These days, marketing is more complex than ever. Gone are the days when publishing an ad in the newspaper or other periodical, then getting a billboard, would be enough. Now, you need more elaborate advertising in addition to shorter pieces. This truth has a long history: just think about the infomercials that have been a fixture of late-night TV for decades, and the sponsored articles in periodicals. However, nowadays there are many types of content marketing for you to consider.
The Importance of Content Marketing Today
Not only has the variety of content marketing improved, such as through podcasts or YouTube videos, but it’s more important than ever. In fact, many consumers research products and services thoroughly before deciding what to buy. People are best known for doing this with expensive purchases, such as cars, but it’s still important for inexpensive ones. For instance, personal care or hobby-related materials come in huge varieties, and people want to be sure they choose the right one.
Since selecting the right product is so important to many consumers, brands need to use several types of content marketing. The ones you choose depend on many different factors, such as the type of product, target audience, and available resources. Generally speaking, different audiences respond better to different marketing approaches, and content marketing is no exception.
Another reason that content marketing is critical these days is that it improves the SEO of your website. The more content your website has, the more options that there are for search engines to index your site and rank it for appropriate keywords. And as we all know, the better your visibility is, the higher chance your content will convince people to buy.
What are the Different Types of Content Marketing?
I’ll look at each of the types of content marketing in-depth below, but they can be grouped into several different categories. For brands, the most useful are blogs, Videos, Audio, Photo, and Hybrid Photo/Video/Audio formats. Fortunately, one or more of these can usually produce the desired results.
Long-Form Content Marketing
The first types of content marketing tend towards longer lengths. This means that they are more involved than your typical snapshot ad. In addition, they’ll give you lots of opportunity to really talk about your products and services.
1) Blog Post Articles – web search engines like Google
If you’re trying to get the best SEO out there, many experts recommend having at least a blogging section on your website. While many corporate blogs are considered “boring” because they mostly talk about company news, this doesn’t have to be the case. And because Google and others consider your backlinks profile, blogs are indispensable. Businesses with blogs have almost double the backlinks and over four times the indexed pages of business sites without blogs. These blogs also make up around 86% of overall content marketing.
2) Video Content – YouTube
Video content covers a wide variety of material, from TikTok and YouTube #shorts all the way to hours-long explanations and demos. While most video content falls in between these length extremes, it’s a valuable modality. 54% of consumers love to see videos from their favorite brand, and that this is the highest level of interest across content types. It’s effective, too: Brands get 157% more organic search traffic if they have a good video marketing strategy.
3) Podcasting – Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts
No matter which distribution options you choose, Podcasting is a highly effective way to reach your customers. One reason that it’s so effective is that you can literally take a podcast episode anywhere. For instance, a lot of us will listen to one while waiting on a delayed airline flight or sitting in a traffic jam. Other podcasts might be consumed while pursuing a hobby or taking a jog. Overall, this lets a customer multitask in the easiest way possible.
If you’re still new to podcasting, listen to this episode from my Maximize Your Social Influence podcast to learn more about its many benefits.
Keep in mind, you don’t have to be the producer to reap benefits. In fact, guest podcasting is a powerful way to reach customers. You can be a guest on several different podcasts, or a regular on just one. For the best of both worlds, consider hosting a podcast and inviting guests, then being a guest yourself. This introduces you and your guests to wider audiences.
I used this same strategy with the launch of The Age of Influence being interviewed on 100+ podcasts. Listen in for the full details in my podcast below:
And if you’re trying to launch your own podcast check out my video with specific instructions on how to do just that!
Social Media-Based Content Types
Of course, not all types of content are long-form in nature. Others are based on social media platforms other than YouTube. These days, social media has become very sophisticated and supports a wide variety of content. In addition, these networks afford you the opportunity to reach out to all kinds of people. You never know when your content will spread far beyond the original, intended audience.
4) Live streaming
Live streaming has become hugely popular these days. Many YouTube personalities monetize these streams, though you probably won’t do this if it’s advertising. However, lots of fun can be had talking about your products. For a great idea, consider doing a giveaway along with an influencer or brand ambassador. Recording the stream for later distribution is also effective. Livestreams can be broadcast through Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
5) Audio streaming
Similar to livestreaming, you can also stream audio. In this case, you’re going to only record and distribute audio content. However, it is still distributed in real time. If you can do something interactive, then you can build community. Distribution is available through Twitter Spaces, Clubhouse, and soon, Facebook.
