Gated content offers are one of the nine essential elements of any inbound marketing campaign, and that's not changing anytime soon. But as the amount of investment in content being produced by businesses continues to increase in 2016, it's more important than ever that as an inbound marketer, you're choosing the correct type of content to produce.
With this in mind, here are six types of content that are primed to deliver results this year according to the CMO Council.
One quick thought before we begin, that with any of these types of marketing content, it's critically important that the content is high quality. As well as related to the specific stage in the buying process that you're hoping to improve upon.
Seven Types of Content That Will Generate Customers
1. White papers
A white paper is a long form offer and detailed guide on a specific topic. They are written in a more formal tone than a blog post and will feature more design production. One of the best ways to easily create your first white paper is by combining three or four of your top performing blog posts on a given subject.
White papers and guides are great offers when your persona sits at the coordinator or manager level of a company where they are able to spend time consuming this long-form, actionable and in-depth content.
Our Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing is a great example of an effective white paper.
2. Analyst reports
Traditionally speaking, you might think of an analyst report as being prepared by an analyst or strategist at an investment bank or stock brokerage. However, in today's age where brands are publishers, we've seen this type of report expanded with companies conducting independent research and then publishing their findings.
This type of content is great when your audience is hungry for data that supports the latest industry trends to help guide broader decision making. One of the best examples of this that I saw in 2015 was Bizible's State of Pipeline Marketing report. I asked Andrew Nguyen of Bizible why he felt this campaign had been so successful, and he hit the nail on the head, saying:
"When marketing to highly skilled, motivated and intelligent professionals, B2B marketers need to first gain trust and credibility. They need to be knowledgeable and credible in the minds of their customers. And publishing high quality, rigorous content like analyst reports is how B2B marketers can achieve this.
Publishing an analyst report comes with so many benefits for the B2B marketer. It's great for demand generation and PR. And the data is usable for a variety of future content, like sales collateral and blog posts."
The percent of B2B marketers investing in webinars has increased each of the last three years and that's showing no sign of stopping in 2016. Webinars offer a great opportunity to bridge the gap between downloadable, gated content and an in-person event as attendees are given the opportunity to ask questions and engage with the presenter.
When you get into webinars, there are a few key points to keep in mind:
- Webinars are best suited for the awareness and consideration stages of the buyer's journey
- 40-50 percent attendance rate from those that sign up is the industry average
- Webinars can have a higher cost per lead, but nearly three in ten webinar leads have been rated excellent by sales teams
- Polls and Q&A sections are a great way to keep your webinar audience engaged
Video is a great medium to put a face to a brand and build a more personal relationship with a potential buyer, and can be used by B2B marketers in many different ways. Skyword wrote a great post on their favorite uses of video for B2B marketing and they highlighted uses such as:
- Product demos
- Customer stories
- Influencer interviews
- Conference keynotes or presentations
To dive deeper, I asked Andrew Capland, User Acquisition Manager at Wistia for this thoughts on the uses of video, here's what he had to say:
"We've found video has shown to increase engagement when combined with other marketing communication channels like email, blogging, and product help content, so we've invested heavily across the funnel.
It's great for education in the top of the funnel. The internet is saturated with blog content right now, but the amount of engaging, interesting video content is just beginning. We've found that creating informational/educational videos where we teach our users something gets fantastic engagement and drives as many leads as most of our e-books/downloads when done correctly.
For the middle of the funnel, we create lots of video demos, where we give high-level overviews of our tools, and more feature-specific tours depending where on our website the video lives. The great thing about video is that you can use heat map data to see where users watch, re-watch, and skip. You can use that data to revise your product videos making them more powerful over time.
We're a company with no sales team. The bottom of the funnel is super important to us. We have lots of onboarding videos that help guide our users through first signup to becoming a power user. Again using video data, and comparing the viewer engagement to our product actions. Over time, we're able to optimize both the video and the app to work together."
Now with tools like Wistia's Turnstile you can easily capture leads directly from a video and even integrate with your core marketing tools, such as HubSpot.
5. Slide presentations
SlideShare has become an amazing resource for presentations of all kinds, and with the integration with LinkedIn deepening that is showing no sign of stopping in 2016.
Just like blog posts being a great jumping off point to creating white papers, you likely already have some great assets you could use to create your first SlideShare campaign. Whether that's the presentation you gave at INBOUND last year, or the latest presentation from your internal lunch and learn session, opportunities for B2B marketers to create valuable visual content abound, and SlideShare is primed to be the channel of choice to highlight those initiatives.
Here's a great SlideShare presentation on how to generate leads.
E-books, though also long form, generally include more graphical elements and design imagery than a white paper. Because of this, e-books are a great opportunity for marketers–when the audience has a preference for easily digestible visual content and are generally used to drive awareness at the very top of the funnel.
For an example of an effective e-book, check out our 30 Greatest Lead Generation Tips & Tricks.
Infographics differ slightly from the content that we've talked about so far since they should not be gated. However just like analyst reports, there is a huge opportunity for B2B marketers who can effectively create and communicate a narrative around industry trends, especially since 65 percent of the population is made up of visual learners.
Infographics can be great visual representations of the key takeaways of an industry report, or to bring statistics to life. And because they are easily shared, they are great for PR and if it's really great, maybe even going viral.
What this means for your content strategy
Clearly, there is no shortage of options for types of content that you can use to drive leads and revenue for your business. But before you begin, carefully consider the types of content that your business should be creating. Reflect on your buyer personas and map their needs and content preferences to the buyer's journey. Once you get going, you'll then be able to capitalize on the ability to repurpose and reuse content in different ways across different types and mediums to scale your B2B inbound marketing machine.