Editor’s Note: This post is one of Convince & Convert’s Top 10 Posts of 2015.
From our research at CoSchedule, we found that planning awesome content is a major challenge for most content marketers.
That’s why we recently launched a new feature for our content marketing editorial calendar tool that helps marketers plan any type of content they could possibly want to publish. Really! So that got me thinking:
I’m a huge planner, and I’m sure you are, too. That’s why I like to know how to repurpose any content we publish at CoSchedule to get the most out of the hard work that goes into the content creation process. I also like to mix up our content types to keep our editorial calendar fresh for our audience.
So I asked myself:
Why not pull together the world’s largest list of types of content to help you get the inspiration you need to fill out a super-diverse and detailed editorial calendar to kick butt at content marketing?
Here ya go.
Content That Tells a Story
Let’s talk about stories—messages, if you will. These types of content can be used in multiple different content formats (which are all in this post, too).
It might be helpful to think of these story ideas as angles or hooks for your content.
This is a classic for marketers, magazines, and sites like Buzzfeed. Pull together content in the form of a list and name it thusly (take this post as an example). Lists are one of the most effective types of content, especially when applied to blog posts.
Some of the most popular content on the Convince & Convert blog is in the form of lists posts. Just take a look at “25 Ways to Create Shareable Content” for an example, which was the inspiration behind the post you’re reading right now.
How-to content offers step-by-step, process-driven information to help your audience do something better. It’s specific and to the point. Like list content, this is a very effective form of content marketing according to our research.
Nearly every post on the CoSchedule content marketing blog includes how-to content. We’ve found posts with the words “How To” in the title perform really well for evergreen content.
3. Questions and Answers (Q&A)
Google’s Matt Cutts has tons of great examples of Q&A. Done mostly in the format of videos, Matt reads through Google users’ questions and simply answers them from Google’s perspective.
“Why” content explains in detail how something came into existence, or more generally, why things are the way they are. It can be extremely powerful when combined with fact-driven information, or even a controversial flare.
Just take a look at this “why” post that is based on research, which has gotten 9,633 social shares and 45,884 pageviews at the time of this writing.
5. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Find a keyword your audience is looking for, and publish content to provide that information. While SEO is typically a part of most content you publish online, it can be a powerful angle to help you generate traffic from huge referral sources like Google.
True story: When we started really prioritizing our content to target keywords at CoSchedule, our #1–3 search results increased by 248% with the most basic types of optimization.
6. Case Studies
You don’t have to tell your story all by yourself. Case studies tell the story of how you’ve helped your customers solve their problems—and they can be extremely influential in helping prospects make a purchase decision.
Testimonials are very similar to case studies, except that a specific customer of yours tells the story directly from their perspective. These are their own words—a form of word of mouth—that you use to inspire interest in your company, products, or services.
Think of quotes as short-form testimonials. Alternatively, you can use quotes from influencers to complement your content—which works particularly well in shareable graphics embedded in your content.
While interviews may be an avenue to gather testimonials and quotes, you may also use them for gathering insight from industry influencers you may have never met before. Late night shows are famous for their interview content, and an easy way to incorporate that into your content marketing is through podcasts.
I’m constantly amazed that our audience loves CoSchedule’s marketing calendar so much that they want to share it with their networks. Demos are like a show-and-tell for your product or service, and are particularly powerful when combined with user-generated content.
11. Product Review
Have a product you love that you think your audience will really dig? Do a review of it, telling your audience how it’s helped you solve your challenges, and how you think it’ll help them out, too.
Pro Tip: Ask an influencer who’s a customer of yours to help you out by reviewing your product or service. When Michael Hyatt rocked an awesome product review and testimonial for CoSchedule, we saw some great growth.
12. Comparisons and “Versus” Content
You may see this a lot for product reviews, comparing one product to another. However, you can apply this storytelling tactic in many different ways to compare or contrast topics to help your audience learn the better option to pursue.
