Content is king – it is, after all, what the internet consists of, but there are many types of king, and many types of content available to encourage visitors to engage with your website.
1. Written blogs
These come in many guises, from the traditional informative post to opinion pieces to lists, to how-to guides to interviews and outreach pieces to reviews to… you get the picture. There are so many different ways to write your content, but the main thing you need to keep in mind to create great blogs is that it must be informative, helpful, and relevant to your target market, and you must be able to rank well in search through SEO.
There are many reports and stats declaring the demise of the written word online, that people ‘don’t read’ (and we show some of them below), but the written word is what we as humans are most used to. We have, relatively speaking, only just transferred over from the printed word to online content, and so written (or typed, as it may be) content, is still the predominant form - as long as it is easily scannable, and promoted by other channels.
Google loves it too, with a study by SERP IQ revealing that content topping the 2,300 word count most commonly ranked in the top 5 search results.
Text requires a longer visit time, and is the format of choice for goal-oriented people who are looking for information, or to actually buy something (whereas studies show video attracts those simply looking for entertainment).
2. Social media
The beauty of social media is that it allows us to share information, to connect and engage with others, and for businesses, a social profile presents your brand as a personable rather than a faceless entity.
Engaging with people who are producing and distributing relevant content for your industry, via social media, offers you valuable insights into the market because by seeing what they discuss and why, and how they are shaping the market, you can shape your marketing approach accordingly to offer the expertise and helpful solutions to the problems and needs they discuss.
Social media can also offer automated analytics programs that can keep track of your integrated digital marketing campaign, collecting valuable information garnered from social media activity and engagement. This allows you to assess, adapt and optimise your marketing efforts.
Promoting your blog posts across all of your social media networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc, means you will get the blogs out there and available, but the key to effectively promoting them is to post links to your blog posts when you know your followers are likely to be online. To know this, and get other specific information regarding your followers’ activities on social media, you should be using analytics tools, such as Facebook Analytics.
You also need to develop a sharing schedule that makes sense. Post to social media as soon as your blog post goes live. Then, as a general rule of thumb, you should link to the same blog post over the course of the next few days. But be sure not to cross the line into oversharing territory. Posting every hour on the dot will come across as intrusive and spammy, and users won’t appreciate it.
Optimise your content for each individual network. Every social networking site handles texts and images differently, so it isn’t a wise idea to take a one-size-fits-all approach. When posting a link to a blog post, make sure to tailor the format of the content to each specific social media site.
The real mover and shaker in the online engagement world at the moment is video. It’s popularity has risen so much that some reports are forecasting that by next year, 74% of all internet traffic will be video, while a survey of marketing professionals worldwide found that 52% of them listed video as giving the best ROI out of any online content format. Why? Because 65% of viewers watch more than three quarters of a video, which gives it a huge engagement factor.
HubSpot’s reasoning is sound, saying visual content gives online marketers ‘significant increases in their blog traffic, social media engagement, visitor-to-lead conversion rates and inbound customer acquisition results’. In other words, video works.
According to this blog by mavsocial, 90% of shoppers say video plays an important part in their purchasing decisions.
Why is it so effective? Well, video provides useful and relevant information in an interesting and captivating way, which more people are likely to watch to the end. Forrester sum it up nicely, saying ‘a minute of video is worth 1.8million words’.
Videos also have stickability, because people who watch them are more likely to stay on your website longer, increasing SEO and click-through rates. They are perfect for social sharing, which means your content can tap into the enormous YouTube and Facebook audiences of over a billion per day.
Videos and webinars are demonstrative too, so not only do they provide the information valuable to the consumer, but they can actually show how it works, and some 57% of consumers say they are more confident about purchasing a product after they have watched a video about it.
Podcasts had their phase of popularity, and they’re still a great form of content. Plus, they’re not hard to create. Many people listen to podcasts during their commute or exercise. You have a chance to spread your message farther and better using this format than a lot of other formats.
Webinars are also a great way to drive engagement because they are interactive and require a big investment in time, so they can be a great way to not only create a lead but also to educate and convert them.
4. Email and newsletters
How many marketing emails do you read in a week? Not many, I’d assume. But even if you only read one, this represents a significant win for the company who sent it, because opening that one mail shows your willingness to engage with the company who sent it, and are more likely to become a customer than you would through other content types.
Emails can be forwarded and shared on social media if you include sharing buttons, exponentially growing your website traffic, and strong CTAs can entice people to learn more about your business, products and services, as explained here.
Your emails need to be compelling, with a great subject line that is short, to the point, honest, and urgent, encouraging the recipient to act. Making it personal is also important, which makes having a CMS or COS essential, because it will allow you to segment your database of contacts to provide the right content to the right people at the right time in their customer journey. The more relevant the information is the recipient's’ needs, the higher the chances of engagement. Going back to our new friend video, their use in emails can increase open rates by 20%.
5. Offline content
Offline content such as an ebook, template, guide, whitepaper or worksheet is great for lead generation and customer engagement because they provide downloadable, useful information that can be referred to at the potential customer’s convenience. Because people usually need to fill in a form (and thus provide you with their name and contact details, or a building amount of other useful information for your sales team if you have smart content on your system), this type of content is great for engagement.
Producing offline content can help strengthen your authority within a field, and makes for a powerful method of sharing your knowledge with others. If done properly, ebooks and guides should include encouragements to find out more from your business, while worksheets and templates should entice people to come back to you for further engagement, or to make a purchasing decision.
This type of content is all about lead generation, and by providing your potential customers with the useful information they need, they find value in engaging with you, which in turn increases the chances of them becoming a lead for your sales team to nurture.
That’s five great types of content. Your business and your industry will dictate which works best for you, but to be truly effective in your digital marketing objectives, you should consider trying them all.
If you need help creating content that will generate leads, download our ebook: