Choosing the right formats: The key to a successful content strategy
When it comes to marketing offensives, choosing the right strategic content format is essential to maximize the positive impacts of an effective content strategy in terms of engagement. The format influences the way your targets consume and interact with your content. How do you choose the right content format? Why prefer one format over another? Let's demystify the process!
What is a content format?
In content marketing, a format is first and foremost the medium through which the content is presented. The format should not be confused with the distribution channel, which instead refers to the way your content is broadcast and promoted (social platforms, email, etc.). The most commonly used content formats are blog articles, videos, infographics, white papers, case studies, podcasts, and webinars.
It's important to emphasize that all content formats are not equal. Each format has its own particular advantages and disadvantages in terms of experience, user-friendliness, engagement, and sharing. The choice of format depends on many factors, particularly the message you intend to relay and the goal you would like to achieve.
For example, a blog article is ideal for providing detailed information on a topic and for improving your organic search ranking, while a video is an excellent way of communicating information visually, inciting emotion, and generating engagement.
The following is a summary list of the major content formats and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
|1. Blog article
Short or long text published on a blog
A list of things to do or accomplish
|3. Case study
In-depth analysis of success achieved when using a product or service
|In-depth analysis of the market, trends, and insights to help companies make strategic decisions
|Answers to users' most commonly asked questions
|News sent by email
Informative visual combining text and illustration that presents data, statistics, or concepts
Downloadable document that provides detailed information and recommendations on a specific subject
Digital audio broadcast for listening online
Interactive questionnaires to test knowledge or collect opinions
Visual content combining animated visual elements and narration to communicate a message
Online video for live viewing or for streaming at a later date
What should you take into consideration when choosing the right content format?
The type of message you would like to communicate and the audience you intend to reach are two important elements to take into consideration. However, there are many other elements to think about before determining which format is best for your content.
Here are five considerations:
2. Target audience: Who is your content aimed at? What is their age, gender, and education level? What are the interests or experiences of your targeted consumers?
3. Attention span: What is the attention span of your target audience? If your audience has a short attention span, you should give preference to formats that quickly capture attention, such as a short video or infographic.
4. Distribution channel: Where will you publish your content? What is your distribution channel? Will it be on your website or social media channel or by email? The choice of format must also take into consideration the specific properties of each distribution channel.
5. Budget and resources: What budget can you devote to creating content and what resources can you access to create the content? Certain formats may be more costly or require more resources than others, depending on their technical requirements and the level of production needed.
What data can help you choose the right format?
Data can be very useful when it comes to helping you choose the content format that is best adapted to your reality, since it allows you to better understand your targets. By using analytical tools and/or directly querying your audience, you can determine which content formats are likely to provide better performance.
Here are a few examples of data that can help you choose the right format:
- Analysis of content preferences: By using surveys and questionnaires, you can directly query your target audience about their content preferences. You can ask which types of content they prefer and which formats they find more practical or entertaining. This information can then be used to adapt your content strategy.
- Persona analysis: By using demographic, behavioural, and psychographic data from your target audience, you can determine which type of content they are more likely to consume.
- Search behaviour analysis: You can use keyword search tools such as Ahrefs to target search intentions in your sector of activity, then analyze the search results to determine which format would best serve your content. For example, if you would like to produce a piece of content called “How to replace a harp string” and the search engine results page offers mainly video formats, that's a good indication of which format you should give preference to for this particular type of content.
- Page performance and user journey analysis: By using well-structured UTM to track your content, you can determine which types of content generate the most clicks to your site. Google Analytics (GA) can also help you understand the customer journey and analyze the performance of your content. GA lets you create segments based on the types of content consumed on your site (for example, blog articles vs. video views) and to see their level of engagement with the brand via the site.
- Social network analysis: Social networks are an excellent way to analyze your target audience's engagement with your content. By looking at the posts that have been most shared, commented on, or liked, you can determine which content formats are most popular. For example, if videos tend to generate more engagement than images, it might be smart to invest in videos for your content strategy.
There are obviously many other research and analysis methods that could be used to understand your customers' needs and create content that has added value for them.
What does your conversion funnel say about which format should be preferred?
The conversion funnel is a key concept that lets you understand how consumers transit through the purchase process, from initial awareness to final conversion. Each stage requires a different content approach to incite consumers to advance further in the process. In order to optimize this process, it's important to choose the right content format for each stage of the funnel.
Discovery phase (top of the funnel)
In the discovery phase, visitors are mainly looking for general information about your company and your sector of business. The content you provide in this phase should be informative and user-friendly. At this stage, here are a few formats that could be used:
- Blog articles: an excellent way to share stories, ideas, and information about your company and sector of activity. Blog articles can help educate visitors about your company, strengthen your credibility, and establish your expertise in the sector.
- Infographics: a way of presenting complex data in a simple way that is visually attractive.
- Video: a very popular content format that generates engagement. Videos can help breathe life into your company and products.
Consideration phase (middle of the funnel)
At this stage, potential customers generally have a better understanding of their needs and are looking for specific solutions. The content you provide in this phase must be more in-depth and useful for visitors. The following formats may be appropriate for this stage:
- Case studies: an excellent way to show how your products or services have helped other customers resolve similar issues.
- White papers: a useful format for visitors looking for more detailed or comprehensive information on a particular subject.
- Webinars: a format that lets you engage visitors in an interactive way and answer their questions in real time.
Conversion phase (bottom of the funnel)
In this phase of decision making, visitors are ready to buy and are looking for information to help clarify their decision. Therefore the most relevant formats are:
- Customer testimonials: to reassure potential customers who are about to make a decision to purchase.
- Product demonstrations: to allow potential customers to see the product in action and better understand its features and advantages.
- FAQ: to answer questions directly related to the features of a product and its use.
It's important to note that these content formats must be used strategically to respond to specific needs and questions from potential customers, based on the phase of the journey they are in.
With a deeper understanding of your audience, you can design content that resonates with them more effectively. For example, by providing relevant, useful, and engaging information, the content allows you to educate and inform your target audience, thereby providing interest and a desire to learn more about your brand. When the content responds to the needs and concerns of specific users, it can drive them to take action and change their behaviour.
Whether you choose a blog article, video, or some other content format, it's crucial to consider a number of elements in order to make an appropriate selection. The format chosen must be in harmony with your company's objectives, your audience, and its distribution channels. This way you can ensure that your time, resources, and effort have been invested in the right place to get the best results.