And 6 in 10 say their efforts are more successful than they were a year ago.
This has important implications: with more businesses creating content, it’s a crowded space, and your content needs to cut through the noise.
Maybe you’ve started blogging, have created a few eBooks, and shared an infographic or two on social media.
While these can be extremely effective, there are a large number of other formats you can add to your content marketing arsenal.
So what content marketing formats should you be including in your mix this year?
Blogging remains one of the best ways to increase your SEO rankings and drive traffic to your site.
Writing regular blog posts is more than just an opportunity to drive potential buyers to your site though. It helps you build connections with your target audience and nurture them into trusting prospects.
What’s more, having a blog humanises your company. Your prospects and customers are real people, and these people want to read content that speaks authentically to them.
eBooks represent a cornerstone of an inbound and content marketing programme.
They are typically constructed to answer questions your buyers may have about an industry or an aspect of the products and services therein. For instance, they often take the form of a ‘how to’ guide. And they offer more in-depth coverage of a topic than a blog post.
eBooks - along with whitepapers - are consistently rated as the most effective form of content by B2B marketers. So if you’ve yet to create one - what are you waiting for?
If you’re in the professional services industry, you may find this blog post helpful: How to create an eBook for professional services marketing.
Like eBooks, whitepapers get consistent top marks for effectiveness.
In fact, whitepapers are the cutting edge of educational marketing, presenting an excellent opportunity for positioning your company as an authoritative expert in your market.
Typically more formal than an eBook, a whitepaper can be used to set out an argument for a particular solution to a problem, or it can take a solution-agnostic approach, highlighting benefits without selling your services.
4. Original research
When done well, original research can garner more shares and links than almost any other form of content.
It’s no surprise really. Research that provides answers to unanswered questions makes for a compelling story and attention-grabbing headlines.
The opportunities for content creation are vast. You can repurpose your findings into an eBook sharing the full results, a series of blog posts discussing each of the key themes, infographics highlighting key findings, as well as videos, podcasts and webinars.
And it’s not as complicated or costly as you might think. There are plenty of platforms available that allow you to create and publish online surveys for free, probably the best known of which is SurveyMonkey.
5. Case studies
Case studies are evidence that your solution achieved desirable results with a real client, and are the most direct ways to address common concerns potential buyers might have.
Plus, stories are memorable. The B2B buying process is complex, and buyers may be drowning in information. Real, tangible stories of how your solution has delivered business benefits to a real client, with challenges just like those of your prospects, will help ensure your company stays top of mind.
6. Pillar pages
Pillar pages have been getting a fair amount of attention recently, providing a new opportunity for B2B companies to drive traffic to their site and build credibility with their target audience.
A pillar page covers all aspects of a topic on a single page, with room for more in-depth reporting in a series of detailed cluster blog posts that hyperlink back to the pillar page.
The idea is that a pillar page should answer every question or query a prospect might have about a topic, which will make them want to click on your pillar page when they enter a Google search term that your page ranks for.
And the more cluster blog posts you have, the more strong link chains you’ll create, and the higher your page will rank in a Google search.
7. Video content
The days when online videos were painful to load and restricted to home-viewing are long gone. It’s now easier than ever for people to access video content quickly, and on the go.
This makes video a viable option for any company.
From explainer videos to ‘behind the scenes’ content, ‘how to’s and clips discussing trending topics, video can be a remarkably powerful way of connecting with your target audience.
And it’s not as tricky or costly as you might think. If you aren’t yet incorporating video in your B2B marketing mix, you may find one of our previous posts useful to get you started:
- How to approach your inbound video marketing strategy
- B2B web video production: what does it really cost to do it yourself?
Thanks to advances in smart technology, like video, it’s easier than ever for people to download and listen to podcasts.
Just shy of 1 in 5 companies are using podcasts as part of their content marketing strategy, according to the latest CMI report.
Podcasts present yet another opportunity, outside of written and visual content, for marketers to connect with prospects and customers.
What’s more, it’s a more intimate way of interacting with your audience.
As CMI Chief Strategy Advisor Robert Rose explains about his and CMI founder Joe Pulizzi’s ‘PNR: This Old Marketing’ podcast: “I think being in someone’s head when your voice comes through those headphones is a wonderful experience. It creates a connection that other mediums can’t make.”
We live in a time of information overload. Sometimes your buyers just won’t want to read a blog post or watch a video. But they might just divulge in a quick infographic.
Infographics allow information to be digested faster than any other form of content. This makes it highly shareable and great for promoting on social media.
In fact, infographics are shared and liked three times more often more often than other content formats, according to research compiled by Lucidpress.
A webinar is a live meeting, presentation, discussion, educational session, or demonstration that takes place online.
Webinars are interactive and engaging and create a sense of event around your ideas and information. And they can be repurposed for on-demand access, creating an evergreen asset that will keep on generating leads into the top of your funnel.
As Nick Unsworth at the HuffPost reports; “They are the next best thing to being face to face, in-person with your target market. If you want to leverage yourself and scale your business, webinars are key. By being the person at the helm you set yourself as an expert, it’s your virtual stage.”
So there are your ten formats to consider for your content marketing mix. Which will be your focus for this year?