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7 Formats to Reinvigorate Your Content Marketing Strategy

By Kristen HicksFeb 8 /2018

content-marketing-strategyOne of the first things that most businesses do when they start content marketing is set up a blog and start publishing regular posts. While the blog is a cornerstone of most content marketing strategies and a good place to start, you shouldn’t stop there. Now that you’ve mastered the blog (or even if you’re still working on that), consider other types of content that will appeal to your audience.

By branching into new content types, you can reach new prospects while also giving your current audience new ways to engage with your brand. And each time you try something new in your content marketing, you gain new insights into what your audience likes and what doesn’t work for them – which means even ideas that don’t pan out provide a form of value. So go beyond the comfortable and think about working some of these content types into your strategy this year.

1. Use live video.

Video is one of the best formats to consider when you’re expanding your content offerings. After all, video marketing increases conversions, improves SEO rankings, and increases click-through-rates in emails. There are a lot of routes you can take in creating videos for your audience, and one method that’s great for increasing engagement is going live.

Both Facebook and YouTube offer live video options. Marketers can schedule their live videos in advance, promote them to users, and take questions and comments from their audience as you go. It’s a good format for hosting Q&As, providing tutorials, or having get-to-know-you style interviews with your company’s employees, just to name a few options.

Tableau Software, a company that provides tools for data visualization, uses live video to make announcements, capture moments from live events, and host interviews with company thought leaders. One of their recent live videos brought in three authors of a book on dashboards—a topic relevant to their audience—who discussed the findings shared in the book and took questions from people following along on the Facebook page.

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Live video gives you the chance to hear directly from your audience and interact with them in real time. And since it’s easy with live video tools to keep a recording of your video after the fact, it becomes a piece of content you can continue to share and promote to those who missed it the first time around.

2. Create quizzes.

Quizzes are fun and engaging type of interactive content for brands to consider. Chances are, you’ve drifted away from work for a few minutes to take a Buzzfeed quiz on which Hamilton character you are or what Harry Potter house you’re in.

Quizzes combine a few minutes of entertainment with the allure of learning a little more about yourself. The tricky thing with marketing quizzes is accomplishing those things while keeping the quiz relevant to your brand.

Curalate, a company with a platform that helps businesses get more out of social media, found the right mix for their quiz “Which Emoji Fits Your Marketing Personality.” It’s fun (you totally want to know the answer right now, don’t you?). It’s relevant to the brand, since emojis are a big part of social media these days. And fun aside, questions about your biggest marketing challenge or the medium you’re most focused on make you think about your marketing strategy—what’s included now and what might be missing—which puts you in the mindset to be open to considering a new marketing platform.

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3. Make a podcast.

You’re busy. I’m busy. We live in a culture where everyone always seems to be busy. That’s a big part of the appeal of podcasts. Other types of content tend to require your full attention—you can’t watch a video while driving a car, for instance. But podcasts allow for multitasking. Your audience can listen while commuting, going for a run, cooking dinner or even while working.

That’s probably a big part of why podcasting keeps booming in popularity. More than 67 million people say they listen to podcasts every month, with many of them listening to several each week. Businesses clearly have a real opportunity to claim some of that content consumption time by producing podcasts your audience will want to listen to.

Basecamp, a project management software company, put together a podcast that tackled a topic their audience of business owners is definitely concerned about: staying in business. For each episode of The Distance they interviewed successful entrepreneurs who have kept businesses running for at least 25 years.

 

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Listeners get a collection of insights from business owners in different industries who each found their own path to success and can impart some real-life wisdom to newer business owners still figuring out their particular path.

4. Host a Twitter chat.

Content marketing these days requires content promotion. While many companies are already taking the step of pushing their content out on various social media platforms to increase its visibility, your promotion efforts will work a lot of better if you’re taking the time to build relationships on those platforms.

Buffer, the social media scheduling software, has bolstered their blog’s success by building a community through their regular Twitter chats under the hashtag #bufferchat. Topics range from social media tips, to making and setting goals, to creativity.

Twice a week at the pre-scheduled times, a number of people show up on Twitter to join the conversation and learn from each other.

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This tactic gives you an opportunity to interact directly with your followers regularly and get to know who they are and what they care about. They’ll also get to know and trust you better, making them that much more likely to pay attention when you share your content with them.

And as with live video, this content type has the added benefit of being easily made into two content types. You get the interactive experience in the moment, and can create recaps of the chat afterward that you can promote and share for as long as you’d like.

5. Create a free course.

All of content marketing is about learning. At this point, blog posts are everywhere, but for people who could use a deeper dive into learning a broad topic, even a good long-form blog post won’t provide everything they need. Offering courses on topics relevant to your audience is therefore a good way to stand out and become a go-to resource for the subjects your courses cover.

HubSpot has gone this route, offering an entire HubSpot Academy with courses in topics like buyer personas and email marketing, many of which provide a certification once they’re complete. These include a mix of videos, quizzes, and written content, all brought together in a way to help a participant learn everything he or she needs in the topic area.

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This may sound like a lot of work, but most businesses have enough content already that putting together a course wouldn’t mean starting from scratch. You can review and repurpose the content you’ve already created into your course to start, and may find you don’t need to make all that much new content to fill it out. By presenting information you’ve already provided in a new format, it will take on more value for much of your audience.

6. Conduct original research.

Every time you read a blog post with a statistic quoted, somebody did the research to determine that number. Original research that provides quantifiable data on the questions lots of people have is extremely valuable. And while it’s not the easiest content to create (or everyone would be doing it), it’s a good way to branch into a new type of content that will resonate with your audience. Oh, and research shows it’s one of the best ways for businesses to earn more links, a significant factor for SEO.

If you’re a software company, you may already have valuable product use data you can use for this. For example, many Freshbooks users both invoice and take payment through the software, which produces a lot of data on trends in how people get paid. Freshbooks was able to use that data to tell its users what types of payment terms and language results in getting paid faster.

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If the data you have on how people use your products provides information that your audience would be interested in, then start turning it into content.

If you’re not so lucky as to have that kind of data already, then you can still create some. You could create a survey and promote it to as many relevant people as possible to create statistical research from it. That’s the route Orbit Media takes with their annual blogging survey. Or you could do an analysis of information that’s readily available, but takes work to find and analyze, like Domo did for their Social CEO report. They started with a list of Fortune 500 CEOs and went and looked up the social profiles for each to gather information on how they use social media.

These routes take time, but they provide you with information people want that your competitors won’t have.

7. Tell stories with video.

We covered live video already, but using video for storytelling is another valuable form of content to consider for your strategy. Video can be a powerful and entertaining way to tell people the story of how your product solves problems.

Zendesk nails this in their video that tells “the story of support ticket #24.” In less than three minutes, the video entertains, shows how ZenDesk works, and provides a convincing story of how it provides value for both businesses and their customers.

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You can also use video to create or enhance convincing case studies. Seeing someone talking about how your product has helped them can be more powerful than seeing them quoted in writing. Vidyo uses video in its case studies that include interviews with people talking about how and why they use the video conferencing service, along with video of people at work taking advantage of Vidyo in their jobs. For someone considering the product, seeing it in action could be more persuasive than reading about it.

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Whether a cute ad like the one from Zendesk or a more straightforward take like the one from Vidyo, video storytelling is another powerful option to bring into your content strategy.

Blogs are an important part of your content marketing strategy for generating organic traffic for your website. But you can get more creative and competitive by going outside of your usual content format. Let these ideas be inspiration to shake up your content marketing strategy in 2018.

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The Author

Kristen Hicks

Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based copywriter and content marketer specializing in helping businesses connect with customers through content online.
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