Advertisers have better potential of seeing high conversion rates with the right content marketing strategy. Research done by the Content Marketing Association (CMA) shows that over 60% of marketers use content marketing, meaning they create and run organic marketing campaigns to leverage more business and grow their customer base. Many companies see it as a way to develop brand awareness and nurture long-term relationships with their partners and consumers.
So where should a company start? Which format should they use? Which is the most effective? The options for content marketing have gradually multiplied due to access to new information and continuing technological advancements. A marketer new to the content market scene might feel overwhelmed with too many choices. Hopefully, the below will shed some light on which direction to take.
Content Marketing Formats
As mentioned above, a number of content marketing formats exist and the list keeps growing. Some of the most commonly used formats include:
• Scrolling Websites – traditional websites
• Blogs – an ongoing forum with posts that discuss industry and brand-related topics
• Social Media Profiles – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
• Webinars – online seminars that offer participants information about a product, service or brand
• eBooks – published works distributed electronically for ease of use
• Podcasts – similar to a blog, an ongoing verbal discussion of industry and brand-related topics
• Infographics – creative images used to communicate research and other relevant information
• Case Studies – compiled research relating to an industry or brand, especially in relation to consumers
• Video Advertisements – commercial-like advertisements displayed as embedded ads on websites or as a precursor to other online videos
• User Reviews & Testimonials – real-life feedback from past or current customers who can speak to the quality and effectiveness of a service or product
• Web Forums – online discussion boards where people can discuss any topic of interest or pose questions to people who may have informed answers
• Mobile Apps – downloadable apps on mobile devices that can provide information and offers similar to what is displayed on a traditional website
Ease of Use
Marketers familiar with content marketing agree that images (including infographics), websites and blogs are the easiest formats to build, share and maintain. The creation of an infographic may be labor-intensive considering the time it will take to gather research and design a layout, but once created, it can be re-shared and revised with little effort. Similarly, a scrolling website requires a lot of startup hours but is easily regulated once it’s completely built and functional.
Blogs require more attention than sites and images simply because posts should be added frequently to create buzz and establish a loyal following. However, companies have several blog platforms to choose from. These platforms link the content directly to a company’s site and even have built-in templates that allow users to publish new posts by clicking through a few buttons.
Most Effective Formats
Further research done by MarketingSherpa shows that advertisers consider blogs, video ads and social media profiles to be the most effective means of content marketing. Almost one-third of marketers rank blogs the highest due to value they can provide to customers on a frequent basis. An effective blog gives the reader information either about a product, service or industry that they can apply to their daily lives. The more useful they find the content, the more likely they are to follow the ongoing posts and consider the brand during their next buying decision.
While video ads rank second to blogs in their effectiveness, they aren’t used as widely as they should be. It could be that companies are deterred by the cost of production and lack of knowledge on creating a quality video ad. However, it’s one of the best choices for a company using content marketing because they can easily link their add to existing videos, capitalizing on the exposure to the general public that companies like YouTube can offer. YouTube, after all, is the second-most used search engine next to Google. Mass viewership opportunities are more prevalent with video ads than any other format!
Lastly, social media is considered highly effective due to the versatility it offers. A brand can have profiles on multiple platforms that all redirect back to their website. The more attention the profiles get, the more likely it is that a company’s homepage will see more traffic. Marketers need to be especially diligent with their social media campaigns if they want to generate revenue. The profiles require daily attention and while all content is good content, conversion rates will only grow if the posts have a clear call to action. If companies aren’t asking followers to engage with their brand on a regular basis, they’re missing out on potential revenue that social media can help acquire.
When developing a content marketing strategy, brands should keep two things in mind. First, while studies might show one format is more effective than another, the channels used aren’t necessarily the keys to success. A company needs to decide what they want to share and then decide what on the best format for that information. Not all content will get the same response across the board. Second, having a mixed strategy will result the best outcome. Using multiple formats, despite how experienced marketers may have ranked them, will allow companies to gauge which venue works best for reaching their target demographic.