These 5 Blog Post Types Are the Foundation for Effective Content Marketing
The more you publish on your blog, the more traffic you get. This is a general rule in content marketing and it's backed by many studies. But what kind of content should you be creating? And what's the point in getting more traffic, if the traffic doesn't also lead to more conversions?
To grow you business and not just increase a vanity metric in your analytics dashboard, it's clear that you have to be strategic about what kind of content you create.
In this post, you'll discover the 5 types of content you should be publishing regularly. Knowing the 5 post types makes it a lot easier to figure out what to write next. Plus, if you create posts of each of these types, you'll have a strong blog that attracts traffic, builds your brand and converts readers into customers.
Summary of the 5 Content Types
Below is a summary of each of the 5 content types. The information is the same as in the video, so if you watched it, you can click here to jump straight to the examples.
1) Epic Content
Epic content is the kind of content bloggers like to brag about the most. It's extensive, in-depth content that delivers a massive amount of value to readers.
When content marketers discovered that longer blog posts usually get more traffic and higher rankings in Google, the idea of creating epic posts gained popularity. An epic post can be an "ultimate guide" to something in your market, a content piece for which you do some original research or any other content that is long and in-depth.
Keep in mind that content formatting is also crucial to making this kind of content work. No one likes an epically long wall of text.
2) Conversion Content
This is any kind of content that has a clear conversion goal. Some examples of what conversion content can entail are:
- Tutorials and use cases, explaining how your product can be used to achieve specific results.
- Case studies of customers who've used your product or service and the results they got.
- Content that teaches how to get a beneficial result (which is easier/faster to get when using your product or service).
- Content that is closely related to something you teach in more depth in an information product or course.
Quite simply, conversion content is any content in which promoting your product comes naturally. The content itself still needs to be useful and valuable, of course. The idea isn't to simply place ad copy in your blog. But if your content naturally leads to a promotion of your product, it's a great way to "soft sell".
3) Story & Branding Content
Story & branding content is where you let your personality shine. This is content in which you tell your story, you write about what you believe in, what your loftier goals are, what you're passionate about and what you're angry about.
This kind of content is important, whether the "character" in your business is a person or a brand. It's the kind of content that helps people identify with your business. It's what makes the difference between a cold, faceless corporation that simply provides a service you need and a company that you actually care about.
4) Reference Content
A reference post is often short, simple and explains a single concept. When writing your blog posts, pay attention to anything you often refer to - this could be a concept, a strategy, even a commonly used term in your market. Instead of explaining what you mean every time you mention it or linking to an external source like Wikipedia to explain the term, it's better if you create your own reference post to link to.
An advantage of this is that you can keep people on your site and build up more internal links. Another advantage is if you coin your own terms, that are explained and associated with your brand.
5) Product Updates
The recommendation here has two parts:
- You should be updating and improving your product over time, no matter what it is.
- You should post about those updates and improvements on your blog.
If you sell software, then frequent updates and improvements to your product are expected, these days. But even if you sell information products or a service, you should be continually seeking to improve your product and publish about it, whenever you make such an improvement.
Product updates are always well received by your existing customers. In addition, they can provide important proof to new prospects. Some of your visitors may be asking themselves:
"Is this business legit? Can I trust them?"
Seeing a blog with lots of activity and frequent product updates shows that you care about creating a good product and likely won't abandon new customers if something doesn't work for them.
Examples from Blogs Around the Web
To make the strategy of using these different content types more practical, let's look at some real-life examples. Note that not every blog will feature all 5 blog post types.
I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi
If you read our blog frequently, you may have noticed that we're fans of Ramit Sethi. That's because he's a marketing badass. So, let's have a look at how he mixes up different types of blog posts.
Epic Content: How to Be Successful
A 4,600 word post that provides a very extensive view of Ramit's strategies for success. The post is full of value and also rich in images, illustrations and examples.
Story & Branding Content: LOL at this avocado toast advice from a millionaire
This is such a wonderful example of story & branding content. The whole post is a reaction to an article Tweeted about by the Times, which gives some really silly financial advice. Ramit lays into it, making fun of the author and ranting about the content. It's a great way for him to demonstrate how his approach the post is also full of opportunities for him to link out to other courses and products of his.
Conversion Content: How to raise your hourly rate: Go from $25/hour to $75/hour in 2 weeks
Ramit sells a course called Earn1K, which teaches how to earn $1,000/month on the side. In this post, he writes about something that's highly desirable to anyone in his target market and the post seamlessly leads to a promotion for a trial of his Earn1K course. It's a good example of conversion content because anyone who reads the whole post is likely to be a future customer of his course.
Intercom create a tool for customer support and communication. They also post frequently on their blog, indicating that content marketing is an important part of their strategy.
Epic Content: Your Product is Already Obsolete
Intercom went the extra mile on this epic piece of content, even creating a custom layout and design for it, that separates it visually from their "regular" content. Not only is this post massive (6,000 words), it also contains several videos and many beautiful illustrations and custom graphics. According to BuzzSumo, the post has been shared over 1,800 times and if you're in Intercom's target market, you can't help but be impressed by the value they offer, here.
