In my (admittedly anecdotal) experience, when I ask companies about their content marketing efforts, in seven out of ten cases, they answer that publishing blog articles on their site is all they do. The other three out of ten also do guest blogging: publishing more or less the same sort of content on other people’s sites.
A big part of my living comes from writing blog articles, so I wouldn’t knock it, but concentrating on one type of content on one publishing channel is shortsighted. There are many other formats for written content, and many other types of content beyond the written word. A more inclusive range of content marketing can help companies build a broader audience.
Before I discuss other types of content, I want to clarify that there is nothing wrong with publishing on the blog, so long as you think of the blog as a channel that can be used to publish lots of different types of content. The blog’s native genre is the “blog article”, and businesses certainly shouldn’t neglect blog articles, but blogs are also the perfect place for many other content types.
Lets start with a fairly banal option. Case studies, whether based on real customer experiences or generalized fictional scenarios, can be a powerful way to help customers understand what your company can do for them. Case studies present concrete examples of how your business can benefit its customers.
Infographics have been overdone, but they still have the potential to drive a lot of traffic — if they’re created for the right reason. For a while my social timelines were full of infographics that would have been better as a simple blog post. Infographics are great for data that is best presented visually, not as a way to beautify what would otherwise have been a boring blog post.
Many companies avoid video because of the mistaken impression that it’s both difficult and expensive. In fact, professional quality recording equipment is relatively inexpensive compared to a few year’s ago, and the sort of video’s that smaller companies can make don’t require the highest production values. Take a look at Scottevest, a company whose popular videos are simply the company’s founder talking about its product to a camera.
Podcasting has become increasingly popular in recent years, and it’s a great way to introduce employees and managers to a wider public. Almost every company has employees who are expert in their field and can talk meaningfully and interestingly about it.
Long-form writing isn’t suitable for all businesses, and it can take a significant investment, but just as you should be sharing useful insights and educational material on your blog, ebooks are an excellent way to provide something of value to readers. As with infographics, I’ve seen ebooks that would have been better as a 400-word blog post than a 5000-word ebook, but done well, ebooks are an excellent way to generate leads.
Many of the most successful content marketing efforts involve sharing empirical information that is of significant value to customers. Of course, there are limits to what a company can share, particularly if the information can be used directly to increase revenues, but many corporations, IBM for example, were publishing evidence-based studies long before content marketing was a thing.
The blog is far from the only sort of content that businesses should be investing in. Successful content marketing campaigns employ a mixed content strategy that includes several of the content types I’ve discussed here.