Content marketing has come a long way since it first gained popularity as an inbound marketing strategy. Innovative marketers around the world have devised new strategies to gain reader attention, build reader trust, and optimize content for customer conversion, but the core elements of a successful strategy remain the same.
There are six main types of blog posts content marketers can use to attract and retain their audiences, each of which come with distinct advantages and disadvantages. Using each type to its full potential is the best way to build an audience of consistent, engaged readers, so it pays to understand them and how they function in a broader strategy.
1. The News (or Newsjacking) Post. People like to read news. Some companies, like major industry leaders, are able to break that news to their customers immediately when it happens. Most companies don’t have that luxury. So, if you can publish a news post, go for it — but the rest of us rely on a tactic known as “newsjacking” to take advantage of current events. Newsjacking sounds shady, but it’s actually a great strategy to mix your own opinions into an existing news story. You start by framing some current event relevant to your industry, then delve into your company’s position on the matter, including how your business might change in response to it.
News posts, whether original or opinionated newsjacking posts, are beneficial because they provide raw, current information to your reader. They are excellent tools to build trust with your audience because they provide factual information, and they present you as a leading authority in your space on the tip of the information curve.
2. The Instructional Post. Instructional posts are some of the most common for a content marketing campaign because they’re relatively easy to write. Instructional posts, as the name suggests, provide instructions to a user on a given task or actionable item. They can be step-by-step “how to” articles, or general information articles that provide background for an abstract subject, like marketing. These can be written by both B2B and B2C companies, and can be taken advantage of for almost any field.
Instructional posts are great for SEO because they contain natural language that indicates the purpose of the article — meaning, if someone searches for something like “how to make a peanut butter sandwich,” it’s very likely that your “how to make a peanut butter sandwich” article will appear in search results. However, since instructional posts are becoming more common, it’s wiser to select a less obvious, more niche-focused subject matter for your posts.
These types of posts are highly valuable to the reader, especially if you include reference materials or visual diagrams to accompany your written information. If you can write many of these articles, you can even build a resource library on your website. It can be incredibly valuable when marketing to a demographic who is presently unfamiliar with your services or your authority.
3. The Personal Spotlight Post. People like to read about people, so if you can make a personal spotlight post that engages your readers emotionally, you’ll instantly win some reader interest. For example, you could put a spotlight on one of your employees or one of your clients. Make your workplace feel a little more personal, and show it off. It will make your company, and therefore your brand, seem more real, humanized, and more approachable. Alternatively, you can take advantage of a personal spotlight post by interviewing someone in or out of your company. This is especially beneficial if you can wrangle someone with a recognizable name, but this isn’t a necessity.
Personal spotlight posts can be beneficial in making you seem more personal, but they shouldn’t constitute the majority of your campaign. Use them as a complementary element of your strategy, serving as an occasional alternative-style post. Also be sure to rotate the subject of your post, or else your readers could get bored.
4. The Cheat Sheet Post. “Cheat sheet” posts are like instructional posts in the sense that they provide direct information to the reader, but they’re more stylized and may not guide the reader in completing a specific task. Instead, these posts try to summarize or consolidate a vast amount of information into a much more digestible, concise version. For example, instead of detailing every factor that can affect a site’s rankings in major search engines, a cheat sheet post might present only the top five.
The most common forms of cheat sheet posts are lists and countdowns, which lend themselves to catchy titles like “the top five reasons…”, and checklists, which exist to prepare a reader for a specific action or event. These posts are extremely popular due to their “quick and dirty” style and their shareable nature. Incorporate these posts as often as your content strategy allows, and be sure to promote them on social media to improve their reach.
5. The Media Post. Media-specific blog posts are popular already, and are becoming even more popular due to the increase in demand for visual content. Infographics, high quality images, and short videos are just a few examples of focal pieces of media that can be used for a media blog post.
Visual media has a higher propensity to be shared, giving your brand more visibility and in many cases, more inbound links, which improves SEO. If that visual content contains new information or new ideas, like infographics, it’s a great opportunity to show off your authority on a given subject and draw new people to your site. It’s a good idea to write a few paragraphs about the point of your visual content, but the visual content itself is the star of the show; take the time to share that visual content on a social media platform appropriate for its format (such as Pinterest for images).
6. The Entertaining Post. The entertaining blog post’s primary intention is to entertain the user (as you might expect). Usually, these posts have elements from other post varieties (such as containing media or presenting items in a list format), but their main goal is to provide amusement. The amount of entertaining content you should publish depends on the seriousness of your brand. If you have a playful, interactive brand voice, you can publish as much entertaining content as you want. If you have a conservative, more professional brand, you might want to ease up.
Entertaining content, especially humorous content, has a high likelihood of being shared and remembered, but make sure you’re doing something original. You also want to include something valuable to the user, such as information, in order to make the post effective beyond its simple entertainment value.
Put these six blog types to use in your content marketing strategy, and evaluate their performance over time. Measure which types work best for your audience by monitoring web traffic and social shares, then gradually build more of those types of posts into your strategy. Over time, you’ll have a better idea of what your audience wants, and better able to give it to them.