What do content marketing and inbound marketing have in common?
Both rely on great content to work.
Content is an umbrella term encompassing the various ways people share written, audio, and visual communications. From articles and podcasts, to infographics and white papers, there are dozens of content types marketers use to reach their target audiences, keep their editorial presence fresh, and align with the needs of their consumer base.
And so the question becomes, do you know what types of content will resonate with your audience as they go through their customer journey?
Defining inbound marketing and the role of content
The goal of inbound marketing is simple: to make customers come to you rather than you reach out to them.
To do this, you need to create valuable content and enriching experiences that draw in your target audience.
Just like content marketing, the success of inbound marketing heavily relies on the relevance, quality, and distribution of content.
Your content must be relevant to the goals of your target audience. It must also possess elements of quality, like readability and the inclusion of actionable information.
Also, inbound marketing content must be distributed over channels that your potential customers use — and in the right format.
To fulfill these requirements, you need to understand the different types of content, what they’re for, and when to use them.
What kinds of content types should you create?
Before you start producing content, ask these questions to ensure your choice of content type aligns with your marketing goals.
Marketing content should speak to your #buyerpersonas, stages in your funnel, and align with campaign goals. Does yours? #contentmarketing Click To Tweet
Top 25 content types to supercharge inbound marketing campaigns
Consider using the 25 content types below to get better results out of your inbound marketing efforts.
1. Long-form informative articles
Informative articles and blog posts are the bread and butter of an effective inbound marketing campaign.
These pieces of content often aren’t created to flat-out promote or sell your products or services. Instead, they are made to provide readers with the information they need to solve problems and fill knowledge gaps — without being forced to buy something.
Long-form informative articles cater to potential leads who do “informational” search queries on Google. That means their intent is purely to do research, so be sure your content has all the answers to every question they may have.
Image Source: Google.com
Marketers may describe long-form articles as posts that contain more than 1,000 words. But if you want to attain higher rankings and reap the full benefits of long-form content, don’t use word count as a benchmark.
Rather, try to cover your content’s main topic as comprehensively as possible without making any room for fluff.
Concise and complete — that’s the name of the game.
2. Entertaining blog content
In the online world, there’s a market for short stories, parody pieces, fun listicles, and memes.
Not only are they fun to write, but they also offer an engaging way to introduce your brand identity to your target audience. If you have existing readers, entertaining blog content will help you connect with them on a deeper level.
Individual bloggers in various niches — from fashion to travel — use this content type all the time to attract new followers.
Some blogs like Duchess Express even dedicate an entire post category to random posts.
Image Source: DuchessExpress.com
The best part is that there are no rules to writing blog content for entertainment purposes. Feel free to write about anything that could pique the interest of your readers. Just avoid writing anything offensive or divisive.
3. Case studies
Does it work? When you have a lead who’s unsure if your product or service will apply to them, send ’em a case study.
These in-depth, fact-driven documents tell the story of a satisfied consumer. A case study can be effective at any funnel stage but is most often used as a closing tactic for bottle-of-funnel (BOFU) folks. Seeing one last glowing recommendation can turn a lead into a sale.
Google shares a case study about its client Swarovski. The jewelry retailer wanted to shift consumers’ perspectives to make their accessories go-tos for everyday moments, not just special celebrations.
In the study, we learn that Shopping Ads and Google Images were used to create a mobile-rich experience for the retailer, growing online sales by 50 percent, year over year.
4. Customer success stories
Much like case studies, customer stories are used to entice future buyers to give a brand a try.
Customers love hearing from other satisfied consumers. That’s why success stories can be approached with a journalistic feature-story style by a freelance writer, or be created by the customer (with a pro editor to polish the content).
These personal anecdotes tend to speak directly to your target audience from the consumer’s perspective.
Call center technology company Genesys shares customer stories on their website to show how their cloud-based and on-premise software is making an impact on businesses. Here’s a video-format story they created to highlight how PayPal scaled their support services to keep up with rapid growth using Genesys products.
5. Original research
When your audience craves numbers and charts, give ‘em a data study.
This content type might be created by a content strategist, writer, and graphic designer working as a team to analyze the findings of a study, current trends, or research, then present them in a concise text with a visual format.
Data studies generally show up in middle-of-funnel (MOFU) and bottom-of-funnel (BOFU) content plans to help interested consumers learn more before making a decision.Ready to launch a #contentmarketing campaign, but don't know what to do beyond blog posts? We've got 24 more #contenttypes for you to consider. Click To Tweet
This content type is perfect for in-depth, long-form content.
