The world-wide web’s prominence has proven online marketing the way to go for growing businesses. Content marketing, thus, comes off as one of the most effective techniques for marketing products online. However, just like every strategic venture, it comes with its own sets of best practices with which business owners can make a go of their businesses. Among these practices is choosing the right format in which contents are packaged.

This article will tell you 4 things to do before choosing a content format. They include:

1. Know Your Audience

Creating content that doesn’t cater to the needs of your target audience is at best crappy. Knowledge of an audience’s nature makes it easier for smart business owners to create an amazing user experience.

 

Knowing its host country is the 5th highest consumer of soft drinks and the majority of its prospects are millennials, Coca-Cola Argentina drives engagement using PICTURES on the right platform: Instagram.

Although there are no official statements to show how well the organization is faring with Instagram marketing under its belt, the high engagement it enjoys is an indication of a job well done.

The foregoing also proves that choosing a content format isn’t worth the stress if the right tone (language, message and/or design) isn’t chosen as well. I mean: Coca Cola Argentina may as well choose to publish just any type of pictures, but it doesn’t – it makes use of pictures of partying youths and teenagers!

Latasha Doyle, in an article titled ‘How to Create an Eye-Popping Infographic That Your Audience Will Love’, emphasized the importance of a content’s tone, and her analysis revealed how the two infographics below, although similar, are likely to attract different eyes (the latter tends to be more appealing to college students).

Credit: JeffBullas.com

As you’d now expect, the audience factor is the reason why not all content formats work. Gamification, for example, is known to not fly with B2B enterprises. As of 2016, social media content didn’t even emerge among the 10 most effective formats used by B2B businesses, even though it was the most used.

2. Respect the Buyer’s Journey.

The buyer’s journey is the path through which prospects tread to become customers. It comprises basically 3 stages.

As a business person, it’s important to have a grasp of these stages and know what prospects want at each step in the way.

Credit: HubSpot.com

The first stage is the awareness stage. Here, prospects are considered unable to discern their needs, and/or the challenges besetting them. Thus, the content format(s) to be used must be good at introducing a concept.

For example, if you wish to introduce your audience to experimental marketing, you’ll want to use blog posts, infographics, videos, webinars, e-books, and any format that’s sure to simply and effectively explain its meaning, features, significance, and so on.

Next, is the consideration stage. Here, you’d have gotten your lead thinking of the options involved in carrying out an action, such as purchasing a product. Thus, the content formats to be used must generally be able to give details about alternatives and also make comparisons. According to Hubspot, this stage requires formats such as product webinars, case studies, samples, data sheets and demo videos.

Lastly, the decision stage is where you’re meant to trigger purchases for your products. Since you must have nurtured your prospects to this stage, it’d be to your disservice to lose them. The best content formats for this stage are those that are sure to trigger sales.

3. SPY ON THE COMPETITION

Spying is my crude way of saying “competitive analysis.” And, fortunately, this – analysis of your competition- is allowed as long as it stays within ethical confines.

Engaging in competitive analysis is quite useful as it helps in discovering the types of content disrupting an industry. In fact, content marketers are always quick to advance its practice. For example, Brian Dean of Backlinko emphasized the use of competition analysis tools for employing the Sky Scraper technique that aids the creation of link-worthy content.

Although analyzing the competition can help improve your content strategy, it shouldn’t be done at the expense of your contents’ originality. You just have to be aware of the environment in which you operate, then make stuff that resonates with people.

There are a number of tools to get you started with competitive analysis. One of these, as you might have guessed, is Buzzsumo.

Now, let’s suppose I own a marketing blog and want to write a link-worthy post on Instagram Marketing. The first step would be to find the most shared content on Instagram Marketing, so as to discover the forms they come in. Here’s the result as of September 2016:

Credit: BuzzSumo

As you’re probably guessing, writing a blog article that’d be a significant improvement over the above top articles may make quite an impact.However, it wouldn’t be advisable to abandon other content formats simply because blog posts are winning. But, a knowledge of the competition will generally guide you in choosing a content format that would be right up your alley.

4. Follow your Marketing Objectives:

Having a marketing objective is more like having a compass; it guides you towards choosing the right form of content.

As marketing objectives vary across a wide range of categories and purposes, so must content strategies. Different content formats serve to accomplish different purposes.

If you aim to be discovered primarily through search engines, then blog posts should be your go-to format. Reason is… panda, a core element of Google’s algorithm, makes quality web content a fillip to an increase in search ranking. In fact, according to Brian Dean, the average word count of web pages that appear on the first page of search results is 1890. And you’ll agree that not many content formats can produce as many words directly on a web page.

On another hand, if you intend to promote brand awareness, using visual content is one of the ways to go. Catherine Pham listed a few: animated videos, slide shares, infographics, photos, visual guides, comics, and visual blog posts.

There are tons of noteworthy case studies to prove that visual content actually aids brand promotion. Virgin, for example, typically used short form video content to increase its followers by 5900% and had over 350, 000 engagements.

Also, not only did Warrior Sports promote its brand using video content, it also saw a 9% increase in conversions.

B2B content creators are mostly concerned about building a brand and thought leadership, and Hubspot claims they strive towards achieving these using a variety of content formats including whitepapers, industry reports, case studies, in-person events, webinars, etc. This is yet another way by which a clear objective can aid in choosing the right formats.