Everyone knows how important blogging is for your business growth. As the backbone of most acquisition plans, it’s a marketer’s dream to have a fully-functioning, insightful blog that drives traffic, generates leads, and helps convert sales.
But in 2020, blogging can’t be the only thing your business is doing.
Written blog articles are great—they’re easy to consume, informational, multifaceted, and extremely engaging when written well. However, with the number of social channels out there that you can use to reach customers, expanding your content repertoire (and reach) is an important part of every companies’ long-term content marketing plan.
Every platform, from your blog, to your Facebook and Instagram page, to your email list, has a unique way of reaching customers. But the content you produce needs to be just as well thought out as the messages you are trying to convey.
There’s lots of content types that you can create, depending on the social channel—it’s just knowing where to start. And luckily, there’s lots of statistical and anecdotal evidence to help guide you to the kind of content you need.
But before you dive into the different kinds of content you can make, it’s crucial to understand why you need to diversify your content portfolio.
The Importance of Content Variety
Sometimes you need to expand beyond a blog post. And that’s essentially because your customers don’t always need to see a blog post.
Depending on where they are in your funnel, it’s possible they need to see something entirely different—something more effective and engaging for where they are at.
The best way to start understanding this is to understand the Customer Value Journey. If you can understand and memorize the steps in the CVJ, then you can start to understand what you need to give to your customer to help them move on to the next step.
Hint: that’s not always a blog post. And here’s why…
Blog posts are a really effective content type in the Awareness Stage of the CVJ. They can help people remember your brand, learn what you do, and they can hopefully learn something about the process about your industry, your business, or the specific problem you solve. Blog posts can even be good in other stages, but different stages call for different content.
In the Awareness Stage, short blog posts are effective in getting your brand known. In the Engage Stage, long-form blog posts can be effective because their informational and build credibility. But in the subscribe stage, a free blog post probably isn’t the content type you need to accomplish your goal: getting your customers to subscribe and give you their information.
For that, a lead magnet or piece of exclusive content would be much more effective and enticing to your customer that already knows who you are.
Once you understand how content works within the context of the Customer Value Journey, then you can understand which content types are effective at each stage. Then all you have to focus on is creating valuable content.
Because everyone knows, the value that your content delivers is what’s really important for generating customers.
(If you haven’t really nailed down your CVJ, or your Customer Avatar, you should do that as soon as possible before you write any more content, blog or otherwise. That way, in content marketing and otherwise, you can better understand the steps that you need to take to be successful.
And then you can create all the content that they need to move along the journey.
5 Different Types of Content
We’ve talked about it a thousand times before, and even recently created a blog post about it, but here we are to say it again…
Videos are an extremely effective type of content. In fact, video content may be the most important type of content to have in 2021.
That’s because people are watching videos more than ever. The rise of video was inevitable. But it’s grown in popularity so quickly that now every business has to figure out how to keep up.
And the ones that do have unbelievable content marketing success….
Just check out the stats from other content marketers like you. 80% of video markets said that video helped them increase sales and 87% said it increased traffic to their site. Video has been proven to generate results—and the best part is that it’s multifaceted.
Video can inform, entertain, and captivate. It can do all 3 of those things at the same time, and it can also do them exclusively. There are really no limits to what video can provide. That’s why, whether it’s a commercial, a how-to video, or anything in between, people use video so much.
Because of that, video can be effective at almost any point in the Customer Value Journey. But they’re truly effective in the first two steps of the CVJ, because they do a great job at building awareness and are extremely engaging.
You can find ways to use video later on in the CVJ, like if you’re creating a challenge video to generate excitement or customer testimonials to advocate for your brand.
If you want to learn more about how to create good videos, check out our blog post. And if you do, you’ll notice that there is another kind of content attached…
If you looked at that blog post, what did you think of the infographic?
I’ll be your first thought was that it was informational, unique, or aesthetically pleasing.
See, infographics are a lot like blog posts, but they have one leg up on your typical blog.
They’re pretty to look at.
People like infographics because they can deliver a lot of useful information. They also make that information very consumable and easy to understand. And clarity, more than anything, makes people want to buy your product or use your service.