6) Photos / Images
These are easily the easiest types of content marketing around. They’re also the oldest, going back to the days of print newspapers and magazines. However, that isn’t to say that photos must be boring. In fact, photo editing lets you create dynamic pieces of content. Options vary based on your distribution platform, such as Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Stories are unlike other types of content marketing in that they’re a series of images or videos. In an office setting, these are the most like a slideshow/PowerPoint presentation that are used to get your point across. Perhaps the biggest advantage of Stories is that they let you say more than you could in a single frame while keeping it easy to remember. They’re called different things on the various networks, including Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. For YouTube, they’re called Shorts, and they’re Moments on Twitter.
Reels are short-form video that stand alone. On TikTok, the Reels tend to be catchy videos such as dances or catchy rhyme. On Instagram, there’s a wider variety of content, including TV-spot type content. These are valuable primarily because short, memorable content is often very effective as a marketing modality.
9) Engagement Text
This is one of the newer types of content marketing, and it used to have a spammy reputation back when phone texting cost customers money. However, this is an effective customer loyalty tool. Simply put, an engagement text is sending people desired text messages through a platform. For instance, engagement text can take the form of a chatbot on Facebook. LinkedIn and Twitter also have opportunities for this. Either way, it helps save both customer and company lots of time.
Text-Based types of content marketing for lead magnets
Several types of content marketing are intended primarily for lead magnets. In this case, the idea is to give people a valuable sample of your expertise in exchange for their contact information. Then, these leads can be used for further sales efforts. They are especially useful for B2B brands and professional services.
10) Case Studies
Case studies are a type of content that demonstrates how something is used effectively. These can be products or services, and primarily are used by B2B brands. However, certain consumer-level items can also benefit from case studies. For instance, the latest OTC acne product might benefit, as could an analysis of options for long-distance travel.
Whitepapers take an in-depth look at a problem or issue, then suggest a solution. Typically, the solution is a product or service that’s offered by a particular company. As one example, an internet security company might talk about their proprietary solution to the ransomware threat. Or, a company that makes a cash handling system might demonstrate the reasons why a retail establishment needs it.
Whitepapers are very popular with business customers. One reason for this is that they pay attention to detail. For this reason, 71% of B2B buyers use them as an important part of their research. Which is to say, if you sell a business product in a highly-competitive niche, you probably should be using whitepapers for customer education and lead magnets.
12) eBooks and other long-form content
The great thing about eBooks is that they’re appropriate for a wider variety of industries. For instance, a consumer brand might write an eBook about proper use of their product. Or, they might have an inspiration booklet of different kinds, and put it online. Unlike whitepapers, these eBooks tend to be more general and less detailed. But they’re still highly effective for the right products.
13) Checklists and Other short-form content
Checklists are really useful in industries like travel where people ask a lot of questions that are easy to answer. For instance, it could be “what should I pack for a week traveling around Japan.” If you sell tours to Japan, this can be quite useful. Similarly, a lot of medical companies will use checklists that encourage people to talk to their doctors about symptoms.
Of course, other short-form content can be used. Here, the idea is to write something that gives useful information and is easy to remember. At the same time, it’s valuable enough that you can insist people give you their email to get it.
This one involves teaching people a bit about what you know. In this case, for the “price” of their contact information. I like webinars because they give the opportunity for people to become more informed consumers or professionals. At the same time, you can distinguish yourself (and your company) as thought leaders in your industry. And unlike blog posts or whitepapers, people can listen in on webinars while multitasking.
15) Quizzes and Interactive Content
This is more a category of content. Quizzes are a fun way for consumers to decide which product of yours is most useful for them. Other interactive content types can assist by “talking” someone through their buyer journey. Either way, consider asking for customer contact information in exchange for the results.
Further Reading: 7 Reasons Interactive Content is the Future of Content Marketing
User-Generated types of content marketing
Not all types of content marketing require your staff or marketing agency to produce something. Instead, user-generated content marketing leverages the power of your fans and brand advocates. They are especially powerful because “real” people are talking about your brand rather than all content being controlled by the marketing department.
16) User-Generated social media Content / Influencer Content
This category has two basic types. First, there’s classic user-generated content. These are spontaneous representations of your products and services. For instance, a traveler talking about the awesome time they had at a particular hotel. On the other hand, influencer content is sponsored by a company. In return, the brand gets introduced to the influencer’s audience. This is overall a very effective way to reduce the burden of content creation.
17) Customer Reviews
Customer reviews are highly effective for marketing. And unsurprisingly, there are several ways to benefit. First, you can encourage people to review your products and services on third-party websites, such as online retailers or travel sites. Second, reviews can be posted on YOUR website. Between these approaches, you can invite reviews while also pulling them from other sites with a widget.
