What type of content should you create?
Answering this question can, at times, be stupefyingly difficult.
The world of content today is crazy, with volume (literally) growing by the second.
The content opportunities are numerous – blogs, articles, ebooks, infographics, social media updates, to name a few. Which should you be doing first or next, and how do you create these content types most effectively?
Fortunately, deciding which types of content to invest in is as simple as evaluating your company’s goals and knowing a little bit about what kinds of material will best support them.
Why Invest in Content Today?
First things first, why invest in content?
The answer to this one is easy: because creating organic, brand-enriching content is the only way to get noticed online today.
In a world where ad blockers make it exceedingly difficult to buy attention (83 percent of people today wish they could filter out obnoxious ads) and millions of brands are vying for the notice of your customers at once, standing out online is harder than ever.
The good news? It’s still not impossible.
In recent years, the way people shop and select brands has changed, and the discipline of marketing has been forced to change as well. Today, people don’t want to be hard-sold into products they’re not attracted to. They don’t want syrupy pitches or inflated claims. Instead, they just want material they can trust, relate to, and connect with.
This is where content comes in.
When done right, content allows you to connect with your customers in a truly unique way. Because it takes time to produce and publish, content builds trust and informs readers. When you go the extra mile to ensure the content you’re publishing is relevant, informative, and exciting, it can also have a significant impact on your company’s bottom line.
Here are just a few of the many benefits of investing in great online content.
1. High ROI
Content influences dozens of areas of your marketing strategy.
For example, a single great piece of content can enhance your brand visibility and reputation, earn you inbound traffic, improve your customer retention rates, boost conversions, and net you 100x what you invested.
How’s that for a multi-purpose investment?
2. Support Your Other Strategies
Today, marketing is multifaceted and complex, and content is one of the few things that can support it wherever it appears. For example, if you’re:
- Investing heavily in SEO, good content can help increase your search rankings and make you more visible.
- Developing a social media presence, content gives you something to share on your profiles and a way to define your brand’s voice and approach.
- Developing an email marketing campaign, good content can run parallel to it and give customers more ways to interact with your company.
3. Diversify Your Online Presence
When you make the decision to invest in content, the ways in which you can choose to do that are virtually limitless.
You can choose to build out your blog, create custom infographics, develop videos, publish tutorials, and more.
Content is easily one of the most diverse and customizable mediums out there, and it’s simple to take your content strategy and make it unique to your company.
4. Help You Compete
If there’s one thing you can be sure of, it’s that your competitors are creating content and there’s no way you’re going to stay abreast of them unless you do so as well.
Content helps you be competitive.
In a world where millions of blogs are published each day, creating content is the only way to stay on top of the content sea and ensure your voice doesn’t get lost in the fray.
5. It’s Inexpensive
When it comes time to invest in online material, you want to put in the resources to ensure you’re getting quality writers and quality content.
That said, even the best content is still inexpensive compared to other forms of marketing and digital material. Because of this, content presents a minimal loss potential.
In general terms, the more time, resources, and effort you put into your online content, the larger return you’ll realize.
What’s more, content can be repurposed. For example, a blog post can become a series of tweets, or an ebook can be transformed into a series of shorter blog posts.
Unlike pay-per-click ads or similar forms of placements, there’s no way to lose out on content just because you stop paying in, especially when you promote and reuse content you paid for a long time ago.
Which Types of Content Net the Most ROI?
Now that you know why investing in content is important, let’s talk about which types of online content will net the most ROI.
Here are a few key options that are worth every bit of time, effort, and investment you put into them.
1. Authoritative Blog Posts
Blogs are some of the most common places people invest their marketing budgets in and for good reason.
In addition to the fact that authoritative blog posts can answer consumer questions and provide additional insight into complex topics, they’re also a fantastic way for your brand to hone its voice and develop a position as a leader in your industry.
You’ll also want to pay attention to the topics your blogs are covering. While it goes without saying your content should address key questions that are central to your industry, you’ll also want to invest the time and energy into finding intriguing topics that others in your industry aren’t covering.
This will make your online material more useful for readers and more compelling across the board.
What’s more, the better able you are to identify and answer core questions, the more likely your posts are to become evergreen content that people refer back to again and again, making them a cornerstone of your digital marketing and lead generation strategies.
Infographics are an excellent way to gain a footing with your online presence.
Infographics are link magnets and also lucrative for all kinds of brands, producing high levels of brand awareness and engagement results.
Right now, infographics are liked and shared on social media 3x as often as any other form of content and rank as the B2B content marketing tactic with the largest jump in use between 2015 and 2016 — from 50 percent to 58 percent.
Why are infographics so compelling?
The answer is that they’re some of the most valuable content out there. Instead of talking at readers, they’re interactive and exciting, and they provide a medium people want to share.
By combining the compelling nature of visuals with the informative nature of text, infographics manage to pack the best of both worlds into an easily accessible packet that’s ideal for our on-the-go lifestyle.
What’s more, infographics have a long lifespan and can continue to perform online months or years after they’re originally published.
3. Standout Opinion Pieces
Today, it’s tough to stand out on the web. In addition to the fact that more content is being published than ever before, much of it is the same, and lots of brands find it difficult to develop their voices.