13. Company News
Your company is ever-changing. Share your latest adventures with your audience to show your business is made of humans who are dedicated to making their lives even better every single day. Even silly, simple news can help your customers feel a connection with your company.
14. Industry News
Monitor your customers’ industry, and report on the biggest news that may likely impact them. Your audience will notice when you are the first to market with great news consistently. Just take a look at the growth of blogs like The Next Web.
Roundups: the content of choice for marketers who may not have a ton of time on their hands. Like newsjacking, take a look at the most popular and impactful content in your industry, and compile a comprehensive list for your audience to save them from doing the research themselves.
16. Book Reviews
If your continuing education is anything like mine, you’re reading new material constantly to stay ahead of the curve. When you read something amazing that your customers will love, share it with your audience.
17. Opinions and Rants
Controversy is one of the ways to publish viral content. Now, that shouldn’t be your goal, but rants have the potential to be super-interesting. Take a stance on a popular belief, and turn it on its head.
I love to see content that begins with an unrelated story and includes that unique angle as the foundation of the content. There is too much “How To Write A Blog Post” out there but not enough “What My Stubborn, Opinionated Grandma Could Teach You About Writing An Awesome Blog Post”.
19. Personal Stories
When Greg Digneo laid out his life story on Copyblogger, the audience responded. He told the story of why quitting was the most profitable thing he’s ever done, and it was super-inspiring for me and for tons of other readers. Connect the dots between your personal story and what your readers really care about, and they’ll eat it up.
Joe Pulizzi is notorious for making content marketing predictions. They’re always interesting to me, a member of his audience, and he jokes about them on his podcast when they don’t come to fruition. So he gets to become a thought leader while also showing his humanity—creating a personal and somewhat humorous connection with his readers—all at once. It’s brilliant.
You’ve seen these awesome headlines from folks like Neil Patel and Brian Dean: Tell your audience how either you or someone you know was successful using the tactics you recommend.
I’m a huge data nerd and understand my own success will differ from what these headlines say. But! They draw me in because they cover tactics that really work and are backed by data.
22. Failures and What Not to Do
Just as successes are fun for your audience to read, outlining techniques that don’t work well is also interesting—particularly when your product or service solves the challenges presented from the failed techniques.
There is an element of controversy to this type of content that people crave. Turn a generally-accepted-as-true idea into a lie, and people will read. Like this: Proof That Publishing More Content Won’t Grow Your Blog Traffic (And How To Do That).
23. Company Goals
Groove has caught our attention at CoSchedule because they’ve laid out exactly how they want to grow their business and give reports on their progress. How cool is that?!
Every post seems like a story on their blog that helps you understand how they’re reaching their goals all while drawing you in to become a customer. It’s a brilliant, bold, and super-unique type of content.
Similar to Groove’s blatant outlining of its goals, transparency in the form of open information on your business’ financials and growth in general can build trust with your audience. Buffer does this well with its “Open” blog, telling their story as a startup while building a connection with their audience.
Your customers and audience are a perfect source for your own research. Become the source for industry research and studies. Judging from experience at CoSchedule, it helps you understand your audience better than ever while helping you become a credible and respected source in your industry.
26. Facts and Stats
Similar to research, this is when you heavily research a topic with existing studies and present the findings to your audience. This can save you a bit of time from doing the research yourself, while also helping you become the go-to source that has compiled all of the information available on a specific topic.
We recently tried this technique at CoSchedule, scrutinizing the best times to post on social media. The results were incredible, with more than 30,000 pageviews in the first week of publish.
Content Formats That Help Tell Your Story
Now you’re ready to rock tons of different angles and hooks with your stories. So what content formats will help you tell them?
Guides, sometimes called ultimate guides, dive deep into detail on a topic to help your audience do something better than ever before. Some awesome guides use the skyscraper technique to provide more robust information than any other source.
Worksheets are perfect for turning the actionable advice from guides into printable materials for note-taking, brainstorming, and ideation. Think about elementary school and your teachers’ handouts for homework—it’s the same thing, just helping your audience work through the material you’re helping them learn.
