They say variety is spice of life. Well the same may be true of really effective content marketing strategies.
Add some blog posts, a dash of social media, a cup of video, a smidge of infographic, a heap of webinars and e-books. Is that the perfect recipe for content marketing ROI?
The facts is that different audiences do not all respond to the same type of content. And there might be more than you realize.
Andy Crestodina from Orbit Media created an infographic to show the periodic table of content types or “elements.”
It includes the following content formats:
- social post
- blog post
- press release
- landing page
- case study
And then of course, there is content variety such as customer testimonial videos.
Content Variety In Content Marketing Strategy
I like to show these content formats by buyer stage in this full content marketing strategy visualized:
Which formats are right for your content marketing strategy? The answer is, it depends on your buyer. But the fact is that variety is one of the keys (along with volume and value) to an effective content marketing strategy in any industry.
The fact is that if you’re relying on one type of content you’re going to struggle to attract more than one type of visitor, or to get featured on more than one type of site.
Why should you be worried about this? Two reasons…
- The number of customers you reach, and consequently the growth of your company and brand, will be limited.
- The value of new links will be diminished (if a site has linked to you once, any subsequent links from that same site will have diminishing returns – you need to target links from new domains in order to keep building your own site’s authority).
Stick with me and we’ll take a look at a number of content marketing examples that show how diversifying the type of content you create can help you to diversify the traffic you attract.
Content Marketing Hubs or Blog
Content Marketing Hubs, or “blog articles” are the most effective type of content marketing for bringing in early-stage, top-of-funnel traffic and web visitors. With simple question-and-answer style blog articles, thought leadership and authentic stories, you can become an authority in your industry.
So that when your audience is ready to buy, they think of you first. Blog articles are also great for SEO, fueling the hungry social media machines, and giving your website a “heartbeat,” as I like to say.
The best content marketing blogs come from real people, answering real questions from real customers. But before we get into all the fun visual, social and other varieties of content, it’s important to remember that written content is still preferred by most executives when making a decision.
Ask enough people and it won’t be long before someone tells you that infographics “have had their day”. Or worse, that “infographics are dead“.
I don’t agree.
I’m not big on infographics myself – as in, I don’t create them myself. But I do see the value in them.
I also understand that while the art of the infographic might not be “dead”, it’s certainly on the decline. “Infographic posting generally rose steadily from 2007 to 2012, where it peaked, and has begun to decline since then,” said Sarah Rapp, Community Manager at Behance. Does this mean you’re fighting a losing battle if you choose to invest in infographic design? Of course not.
Great infographics can and do still get results.
This infographic from New York Magazine details the sleeping habits of history’s greatest minds. It secured coverage in Fast Co. Design, Mental Floss, and io9, amongst others.
Daily Dot’s illustrated guide to dragons gained links from sites including Geekologie, The Huffington Post, Nerdist, and Joe.ie.
The fact is that a lot of high-authority websites are still keen to feature high-quality infographics, and their audiences are lapping them up.
Best of all, the format itself is diverse enough to be applied to pretty much any industry, and therefore target any audience. Infographics are also easy to republish, consume, and share, making the humble infographic an excellent tool for link building.
Using Infographics to Diversify Your Traffic
The key here is to diversify the subject matter of your infographics. Play it safe by sticking to the same topics and you’re going to limit the number and type of sites you can target and the audiences you can reach.
Be adventurous with the topics you cover and you should find yourself attracting visitors and links from all sorts of awesome sites.
Infographics are a highly diverse content format, but compared to video, they’re practically one-dimensional. Video embodies everything from six-second clips on a loop to brand adverts and feature length films. It can be used to inform, educate, inspire, shock, entertain, or persuade. There’s very little it can’t do.
It goes without saying that when it comes to video, YouTube offers access to the biggest and most diverse audience. It has over a billion users (that’s nearly a third of all internet users), while every day millions of hours of content is consumed via the site and its respective applications.
Of course, such a big audience means big competition. It comes with the territory. Understandably, this means standing out isn’t easy. You need be different, or better than everyone else. Or… very, very lucky.
So what makes a successful YouTube video?
According to Entrepreneur, the best YouTube videos tend to…
- Be short and to the point – three minutes or less is ideal.
- Illustrate the point of the video within its opening moments.
- Include a CTA early in the video, which is repeated throughout.
- Include the contact information of their creator.
- Have a specific goal or objective and are targeted to a very specific audience.
- Be unique.
- Be professionally produced and edited.
- Be easy to consume and understand.
- Include background music.
- Be in keeping with brand guidelines.
- Have a descriptive title – they don’t mislead the viewer.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Take Nick Offerman’s Yule Log, a marketing video for Lagavulin whisky:
At just under 45 minutes it’s around 15 times longer than recommended. There’s no background music. No witty script. Or for that matter, any sound except the gentle crackling of a log fire.
