When most people think of content marketing, they think of blogging. And of course, blogging is a great form of content marketing. But it’s far from the only form.
Which content marketing format is best for you will depend on several things:
- What you want to get out of your content
- How much time you have to create content
- If you can afford to outsource content creation
- Who your audience are
- How your audience consumes content
There’s no point having a blog if your audience prefers video, for example.
Videos and podcasts are great if you do online courses, on the other hand, because they help prospects get to know you, and get used to you and your teaching style. They’ll then come to you for guidance because they trust you and feel like they know you.
In this blog post, we’re going to explore the different content marketing formats and when to use them. You’ll come away with a better idea of which is the right fit for you, your business, and your audience.
Blog posts are my favourite, but I’m a little biased as I’ve been blogging for almost a decade.
The biggest downside to blogging is that they don’t make you feel quite as real to your audience as a podcast or a video does. This means that, depending on your audience, they may not convert as well as they could.
However, they’re still great for SEO, so if you want to build your organic traffic, they’re worth exploring (or combining with another content type).
Podcasts are great for building trust because your prospects get to hear you before working with you. So they feel more like they know you.
Videos are the best way to build trust in your personal brand because your audience gets to see and hear you. So you become more real to them.
Live videos create this connection even more because everything happens in real time.
In fact, even if you mess up in a live video, it can still make you seem more human to your audience and therefore make them want to buy from you even more.
Alternatively, you can script your video. But be careful to make your video script sound natural, not like something written by Siri or Alexa. This is a lot harder than it sounds, which is why outsourcing your video scripts can lead to a more natural sounding script that gets better engagement and more sales.
If you want to be super efficient, and really get the most out of your content, you can create a video, repurpose it as a podcast, transcribe it into a blog post, create quotable images from it, and publish clips from the videos as Reels or TikToks.
Doing this takes time, but it can be a lot faster than coming up with new content every few days. It also ensures that your idea/messaging reaches as many people as possible, since everyone has preferred ways of consuming content.
Whitepapers or reports
These are long-form, deep-dives into a particular topic. I don’t see as many businesses creating white papers as I used to.
They can take a long time to create (especially if you’re doing research before creating them), and they’re very easy to get wrong.
Sometimes, the stress and the resources required to create them just aren’t worth it.
However, if you cover a niche enough topic that will appeal to your audience, then it’s perfect.
They’re also great for sharing your latest research.
Everyone feels like they need to be on social media. The truth is, you don’t. I’ve interviewed plenty of six-figure business owners who don’t use social media for personal or professional purposes.
Not having a social media presence is much more effective than having a rubbish one because even having a rubbish one takes time, effort, and energy.
Not using social media frees you up to spend more time on other things that you enjoy more and that will make you more money.
Doing social media right doesn’t have to take hours every day, but it is a long-term game and requires a deep understanding of how each platform works.
You need to stay on top of trends, and beware of algorithm updates, to ensure that they don’t impact your reach.
Focusing on one platform at a time is therefore one of the best ways to get more out of your social media without feeling overwhelmed.
Email marketing is so divisive, but the truth is, it’s still got the highest ROI of any form of marketing. So, if you’re not doing it, or if you’re half-assing it, it’s time to re-evaluate what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.
The right email marketing strategy is key to success. If you’re emailing about one thing one day and another the next, your emails don’t teach your subscribers something before selling to them, or you’re not going into enough detail about the benefits of what you’re selling, your emails just won’t perform as well as you’d like.
Infographics are great ways to distil your knowledge and share them with your audience. They can take a while to create, though, so if you don’t have a design background and you’re serious about creating one, it might be worth outsourcing it. It’ll be a lot faster, and it’ll get you better engagement than if you did it yourself.
Images or photo
Posts with any sort of image or photo perform better on social media because they grab someone’s attention.
Obviously you want any photos you use on social media, in emails, or even in a blog post or video to be relevant to what you’re talking about. There’s no point in me sharing a photo of our dog, Millie, with you if it isn’t relevant.
Sure, photos grab attention. But it can also impact brand trust if you publish an attention-grabbing or click-bait image alongside something totally irrelevant.
I see a lot of marketers suggest writing an ebook as a way to promote your product or service.
While this can work, it really depends on what you’re selling and the type of person you are. Because you still need to market that ebook, and indie publishing is very much turning into a pay-to-play industry.
So it’s no longer as simple as writing a book, getting a cover designed, uploading it, and finding your audience.
Even if you optimise it for the right keywords, there are still algorithms and millions of books’ worth of competition to contend with.
Books can show knowledge and authority. They’re great for getting speaking gigs, too. But they’re very time-intensive and cost-intensive to create. There are much better ways to show you know what you’re talking about.
Unless you really enjoy writing, or have the budget to hire a ghost writer, I’d focus on a different type of marketing. (Says the author of 18 books.)
I’m seeing these a lot on LInkedIn lately, and they seem to perform quite well.
Slides, presentations, or carousels are a good way to distil knowledge in a similar way to infographics, but they make the content easier to read.
Infographics can sometimes have really small font sizes, particularly on mobile (I’m looking at you, Twitter), and that can mean that your gorgeous infographic doesn’t get read.
Splitting that infographic into a slideshow means that it’s easier for people to read, so more people will see and engage with what you publish.
Courses and webinars
Courses and webinars can convert incredibly well if done right. But, out of everything on this list, they’re one of the most challenging to put together.
They do have a higher ROI than something like an ebook though, while taking less time than writing and publishing a book.
You also get the added bonus of engagement if it’s a live webinar.
And you can repurpose that webinar to make it evergreen, or use a software to share that webinar at set times over several days to connect with your audience in multiple time zones.
One thing I’ve always remembered from studying webinars is that you want your free content to be about what your audience needs to learn. Your paid content should then be about how they learn it. If you give too much away for free, your audience won’t have a reason to pay.
The right content marketing format for you really depends on your business goals. If you’re uncomfortable on camera, there’s no point having a podcast. But if you love to write, a blog would be perfect.
You need to weigh up where your comfort zone is alongside how your audience digests content. That’s the sweet spot that will lead to more conversions.