Checklists are a type of worksheet that helps your audience follow a step-by-step process to achieve a desired outcome. Think about using checklists to complement list posts, for example.
Templates may combine information from guides, worksheets, and checklists all into one type of content to walk your audience through a step-by-step process, blatantly telling your users how to do something. These are great as free downloads in exchange for email addresses to help you build your email list.
31. Tear Sheets
One of our most-downloaded pieces of content at CoSchedule is a tear sheet compiling a massive list of emotional words that help folks using our headline analyzer get even better scores for their content. Think of this as a quick-glance document to help your audience do something better, faster.
If you’ve been blogging, e-books are a perfect way to use individual posts as chapters in a larger content format. Make e-books to provide long-form content that tells a bigger, comprehensive story, all while helping you share your messages in avenues like Amazon’s Kindle Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook Store, Apple’s iBook store, and even as PDFs on your own blog or website.
33. Audio Books
Now that you’ve written your e-book, complement it with an audio version for your auditory learners. Pitch it to your audience as a way to maximize the time on their commute to work—just listen and learn to use your time even more efficiently.
34. White Papers
Often used to provide robust technical information, white papers are perfect for telling complex stories in a concise format, often appearing as PDFs. They are also a perfect format to complement case studies to show the problem, solution, and outcome of how you help your customers overcome their challenges.
Some of your audience’s learning styles lean heavily toward visual content. Infographics help tell a story by showing key statistics, facts, and short-form text in a visual format.
36. Data Visuals
For research-intensive content, data visuals bring pie charts, bar graphs, line graphs, and more to life to prove the points you’re making throughout your content. This is a great type of content to complement your written information in blog posts and white papers.
37. Listicle Summaries
Like infographics, listicle summaries are a visual reminder of the big points included in list content. These visuals work extremely well to draw attention to social media messages, and we’ve seen such graphics dramatically increase our click-through rates on Twitter.
Sometimes, a complex pattern is best told in a visual way as a symbolic representation of information. Diagrams are awesome for demonstrating relationships and organizational flows.
This handy and classic type of content shares information with very few words while mainly relying on the visual nature of the content to draw attention to your messaging. Posters date back to the mid-nineteenth century as a terrific way of promoting events.
Stock and personal photography can work well to complement written content. Custom-taken images for your brand are even better, showing the faces and places where you work and the humans behind the scenes at your company.
Sure, sometimes these have no business value at all. However, humor and entertainment is one of the main reasons people share content on social media. When you want to show a little personality in content like a blog post, memes get the point across with a little flare.
42. Comics and Cartoons
Humor gets your point across in a memorable way. But not all comics or cartoons need to be funny, necessarily. Hand-drawn or even computer-generated cartoons can tell a step-by-step story, too.
Ah, screenshots—one of the best ways to show examples of digital content to prove your point. Social Media Examiner almost exclusively relies on screenshots to complement their blog posts, including one in at least every five paragraphs to break the monotony of text.
44. Animated GIFs
Animated GIFs take screenshots to the next level. These work super well for complementing demo content to show how something works or how to use a new feature on your website, blog, or in your software.
The CoSchedule content marketing blog uses tons of illustrations to illustrate the main points of our articles. A recent illustrated post of ours even turned humorous by featuring a unicorn with the headline, “5 Unicorns Of Refreshingly Unique Marketing That Will Make You Stand Out.” Illustrations create visual interest in your content and make for some very shareable graphics.
46. Hand-Written Notes, Sketches, and Brainstorms
Some solo marketers may not have the luxury of a designer on hand. There are times when images of sketches, written notes, and brainstorms work well to illustrate your concepts.
47. Texts, Short Message Service (SMS), Web Push, and Push Notifications
Texts work for some businesses to share content, while others may opt for mobile push notifications from tools like Pushbullet. At CoSchedule, we use Roost Web Push to reach our email haters.
This simple type of content is perfect for promoting content to drive traffic to a specific source or actually serving as your medium of choice. Emails work well to share content in a tool many people use frequently, even multiple times a day.
