Content and Content Marketing Are Not the Same. Here's How to Frame the Top 11 Content Formats.
Updated: Nov 17, 2021
by Julia McCoy
Founder of Content Hacker™, Express Writers
On the internet, content is anything that expresses thoughts, information or experiences through written, visual, or audio form.
This article is content. The 95 million photos uploaded to Instagram today are content. The 500 hours’ worth of videos uploaded to YouTube in the last 60 seconds are all content.
The internet is built with content and always has been. It also means everyone has content, and everyone creates it all the time.
That creates some confusion when it comes to content versus content marketing. A lot of content is intended to market a brand … but that doesn’t mean the brand does content marketing.
What does content marketing really look like?
Content marketing is a strategic approach to marketing that emphasizes the creation and delivery of valuable content to attract, retain and convert a clearly defined audience.
In other words, it’s using content strategically to provide solutions to problems that either your business or your readers have. Great examples abound:
The fitness brand that creates a community and encourages its subscribers to share knowledge.
The home décor retailer that distributes a monthly magazine on minimalism and good housekeeping practices.
The SaaS platform that uses gamification to encourage users to discover and get to know its features.
The travel company that uses a thrilling interactive website to hint at the experiences it offers.
The health supplement site that publishes a vegan recipe blog.
Do you see a difference? All of these efforts position you as an authority in your industry, demonstrate your expertise in your topic over the long run and cultivate trust in your audience by putting their needs and interests first.
How to tell if you’re doing it right
You’re doing content marketing (and not just content creation or digital marketing) if your content:
Puts your audience first. Be customer-focused, not company-focused. You’re delivering helpful, valuable content and letting the customer decide when they trust you enough to buy from you.
Links back to a business goal or solution to a problem. You’ve laid out how your content works together to further your business goals.
Rarely, if ever, actively promotes your brand outright. CTAs are great, but you aren’t trying to push your readers to your solutions.
Attracts readers to your turf. You’re building authority by providing readers with a destination to which they can keep returning.
Gets published consistently and continuously. You’re building trust by proving you’re an expert in the matter over time rather than publishing one-offs.
Uses metrics to measure and optimize. You can identify what’s performing well, and where you need to improve based on data.
To master content marketing, you must master these 11 content types.
High-performing content is central to your content marketing, but the way you craft it can make or break your strategy. It’s not enough to simply create eBooks, blogs and catchy social media that provide helpful information … that’s still biased toward your brand.
People are catching on to even that now.
Yet, with all the content creation that you will still do, it can be easy to lose your focus. Here’s an overview of how to use the eleven main types of content in content marketing:
Blogs. Make sure they’re optimized for SEO because they’re one of the best ways to boost your page ranks. Include a CTA and consider opening up comments for further engagement.
Case studies. Illustrate your expertise by taking your readers on a journey that showcases solutions to their pain points.
eBooks. They make great lead magnets, especially when you craft a magnetizing title and supply information people can’t find elsewhere.
Emails. Write direct, powerful, concise copy that contains information that can change your readers’ lives. They’re a direct line to your audience and can build long-lasting relationships when done well.
Headlines. Powerful, compelling headlines (that don't sound spammy!) let your readers know exactly what they’re getting. They’re also a great way to convey brand with language.
Meta titles and descriptions. Put yourself in your readers’ shoes and let them know you have the answers they’re searching for right now.
Product descriptions. Optimize with keywords and describe products in terms of benefits rather than features.
Social media posts. Create an experience that puts them at the center and encourages engagement. This helps your audience connect with your brand emotionally and can help you find their pain points.
Video scripts. Tell your brand’s story engagingly. You can also include the script text on the page to make your content more accessible, and boost SEO.
Web content. Make important or helpful information prominent, include a clear CTA, and use high-quality images to craft a powerful message.
White papers. Explore relevant topics in-depth and give your target audience ideas that they can apply to their own problems or daily life.