Content is everything - influencing from what people buy (both on the consumer side and the business one) to how visible a company is on the search engines.
For those slow to the content game, what are you waiting for?
The answer for many is not enough resources to build a really rich content experience on product pages, blogs, social networks and more. While high-quality content doesn't come easy (don't believe any WordPress plugins or businesses which claim it does), knowing what to create is half the battle. Let's explore the most common content types on the Web and some technology to make it happen.
There is no single more effective piece of content than genuine ratings and reviews from customers, as their peers trust these more than any content a brand can create on its behalf. Aside from the costs associated with software like Bazaarvoice, PowerReviews, Yotpo or others, ratings and reviews take minimal resources and are generally self-managed although moderation is important as is encouraging customers to leave reviews. The investment, however, will prove itself over and over.
Most B2B companies are not strangers to creating whitepapers and e-Books for the purpose of lead generation (collecting leads as people fill out forms to access the content), but smart enterprises ensure it's content that people want to read. While most whitepapers and e-books (the main difference tends to be length with the latter being longer) - and content marketing in general - are used to subtly persuade audiences to buy or to think about their needs as they relate to what the author is selling, it's important to ensure the subject will resonate with readers and will provide unique material not found elsewhere. A tool like SEMrush can determine what keywords a company is currently ranking to build out those topics more or a tool like Buzzsumo shows the content that is currently popular among a brand's competitors.
Since 40 percent of people respond better to visuals and images are processed 60,000 times quicker than text, infographics can make a big impact when brands are trying to convey an idea quickly. There are plenty of solutions to build infographics for the non-designer types including Canva, Piktochart, Venngage and infogram. HubSpot even offers some templates to download and use.
The most traditional form of content is an article, which can vary in length, subject and format. Regardless of options chosen, it's important to approach an article like a journalist would by getting and citing reliable sources, including the most important information up top and relaying insights that matter to a specific niche. In order to ensure a wide variety of relevant topics are covered on a blog, businesses should consider creating a yearly or monthly editorial calendar with a tool like CoSchedule. If they are stumped for ideas, they can look to their customer service reps or software to understand which questions commonly come up before, during and after purchase. For example, if questions often emerge about some of the lesser-known features of a product, a good article would be, "X Features You Didn't Know ___ Has."
Often working together with the content types already mentioned, newsletters are typically used to promote a company's content through email or even paper newsletters distributed by mail. For the former, marketers should consult their email service provider for newsletter templates that are responsively designed, interesting, uncluttered, and have a strong and prominent call-to-action. Check out some newsletter templates from MailChimp or explore custom design services from Act-On.
Images improve engagement numbers not only with social media posts (2.3 times more engagement than text-only posts) but also blog posts (articles with an image every 75-100 words get double the amount of shares of articles with fewer images). Getting a designer to create a unique graphic, however, can be tough with their often limited free time. This is why many professionals turn to stock services like iStock, Shutterstock or Adobe Stock. Even premium stock options can grow a little tiresome though, so brands looking to create graphic images using data, pull quotes or the like, can turn to Canva, Pagemodo, PicMonkey or BeFunky - many of which offer free options.
Whether it's a marketing provider or a clothing retailer, lookbooks provide inspiration to its recipients to create or style looks of their own. While companies like LeTote (a women's subscription service) have been known to include lookbooks in their packaging, many brands are finding success creating lookbooks online and even with a tool as easy to use as Google Slides or PowerPoint; the lookbooks are simply saved as a PDF and downloadable on a website.
Thanks to the Internet, anyone can be a publisher. Brands interested in developing their content into a flippable magazine can consult solutions like Joomag, ISSUU, Mag+ or FlippingBook - some of which offer the ability to create the actual work within their solutions while others are there to simply host the material.
Including a video on a landing page can increase conversion rates by 80 percent, so it's no wonder companies are turning to this asset in droves. Videos can be everything from hosting a Google Hangouts On Air where companies do a live broadcast and interact with customers/fans to hosting an explainer video. Powtoon, Biteable and RawShorts are some options to create one.
Asking a specific set of people - whether it's marketing executives or millennial shoppers - questions about their behaviors, expectations or preferences, is a great way to engage an audience because the survey provides talking points for articles, whitepapers, infographics and more. Additionally, other sources (like the media and even competitors) might link to the results for their own content initiatives. To create a survey, companies can use SurveyMonkey, SoGo Survey, Murvey, Google Forms, Pollfish or enlist the help of a reputable research company like Edison Research.
There's no sense creating content if marketers can't drive traffic to it, so brands will need to create digital ads in order to promote their work. Facebook and Google both offer ad builders. For the former, an advertiser simply chooses an image and adds their copy and targeting information. If promoting content, advertisers should consider using the same image or a highly complementary one to include in the ad so that way when the person clicks through, they have a cohesive experience and don't bounce because it's not what they expected. AdParlor is also a solution to consider as marketers can create mock ads for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Getting images that truly reflect how a product will look and feel in person is tough and expensive. For these reasons, many brands have turned to photos from customers using the product in order to not only show the product in the real world but also add a level of genuineness not easy to replicate in a studio. Solutions like Olapic and Curalate bring consumers photos to customers shopping for the same products.
Not every business is lucky enough to have in-house writers or a fleet of freelancers at their disposal, so smart content managers outsource some of their work to industry contributors who offer a breadth of knowledge and experience. Since they are representing their companies (typically) they are often more willing to go the extra mile in developing high-quality work in exchange for a byline and link in the author bio. Those managing guest posts, however, will want to ensure the content is educational and not promotional as it may be a cheap win for the guest author to get an in-article shout-out that they've placed themselves, but they'll pay for it in that readers won't want to read a purely promotional piece and are very unlikely to go out of their way and see what their company offers.
There is an explosion of content on the Web from companies of all sizes and across all industries. To be heard, brands need to play the game and that means create unique, high-quality content that allows them to win conversions and be visible.