A freelance writer and graphic designer can work together to craft an ebook to explain a process, share the company’s origin story, or entertain the reader.
These assets might be used to close a sale at the very end of the customer journey, or even entice recurring sales from a cherished customer. Ebooks also make great freebies to encourage email list sign-ups.
Web security company Duo offers an online library of ebooks that dig deep into topics such as multi-factor authentication (MFA), remote access, and single sign-on (SSO). These assets give potential and current customers the hand-holding necessary to understand complex tech topics backed by studies, user examples, and actionable advice.
7. Email content
Email messages have a more private feel, making them the perfect content type for relationship building.
Ask your readers to share their biggest challenges, aspirations, what type of help they need, etc.
You can be more personal with how you relate with your audience because your content is only available to the select few who signed up for your email content.
HubSpot explains how an automated email drip campaign can boost open rates and strengthen relationships. They also share templates you can customize for your business, and why they work.
Tip: Most campaigns contain four to 11 emails spaced a week or more apart. Add email writing to your content plan so it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle of other content creation!
8. FAQ guides
FAQs still exist. And if a segment of your audience is in an older generation, they look for these helpful text documents on your website.
Well-worded FAQs are lead magnets for top-of-funnel (TOFU) visitors.
The concise, skimmable information has the ability to spark interest and help with basic questions about your company and products.
To get the most out of this sought-after website page, make the FAQ progressively more detailed so it can also be used as a resource for visitors further into your funnel.
The ice cream gurus at Baskin Robbins have outdone themselves with their sweet FAQ. It’s organized by category (nutrition, franchising, online ordering, etc.) with a simple drop-down menu interface and speaks to more than one audience, including ice-cream consumers and potential shop owners.
And, the cherry on top? They serve up a CTA at the bottom of the page to contact them if you still have a question.
9. How-to guides
Well-written “how-to” guides are not your average, run-of-the-mill long-form content.
The key difference is that how-to guides include step-by-step instructions that help your audience get from point A to point B.
What makes a great how-to guide is the presence of helpful visual content, such as short videos or screenshots, to help readers better grasp each step.
Authoritative sites like Semrush use tons of screenshots in their how-to guides to help readers turn information into action.
Image Source: Semrush.com
10. Landing pages
Landing pages are very specifically designed to influence site visitors to take action. (e.g., Click your “Buy Now” buttons, sign-up for a webinar, download your ebook, etc.)
As a general rule, you shouldn’t add multiple types of CTAs on your landing pages.
For example, if you’re looking to get more ebook downloads, then your landing page content should focus and be optimized for the ebook download. This is why you shouldn’t also tell your readers to share your content, comment, or subscribe to your email newsletter. It will only confuse or distract them from downloading your ebook.
Livestreams are a relatively new content format used in digital marketing. Despite this, they’re definitely in demand.
Livestreaming is pretty much broadcasting live video over the internet. It’s usually done through platforms, such as Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook Live.
Businesses, influencers, and individual brands can livestream anything from virtual events and interviews to radio shows, podcasts, and product reveals. This gives the audience a sense of “being in the moment,” which always makes for a memorable and compelling experience.
Mega brands like Apple routinely stream important announcements and product launches. And with the capabilities offered by livestreaming tools like Facebook Live, small businesses can follow suit by streaming important events.
Presenting a mix of content in magazine format can help move your customers down the funnel. They may start with a TOFU article, then find themselves looking for contact information, pushing them to the MOFU.
To create a stunning digital magazine, you need a team of creatives — strategists, writers, photographers, videographers, and graphic designers.
24 Hour Fitness offers its health-minded friends an online magazine called 24Life.
The free publication includes workouts, lifestyle tips, and recipes, which speak directly to their audience’s challenges and needs.
This publication is a win at all funnel stages, especially when one of the stages includes retention. This publication keeps the gym top of mind when it’s time to renew that membership.
13. Animated graphics
Creating animated graphics is a lot easier than it sounds.
Drag-and-drop design tools like Canva now come with easy animation tools baked into the platform. It allows you to apply animations to individual graphic elements and plan the timeline of animations.