Conversion Content: Support With Conversations, Not Tickets
This is a short post about a customer support strategy. It makes a simple point: you shouldn't be using an impersonal ticketing system to help your customers. The reason it's a conversion post is because it just so happens that Intercom sell a solution for a much more personal kind of customer support. They sell the solution to the problem they describe in the post, in other words.
Story & Branding Content: Why We're Dropping the Term "Content Marketing"
This post provides a behind the scenes look at Intercom's business: it explains a decision they made internally. At the same time, this post can be valuable to readers and it sends a clear message about what kind of a company Intercom is and what they believe in.
Product Update Content: Introducing the Intercom Integration for Microsoft Teams
This is a pretty straight-forward post about a new set of integrations Intercom added to their product. For some people, this new feature will be a reason to become a customer. For others, it's a reminder that the Intercom team keeps working on and improving their product.
Groove is a customer support solution and the team have made a name for themselves with their excellent content marketing.
Story & Branding Content: Why I Stopped Hustling
I love this example, because it takes a controversial position. Among entrepreneurs, "you have to hustle" is accepted truth. We're proud of our ability to hustle and work hard. For many, it becomes an ingrained part of their identity. A post about why you maybe shouldn't hustle is a great way to differentiate and demonstrate your values and beliefs.
Product Update Content: Mobile Merging, Swipe Actions, and PieSync Integration
This is a simple feature update post. I believe that for Groove, it's especially important to have regular product updates on their blog, because they often right about things that are only tangentially related to their product.
Conversion Content: 7 Customer Support Tactics to Increase Sales and Make Your Customers Happier
This post is conversion content, for two reasons. First, it is about how to do customer support well and as such, it will attract an audience of potential customers for the product Groove sell. Second, the product Groove sells of course supports all the uses described in the post.
ActiveGrowth is a blog where I write about how to create and grow a value based business. What's a value based business? Glad you asked...
Reference Content: Value Based Business
This is a short post that explains a term frequently used throughout the content on the blog. It's a term that is very useful as basically "the kind of business you should be creating" and without the reference post, there would be a need to explain the term in many posts.
Epic Content: The ActiveGrowth System
This post lays out the entire system I advocate (and use myself) to create and market your own products. It's as extensive as it can be, without turning into a book. The example also highlights another important thing about epic content: it's not for everyone. Not everyone has the patience to go through this amount of content, but for the right people, it might just turn them into lifelong fans.
Story & Branding Content: Making Money is Easy Like Getting in Shape is Easy
In the online business space "easy" is a favorite word. Everyone's always looking for the shortcut to easy wins. This blog post takes a counter position: it explains one of the core values I talk about on ActiveGrowth, which is that chasing shortcuts is a waste of time and success only comes as a result of sustained, disciplined effort.
Conversion Content: What's the Best Social Sharing Plugin for WordPress?
On ActiveGrowth, I don't sell any of my own products (yet). I wanted to show this example, because even if you don't have your own product, you can create conversion content. In this case, it's a product review. The primary purpose is to provide valuable information about which products to use. The conversion factor lies in the use of affiliate links for all the products. If you decide to purchase through one of those links, that supports ActiveGrowth via commissions we earn.
The Right Mix of Content Types
Okay, now you have a clear idea what the 5 content types are and how they help your business. But when should you publish which type of content? And how often?
There are no fixed rules about the "right" mix of these content types, but here are some guidelines for you:
As mentioned at the top of this post, data shows that publishing more often generally leads to more traffic. As long as your content is good, you can't publish too often.
That means publishing frequency is mainly a question of resources. If you're a solopreneur, it's mostly a question of time (and of how efficiently you can produce content). In a team, it's mostly a question of cost.
The main takeaways for publishing frequency are:
- Don't be afraid of publishing often.
- As long as the content you create is good and relevant to your readers.
How to Mix Content Types
Epic content is the most "dangerous" content to create, because you can easily get stuck on it. It takes the most time to create and your standards will be highest, for this content type. If you don't have a good amount of content creation experience under your belt, I recommend not creating any epic content at all.
For veterans who don't have a problem producing epic content, I would still aim for less than 10% of your content to be epic posts.
Product updates should be produced as often as possible. Intercom state that "shipping is your heartbeat", which is definitely true for a software company. As mentioned in the video, even if your product isn't software, you should look for opportunities to improve your product and publish about it on your blog.
The limiting factor on product update posts is simply how often you actually update your product.
Story & branding content is especially important when you are starting out. In the beginning, no one knows you yet, so telling your story and writing about what you believe is an important way to introduce your brand to the world. Since your story and mission don't change rapidly, the frequency of these posts goes down once you've covered the basics (you should still internally link to your story and branding content from new posts, whenever you can).
Reference content becomes more important later on. In most cases, you discover the need for reference content while publishing other content. When there are concepts you repeatedly explain in your posts or external sources you keep linking to, it's time to create a piece of reference content.
Conversion content: next to product updates, this is the most important kind of content. This is where you teach your audience, deliver value and convert readers into customers. Aim to make 50% or more of what you publish conversion content.
I hope you can use this post as a guide for creating a better blog - one that serves your visitors as well as your business. Together with this post about how to create content faster, you're now well equipped to win with content marketing.
Let me know if you have any questions about this topic, by leaving a comment below!