since whitepapers are typically long-form, converting and repurposing it to a story series on Instagram might not yield the best results. That is because the major audience segment on Instagram is between the ages of 18 and 24. This means, young adults who are interested more in entertainment than in research findings. On the other hand, if you repurpose your whitepaper into a blog post and publish it on a business networking platform like LinkedIn, the response and engagement you will receive is much higher.
To Wrap Up
So, a logical approach is what you need when it comes to picking the right content marketing format in 2020. Remember though that the above list of content formats is not exhaustive. These keep evolving super fast and new formats steal the show before you know it. For example, many brands are experimenting with memes and GIFs too these days, to keep their messaging fun, crisp and unique. So, always stay aware of the latest trends, keep the above content formats and marketing tips in mind, and make sure your content is valuable and original. You will soon see results!