To prepare yourself for the content marketing landscape that lies ahead, you need to think like a publisher.
In some ways the term ‘content marketing’ no longer quite fits. We’re not just marketers and not just content producers. Our efforts now are all about delivering a publishing initiative that helps organisations improve in many different ways, not just to drive sales. Still, lead capture and lead nurturing are likely to be prominent on your agenda, with brand building a natural by-product of the effort.
What types of content can help you achieve these goals? Here are five to get you started:
1. Articles: It all starts here. Articles give you permission to engage with your subscriber base (your email list) on a frequency defined by you: let’s say twice per week minimum, but produce daily if you are able. The content may or may not benefit them – they decide that – but at least you are not bothering them with promotional material, which we are programmed to dislike.
What length should an article be? I have addressed that in an earlier blog post, but let’s say for now that 800 to 900 words is a good balance, while 1,200 to 2,500 well-written words will be valuable for search engine and social media share metrics. But whatever the length, use images generously.
2. eBooks and whitepapers: The more user-friendly eBook is tending to replace the traditional whitepaper. They can be anywhere from a dozen pages up to 100+, but whatever the size, text should not overwhelm any page. And just about every page should contain visuals and a good layout, to help your audience and reassure them that it is a manageable read.
eBooks are ‘gated’ content: they offer something of value to your audience in return for finding out more about them – perhaps a company name, job title, and whether they are looking for a solution of the type that your company provides. It’s a fair trade. You give something of value to your audience, and all you ask in return is for them to tell you whether they are a viable lead or not.
3. How-to guides: These can take different forms, including videos, presentations, editorials, or interactive, but they are all offering your audience help with completing a specific task. For example The Home Depot’s DIY how-to guides cover everything from pressure washing to redoing your kitchen – and the fit is clear, since the company sells just about anything you would ever need for home maintenance and improvement.
How-to guides are a great way to strengthen your relationship with your audience. Only those with a real problem to solve will click on your guide, and if you successfully help them address the issue, you win over a new friend. Content helps build up trust, and there is no better way to do this than by offering real and practical value.
4. Quick-to-create content: There are lots of creative ways to work into your content mix some things that are quick and easy to create. Most companies don’t have the resources to create quality in-depth content very regularly. But without fresh content it’s hard to find an excuse to reach out to your audience as often as you should. The solution is ‘quick content’: a video article, a stats page, a photos page or a super-short blog post.
This type of material enables you to drive in traffic with fresh and original content that can be created in minutes. It won’t stress your production resources and allows you to reach out to your prospects via your social media channels. But this isn’t content you would send out to your subscriber list. Your goal is to get viable prospects to your site. Whether through an invitation to download an ebook, or a single photo posted on Instagram, the traffic is of equal quality.
5. Surveys, tests, calculators: Surveys, tests and calculators providing instant output are a powerful way for your audience to identify problems which your products or services help solve. This kind of content can resonate strongly with your audience and can be a great foundation for starting a discussion. An example from the healthcare industry is Bupa’s Quick Health Age Calculator. Bupa gets some info from you in a friendly and easy-to-use format, and the result is a quick and general output that tells you your ‘health age’.
Or let’s say you took an online test which revealed you had an increased risk to some potential health issue – say diabetes, which is a growing problem in the UAE for a range of well-documented reasons. The next logical step would be to find out more about it, and alongside the test results you can be presented with further resources about diabetes, or a form to request an appointment with a physician. And this is where a sales relationship might begin.
How it all works together
These five content types will give you a good base for your publishing efforts. Frequent articles and quick content give you a steady flow of material to engage with your audience on a regular basis. eBooks, how-to guides and other tools take more time to put together and require bigger budgets, but as you build up that richer content you can reference it time and again in your articles, pointing to the eBook in your calls to action, and using download forms to qualify prospects.
The end result is that the whole content mix works together to qualify prospects and to guide willing members of your audience directly into the sales cycle.