Courses are a type of long-form content typically delivered through emails containing exclusive content dedicated to education. These could also possibly be in-person, offline events. Content marketers like Noah Kagan have found courses to be an excellent way to grow your email list while building a community around your brand.
50. Certification Programs
When you find courses work well for your business, certification programs take them to the next level. Imagine even more robust courses that provide your students with homework, tests, and certificates of completion. Make your students feel special with exclusive membership in a special network.
51. Marketing Automation
Courses often run on marketing automation, but there are even more ways to use it. Marketing automation, at its core, involves sending emails to your audience after they complete a specific action. It works extremely well when coupled with new signups (whether it’s email subscribers or customer conversions) to onboard them and keep them engaged.
Most newsletters work well through email, though now printed newsletters may be a way to stand out from the crowd, since only .5% of bloggers include printed newsletters in their content strategy.
53. Websites and Web Pages
Now a classic, websites are the digital brochure that includes the who, what, where, why, and how behind your brand. Tailor your messages to answer the WIIFM (what’s in it for me?) for your customers, and you’re set.
54. Landing Pages
A part of your website beyond the “About Us” information, landing pages often offer free content in exchange for email addresses. These are one of the highest converting types of content on the CoSchedule website to date.
55. Feature Pages
Feature pages dive deep into the details of your product or service to entice prospects to buy what you have to offer. Target these at the benefits of how your offering’s features solve your customers’ challenges.
When AT&T addressed a huge social problem with texting and driving accidents, they launched a microsite to complement the social media campaign #itcanwait. The site is a great outlet for information on the campaign, only more targeted than if they included the information on AT&T’s own website.
Pro Tip: Supporting social causes is a fantastic way to create shareable content.
57. News Releases and Pitches
While news and press releases themselves are targeted more at journalists and editors who write publications your audience loves to read, the idea here is to get coverage in influential publications to reach your audience.
58. Pitch Packets
While at a recent conference, I heard the story of how a local sunflower butter (peanut butter alternative) company sent a pitch, recipes, supplies, and of course, the sunflower butter to influential food bloggers. The result? Lots of blog posts making the company’s recipes in unique ways.
59. Public Service Announcements (PSAs)
Yes, seriously. I was listening to the radio and heard a PSA from a local hospital sharing helpful tips on how to spot when someone is having a stroke and what I could do to save them. It was a powerful and educational way to connect with the community.
Whether it’s awards for your customers, suppliers, or even your industry in general, these are a powerful way to show you’re listening and supportive. And the folks who receive your recognition? You can bet they’ll share it with their networks, too.
Ever have that feeling when you just want to know your audience’s opinion on something? Polls are great for a quick, one-question dialogue to get you the information you need. Ask a question to get information on upcoming content ideas to create even better content based on your audience’s advice.
Surveys are perfect for gathering data you can use in research-based content. They’re also great for getting to know your audience’s needs, so you can create even better content. Use surveys when your readers and customers sign up and unsubscribe to understand areas where you can improve.
Quizzes complement courses super well and are a fantastic way to teach your audience something and measure what they’ve learned. You can use them for data points, but these are best used simply for engagement.
64. Games and Gamification
If your content marketing includes education, entertainment, or social causes, how can you turn your content into a game? Games are terrific for engagement with an interactive element.
65. Web Apps and Tools
When we found out that nearly 800 bloggers and marketers searched for the term “headline analyzer,” and that there wasn’t a great solution for them, we decided to research 1 million headlines in our database to build a tool that would help them write better headlines. It’s our #1 driver for new email subscribers.
66. Mobile Apps
Mobile apps transfer games and tools into mobile-friendly versions available in app stores. With more time spent using mobile devices compared to desktop computers, this is a solid way to reach your audience on the go.
When we launched a WordPress plugin called Click To Tweet, we found an opportunity to help our audience enable their readers to share content directly inline in blog posts. It was a terrific way to add “Powered By CoSchedule” to more than 10,000 blogs.