The video has had more than 2 million views so far, an excellent response from viewers, and huge coverage in a multitude of publications. It’s different. It’s clever. And it works.
Of course, there is more to online video than YouTube.
Vimeo opens the doors to a smaller, but generally more engaged, audience than its big brother. YouTube attracts a lot of casual viewers – viewers that want simple, bite-sized entertainment.
Vimeo is a little more niche. Its users tend to be a tad more serious about the art of video production. It’s less “home videos” and “cat clips”, and more “art-house cinema”. It’s also ad free.
Its audience differs too. Fewer trolls, and more constructive feedback.
Vine is an excellent tool for reaching a teenage audience; 31.8% of US internet users aged 14 to 17 are using it, according to eMarketer. Best of all, you don’t necessarily need to create videos specifically for Vine – try repurposing your YouTube or Vimeo content into a Vine, instead.
In fact, depending on the style and content of your videos, there’s little reason why you can’t target multiple audiences at once by uploading the same video to Facebook and Vimeo, and repurposing it into a Vine.
Using Videos to Diversify Your Traffic
As with infographics, one way to diversify the traffic your videos drive is to diversify their subject matter. However, I can see two potential roadblocks to this tactic…
- Many people that frequent video sites explore content, not just via the site’s search function, but by “following” producers that create content the viewer wants to see more of (YouTube, for example, is organized into “channels” that users can follow). This means that to build a regular, engaged audience, you generally need to create content of a similar type and style. The consequence of this is that it limits the audience you’re able to target.
- Producing and uploading videos to sites like YouTube means that any traffic, however diverse, gets driven to the respective video site, rather than your site.
Let’s take a look at some workarounds…
On YouTube, you can use “Playlists” to organize content according to “themes”. The primary purpose of Playlists is to allow viewers to watch a series of related videos without needing to keep pressing “play”. They’re also really useful for enabling your viewers to find the type of content that they enjoy most. This means you can diversify the subject matter of your videos without alienating or confusing viewers when covering inconsistent topics.
To see what I mean, take a look at the Vice YouTube channel. They have a huge library of videos. Sorting through it and finding videos of interest would be pretty taxing, if not for the Playlists section that enables viewers to narrow down the type of content they’re interested in watching.
You can do something similar using Vimeo’s “Channels“.
The solution to getting people away from the video sites and to your website isn’t quite so straightforward.
It entails including convincing CTAs around and within your videos. You need to tell your viewers what you want them to do (visit a particular page of your site) and what’s in it for them. This means you need to offer your viewers something additional that they cannot get through your videos. Generally, this means a content upgrade.
If you’ve visited my site more than once you’ll probably have noticed that I’m pretty big on long-form content. It makes up the bulk of the content I create. I like it primarily because I love to write. I have a YouTube Channel and I’ve headed up a handful of video guides, but generally, you’ll find me putting pen to paper (not literally, but you get the analogy).
When I’m talking about long-form content, I mean text-based articles, consisting of 1500 words (give or take) and upwards. This is because longer articles have been shown to perform better in search results.
But I don’t just love long-form content because it performs well in the SERPs; I love long-form content because of how easily it can be shaped to diversify my traffic. Here’s how.
Using Long-Form Content to Diversify Your Traffic
There are two key ways in which you can use long-form content to diversify your traffic:
- Diversify the topics you cover and the keywords you include. This helps you to mix up the search terms your site ranks for and diversifies how visitors find you and land on your site.
- Approach sites about publishing an article you’ve written. This gives you a quick route to access a new, readily-engaged audience.
Keywords and Topics
When choosing topics to write about, don’t rely on your own ideas. I’m a big fan of Quora, Answer the Public, and Ubersuggest. These are all tools that can help you pinpoint what questions people are asking online, so you can craft content geared around answering them.
The more you mix up the topics you cover, the more you will be able to diversify your traffic.
That said, you should be sure to retain a consistent, underlying theme to your content. For me, that’s marketing. There is no point in creating content that drives irrelevant traffic to your site. Those visitors won’t come back, and they certainly won’t convert.
You’ll also risk sullying your reputation if your content lacks consistency. It’s about finding a balance between relevancy and variety.
- Only writing about how to drive organic traffic to a website=too specific.
- Writing about anything to do with the internet=too broad.
- Writing about the various elements of marketing a website=just right.
Personally, I don’t worry too much about keywords. For this site, I aim to write around 3000 words per post. This level of detail should give Google enough information to understand the themes of the page without my needing to force in particular keywords. However, it’s worth bearing in mind the risks of keyword cannibalization – an issue which can occur if you write multiple posts that cover identical or near-identical topics.
That said, keyword tools can be really useful for identifying themes to include, even if you don’t work the exact keywords into the article.
