A Guide to Creating Content in the Best Formats For Your Audience

There are so many formats to consider when deciding how to present information to your audience. First and foremost there is what you’re capable of. If you can’t make video content because you don’t have the tools, well then that answers that question!

If you are in the fortunate position where you do have more than one tool available, that opens up an entire different can of worms. What does your audience prefer? Do they like blogs, newsletters, white papers or pod casts? Are they used to you vloging, tweeting or creating magazine articles? Have you considered what type of content you present in what ways?

It all matters, you know. Different content forms work better with different kinds of marketing, while also generating different expectations. If what you’re doing doesn’t match, that could negatively impact what you’re doing. And obviously that’s not what you’re after.

For example, if you’re writing up blog posts, newsletters and magazine article you’re expected to keep to a schedule. There needs to be a certain consistency. On the other hand, this isn’t necessarily true of games, books or apps that you release.

Let’s look at some ways that you can find better formats for your content.

Do different demographics have different expectations?

You’ll be happy to know the answer is ‘no’. In general both young and old prefer the same type of media so you don’t have to worry about that as well! Marketingland presented data last year that suggests Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers all consume the same type of content the most.

These were:

  1. Blog articles
  2. Images
  3. Comments
  4. eBooks

They were also least likely to consume white papers. So if you aren’t using the first four and you are publishing lots of white papers, it might be time to reconsider that strategy.

Of course, we’re only speaking in general here, your specific audience might be entirely different. To get a better idea of what they like turn to:

Your competition

This is probably one of the best places to start – particularly when you’re just starting out. Look to your competitors and figure out what they’re doing and what is getting the most traction (as most people now very considerately publish how many shares and likes they get on their content that’s relatively easy to figure out).

As long as you take into consideration the quality of the material, you’ll be in a great position to figure out what kind of format you should pursue. Is it mainly text-based or are they using some amazing visuals?

Though obviously you’re not planning to copy what they’re doing directly – as then there is no way to differentiate your own brand from theirs, besides how can you beat them if you’re the same? – copying what they’re doing in terms of formatting wholesale is an entirely different matter.

What’s more, once you’ve run a few months of content marketing you can turn to:

Google Analytics

This will start to give you a good idea of what content and format on your site is doing exceptionally well. Note, that here you’re not just interested in overall viewing numbers, as that doesn’t allow you to disentangle the quality of your post from the format you presented it in.

To do that, make sure you look which format has more legs (as in keeps drawing an audience for the longest), how long they spent on the different pages, and the bounce rate, as each of these can give you some kind of clue as to what people like. Longer legged content is obviously more interesting to your audience while a high bounce rate is indicative that they might not like this format as much as you might have hoped.

Also, be sure to aggregating over different posts by grouping different formats as well as different posts types together and comparing these against each other. This will then give you rough estimates of what is doing better.

With that information, you can then.

Reformat posts that did well

If you presented information in one post that did exceptionally well, don’t be afraid to repurpose it and present it in a different format. This will work even better if you happen to have slightly updated information.

In this way you’ll be in a much better position to separate content from format, as the content is similar (even if rehashed) and therefore the difference is more likely down to the format. So if you see a slight drop in interest, it’s probably down to repetition, while if you see an increase in interest in the second post, then that format suits your audience exceptionally well.

So, for example, if you had a good blog post that attracted a lot of attention, consider creating a infograph and presenting that. Alternatively, if you’ve presented a lot of statistics or images, consider presenting it in a slide deck.

Repurposing your data in this way will allow you to explore whether a different format works better for your audience, while also allowing you to repurpose old content and keep it coming back (thereby having more time to create killer new content).

The good old two birds with one stone situation.

Experiment, observe and ask

From there can try out presenting new posts in the format that has done well to see if the first time was a fluke or if the pattern holds, while all the while making certain that you track the data in google analytics religiously.

As noise has a tendency to cancel itself out over time, the more different posts you have in different formats, the more likely it becomes that the difference in visitor numbers between the different format types are down to the actual format type.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask people how much they liked a post. If you ask them to give you a 5-star rating at the end of an article (tell them feedback is the key to perfect content as then you can understand what they want) and you’ll get a good idea of what works and what doesn’t. Besides, people like it when websites they visit regularly ask them for their opinion, so it might even make it more likely that they’ll come back.

And that’s a nice little bonus, don’t you think?

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