Further Reading: The Power of Customer Reviews in Marketing Videos
These types of content marketing can also leverage the power of influencers. For instance, you can interview a thought leader in your field. This educates your audience, while also demonstrating that the expert approves of your brand. Another alternative is to interview people who have benefitted from your services. Both approaches allow people to see the benefits of whatever you’re promoting.
Other types of content marketing
Despite the wide variety of content marketing options discussed above, not all of them fit into predefined categories. Some are very modern types of content marketing, while others have simply changed format somewhat. Finally, these marketing types might comprise more than one form of media.
Infographics are just what you think: graphical representations of information. In most cases, they’re an easy-to-read mixture of words mixed in with graphics that emphasize the point. These graphics are usually relatively simple, but they help visualize and present information. Customers love them, because they are easy to digest and remember.
20) Memes and GIFs
Memes use humor to get the point across. For brands, these need to be appropriate to your brand voice and overall image. Having something funny associated with your brand helps customers remember what it is and why it’s important. Similarly, GIFs are small video files. In the advertising space, you’d use them to denote humor versus seriousness. Once again, the goal is for your content to be memorable.
If you want to learn more about the power of memes, check out this episode of The School of Influence podcast:
Depending on your product type, courses are among the more effective types of content marketing. These present information in a detailed fashion, and they’re often somewhat interactive. As one example, L.L. Bean, a company that sells outdoor sports equipment has an outdoor sports instruction program. Here, they charge a (reasonable) course fee. However, the main purpose is to introduce participants to a sport, with the hope that they’ll get their gear at L.L. Bean.
Communities are an online gathering of people who have an affinity to your brand. They could be fans that’ve never bought from you, customers, and even brand ambassadors. In addition, communities can include people that are interested in the overall topic (more common with hobbies or B2B brands). Here, both industry topics and your actual products are discussed in a group setting. Communities themselves are a type of content marketing, and content that emerges from community discussions can also be repurposed into other content marketing types mentioned here.
Check out my own community: Digital First Group Coaching Membership Community
Last among our types of content marketing, consider presentations. These can be old-school sales calls, where a bunch of people get together and hear a pitch. Or, they can be videos of the same thing. In the latter situation, you’ll give viewers a quick way to ask questions and request more information. You can also upload that slide deck to Slideshare for additional digital eyeballs. When you think about it, presentations are one of the oldest marketing methods around.
How to Choose the Best Types of Content for Your Content Marketing Strategy
With so many types of marketing to choose from, which ones are right for your company? You’ll typically need to do several, but it’s important to use the most effective tools. To that end, I’ve included some considerations that will help you decide.
First, include the basics.
As a major proponent of a digital first marketing strategy, I tell all my clients to include certain basics. These are paid Search and SEO, along with email and social media marketing. However, within these baskets there’s significant variety. For instance, some social networks are better for specific consumer segments and not others. Similarly, customers might prefer to hang out in particular places. Always try to meet them. Search and email marketing are critical for most businesses.
Second, consider your audience.
Your first task is to ask yourself what type of content does your target customer consume, and in which search engines? Here, I’m using a definition of search engines that includes both the entire Web, as well as more specialized examples. If your audience hangs out on Google, then you definitely need a blog. On the other hand, YouTube is also a search engine that feeds users videos on their website. Companies whose clients heavily use YouTube should be doing video marketing. Finally, those with Apple Podcasts fans are often well-served by producing a podcast.
Next, think about what type of content your target customer consumes and in which social media platforms. So, if your audience loves TikTok, you need short videos (and post them there). Healthy debates with other fans? A brand community or Twitter space might be useful. Showing off their industry expertise? Go for LinkedIn.
Finally, decide which content marketing types will help you best tell your product and brand story as well as build like, know and trust. This is different for every brand, industry, and customer base. A craft materials company will likely want to do tutorials, but a B2B brand should look into whitepapers. As part of this discussion, look at your existing content and what works well already. You should also check up on competitors and their successes.
Third, look at what you can best produce internally.
Once you’ve decided which types of content marketing are strategically the most advantageous, it’s time to figure out what your team can handle. User-generated content is exempt from a production standpoint, but if you’re going to use influencer marketing (highly recommended) then you need a program in place. Besides this, consider existing skillsets. It’s usually cheaper and easier to use what you have before expanding beyond it. Where skills and strategy meet you have an ideal content campaign.
Although the term “content marketing” is relatively new, the concept is as old as marketing itself. For instance, many of us don’t think of presentations in this context. Considering its long history and the advancement of technology, there’s no surprise that there are so many types of content marketing. No matter what forms you use, however, they are essential to a well-rounded strategy for nearly every brand.
Hero photo by Nubelson Fernandes on Unsplash