This article is the second installment of a 6-part series. Read the first installment here.
Highly effective marketing blogs share a few features, and I’m not talking about pop-up ads and fancy graphics. I’m talking about something more essential. Namely:
- They serve a clear purpose
- They speak to a specific audience
- They are compelling to consume
- They maintain a consistent cadence
- They drive readers to engage more deeply
Last time, we discussed the first two items on the list, purpose and audience, and how to make sure your blog aligns with them to achieve your goals. This week, we’ll discuss 5 content types that can help you serve your audience and purpose with a consistent cadence of varied and compelling content:
- Authority Building Content
- SEO Content
- Social Engagement Content
- How-to Content
- Repurposed Content
Take the time to understand these 5 content types to make topic planning easier, and ensure everyone on your team understands the key types you want them to focus on. Understand that any given entry can serve multiple purposes and that the lines between “types” are blurry. And be sure to expand on the list with your own types, to suit your unique purposes.
1. Authority Building Content
Authority building content is designed to establish and maintain standing with your audience and in your industry as a thought leader and authoritative source of information and insight.
It is best suited for companies that are innovative and/or well established, and whose strategic goals include becoming better known and/or maintaining status as an authoritative resource. It is often developed on behalf of executives and business development professionals to build credibility and trust with partners, customers and prospects. Authority building content is often published with a byline from someone in the organization who is seen as a subject matter expert on the topic.
Authority-building content can take the form of blog entries, LinkedIn posts, white papers, ebooks, videos or podcasts. It tends to be long (1000+ words), and packed with in-depth information and/or a disruptive point of view.
These pieces may make strong statements, explore issues in detail, or answer big questions for the audience.
It tends to be relatively expensive to produce (in terms of time, money and other resources), but can often be repurposed (see type #5) as smaller chunks of content to extend its life, reach and usefulness. If you hire a writer for this type of content, choose an experienced writer with industry experience, the ability to extract useful information from subject matter experts, and a strong portfolio of this type of work. Expect to pay them well.
2. SEO Content
A well-tended blog with a regular cadence and plenty of keyword-rich and optimized posts is key to effective search engine optimization.
SEO content is best suited for companies with a strong digital marketing initiative with an emphasis on search engine rankings. An SEO piece won’t necessarily be as long, in-depth, or ground-breaking as authority building content, although the two types can overlap successfully in the right hands.
SEO content often focuses on answering questions centered on a keyword topic, such as “what is a [keyword]” and “how to [keyword].” These pieces are often much more matter-of-fact and down-to-earth than authority building content. If SEO is a strategic goal, don’t be afraid to hit a single topic from multiple angles over a long period of time, and even to rewrite old pieces on the same topic to post as fresh content.
Tools like AnswerThePublic are useful in finding new angles for SEO pieces, or you can use any of a number of purpose-built tools. You should have someone on your team who is analytics- and data-driven, who manages keyword analysis and selection. This should not be the same person writing the posts, as it requires a very different type of thinking.
SEO content can be relatively (compared to authority building) inexpensive to produce, as it is often not as in-depth as other types. However, it’s important to have the right team on it, starting with your keyword analyst. Your SEO writers should have a basic understanding of best practices for producing SEO-ready copy, and be skilled in Internet research. Due to the often more basic nature of this type of content, it’s also important that your writer know how to produce original content based on that research, and understand best practices in avoiding plagiarism.
3. Social Engagement Content
Social engagement content is designed to generate, uh, social engagement. It may be something as simple as LinkedIn posts or social media comments, but when extended to the blog, it will be slightly longer form content intended to get your audience to have conversations with you.
It can be useful for lead generation and as part of a social media marketing and sales strategy.
Social engagement content often answers common questions, discusses trending topics, presents challenging or provocative views, and uses highly engaging headlines to draw readers in. It may pose questions or solicit feedback.
This type of content can be easy or difficult, inexpensive or expensive to produce, depending on your goals and the level of engagement you’re seeking. It must be paired with an active social presence in order to be effective. It can be combined with SEO and/or authority building content.
When choosing a writer for social engagement, look for someone who understands human psychology, has experience engaging with audiences, and isn’t afraid to be edgy or punchy with their writing. Humor and new ways of looking at old topics are all solid attributes to look for as well.
4. How-to Content
How-to content is self-explanatory. It tells your audience how to do something. How-to articles are one of the most-clicked-on content types, and also tend to serve SEO goals quite well. They can be especially useful for organizations whose goals include informing and educating their users, and contributing to customer success through useful content.
It’s a rare blog that can’t benefit from at least an occasional how-to piece.
These articles may teach your audience how to do something better than they’re currently doing it, or how to do a thing they aren’t already doing. It may provide your audience with information on how to DIY something you can help them with, while encouraging them to contact you if they want help. Or it may show them how to do something using your product or service.
This type of content tends to fall in the middle of the spectrum in terms of difficulty and cost to produce.
Look for a writer who is comfortable interviewing and extracting information from subject matter experts, who is a logical thinker and can put steps in an easy-to-follow order, and who possesses a basic level of attention to detail.
5. Repurposed Content
While this isn’t technically a “type” of blog entry, I’m listing it here because it’s the most commonly overlooked and underutilized type of content there is, while being simultaneously one of the most valuable and easiest to produce.
Chances are, your organization has invested in numerous case studies, white papers, ebooks, webinars and other forms of in-depth content. Plus, if your blog is more than a year or two old, you have older content lying around that is still useful and valid, but never gets read because it’s just too darn old.
Repurposing all this wealth of content into new blog entries should be part of any organization’s overall content strategy. Assign someone the task of organizing old content assets and prioritizing it for repurpose.
Old blog entries can be rewritten with updated info and posted as fresh content.
White papers can be broken down into chunks and posted as blogs (ahem, sneak peek, this article is part of a series and at the end of the series you will get access to the ebook from which they are repurposed…).
- Case studies can be shortened and tightened and published as blogs
- Webinars can be transcribed and converted into blog entries
- Even internal facing content, such as training materials or RFP snippets, can sometimes be converted to marketing blog content
Because it requires less research and organization, this type of content tends to be relatively inexpensive to produce. Any solid writer can perform this work, even without specific industry expertise (though expertise is never a wrong thing to look for).
Make sure they understand your purpose in repurposing, and make clear the level of “rewrite” you want. For instance, you may want them to take a section of an ebook and give it an intro and a conclusion. Or you may want them to take an old blog entry and completely rewrite every word so that it’s not obvious to a search engine that it is the same content.
Important note: Permission to repurpose your own material is absolutely granted. Permission to repurpose someone else’s material is not.
Don’t go stealing someone else’s work and simply rewriting it in your words. This is a recipe for bitterness–on the part of the original producer’s part, but also on the part of audiences who get sick of finding the same darn content everywhere they look, and who absolutely notice when you are rewriting someone else’s work. They may not know who stole from whom, but they do know it’s stolen. It’s a lose-lose so don’t do it.
Make a note of these five content types, and post them somewhere visible before your next topic brainstorming session. Over time, add new types that you notice you use, or that you admire on other blogs. Keep the list where everyone on the content team can refer to it, and ensure every content assignment is tagged with the type it is designed to fulfill.
In the next article in the series, I share with you hot tips to make your next topic brainstorming session the best you’ve ever had.
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