Jun 6, 2018

7 Popular Content Types and How to Use Them

by Digital Marketing Institute

Content is the currency of the internet, and there are hundreds of types that brands can focus on creating to engage audiences, reach new target markets, provide value to customers, and entice new prospects.

But with all the different types of content that are out there, it can be difficult for brands to know which ones to focus on, so today we’re going to go over the top seven content types and how you can use them to drive growth.

1. Blogs

Blogging has been around for as long as the internet has, but the practice has become more sophisticated over the years, especially when it comes to businesses using blogs to engage audiences.

Today’s blogs are relevant, high-quality, and well-written pieces about topics that your audience finds interesting, so they can be a great tool for building authority, trust, and relationships, and consequently driving conversions. Other benefits of a blog are that posts are relatively easy to write and publish, they're highly shareable, and they're easily discovered by search engines.

Blogging best practices: If you don’t have a self-hosted blog, you can use services such as WordPress, Tumblr, Medium, and Blogger. Blogging, however, is a regular commitment, and you have to be prepared to post every couple of days. You should always include a call to action in each post, and link blogs to each other and to other content to help readers discover more about you.

You should also optimize your posts with relevant keywords, as long as they're worked in seamlessly and naturally. Finally, make sure you focus on topics that will interest your target audience, and use your expertise on the subjects to build authority and trust.

2. Listicles

List articles may seem somewhat gimmicky, but they're extremely popular and aren't going anywhere. One of the reasons they're so popular is because they're easy to read, scannable, visually appealing, and—when done right—interesting and highly shareable.

From a content creation perspective, listicles are also easy to write, because once you have a topic and a number, all you have to do is fill in the blanks. However, that doesn’t mean you can throw together a listicle without putting any thought into the content matter because even this type of content has to be informative and high-quality.

Listicle best practices: Always remember to number your subheadings in a listicle, and make sure the number matches the title; otherwise, you'll confuse readers. Like other content types, lists should still have introductions and conclusions, and they should be optimized with relevant keywords. You can have as many numbers in your lists as you like, and long lists are just as acceptable as shorter ones, but details are always important.

Coming up with catchy and unique titles is an important part of writing list articles, but be sure the heading matches the content (no clickbait).

3. Ebooks

Ebooks are a type of long-form content, and as the name suggests, they're electronic books that are often available as PDF downloads or in HTML format. This type of content can give you a great outlet for sharing your knowledge and expertise on a given topic. Ebooks have a number of benefits, including lead generation, establishing authority, growing email lists, and beefing up your overall content offering.

Ebook best practices: The main focus of an ebook should be providing solutions. Otherwise, it won’t be of value to your audience. Therefore, minimize the time you spend on advertising and focus more on generalized solutions. A good rule of thumb for ebooks: keep the promotional elements to between 5 and 10 percent of the content. This type of content demands research, time, and quality writing, so it’s best to have a plan in place before you start.

The content doesn’t necessarily have to be evergreen, but if it is then you'll get years of return on the investment, and you'll be able to use the ebook to continue reaching new audiences long after it’s published. Ebooks can be long, so be sure to break up the content using chapters, subheadings, bullets, graphics, infographics, and other interesting formatting elements. You should also put some time into the title and the design because this is what will attract and engage readers.

4. Infographics

Infographics are among the most popular types of content you can create, and this is because they present a great deal of information (such as statistics, research, and other data) in a visual way that’s engaging, digestible, and shareable.

In fact, infographics are shared three times more often than other content types on social media, so they can also help you with your backlink building, as well as growing your audience.

Infographic best practices: Creating an infographic is an art, and there are lots of things to be aware of when designing one. For one thing, it’s important to incorporate plenty of white space into the piece to keep it clean and organized. Many infographics also break content up into sections to keep information separate and use complementary colors to maintain interest. To ensure clarity, come up with a descriptive title and use clear fonts that are easy to read.

5. Video

Video is an enormously successful form of content, and by 2020 it’s expected to account for 80 percent of all web traffic. Moreover, 96 percent of consumers find product videos helpful, and nearly 75% are more likely to make a purchase after watching a video.

Any type of video content will help you engage your audiences, increase shares and comments, increase conversions, and drive traffic to your website. Other types of videos you can consider are interviews, call-in shows, a behind the scenes look at the office, and explainer videos.

Video best practices: Just like ebooks and other forms of content, the main aim of a video should be to provide value to your audience by answering questions, providing solutions, addressing pain points, or otherwise providing relevant information.

Remember, you're creating content, not ads. Keep videos between two and three minutes, and be sure to include a CTA at the end sending viewers to a landing page or your website. Once your video is ready, upload it to sites like Vimeo and YouTube to increase exposure, embed them in complementary posts, and share them through your blog.

6. How-to Guides

How-tos and instructional content are similar to long-form blog posts that go into great depth about how to do anything from achieving a task to building something and more. The exact nature of your tutorial will depend on your audience and your industry, but this type of content is great for sharing expertise, building trust, and growing email lists.

How-to guide best practices: One of the most important things to remember with tutorials is that they must be top-quality in terms of writing because they have to be clear, concise, and precise in telling readers how to complete the task at hand. The layout and design must make the piece easy to read, should break the task into manageable steps, and should probably include graphics, diagrams, screenshots, videos, and other graphic elements to illustrate crucial points or hard-to-complete steps.

Don’t forget to include a list of required materials if applicable, and make sure you thoroughly address all the information readers need to accomplish their goal.

7. Case Studies

Case studies are a good way of making issues relatable because they use archetypal examples to illustrate common pain points and challenges your audience may face. Another reason it’s a good content choice is because it demonstrates to prospects how your brand, products, or services can help solve problems they may be experiencing, and this will foster strong relationships and build loyalty.

Case study best practices: To create an effective case study, start by summarizing the problem your customer was facing. Next, go over what the solution was while providing actionable and step-by-step examples that prospects can use to repeat the process. Finally, provide a summary of the results that your customer achieved using your products or services, emphasizing how the results solved the problem and made your customer’s life better.

To make the content engaging and relatable, think about it more as a success story than a case study, and focus on the hows and whys of the story. Finally, don’t forget to provide a conclusion that includes a strong CTA.

Content is the way you present information, engage audiences, drive traffic, start conversations, and otherwise communicate with customers and prospects online. Choosing the right type of content for your business and your audience, therefore, can take your content strategy to the next level and help you achieve the goals you want to reach.

These 7 types of content are some of the most popular across the web, and by using the best practices outlined here, you'll be able to create top-notch content that will engage, delight, and encourage sharing.

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