Content marketing has grown significantly over the past few years. So much so that a whole sub-industry in marketing has sprung up to help companies meet their content marketing needs.
There are some who believe that content marketing is still a fad and will phase out in a few years. However, the numbers suggest otherwise with 89% of B2B and 86% B2C marketers saying they will increase their content marketing efforts this year.
Whether you’re just starting out with content marketing or already have a strategy, it can be a challenge to pull everything together into a cohesive strategy. You have to know what kind of content is relevant for your audience, when to show it to them, and how to measure success.
Keep reading to learn more about the different types of content marketing and how to develop a strategy for your business.
What is Content Marketing?
Everyone has a different definition of content marketing depending on how they use it for their business.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll describe content marketing as the process of creating and sharing content online to help move sales leads through a business’ sales funnel.
No matter what type of business you market for, the base of your content strategy should be a thorough understanding of your target customers and how they make a purchase decision for your product.
When you develop a content marketing strategy, you will have four distinct stages that you need to create content for awareness, interest, consideration, and conversion. You will use several types of content marketing to guide your customers through your aligned sales and marketing funnel.
Something else to keep in mind is that the sales cycle is different for every business. Large enterprise software takes on average 12-18 months while purchasing a kitchen appliance might take 2-6 weeks.
The length of your content cycle will depend on the length of your sales cycle. Note that not all of these pieces are necessary for each business.
The purpose of awareness content is to create a desire for a new product or solution. You can create this desire by highlighting a problem that your target audience faces and presenting a solution.
There is a caveat here. In the awareness stage, you should not offer up your product or service as the solution. You simply want to make a customer aware of their problem and aware of the fact that there is a solution out there.
Some popular types of content for this part of the funnel include blog posts, articles, podcasts, tip sheets, and webinars.
Overall, the goal of awareness content is to attract the right audience for your business.
Once you’ve created awareness that a problem and a solution exists for your target customers, you can start providing a specific solution for the problem. At this point, you can introduce your product but don’t push it heavily.
At this point, you want to convert those prospects into leads. You will also want to collect information about your leads so you can talk to them more effectively.
An easy way to collect information is to gate some of your interest content. That means you require a prospect provide you with an email address to download or access a piece of content.
If you do gate content, it should be well worth those prospects’ time. Content that’s a bit longer and more in-depth is perfect for this stage. They include training videos, assessments, educational worksheets, and presentations.
You’ve introduced your product or service as a solution and you’ve converted your prospects into leads. Now it’s time to provide content that puts your offering into your leads’ consideration set.
The purpose of this content is to build a preference for your brand. You do this by showing the value of your product and how it’s different from your competitors’ products.
Part of showing your product’s value is specific ways it solves your leads’ problems. You can show this through evaluation tools, case studies, free trials, and customer testimonials.
Your leads now know what makes your product excellent and how it will solve their problem. You now have to seal the deal – or convert the lead to a customer – through your content.
At this stage, you want to use content to explain the economic value of your product. You also want to provide enough information so your leads can go back to the decision makers at their company and advocate for your solution.
Some of the best pieces of content you can produce here include ROI tools and case studies, product demonstrations, and workshops tailored to your customers’ needs.
Popular Types of Content Marketing
As we mentioned, your content strategy should be rooted in who you target customers are, what their pain points are, and what types of content they respond to. Using this information, you can cater different types of content marketing to pique their interest and meet their needs.
There are tons of types of content marketing you can use to serve your business objectives but there are a few that tend to make sense for the majority of businesses.
Email is one of the most popular types of content marketing because it’s a direct line to leads that have expressed interest in your company and product.
Email marketing is also so popular because customers like it. In a survey, 72% of adults said they preferred companies communicate with them via email rather than other sources like mail, printed ads, and social media.
When you have direct access to someone’s inbox, it’s easy to abuse that power. If you choose to pursue email marketing, don’t spam your leads. Provide them with valuable information and tools that will help them understand what your product or service does and how it’s different from the competition.
How you use email is up to you. You can do a curated roundup of what’s going on in your industry or provide relevant content for your leads’ lives.
Over the last few years, social media has become one of the highest ROI types of content marketing. That’s thanks to so many people being active on several social media platforms.
If you sell a product or service to Millennials, you’d be smart to include social media in your content marketing strategy. 33% of millennials prefer companies to communicate with them over social media, second only to email.
When you decide to include social media in your content strategy, know that you don’t have to use all of the platforms at your disposal. For example, if your company sells software solutions, being active on Instagram or Pinterest won’t be the best uses of your time as they’ll have low ROIs for your product.
On the other hand, if you sell a consumer product like kitchen appliances or apparel, you should be on Facebook and Instagram. It’s easy to include call-to-actions like “more info” or “link in bio” on these platforms which can encourage more traffic to visit your website.
When selecting social media platforms, start with one or two platforms that your customers already “hang out” on. The best way to get your target audience’s attention is to meet them where they are.
Blogging is one of the most powerful types of content marketing because it serves many purposes. It can help boost your SEO rankings, spread awareness about your product, and help establish your company as a thought-leader in your industry.
When it comes to SEO, blogging helps search engines understand that you are active online. However, you should resist the urge to pump out sub-par content and instead focus on producing high-quality content even if it means publishing it less frequently.
Blogging with long-tail keywords that are related to your product and industry also make it easier for potential customers to find you when they’re searching. You can use tools like SEMRush and Google Trends to find specific phrases that people are searching and write blog posts that incorporate those phrases.
If you focus on creating high-quality content that’s helpful to your target customers rather than selling to them, you’ll get higher engagement and higher conversion rates.
Humans are naturally highly visual creatures. We can process images much faster than text. That’s why so much new content is images or videos.
Infographics are a popular tool because they convey tons of information through visuals and little text. It’s easy to explain how something works or display new research using an infographic.
You don’t need much to create an infographic. You just need a good amount of information about a related topic and a graphic designer.
Infographics also get high engagement on Facebook and LinkedIn. You can even gate infographics to use as a collection tool for email addresses.
Video is also one of the most engaging types of content marketing available today. However, the cost to invest in video can often be too high for small to medium-sized businesses.
That being said, you don’t need a high-production video to use video on social media. These days, smartphone cameras are almost as good as using a regular camera.
Video can serve multiple purposes. It can show how a product works, provide insight into a company’s culture, or show the production process. On top of all that, video also helps with your SEO rankings.
Find the Right Types of Content Marketing for You
There are many more types of content marketing out there but the ones we discussed here are by far the most popular. That’s because each of these types of content marketing is adaptable to each business’ needs.