Don’t be put off by my choice of the words “guest posting”. I know that guest posting as we once knew it is long gone (and that’s a good thing). But guest posting can still be a legitimate way of reaching new audiences, building your brand, and yes, gaining links.
I guest post regularly. I have regular spots on Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Inc, and have written a number of pieces for the Wall Street Journal.
The difference is that I’m picky about where and who I write for. I want my name to be attached to sites that my peers and potential customers respect. I want to be on sites that boast engaged audiences that are relevant to me and what I do.
How did I do this?
I started small and worked my way up.
You’re unlikely to bag a regular spot on a big site unless you’ve already made a bit of a name for yourself. Target smaller, industry-specific sites at first. Work on developing an engaged Twitter following. Build your connections and endorsements on LinkedIn.
Personally, I began by targeting sites like Search Engine Journal, Social Media Today, and Mention. Publications at this level are much more open to contributions from “unknowns”, but it helps to approach them with the right topics, or better yet, a finished piece. In my experience, these kinds of mid-tier sites are as interested in the subject matter and quality of the content as they are in the person behind that content. You generally won’t get very far with a speculative “Hey, I’d love to write for you” kind of email. Be up front about exactly what you can offer them.
When you’ve got a bit of credibility and a handful (you really only need a handful) of quality, successful posts that you can include in your resume, the really big publications are far more likely to sit up and listen to what you have to say.
This is because (again, in my experience) the big, big sites are just as interested in who you are as in the topics you’re writing about. Why else would it be so important to build some credibility before approaching them? They want you to bring the full package to the table. Consequently, I’ve found that pushing my credentials, not an article topic, works better when trying to get my foot in the door of these big-name sites.
I think interviews are an awesome form of content. I love interviewing other people, and I love it when people interview me.
I also think that interviews are an excellent device for tapping into a new audience – namely, the audience of the person you interview, or that interviews you.
Using Interviews to Diversify Your Traffic
This strategy essentially comes down to getting other people involved in your content. You can actually do this without having to go to the extremes of carrying out a full interview; securing quotes from influencers can have a similar effect. However, I’ve found I get the best results if I go whole hog and take the time to interview someone properly (or have them interview me).
- The more involved someone is in the creation of a piece of content, the more invested they will be in its success. Someone who’s provided a quick quote for you might tweet the finished article, but in my experience, they’re unlikely to do much else. Someone who’s spent half an hour answering your questions will probably share the resulting content across multiple social channels (potentially, multiple times) and might even link to it from their site.
- Taking the time to talk to someone properly – to ask them questions and listen carefully to their answers – can help you to build a real, genuine relationship with that person. This can have benefits that reach far beyond that initial piece of content. It’s not what you know, after all…. (Disclaimer: it kind of is what you know, but who you know definitely helps, too!)
Thinking about making the leap from article writing to something a little more hands-on, but aren’t quite ready to speak on screen? Enter: podcasting.
First coined in a 2004 article by Ben Hammersly, podcasting has seen year-on-year growth pretty much every year since.
Podcasts are popular primarily because they allow us to consume content while we’re on the go. Unlike videos or articles, which demand most, if not all, of our attention, we’re able to listen to podcasts pretty much anytime, anywhere. They’re an easy and convenient way to consume new content and information.
Using Podcasts to Diversify Your Traffic
Let’s start with the easy stuff… directories. There are a number of them that you can use to list your podcasts and instantly tap into new audiences.
Okay, so the audience numbers will pale in comparison to what you could potentially access on YouTube. But that’s fine. There’s also less competition.
In my experience, podcasters tend to be pretty open to guest speakers, too. Get your name out there and reach new audiences by interacting with established podcasters in your industry and nabbing yourself a guest spot on their show.
Later down the line, start inviting other people to speak on your show.
Bear in mind however, that (like with YouTube and other video sites) unless you’re hosting a podcast on your own site, you’re not going to be driving traffic directly to it. Your way around this is to encourage listeners to visit your site by placing CTAs throughout the podcast. Tell them where you want them to go, why, and what they’re going to get out of it.
The suggestions above are by no means a comprehensive list of content formats that can be used to diversify the traffic your site receives. Instead, they’re designed to give you an idea of how diversifying the content you create can help you to diversify the traffic you attract.
In short, diversifying your traffic entails getting your name and content in as many relevant places as possible. This might mean creating long-form content that ranks in the search results for a multitude of relevant terms. It probably also means getting your content featured on other websites. This might involve building a profile on a video site, writing guest posts, or designing content that’s enticing enough that other publications will want to feature it and write about it.
There’s no set rule that dictates how to do this – the trick is simply to mix up what you do: be adventurous with the content you create and the people and publications you approach about it.
Have you tried your hand at a new form of content with the aim of reaching a new audience? Please take a minute to let me know what you did and the results you saw in the comments below!