Affordable Content Marketing: 8 Essential Pieces of Content to Create First

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This is the second of a four-part series called “Content Marketing on a Budget: How To Get The Best Content Mix For Your Buck”. Over the course of these posts we’ll be helping you understand how to think about content marketing so you can make the right content choices when you have a limited budget.

What Content Should You Create?

So you’ve figured out where in the customer journey you want to focus your content budget. You’ve defined clear goals for your content marketing push and have thought about your audience’s needs and interests. Now comes the time where you can decide on the type of content you’ll be sharing with your audience.

Given the technologies and unprecedented access to creative professionals that exists today, it’s no surprise that there is a panoply of content that you’ll be able to create and distribute to your audience. When affordable content marketing on a smaller budget is your aim, though, you’re going to want to focus on the content that’s going to be most effective for your investment. This means choosing content that

  • is widely recognized by web users
  • is proven to be engaging
  • has the potential to be “evergreen content”
  • is shareable
  • can easily appeal to audience’s emotions, logic, and/or sense of authority

We’ve identified eight types of content that we know can fulfill most, if not all of the above-mentioned bullet points and will help you

1.) Blog Articles

The very thing you’re reading right now is an example of the most common and accessible type of content marketing around. It’s so ubiquitous that you may have even overlooked it as a content marketing asset. When conducting an affordable content marketing campaign, the blog is perhaps the first place you should start since it’s relatively easy to have internal stakeholders or dedicated marketing professionals on your team create written content that can get your message and brand personality out to your audiences. Comments sections provide a way for these audiences to engage with you and develop conversations around your brand, providing opportunities for good customer relations. Blogs also play well with other forms of content, as other supporting content can be incorporated into articles through embeds or links. Finally, blog articles are key component in SEO strategy and will help your brand be more accessible to web users searching for topics related to what your company does.

2.) Videos

Video has taken over the web and is a staple of the online experience today. The rise of YouTube, Vimeo, and the creators on them are a testament to that. Content marketing has naturally followed suit and video is an essential part of some of the most effective content marketing on the web.

The cost of creating a video varies greatly, but in general video content tends to be more resource-intensive than other types of content (though complext content such as apps, games, and microsite content can easily rival it). However, the benefits of having video in your content arsenal are many.

Video content can be the centerpiece or otherwise a standout, high-value piece of a content marketing campaign. It’s shareable, can communicate a lot in a short amount of time, make logical arguments, engage emotions, and it starts conversations.

Do video right and you’ll have an asset that you’ll be able to leverage over and over again for a wide variety of contexts, situations, and purposes. There are a number of ways you can incorporate video into your content marketing, ranging from vlogs, screencasts, curated fan-shot videos, explainer videos, how-to screencasts, video interviews, and instructional animations, to name a few. Your goals and intended purposes should determine which of these to choose. (Quick, shameless plug: If you need help creating your video content, we’re always ready to help you plan and produce. This is what we do, and we’re great at it!)

3.) Infographics

The infographic is a type of content that emerged from the meeting of data visualization and popular culture. Businesses (many of them startups for whom data was plentiful and a way of life) soon realized the potential for infographics to communicate their key data and ideas in an easily digestible, shareable, and fun way. Infographics by nature show information through graphs, charts, and other illustrations. The heart of the infographic is data, and clear and understandable visualization of data is key to a successful infographic. As a piece of content, it’s a chance to provide your audience with value by providing clarity and understanding by presenting it in a way that they intuitively get as opposed to listing facts and statistics.

Creating infographics can be relatively inexpensive. Once you collect your data, decide what about it you want to highlight, and decide how to present it, a skilled graphic designer will be able to take that data and transform it into an infographic which suits your goals.

4.) Branded GIFs

GIFs are a staple of the popular internet. Though the form has been around for around 30 years, the growth of social networks in the last few years has contributed to an explosion of GIFs across these platforms. People share them for amusement value and to communicate ideas and emotions in a quick and engaging way that words and even emojis can’t. The “reaction GIF” has been especially prevalent on chat messaging programs, with users inserting GIFs into the conversation to add nuanced reactions to the text and images there. With a clever, well-crafted set of GIFs content, businesses can get their brand in front of their audiences in their everyday streams of digital communication — chat messengers and the newsfeeds of social networks where they spend their time online.

5.) Slide Decks / Presentations

While GIFs are trendy and fun, slide decks are decidedly not. This form of content has been around for a while, and a huge swath of today’s professionals came of age creating PowerPoint presentations for classes for much of their student lives. Slide decks provide information organized across a series of digital slides, enabling businesses to break key points into chunks which are easy for audiences to focus on and understand at their own pace (or at the pace of the presenter, if used as an asset in a live presentation). There’s no doubt that slide decks are familiar and easy to create content. Using them for content marketing purposes, however, requires businesses to think about the audience experience and what they want audiences to think or do upon reaching the end of the deck.

A good slide deck used for content marketing will still provide key information but rather than being comprehensive, they are most effective when they are short with one clear idea per slide compelling (even provoking) the viewer to push on to the end of the presentation.

One advantage to slide decks as pieces of content  is that they are both easily shareable as files and links or can be used as gated content which audiences can download by providing their email address or other similar pieces of information on landing page forms.

6.) White Papers

As the word “paper” indicates, white papers have been around since well before the days of digital marketing. These short topical reports go into more depth about key topics and ideas. While the slide deck tends to highlight the big picture, white papers dig into the details. Research reports and technical briefs published digitally are examples of types of content that can be classed as white papers.

Because of the detailed nature of the content, white papers are great for establishing thought leadership by a company. Digitally they are easily shared but can also be great gated content for lead generation. In addition, they are formatted for easy printing and can be used and distributed offline in that medium when the context is appropriate.

7.) Case Studies

Case studies are another piece of content that can help bolster brand authority and highlight the benefits businesses can bring to their audiences. These are typically shorter pieces of written content which tell the story of company successes in delivering value to customers. It’s a kind of testimonial told in story form.

Planning for case studies requires a bit of foresight and documentation but overall they tend not to be very resource intensive, requiring the curation of the case facts and quotes and a medium for publishing the case study.

8.) Ebooks

Ebooks are longer pieces of content, usually documents upwards of 15 pages or greater, that presents key information in a structured, readable format at length. Ebooks are generally subdivided into chapters or sections in which particular topics are described, explained, and generally talked about at length. This is done so that audiences can use the work as a whole as a kind of reference or authoritative source and enable them to get to the information that they need by skipping to the chapters they’re interested in.

Ebooks in content marketing are meant to echo what many ebook novels or nonfiction ebooks do — present layered, sometimes complicated ideas in a manner that’s readable, accessible, informative, and engaging. However, this absolutely does not mean that ebooks used in content marketing should mimic that form — content marketing ebooks are much more effective when they incorporate images, bullet points, quotes, and creative layouts.

Creating a good ebook can be an involved process due to the amount of information and presentation involved, but because of this they often make some of the best high-value content to place behind a conversion form on a landing page.

The next article in this series will provide some general and essential tips on getting your content created. Along with that one, be sure to check out our articles on planning for affordable content marketing and the various types of visuals-focused marketing content, too!