Infographics are great for generating engagement—just look at what we did with our video infographic. It adds another aspect to our long-form blog post, strengthening the post as a whole as well as the information we are trying to convey. It’s also downloadable, so people can use it at any time.
Infographics will most certainly help people remember who you are and what you do. That’s mainly because there is so much your customers can get out of them. And with a little creativity and a good graphic designer (or a Canva account), they’re really not that hard to make.
The nice thing about tools as a content type is that they’re useful. The other nice thing is that they’re interactive.
The ability to interact with something and use it in your own unique way not only makes it useful, but it also makes it memorable. That’s why tools are such a good content type: people can get value out of it, and they can do it on their own accord.
In the same way that you loved using crayons for the first time when you were a kid, or the same way our ancestors reacted to using the first hammer, your customers should react the same way to the tools you provide them. They’re cool, useful, and tangible.
The only problem is knowing what tool you need to provide in the first place.
There is no right or wrong answer here because it’s entirely dependent on what you do and the problem you solve. For us, we created a tool that we call the Content Calculator that helps you understand and forecast your metrics (traffic and sales) based off the amount of content you create. Pretty cool tool, right?
If you’re in digital marketing, maybe it’s a tool that helps your clients map out their marketing plan. If you’re a personal fitness trainer, maybe it’s a tool that helps your clients track their fitness and dietary habits. Truthfully, the options are endless.
But, no matter the tool, it’s best to use it to get people to subscribe.
That means don’t give it away for free. If they aren’t going convince them to convert by purchasing it, they should at least sign up for your email list or give you their contact information. That way, once they’ve gotten some value of your tool, you can hit them with another offer that will reel them right back in.
And they’ll probably already like you since your tool was so great.
Challenges are great. They are inclusive, fun, exciting, and promote interaction between your brand and your customers.
And that last piece is why they are really useful. It’s also why challenges are totally different than the other 3 types of content above.
Challenges aren’t really meant to generate new customers. It’s meant to keep your existing ones happy.
They can be a great way to keep your already happy customers engaged or re-engage some customers that maybe haven’t purchased or opened your emails in a while. They allow your customers to actually accomplish something cool, while also keeping your brand at the front of their mind.
And if you pair your challenges with some prizes for the winners, then you’ll have people participating every time.
The only issue is like the one above: there is no challenge that works for everyone. They’re going to entirely depend on what your business is. For us, it’s marketing challenges that help our customers and partners learn a new skill or reexamine something in their marketing plan. Maybe it’s just showcasing the great work they’ve already done.
No matter what it is though, that is the end goal: showcasing your customers. It’s all about giving them something to accomplish and then showing them some appreciation. That’s why they work really well at the Excite stage.
Who said content was just for getting people interested? Even for someone who has purchased from you 100 times, generating content for them can do wonders for your business (and customer retention rate).
5. Case Studies
Last but not least, case studies are a great form of content to appeal to people all across the various stages of your Customer Value Journey. That’s because everyone finds them enticing and interesting.
Whether you’re trying to reach new customers or ones that have been with you for 10 years, people love success stories. They’re inspirational and give something that your customers can strive toward, and they also showcase the way that your product helped them accomplish something significant.
That makes case studies sound like customer testimonials. And although they are similar, there’s one very significant difference: they need to be about your customer, not you.
Although you should mention that they used your service, that’s not what your case study should be about. It should be about the cool thing or milestone that your customer was able to accomplish. By making it customer-centric instead of business-centric, you have the ability to captivate your audience in your customer’s story. That’s only going to increase their desire to accomplish something like that themselves.
And they’ll still associate their success with your brand. If anything, they’ll want to end up being the next case study that gets featured on your website.
Case studies can accomplish a lot of things at the same time, and they’re really no harder to create than a regular blog post. All you have to do is reach out to your customer and talk to them. If they’ve had a lot of success, I promise that they will be more than happy to tell you about it.
Although blog posts are the backbone of most content marketing plans (and definitely shouldn’t be underestimated), there’s a lot of content options out there that can help you reach your audience in new ways.
If you utilize them, and do it effectively, you should have no issue making your business and audience grow.