Image Source: Canva.com
Motion graphics mimic the power and experience of videos in grabbing the attention of your readers. They also deliver information as quickly as possible rather than requiring your site visitors to watch for a whole minute. This makes animated graphics excellent for promoting concise value propositions, ads, and lead magnets.
If you want to stay in touch with your audience periodically, then use email newsletters.
Newsletters are the perfect content format for sending event updates, new product releases, customer testimonials, etc.
Just like landing pages, you need to have a clear sense of focus on your email newsletter content.
Think of one topic then make your newsletter content all about that one topic.
Also, be sure to add a postscript message. Readers tend to remember the postscript message because it’s the last thing they see in email newsletters.
If you’re exploring a new way to reach time-taxed audiences, podcasts allow them to listen to your content while engaging in other activities, like commuting, showering, or washing dishes.
This content format goes beyond serial storytelling and news reports. Brands of all types are using the audio format to build audiences with conversational episodes while subtlety promoting their products.
When looking for topics to discuss in your podcasts, consider typing in your keyword in Google’s search box.
Scroll to the section that says “People Also Ask” since it showcases loads of questions relevant to people searching about your keyword.
16. Slideshow presentations
Slideshow presentations are perfect for presenting data-rich information.
Platforms, such as SlideShare, house a massive pool of slideshow content that countless brands refer to when citing data. This makes slideshows a valuable asset for brand building and traffic generation.
Image Source: SlideShare.net
If you want to use slideshows for link building, be sure to include links to your website and build a full-length article around your slideshow. This encourages other content creators to link to your website instead of linking to a SlideShare page.
Slideshows can also be used as a complement to webinars, which is another effective content format you can use for inbound marketing. More on that later.
17. Press releases
The official currency between a brand and the media is press releases.
These documents follow a specific format and style (don’t worry, a pro writer knows this) that allows a business to convey pertinent information to the media about newsworthy events, such as new executive appointments and product line expansions. Press releases are the catalysts to earned media mentions and have the ability to nurture all funnel stages.
The pet lovers working behind the scenes on Purina’s website have stocked the Purina News Center with news releases that are accessible to consumers and the media. Topics vary from announcing a new allergen-reducing cat food to partnerships with other animal-focused organizations.
18. Social media content
Social media content encompasses various content formats that fit specific networks.
For example, text-based content like articles, guides, and reviews are great on LinkedIn and Facebook. Inspirational quotes, infographics, and photos, on the other hand, work best on Instagram and Pinterest.
Regardless of these content types, two things are always present in almost all social media content: a post description and a featured image.
The role of both elements is solely to get the audience’s attention. On some platforms like Instagram and Twitter, social media content must include hashtags for higher searchability and perceived relevance.
19. Video tutorials
Video tutorials are essentially the video versions of how-to guides. They start by highlighting the problem, identifying tools, and briefly describing the solution to viewers.
YouTube is one of the prime avenues for sharing video tutorials.
For one, YouTube is packed with tools that can help creators publish and optimize their videos. Google also looks at YouTube videos for the “suggested clips” rich snippet.
Image Source: Google.com
20. Short-form videos
Short-form videos appeal to the younger audience, especially those who use platforms like Instagram Reels, TikTok, and YouTube Shorts.
From a marketing perspective, short-form videos are advantageous because of their low production cost, the potential for instant gratification, and sheer popularity. You can use them to publish about your company culture, business process, a product highlight, or anything that the social media community absolutely NEEDS to see.
Here’s a popular example of a short-form video from REXPAIR’s TikTok page:
Image Source: TikTok.com, @rexpair
Want to move those looky-loos into the MOFU? Host a free webinar with helpful tips and insight about your product. Educational-focused webinars are known as lead magnets with the ability to quickly build trust and confidence in your brand. You might ask for the assistance of a scriptwriter and graphic designer to polish your presentation.
Zoom, a popular meeting-hosting platform, offers webinars about its services so potential users can learn about the benefits and technology available. As I browse the Upcoming Events listing on their Webinars & Events page, I see “Zoom Meetings for Healthcare” and “Introducing Zoom Phone” webinars coming up.
Like ebooks, templates can be offered as lead magnets that could drive up your conversions like crazy.
Templates are reusable documents that guide users in creating a specific type of content faster and more effectively. They come in all shapes and sizes, from social media ad templates to marketing email templates.
Other than digital versions, templates can also have printable versions that can help users offline. The Craft Blog, for instance, offers truckloads of printable templates for handicraft projects.
