Content Marketing uses content to attract new business, educate existing and new clients, and build value for you as a trusted expert in your industry.

Robert Rose from Content Marketing Institute puts it this way…

“Traditional marketing and advertising is telling the world you’re a rock star. Content Marketing is showing the world that you are one.”

In the first part of this four part series on Content Marketing, I’ll focus on Content Types

Content Marketing: Content Types

Content comes in many varieties. It is useful to different people in different ways. With content marketing, content can fall into one of four categories…

  1. Educational/Instructional
  2. Expert/Validation
  3. Curated/Borrowed
  4. Conversion/Transactional

Let’s take a look at each of these.

Educational Content

Your target audience needs your help. They don’t know what you know. They are looking for answers and you have them.

This is your chance to empower your audience, earn trust and become their hero in a moment of need. Educational content solves a problem, answers a question and/or inspires action.

It comes in many forms. Some of the most common include:

  • How-to posts
  • Instructional videos or podcasts
  • Research posts with charts and infographics
  • White papers and eBooks

The goal is to answer a question or solve a problem. You don’t create educational content to simply sell something. You can certainly mention your products or services, but the main purpose is to be a resource for your audience. Maybe if you educate them they will buy something.

Utility Content

Utility content is like educational content and also works very well with mobile users.

Your website, your blog and the content on both should appeal to a mobile audience. Utility content is what that your target audience needs on mobile. Put this content up front, using responsive design

  • phone number
  • directions
  • hours
  • things they need from you while on the go

When someone has a question or a need, they reach for their smartphone or tablet. Are you there in a way that helps them?

Expert Content

Expert Content - Nametag

Expert content validates an expert’s status. It also reinforces that status with quality educational content. Expert content is an extension or direct result of educational content and does not always come directly from the expert. Let me explain.

You’re an expert! Yes, you! How does your audience know this?

  • Others tell them that you are an expert.
  • You show them how to do things.
  • You answer their questions.
  • Your fans and followers promote your stuff.
  • You earn their trust.

Expert content shows someone your authority on a particular subject. This isn’t bragging though. This is proof. There is a big difference.

This content can look like one of the following examples:

  1. Testimonials
  2. Video interviews
  3. Blog posts showcasing your expertise in a way that helps the user
  4. Social shares, comments

Expert content is what establishes you or your company as industry leaders. It sets you above your competition because it places you in the category of “trusted.”

Curated Content

This is content developed by others. You act as the curator. There is so much content out there that no one has time to read it all.

Your job as a content curator is to find the content that your audience needs and share it with them. There are some easy ways to find good content…

  1. Set up Google Alerts – just type in some of your keywords and Google will send you related articles in your email daily.
  2. Subscribe to industry newsletters – I subscribe to a bunch of these, most I stumbled upon through my Google Alerts.
  3. Read – read blogs, articles, etc.
  4. Channels like Scoop.It! where others are curating content.

Then, you can start sharing these with your social audience as well as your website audience. Take the best pieces you find and include them in your blog. (Be sure to give proper attribution; don’t plagiarize.) This could be a video, podcast or another blog post.

Include a link to the article, or embed the video or audio content and then write your own take on the subject as it relates specifically to your audience.

This does a few things…

  1. Builds your reputation as a trusted resource – you are not only sharing your knowledge but also the best offerings of others without expecting anything in return.
  2. Builds your social following – by consistently sharing useful information, you gain followers because people are always looking for good resources of the information they want.
  3. Builds your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) – by placing these content review posts on your site, you are associating your content with another expert and including your own original content with it – building authority and keyword rich content.

Search engines are always looking for sites that curate and organize content in a useful way. If yours is one of those sites, you will gain more attention from the search engines as well as your target audience.

You can also open up your blog to guest authors. Guest posts show that you are willing to expand your message to include other opinions. This shows your interest in truly providing value to the reader without holding a death grip on the message.

Of course, exercise editorial control. You still want these guest posts to meet your standards. You aren’t simply filling space, you want each one to add value.

Conversion Content

You still need to sell! The endgame to these content marketing efforts is to achieve your goals. People do business with people they trust. The content efforts mentioned above build this trust.

But, sometimes you need to get to the point and ask for the business. This is called conversion or transactional content. These could be one of the following:

  • Landing page offers
  • eCommerce content
  • Homepage or landing page calls to action
  • Email offers and sales

With conversion content, you still need to show value. But, by this point in the “sales funnel” you should have earned their trust or a recommendation through your other efforts.

Conversion content should quickly get to the point. It needs to remind the reader of the value you offer and then ask for them to do something.

How can you use content to convert?

  • “Give away” eBooks, Whitepapers with an email newsletter signup offer.
  • Instructional content with a call to action in the content or at the end.
  • Calls to action on your homepage telling the reader what to do next.

This content should have a clear and measurable metric associated with it. You should ask yourself, when someone reads this content, what do I want them to do next? That is the conversion or transaction. That is your goal.

If you are not achieving a high conversion, try modifying the content, placement, or call to action elements to get better results.

In the next part of this Content Marketing series, we will discuss Buyer Personas.

What types of content do you use in your marketing? What content appeals to you in your daily research? Let me know in the comments below.

Jon-Mikel Bailey - Before co-founding Wood Street in 2002, Jon worked in sales, marketing and business development for technology and marketing firms. A popular speaker, he gives seminars on marketing, internet marketing, branding and web design to chambers of commerce, trade associations and colleges. He has a BFA in Photography from Frostburg State University and still shoots photos for Wood Street clients.