How to Determine What Formats to Use in Your Content Marketing

Michael Brenner on Apr 15, 2019 in Content Marketing

When most people hear the term “content marketing” they immediately think of blog posts and articles.

In actuality, there’s a lot more to content marketing than just writing articles. Written content is often less expensive to produce and can be very effective, but if you overlook other content formats such as videos, podcasts, and infographics, you’ll not be getting the most out of your content strategy.

Certain types of content lend themselves better to particular industries than others. Some segments of your audience may also be easier to reach with one content format over another.

To maximize your content marketing budget, it’s essential to identify the content formats that will produce the highest ROI and resonate with your audience.

Quick Takeaways:

  • When developing your content strategy, it’s essential to consider several different content formats – not just blog posts and written content.
  • Research your audience to get a better idea of the types of content they engage with and share.
  • For the biggest audience reach and getting the most from your budget, re-purpose one piece of content into several different formats.

Content Formats to Consider

So what exactly are we talking about when we say “content”? Online content may take a number of forms including:

  • Blog posts
  • Articles (published in places other than your own blog)
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Infographics
  • Images
  • Webinars
  • Slide presentations
  • Ebooks
  • White papers
  • Email newsletters
  • Case studies
  • Press releases
  • Checklists
  • Interviews
  • Social media posts]
  • Interactive calculators, quizzes, and other tools.

While several of these formats would fall under the category of written content, others such as video may not involve any writing at all. Other types of content might include a mixture of formats — for example a long-form article or case study that includes infographics and videos.

The sheer number of options in content marketing can be overwhelming, particularly if you have limited resources or a tight budget. So how should you decide which formats to choose for your content marketing strategy?

What Types of Content Should You Create?

Each type of content has its own pros and cons. For example, while video can be highly engaging and shareable, it can be time-consuming and expensive to create. There are various points you need to consider before deciding on content formats for each of your content marketing campaigns. These include:

  • Your intended audience (do they like to read articles or watch videos, for example?)
  • The type of information you want to include (stats and figures usually work best as a chart or infographic, while “how to” type content might be easier to follow as a video rather than written instructions)
  • Your budget and time commitments
  • Do you have the skills and equipment in-house for the type of content you want to produce, or would you have to outsource?

Most businesses will get the best results from mixing things up and producing content in several different formats. Experimenting in this way not only keeps your audience interested but it also enables you to figure out the type of content that converts well.

As written content is typically the most cost effective to produce, many marketers choose to focus on a core of blog posts and other written content, with the occasional infographic and video thrown in for good measure.

However, written content isn’t the best choice for all brands. For example, video is a natural content format for action camera brand GoPro. The vast majority of their content marketing is conducted via video.

Repurposing your content into several different formats is also an effective way to squeeze more ROI out of every piece of content and reach a wider audience. For example, one blog post could also be re-created as a podcast, video, and potentially an infographic.

How to Choose the Right Content Format for Your Audience

Many businesses find that creating content that’s relevant for their audience is one of their biggest challenges in content marketing.

For your content to be effective it’s vital that you not only choose topics that will resonate with your audience, but also that you publish content in a format that has the best chance of being consumed and shared.

The key to getting this right is to carry out in-depth research on your audience. When you really understand the preferences and motivations of your audience, as well as their online habits, you can come up with a content plan that is optimized for success with your particular audience.

Start by reviewing your analytics software and other audience intelligence. Identify segmented groups to target each of your content marketing campaigns with. You should consider:

  • The age and demographics of your audience. If you’re marketing mainly at Millennials, short-form video is probably a good format choice, while older demographics tend to prefer long-form text.
  • What content formats are they engaging with?
  • What are they sharing?
  • Where are they spending their time online?
  • What are their preferred social networks? (a content strategy for an audience that’s mainly on Snapchat would look very different to one for an audience on LinkedIn)
  • Think about the goals of each piece of content too – for lead generation, content such as ebooks, whitepapers, and webinars is more effective than standard videos or blog posts. Content that actually leads to conversions might look very different from content that is shared a lot on social media.

While you should be guided by your initial research, it’s important to experiment and test to optimize your content plan. While the stats might say that Millennials prefer short-form video, the Millennials in your audience might engage more with ebooks or podcasts.

Pros and Cons of Popular Content Formats

When you’re deciding which formats to use in each of your content campaigns, it’s important to take a balanced view and consider what’s possible and realistic for you to create, as well as what you’d publish with unlimited budget and resources.

Blog Posts

  • Relatively cheap and easy to produce
  • Effective at boosting SEO
  • Must be published on a regular schedule for best effectiveness
  • Highly flexible – can be short or long-form and can be effective for many different goals including to add value to your existing customers, convert new leads into customers, or to build brand awareness
  • Attracts comments and guest posts

Video

  • Video is one of the most engaging forms of online content and its popularity is continuing to increase
  • More difficult and expensive to produce than text content, although it is definitely possible to produce simple videos on a small budget
  • Time-consuming and resource intensive
  • It can be difficult to produce videos that are truly engaging
  • YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine and shows over one billion hours of video every day to its users
  • Some of the most shared content on social media is video
  • Highly effective for branding and boosting authority

Podcasts

  • Effective at building audience relationships and loyalty
  • Opportunity to connect with a captive audience
  • Podcasts are a growing trend – over 30% of the US population listens to a podcast at least once a month
  • Higher barrier to entry – equipment for recording high-quality sound is essential
  • Consistent production is essential to maintain an audience
  • Difficult to measure ROI

Infographics

  • Great for representing data in an easy-to-understand format
  • Popular content format for sharing on social media
  • Other blogs likely to use and link back to your site – great for brand awareness and SEO
  • Only suitable for specific topics
  • Collecting data and producing graphics can be time-consuming
  • Low engagement potential.

If you are ready to get more traffic to your site with quality content that’s consistently published, check out our Content Builder Service. Set up a quick consultation, and I’ll send you a free PDF version of my books. Get started today and generate more traffic and leads for your business.

Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider Group. He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and a top CMO influencer by Forbes. Please follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and Subscribe here for regular updates.

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