Lay’s Do Us A Flavor contest used social interactions as votes to choose a new flavor of potato chip that’ll stick around. Contests can be as simple as replies or likes on social media, or as elaborate as the Lay’s contest.
Challenges are like contests, except that it’s up to each individual reader to compete with themselves to improve. Think about 30-day challenges where you can provide your readers one thing to do every day to build a new skill.
Video is a vast type of content. Platforms like YouTube make it possible for anyone to upload videos to the world’s largest video search engine tool, while giving them the ability to embed the videos nearly anywhere. 80% of millennials check out video content as they make purchase decisions.
71. Ads, Billboards, and Remarketing
Think traditional print, all the way to old school banner ads. Remarketing is another method for digital advertising, targeting only folks who’ve visited your website or even certain posts.
Sponsorships are on the rise for content marketers to fund events, podcasts, webinars, and more to reach new audiences. Some larger brands even sponsor sports leagues and teams to connect with their audiences.
73. Native Advertising
Native advertising is content that appears in a publication of some kind—blog posts, magazine articles—that a brand pays for. Sometimes, brands even write the content themselves instead of the publication’s own journalists. Native ads look just like normal content and may contain disclaimers to inform readers they’re looking at messaging a brand pays for.
Like native advertising, advertorials are content that appear in publications as ads. These are common in newspapers and magazines—more print types of content. These ads often include more text that is similar to an article, but is clearly not mixed in with traditional content.
Content marketers like Joe Pulizzi at Content Marketing Institute have found they get awesome interviews for content they publish in their printed magazine. For folks looking to unplug, printed magazines are a terrific format to reach your audience who doesn’t constantly stare at a screen (plus, they’re easy to repurpose as e-zines for online use).
This is a perfect format for sharing your custom data. Reports often include graphs, charts, and text you can repurpose into other content formats, too.
A classic: The brochure offers specific information on your business or specific services or features you offer. Printed brochures often appear as tri-folds.
Fliers are perfect for quick take-along content, usually well-suited for physical promotion for events. You’ll see realtors include these on the “For Sale” signs in front of homes they’re selling to give folks walking by the opportunity to leave with the information they need to look up the home later.
Training and demos are well-suited for webinars, often including a slide deck and presenters guiding your audience through the information. Webinars are a terrific way to build your email list while retaining your current subscribers and showing a little personality behind your brand.
80. Virtual Events
Think about multiple webinars in a row—that is an awesome and typical form of virtual event. Frame them as online conferences. These are great for including many guest speakers to cover a topic in great detail.
81. Event Replays
Record your webinars and virtual events to provide videos of the content after the events are over. This is a great way to repurpose the hard work you put into a form of content that exists only momentarily to get the most bang for your buck.
82. Conferences and Workshops
While online events may be easier to coordinate (since anyone from around the world has the opportunity to present and attend), physical conferences and workshops are an excellent avenue of training and networking.
Less formal than traditional conferences, Meetups provide an opportunity to connect with others in your industry, often localized to specific cities or communities. This is a perfect way to meet your local audience in person.
84. Live-Streaming Video
For any event, new tools like Meerkat and Periscope help marketers bring the events live to online audiences.
SlideShare exists to share the slide decks you create for your webinars and events. You can then embed them directly into your other content like blog posts.
While video and events combine auditory and visual content, podcasts are like radio shows for you to share your messages through audio only. They work well for interviews, and as Joe Pulizzi mentioned once in his “This Old Marketing” podcast, they are likely to attract an audience of near-customers when you post them regularly.
87. Live Chats
Google Hangouts, chat tools on your blog and website, and even chat features in webinar tools like GoToWebinar provide a great opportunity for you to connect with your audience and answer their questions. This is a terrific way to gather content ideas directly from your audience.
88. Blog Posts
Well, this one was bound to come up sooner or later! Blog posts are a terrific way to publish consistent content, with a blog as the core of many content strategies. Long-form posts tend to stand out among the most shared and sought out content formats.
