7 best content marketing formats (and how to use them)

Best content marketing formats

When it comes to content marketing, it can be tough knowing which forms of content you should use, and which ones will have the most impact. Often, when people hear “content marketing”, they think that blog posts and social media.

In reality, a true content marketing strategy involves so much more. Still, blog content can be a valuable tool in your marketing arsenal, helping your audience move through the sales funnel, and helping your site rank in search engines. 

But when you combine it with other content creation, you’re able to build greater influence, deliver real results and ultimately get a better return-on-investment in the form of lead generation.

That’s why we’ve put together this list of the 7 best content marketing formats, including a look at why they’re on this list and how you can begin to use them in your marketing campaigns.

At the end of this, you’ll be able to implement some of the most influential content types as part of your marketing plan, which will help you increase your number of leads and conversion rate. Let’s get started:

The 7 best content marketing formats are:

  1. Blog posts
  2. Gated content (eBooks / Whitepapers)
  3. Landing pages
  4. Infographics
  5. Video content
  6. Case studies
  7. Podcasts

Why bother with content marketing?

Before we go any further, it’s important to understand why content marketing is so important as part of your marketing plan.

We’ve talked about how content marketing is a crucial part of a company’s inbound marketing efforts, and how they work together to provide helpful, relevant and consistent content for your target audience.

But another, and perhaps the main reason that has led to the phrase “content is king” is the added SEO benefits. In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute, websites that create content regularly have 434% more search engine-indexed pages than those that don’t publish.

Whilst no single type of content will appear to every visitor, the more pathways to your site that you have sprinkled throughout the internet, the better chance you have of search traffic improving.

Now let’s look at the 7 best content marketing formats:

1. Blog posts

Let’s start with the type of written content people most associate with content marketing. For many businesses, blog posts are their main content form in their marketing strategy, and for good reason.

Blog posts are easy to write, they’re easily findable by Google, they’re a piece of content that is easy to understand, meaning your target audience is happy to read and share them.

But what’s the purpose of a blog? Done right, having a blog setup on your website can be a good way of promoting your products and services. More importantly, it gives you a platform for publishing trustworthy, authoritative content that answers your audience’s questions.

When you master that, blog posts also bring the added benefit of increased citations from other trusted sources, leading to better search engine rankings for your website.

Tips for writing blog posts effectively

  • Do your research: Many businesses fall down with blogging by not doing keyword research beforehand. Make sure you do extensive research so that your blog post is optimised well for relevant keywords.
  • Optimise before publishing: Adding a call-to-action and links to other pieces of content means your content is optimised for leads and sales from the second it’s published, which also helps with SEO rankings.
  • Write and publish regularly: Make sure you commit to a minimum of two content pieces per week, in order to get maximum traction with your content marketing strategy.

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2. Gated content (eBooks / Whitepapers)

Gating content often goes overlooked with businesses, but it can be a powerful step in lead generation. Gated content can take many forms, but in our experience the most popular content formats that are gated tend to be eBooks and whitepapers.

There’s a misconception that eBooks and whitepapers are both the same thing. In actual fact, eBooks can be thought of as long-form blog content, designed to give your potential clients valuable information. 

Whitepapers, whilst long-form also, are more densely packed with data and statistics. In fact, according to Demand Gen, 71% of buyers read whitepapers when doing their research.

In any case, gated content is great for lead generation because it allows you to take a piece of content and turn it into a lead magnet, by using a form to capture your lead’s information in order to access the content. There are many do’s and don’ts when it comes to gating content, but the principle is that they sit on a landing page, which leads nicely to point number 3. 

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3. Landing pages

Landing pages focus on something specific. That could be a product or service, a downloadable guide, an online course, and so on. Here, this specific content item is on offer to your audience, and you can use landing pages to capture a contact’s information using a lead-capture form.

With landing pages, you want to make sure what you’re offering is of value to your audience. If it’s something that can be found elsewhere, it probably doesn’t warrant a lead-capture form. 

Not only that, but they work best when combined with a lead nurturing email campaign, a series of emails that follows up with your lead once they’ve submitted their contact information. This gives you the added benefit of building your email list over time.

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4. Infographics

Research has shown that visuals increase a users willingness to read content by 80 percent, which explains why infographics are on the rise.

Infographics allow you to display a mass amount of information and data into one image, all whilst making it visually interesting and easily digestible. Not only that, but infographics are great for getting more shares, which can help improve your site’s backlinks.

If you’re looking to get started with infographics, then here are a few tips to consider:

  • Use a tool like Canva: It’s free to begin with, and comes with some amazing infographic templates, and you can also upload your brand colours to steer you in the right direction.
  • Plan your content: You should plan an infographic like any other piece of content. This will help you tell a story and plan where any statistics should sit.

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5. Video content (including webinars, tutorials, etc)

Cisco recently reported that globally, video traffic will be 82% of all consumer internet traffic by 2022. What’s even more surprising is that this is up from 75% in 2017.

Video has become a fundamental part of the buying process, simply because your audience prefers to learn visually over simply reading something in text form. There’s a misconception that video simply means tutorials, or 30-second introduction videos, when in actual fact, it can mean so much more.

Because consumers want video throughout the buying process, your video can take the form of content that:

  • Helps your audience overcome their concerns or addresses their fears, such as an FAQ video.
  • Answers there buyer questions about a product or service.
  • Explains the buying process, such as what happens when they fill in a form.
  • Online courses that can be free or paid for.
  • Long-form webinars (an hour or longer) discussing a particular topic.
  • And much more!

We recommend reading They Ask, You Answer for more information about video, and creating a video culture in-house!

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6. Case studies

Case studies can be an extremely effective content marketing format for winning new business. Primarily, they can help build trust with your audience by establishing thought leadership and showing the impact you have had with your clients.

As you write case studies, it’s important to tell a story, where your client is the hero who came to you with a problem. Consumers also like to see detail in case studies, particularly the ups and downs so they can get a real-life picture of the types of relationships you have with clients and the journeys they take.

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7. Podcasts

An annual report by Edison Research has shown that the number of podcast listeners has grown over the past year. It’s easy to understand why, because podcasts allow your consumers to access your content at their own convenience.

Podcasts can be used in many forms: You might want to use them as an interview, or to answer a specific question, or even to promote a particular product or service. Podcasts can also be other pieces of content repurposed. For example, you might have a blog post that you can turn into a podcast, or a podcast transcript can be turned into a blog post.

If you’re looking to start your own podcast, WPBeginner has a fantastic tutorial which can be read here.

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Which content marketing formats do you need?

Evidently blogging is simply one of the best content marketing formats, and if you’re restricting yourself to just blog writing, you’re not doing your marketing strategy justice!

Why not revisit your marketing strategy and see which of these content marketing formats you can begin to implement. And if you need some hands-on support, head over to our marketing diagnostic to start a conversation.

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