Content marketing that connects with audiences and earns a high level of organic promotion isn't an easy task. One of the important aspects of setting your content marketing campaign up for success is choosing the best format for your content.
Choosing a content asset format requires considerable research to discover what type of content your audience prefers. For example, an infographic may go a long way when targeting Millennials versus an e-book that is much better suited for executive decision makers.
Some are always better than others, but in a general sense, there is no single format that outperforms all the others every time. Here are the top content asset formats that generate the most attention online.
This is an electronic version of a book composed in or converted to digital format for display on a computer screen or handheld device. An e-book requires deep content (15,000 words or more) to be taken seriously. There are countless examples of brands getting razzed for releasing a 10-page "e-book," so create something with depth.
If done correctly, your e-book will be so useful that it will get cited or referenced by other books written on your topic. Do a Google Books search for your content asset name (in quotation marks) to find out if your e-book has been cited!
Guides / Handbooks
This is a content asset that helps someone to make a decision or calculation, formulate an opinion, or execute a strategy or tactic. This format may be best for audiences looking for content with the brevity and aesthetics of an infographic and the depth of an e-book. This is a great middle-of-the-road place to start if your organization is new to content marketing.
This is a self-contained program or piece of software designed to fulfill a particular purpose. Apps are great for building a more native and interactive user experience. However, brands that want to develop an app really need to consider if an app is truly the best way to solve the problem. For example, creating a reference app, like an industry-jargon dictionary, is useful only if it absolutely must be used in a mobile setting. Otherwise, you have created an app that serves a purpose that may be done more effectively through another content format (in the dictionary example, perhaps a wiki-style microsite). Build only apps that truly take advantage of mobile functionalities.
Apps are also ways of supporting other marketing campaigns, such as event apps or loyalty programs. However, most apps that caught market attention did so in the same way as the other content formats--they solved a specific problem for the user.
Studies are published results of a detailed investigation and analysis of a subject or situation. They are very good for highly educated audiences that want to learn something new that is based on fact and data, but creating a study is no joke. A real study must be based on credible research and contain citations from expert resources. If done correctly, a study can be the most effective way to earn a high volume of powerful citations in a brief amount of time.
This is a reference tool that provides simple, brief instructions for making a decision or calculation, forming an opinion, or executing a strategy or tactic. A cheat sheet is somewhere between an infographic and a guide. This format is especially useful if your problem is process based and the required content to solve the problem is very brief. Some other content formats may serve to entertain or inform, but a cheat sheet almost always solves a specific problem.
Video campaigns contain a Web-based video with the intent to solve problems and/or entertain.
People love watching videos online, and marketers are taking notice. People are consuming educational and useful videos more than just cats doing stupid things. If I could go back and show a '90s version of myself how I was using YouTube today, I would swear that I was living in the Matrix. It seems as if you can learn anything, anytime, anywhere with video tutorials on YouTube.
Solving problems or educating your target audience online through video can be very effective content marketing.
Mixed-media posts use of a variety of media with the intent to solve problems and/or entertain. Examples include interactive infographics that can contain audio, video, and animation on demand. Other innovative options include combining Rebelmouse (live social feeds) and Storify (storytelling) to develop a live, socially interactive and story-based content asset. The right mixed-media combination may just be an ace in the hole for your brand campaign.
No matter which content format you choose, just be sure to make a decision on the basis of data. Allowing your audience to make this decision for you will be the most likely path to success.