Of the many steps in the content marketing process, research and creating may very well be the hardest. After all, we ask a lot of our content. While conversion is the ultimate goal of every online endeavor, brands also want to create brand ambassadors. We want to create a continual funnel that draws people into the company fold. We want people to read our content, talk about it, share it, look into our company further because of that content, and convert.
How do we do that?
Well, through content marketing, for one, which is why we expect a huge bang for our content buck. There are entire psychological studies about which words people respond to more emotionally. There are just as many studies about what type of marketing performs best. Who wants to create content that is destined to fail?
4 Content Marketing “Types”
Strong content seems to fall under four categories if we’re going to get good results. The words used (I, we, you, us), the tone (formal or informal), the lexicon (laymen’s terms or industry expert) – all of these go into creating these four content marketing types.
Educational content is your “how-to” and “how not to.” If it falls under DIY, it belongs in this category. However, educational content can also be “why things do what they do” pieces. Most people are curious and interested in knowing more about a subject as long as you keep it interesting.
Our two most viewed pieces in the history of this website are relevant and educational, but not really a “walk through.” One, Dancing the Google Dance, has garnered over 6,500 views since the day it went live, and well over 500 backlinks. The other, “The Difference Between WordPress.org vs WordPress.com,” has received over 7,500 and is still ranking in the top ten.
While neither post will help you create content, optimize your site or track your social media, both are informative in a way that helps people make decisions or better understand the topic.
Content can be loosely relevant and entertaining, as you’ll find in the list of content marketing ideas below. These are often called “fluff pieces.”
For example, one of our most active posts in 2011 was “What Kind of SEO Are You?” Nobody really learned anything. It probably didn’t inspire anybody, and I’m sure it didn’t convert anyone. However, if you look at the Twitter posts and comments at the bottom of the page, you can see that it did, indeed, have people talking about and sharing it. And since shareability is one of the things we expect from our content, we can consider this fluff piece to be a win.
Inspirational content can include “how-to” as well. “How to be a better speaker, “ for example, can inspire.
Inspirational content helps your readers imagine how they can use your product or service. Personal experience stories, case studies, work sheets, even lists like this one – if your content makes people want to act by the time they’ve finished reading, it’s inspirational.
Converting content is pretty self-explanatory, I think. If it causes your readers to do what you wanted it to do, it’s successful. Content marketing pieces that focus on conversions could really be anything, but are generally thought of as landing pages, testimonials, product (or service) reviews, brochures, fliers and the like.
18 Content Marketing Ideas for the Written Word
Lack of content is a regular culprit for lack of ranking and traffic. After all, you can’t come to a site that has no content, or rank a page that doesn’t exist. With this in mind, we’re pulling out 18 content marketing ideas to help buff up your site’s written content offerings.
FAQs, or Frequently Asked Question pages, are excellent for introducing people to your industry, service, product or company. You can also add a comment section that allows people to ask their own questions. This helps you build your FAQ page, gets the viewer to engage with you, and brings them back to the page to see the answer.
2. Tools of the Trade
We’ve had a large amount of success with posts that share the same tools we use in our business. This type of content serves the purpose of informing, which causes us to fall into the “expert” classification.
Also, our target market is the company that doesn’t have enough time to use the tools we share. They have just enough time to read about the tools and see that we know what we’re talking about.
3. How-To and How-Not-To Do
Do it Yourself articles are good reputation builders, and “don’t” posts do just as well as “do” posts – sometimes even better. This content is specific step-by-step post. Even if the post is actually a “how-to,” adding a portion of this type of information to the post increases its shareability and usefulness.
4. How Things Work
Posts that explain why things are the way they are can be excellent reputation builders. Mixed with opinion pieces, they can be powerful.
A good example was this post back in 2011, “Google + a Facebook Killer? Question Answered.” Google Plus had just come out, there was a huge amount of speculation about why Google had even created the social site, and a lot of “what’s going on?” commentary.
Our post was well-researched, and gave one scenario to “why things are the way they are.” Never mind that it turned out we were right. By the time it was over, it received at least 128 shares on Twitter and 4,861 views.
People love lists. Why? Who knows. Maybe because they’re easier to read, or because all the information is in one spot. Whatever the reasons, lists almost always resonate with readers.
Having said that, lists should never be just a “one, two, three” kind of post. Always make sure to add a few tidbits about each point on your list.
Guides are in depth pieces with a huge amount of information on one specific topic. The idea is to be “the” go-to resource on the subject.
7. White Papers
White papers are not the same thing as guides. Most of the time, white papers are in PDF format and often have a technical aspect to them. Whereas a guide may continue using laymen’s terms, white papers assume the reader is more informed on the paper’s subject.
Anything that you’ve put in a blog post (or series of blog posts) can be turned into an eBook. If you’ve written enough blog posts on a subject, they can be reformatted to be chapters in a bigger, longer eBook. These eBooks can be shared on your website, but also on Amazon’s Kindle, the Nook Store and others.
9. Cheat Sheets
Although often in some form of infographic, cheat sheets can be in PDF, HTML or just the written word. They’re often put in infographics or PDFs because those formats make cheat sheets easier to share and pass around.
For example, look at the Pinterest search for cheat sheets. They come in several varieties, but all have short sections of content and are laid out for ease of view. They’re also usually one page.
Checklists, unlike lists, can be a single line each, as long as there is explanatory material before or after. You can’t just put out a list with checkboxes and leave it be. It’s a detailed, step-by-step process to follow, in order for them to achieve the outcome they need.
11. Landing Pages
Landing pages are generally focused on a single product or service. They almost always have conversion as the main goal. They can offer a white paper for an email address, for example, or a product for sale. Very seldom to landing pages offer more than one thing at a time, as the whole purpose is that particular piece of content, service, or product.
Another conversion piece, testimonials provide “social proof” for your visitors. Your customer or client tells their personal experience story, which gives visitors an idea of how their own experience might go.
You’ll come across a lot of “SEO in 2017” posts if you search for them. The reasoning is because we want to know. There might be some possible change that we’ve missed. Something we can prepare for. Predictions are always going to come to life, and that’s okay. It’s possible to show you’re human without ruining your reputation.
14. Facts and Stats
These pieces are heavily researched, but the time spent is often really worth it. You can shorten the time spent by utilizes already existing studies, but make sure that the studies are the most recent you can find.
Not a white paper, not an eBook, not a blog post, brochures are usually tri-fold pieces of content if they’re printed, and a one or two page PDF if online. They provide very specific information about your company, a product, a service, features and/or benefits.
16. Branded Images
A branded image always contains a logo (thus “branded”). However, you want to create something helpful, remember. Providing pointed quotes or a single tip is an excellent way to increase shareability and helpfulness.
17. Cartoons or Caricatures
Do you have a funny moment in your business experience that you’d like to share? Don’t be afraid to share it through a cartoon or caricature. Again, they’re sharable, but they’re also entertaining. It’s like a two-fer.
Don’t knock it until you try it, just make sure you understand some of the pros and cons. Like branded images, memes can be branded, but they’re also entertaining. The meme is exploding for a reason: easy to read, easy to share and brings a quick smile. However, remember that memes are just a fad, and that they can be altered. While they make for momentary hilarity, don’t put too much stress on them.
Hopefully this list served to inspire you, as there are many possibilities besides the ones we covered. We’d love to hear what some of your favorite go-to content marketing ideas are. Share them in the comments!