23. White papers
They’re authoritative, work as a simple PDF download to entice email list sign-ups, and can be repurposed easily into small content blurbs. White papers also work as long-form pillar pieces on your website’s resource section or can be emailed to lingering leads who need to see a bit more evidence before adding to cart. White papers tend to be straightforward, filled with facts, and persuasive.
Digital performance marketing agency iProspect shares an intriguing white paper about marketing strategies that embrace the evolving face of modern audiences titled Exclusion to Inclusion. This asset will inspire and educate potential users of their services, moving them further into the sales funnel.
24. Roundup posts
A roundup post is a type of a “listicle” that focuses on aggregating other brands, experts, and products.
As a listicle, roundup posts are not only easy to make and extremely convenient for users. It can also act as “ego-bait” content that encourages those who were mentioned to share your post — earning you free traffic and, in most cases, a backlink in the process.
Roundup posts can work under different themes:
- “Experts share their thoughts on…”
- “Best tools for…”
- “Top brands to follow for…”
25. Positive reviews
Finally, positive customer reviews can improve your brand’s trustworthiness and increase the confidence of potential leads.
They can be published on social media, review sites, or directly on your website.
Customer reviews are not exactly the type of content you create yourself. However, you can influence your customers to produce them for you using different tactics.
A common approach is to automate an email that requests reviews as soon as a customer completes a purchase. You can also offer incentives, such as discount codes or freebies, to customers who write a product review.
Bonus: more content types to generate organic traffic
Need more ideas to spice up your inbound marketing strategy? Check out the following content types that can generate tons of free traffic to your website:
- Q&A website answers
- Image quotes
- Behind-the-scenes company photos
- Interactive infographics
How can you get the most out of your content?
Embrace the reality that pressing publish isn’t an endpoint. It’s the beginning of your content’s lifecycle. Let’s chat about content distribution and content repurposing.
If your content plan doesn’t include distribution, get on that. It’s not enough to push a link out once and call it a day. Did you optimize the content for each platform where it will live? Did you add social sharing functions to the content? Did you include CTAs to drive ongoing engagement? Has the content been added to your automated social sharing cycle, so it can go out again and again over the course of the year? Keep that content visible!
Then, use it again. And, again. When you have a small team and an equally small budget, consider adopting a repurposing mindset. In our content-hungry economy, you can easily share information that overlaps previous content as a way to stay top-of-mind with potential consumers and re-target hot leads who like to leave goodies in their shopping cart without checking out.
HubSpot says repurposing content can also help you reach new audiences, improve organic visibility, and reinforce your messaging, especially when it’s high-value thought leadership or authoritative content.
What does repurposing look like? Let’s take that case study you worked so hard on last quarter. Could you pull some key quotes out of it to use as #MotivationalMonday snippets on your Facebook business page for the next several weeks? Or, would sections of that long-form blog post work as small helpful blurbs for your customer-focused newsletter? Think of each piece of content you initially produce as a puzzle. Can you remove and rearrange the pieces to give them a new purpose — and ultimately lighten your content creation load?
Content types for inbound marketing: frequently asked questions
1. What are three types of content?
All types of content fall under three categories: created, curated, and creatively curated. Original content is created, curated content is shared from third-party sources, and creatively curated content is shared from another source along with your own insights.
2. What are examples of content?
The word “content” covers a lot of digital media, like blog posts, videos, infographics, slideshows, and podcasts. Among marketers, videos, blog posts, and ebooks are some of the most popular content types on the web.
3. What are the different types of content creators?
Content creators can be experts who formulate their own ideas, networkers who share the ideas of others, observers who obtain information through their own research, visualizers who turn information into graphics, and convincers who create compelling pieces that can influence the reader’s opinions.
4. What type of content is best for social media?
Videos and short-form videos generate the most engagement on social media, especially now that videos can be played faster and more reliably. Visual content, like infographics and high-quality photos, is also popular since it helps brands stand out amidst the content noise.
Double your inbound marketing results with robust content creation
In inbound marketing, identifying the best content types to use is only the first step.
Businesses also need to invest in content research, strategy, creation, distribution, and optimization.
Realistically, you need to commit weeks of your team’s time to get meaningful results from your inbound marketing efforts. If you’re busy and would rather focus on doing other, more important parts of your business, another option is to hire someone else to supply your company’s content needs.
If you’re ready to fast-track your inbound marketing results, use the form below and consult with one of our content experts.