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What Kind of Content Marketing Converts?

Our clients often ask us what kind of content we recommend for their content marketing to be successful. Since most of our clients define success as winning new business, the question is really about what kind of content marketing converts site your friends, followers, subscribers and site visitors?

The answer is: any kind*, really. But all kinds work better if you can offer your prospects a range of content.

First, about that asterisk: “Any kind of content” works within reason. Content that is purely promotional is going to have tough time holding your audience’s attention. Content that offers no value to your audience will struggle even more. Setting those exceptions aside, let’s dive into what will work.

Length

If you’re a Seth Godin fan, you’ll be surprised to hear me say that longer is generally better. (Seth posts tend to be aphorisms more than essays.)

The rest of us who aren’t Seth Godin will find more luck with longer pieces — as long as 2,000 words.

Of course, you can’t simply blather on for 2,000 words and expect magic to happen, so rather than focus on a word count, I would encourage you to embrace the idea that in-depth examinations of an issue facing your target audience will gain their attention and encourage action.

This doesn’t mean that every piece has to be 2,000 words. But you should aim to write in-depth articles on a regular basis. Your schedule will depend on your marketing goals and the resources you have available. For example, you could commit to writing one long-form piece per month and use that long-form piece as the basis for the remainder of a month’s worth of content on your editorial calendar.

I’m not suggesting that you make March “email marketing month” — you’ll likely want to hit on multiple topics throughout any given month. But your content will be more effective — and your content production more efficient if your shorter-form content is adapted from these foundational content items.

Format

If we count short- and long-form content as two different types of content, we’re off to a good start. We can add to that by including formats other than copy. Video and infographics are two of the more obvious content marketing tools you can use. As are surveys, statistics, research findings, and others.

Not everyone likes watching informational video and not everyone likes reading long-form text. Appeal to more of your audience by offering a variety of formats.

Topics and Subject Matter

You can also vary your content marketing menu for your audience by offering different topics. Even if you have created a narrow content marketing / thought leadership niche for yourself, there are many aspects to even the most narrowly defined niche.

In fact, different aspects of your expertise will appeal to prospects depending on where they are in their buying process. For example, evergreen content is likely to appeal to those prospects who are just starting their research. This is content that is as true and valuable today as it was, say, 2 years ago. (I’m tempted to say, “20 years ago,” but things change so quickly now.)

The other extreme in terms of shelf-life is “late-breaking news.” This doesn’t typically need to be as fresh as a weather report or sports scores, but does involve changes that affect your prospects’ business. For us, things in the news recently have been CCPA and other privacy regulations, Google algorithm updates, and increased activity related to website accessibility compliance.

In between, you will have content that is often valuable over a longer period of time but which requires some editing and updating to maintain its relevance. (Those updates can help your SEO efforts, too.)

To summarize, your content marketing will be most successful if your content

  • Helps your target audience solve an issue they’re facing
  • Highlights your expertise without being about your expertise
  • Includes content that appeals to buyers at various stages of their journey
  • Offers a variety of lengths, formats, and topics related to the buyers’ concerns
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Andrew Schulkind

Since 1996, Andrew Schulkind has asked clients one simple question: what does digital marketing success look like, and how can marketing progress be measured? A veteran content marketer, web developer, and digital strategist, Andrew founded Andigo New Media to help firms find a more strategic and productive mix of tools that genuinely support online brand goals over time. With a passion for true collaboration and meaningful consensus, his work touches social media, search-engine optimization, and email marketing, among other components. He views is primary goal as encouraging engagement. Getting an audience involved in your story requires solid information architecture, a great user experience, and compelling content. A dash of common sense doesn’t hurt, either. Andrew has presented at Social Media Week NY and WordCampNYC, among other events, on content marketing and web-development topics. His technology writing appears on the Andigo blog, in a monthly column on Biznology.com, and for print and online publications like The New York Enterprise Report, Social Media Today, and GSG Worldwide’s publications LinkedIn & Business, Facebook & Business, and Tweeting & Business. Andrew graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy from Bucknell University. He engages in a range of community volunteer work and is an avid fly fisherman and cyclist. He also loves collecting meaningless trivia. (Did you know the Lone Ranger made his mask from the cloth of his brother's vest after his brother was killed by "the bad guys?")

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