Luckily, there’s one type of content that can put an end to that issue right away: opinion content. Publishing opinion pieces on places like Medium or the Huffington Post is a good way to get the word out and attract publicity to an authentic, real message you want to share with the world.
Designed to be contrarian in the best way possible, opinion content serves several purposes.
In addition to the fact that a controversial yet informative opinion can skyrocket your likes and shares, this type of material also goes a long way toward starting a conversation around your topic, which is essential for furthering your brand.
While the most common opinion pieces relate to political or current events, a good opinion post can focus on anything that’s going on in your industry or niche at any given time. Although there are some ways to go wrong with your opinion piece (being overly combative or rude, for example), doing them right is an excellent way to stand out online and carve a niche for yourself in an increasingly populated digital environment.
Be sure to spend extra time to stand out with yours: craft with care, pause to make sure you’re not doing anything downright negative (like hurting someone’s feelings or naming names publicly), and publish on the right platform.
4. How-To Content
How-to content applies to virtually all industries and is valuable because it helps people learn something new.
Ideal for brands in industries varying from content marketing to computer repair, how-to content gives to the reader without asking for anything in return, which makes it perfect for top-of-the-funnel lead generation efforts.
What’s more, how-to content is flexible and can come in the form of an article, video, or podcast.
If you’re going to create how-to content, the largest consideration is to ensure the topic you choose is one your readers are hungry for.
For best results, look through your Q&A section or identify a common question you get through your customer service email. Then, put together an extensive piece answering the question and showcasing a “how to” for the solution.
5. Original Research Pieces
Few things are as valuable to a brand as original research.
Much of today’s online content is modeled after other content, which is modeled on something else.
Original research stands out as a unique source of information.
What’s more, it also positions you solidly as an authority figure that knows a thing or two about your industry. In fact, BuzzSumo reports that original research and reports actually gain links and shares much more rapidly than lists or viral content.
The reason is simple. In addition to tapping into industry trends, original research also provides in-depth insight and offers a data-driven foundation for other people to develop their own content and then link back to yours.
While the topic of your original research can vary, it’s important to ensure anything you publish is well-vetted and extensive.
One of my company’s most shared content pieces in 2016 was a combination of two forms of content from my list: an infographic that was also an original research piece, where we interviewed 15 experts for original, insider advice and opinions on the topic of the “future of content marketing:”
6. Trending Content
If you’re looking for fast, viral content to drive lots of traffic to your site in a short period of time, trending material can be your best friend.
Ideal for leveraging industry trends or pop culture phenomena, trending content is typically designed for social media and geared to go viral.
The value of this content is that it can drive lots of traffic to a certain domain or page. It can also help you publicize a new product or launch if you leverage a trending topic correctly.
Just keep in mind that, unlike authoritative blog posts with a long shelf life, trending content is designed to be flash-in-the-pan fast and won’t always maintain its popularity beyond a few days or weeks.
It’s impossible to talk about which types of content to invest in without mentioning videos. In recent years, video content has blown up and now accounts for a significant portion of web traffic and media consumption.
Right now, Facebook users are spending 3x as much time watching live videos than traditional videos.
With all these things in mind, it’s clear that video is a relevant and lucrative type of content to invest in today. Beyond just being popular, it’s also customizable, and can be made to support your company’s objectives, goals, and priorities quite quickly.
8 Do’s for Investing in High ROI Content
No matter which types of content you choose to invest in, there are a few general dos and don’ts to abide by.
- Do ensure anything you choose is relevant to your brand and your readers. If you invest in social media posts, for example, but your customer base doesn’t use social media, you’re in trouble.
- Do hire professionals to create your content for you. Content marketing is a specialized industry, and investing in professional content can spell the difference between success and failure.
- Do be patient. Content marketing isn’t an overnight game. Give it the time it needs to produce results.
- Do be willing to adjust your approach. As your content marketing strategy grows and changes, some types of content will be more relevant than others. Don’t be afraid to pivot accordingly.
- Don’t be hasty. You can’t rush great content. Anything you publish in a hurry will only be disappointing.
- Don’t hire cheap writers. You get what you pay for in content. Skilled content writers are worth every penny.
- Don’t get stuck with one format. Content is diverse and varied. The more you can draw on numerous content types, the better. A varied content strategy is a robust content strategy.
- Don’t go in blind. Before you invest in content, you’ll want to have a solid idea of why you’re making the move and what you want your content to do. If you hire a professional team, they’ll be able to work this out with you. The more defined your strategy is at the beginning, the more successful it will be in the end.
Content Marketing: A Smart Long-Term Marketing Strategy
There’s no doubt about it: Content marketing is the marketing of today.
Customizable, interactive, engaging, and original, content is ideal for use in all industries and disciplines.
What’s more, it’s affordable and flexible enough that it can support businesses at any stage of their lifespan and in any marketing pursuit.
There’s never been a better time to invest in content.
In addition to the fact that content is by far the best way to get noticed online, it’s also a smart way to advance your business and forge real relationships with your customers.
Unfortunately, it can be tough to know where to begin.
If you’re just investing in content for the first time, think about ensuring the success of your efforts by choosing a team of content marketing professionals to help you. While content is always a great investment, having a skilled team on your side is a surefire way to make it even more useful.
Featured Image: Express Writers
In-post Image #1: DepositPhotos
In-post Image #2: Express Writers
Subscribe to SEJ
Get our daily newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!