89. Vlog Posts
A blog post is written content mainly targeting how-to, lists, questions, and types of content. Vlog posts, then, are the same, yet dedicated to using video instead of the written word. Vlogs are great ways to complement normal blog posts to reach your visual and auditory audience.
90. Audio Posts
Successful blogs like Social Media Examiner now include recordings of their best blog posts. Like podcasts, this is a terrific way to connect with an audience who is constantly on-the-go.
91. Photo Galleries
Especially useful for showing portfolios and company culture, photo galleries are a hub designed to help you share visual content. Other uses could include infographics.
92. Content Libraries
We include a guide, template, e-book, infographic, or worksheet of some kind in all of our blog posts at CoSchedule. So we decided to build a content library to share all of the bonus materials we create in exchange for an email address. It’s another great list-building technique that our audience also finds incredibly helpful.
93. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
FAQs are a hub dedicated to answering your audience’s questions. Those questions typically concern your product or service and may be technical in nature, though you could expand this to your industry in general to target highly searched terms and provide the answers. It’s a great way to publish content optimized for search engines.
94. Content Hubs for Curated Content
You can complement your own content with the best content from other experts in your industry with curated content hubs. Tools like Pressly and Uberflip are great ways to share awesome content with your audience that you may not have published yourself.
95. Guest Posts, Podcasts, Webinars, and Videos
Publishing all of this content on your own platforms? Why not share your knowledge to introduce your brand to new audiences by writing or recording content for other awesome resources in your industry? “Guesting” with content types like blog posts, podcasts, webinars, and videos is a great way to expand your existing audience.
96. Content Syndication and Republishing
If you just published some awesome content on your blog, there’s a good chance other blogs in your industry will gladly accept and republish your content on their blogs, too. It’s called content syndication or republishing—a great way to maximize the work you’re currently doing to help you reach a larger audience.
97. Twitter Chats
We hold a weekly Twitter chat, #CoChat, to help us connect with our followers. It’s a simple social media event you can do, too—just let your audience know you’ll be asking some questions at a specific time, and invite them to participate in the conversation. All they have to do is use the specific hashtag you define for your chat.
98. User-Generated Content
If you do something like a Twitter chat, it’s easy to collect the responses and publish a recap. The answers will all be advice from your own users—people from your chat. This is one idea for lots more user-generated content—think about forming social groups, perhaps, to help your customers connect with one another to answer their questions. Facebook Groups and LinkedIn Groups may work particularly well for user-sourced questions and answers.
Blog comments are an awesome way to connect with others in your industry, provide your business’ insight, and even link back to your content (when done well). There are rules of engagement for blog comments that will help you use them appropriately for content marketing.
Where comments are specifically attached to a piece of content on someone’s blog, forums are particularly useful for sharing ideas and asking questions. Quora is a forum dedicated to helping people ask and answer questions—a particularly helpful tool for marketers to share their knowledge and gain insight from others in their industries.
Think of Wikipedia—a massive website written by its users, dedicated to collaborative editing and content creation. Wikis serve as great knowledge sources and take some of the work of content creation off your shoulders, while making you more of an editor responsible for ensuring content quality and accuracy.
102. Up-Vote Communities
Inbound.org and GrowthHackers are terrific examples of up-vote communities dedicated to helping marketers share content and ideas while relying on social votes to filter out the best information. If an up-vote community doesn’t already exist in your industry, there may be a need for it to help your audience connect with one another.
103. Ambassador Programs
Do you have raving fans already? Help them work for you to spread the word. Fiskars launched a brand ambassador program, calling its advocates Fiskateers, to provide them special love and attention to help them promote Fiskars through word-of-mouth to fellow crafters.
104. Social Media
Social media is an awesome way to connect with your audience using the networks they already know and love. Think of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, or whatever your audience is already using. Social media is a terrific channel for content distribution, and it works really well for establishing relationships with your network.
105. Ask Me Anything
This type of content combines forums, up-vote communities, and FAQs into a social event where you help your audience ask questions which you then answer. Popular marketing communities like Inbound.org are well-known for examples of this type of content.
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