Creating and publishing content that reflects and projects the unique selling proposition of your business provides advantage in today’s digital marketplace. And while small and medium-sized businesses lacking access to sophisticated content production capabilities have traditionally been at a tremendous disadvantage in the marketplace, the cost of these tools has dropped to near zero, making it possible for innovative content creators to gain traction with audiences quickly and durably.
Today, we’ll look at four broad content types that may move the needle for you on the internet. We’ve seen elements of this list deployed successfully by many clients and remain bullish on their use in 2021 and beyond.
1. “Unboxing”-Style Content
Spend more than a few hours on YouTube and you’ll quickly observe the great popularity of “unboxing” videos. These videos, created by individual YouTube users, show the viewer the steps each consumer must take to unbox, set up, and use the product.
Unboxing a new power tool, consumer electronic device, toy, or other gizmo is both entertaining and educational. The experience, while vicarious, is actually intimate, arguably more intimate than that provided in-store (especially when the sales clerk is inattentive or uninformed).
Unboxing videos also provide the marketer the ability to distinguish products through innovative packaging, thus leveraging Apple Computer’s ancient secret: that the quality of documentation and packaging makes a huge difference in the consumer experience (often enough to obviate a higher product price in the consumer’s mind). Yes, you and Amazon may sell the same product at the same price. But the packaging experience you offer – revealed in an unboxing video – can often provide enough differentiation to move your product ahead in the consumer’s mind.
If you’re interested in making your products unbox video-ready, ask yourself these 3 questions:
- Does my packaging include clear instructions?
- Is my packaging attractive and (to the degree possible with my packaging technology), personalizable?
- Does my packaging include attractive offers and bonus items that will delight the consumer enough to be worth talking about?
One important caveat applies to this content type: the need to disclose whether the product in question was sent to the YouTube user gratis, or in any way rewarding the video maker for his/her video.
Unboxing videos – and a subgenre known as “haul” videos involving consumers bringing their hauls home – need to be labeled as promotional unless the unboxer has on his/her own bought the product and has no commercial relationship with the vendor, manufacturer, or distributor. A simple declaration that the product – or other consideration – was provided to the influencer in exchange for unboxing it and recording it should be sufficient to ward off any claims of deceptive advertising. For more on the ethics of providing products to YouTubers and other influencers, see the FTC’s “Disclosure 101 For Social Media Influencers,” available at: https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/disclosures-101-social-media-influencers
2. Expertise-Driven Content
Expertise-driven content springs from the brow of your company’s brain trust. Some business executives welcome the chance to opine freely on the issues of the day. If you’re fortunate enough to find yourself in this position, you can extend your business influence by taking advantage of syndication opportunities in vertical-market trade publications. For example, if you are at a law firm, original content can be syndicated to legal information sites such as Martindale.com, with rewritten versions appearing on the firm’s main web site. If your company’s expertise is in marketing, there are numerous sites whose content-hungry editors will entertain the notion of republishing your content provided it has something meaningful to say.
The best way to begin implementing expertise-driven content is to take a good hard look at your industry and study the behavior of those who claim to be authorities in their field. Take inventory of their tactics and perform a rudimentary competitive audit. Some of their tactics might be either unaffordable or unacceptable; others may be worthy of emulation.
The idea here is to identify “gaps” in the community discourse that can be exploited to position your firm’s own intellectual property – in whatever form it exists – as “must read” material for audiences (which may include investors and reporters) in your industry vertical.
3. Interview-Style Content
Want to attract interest from an influencer likely to spread word of your company (or its products) far and wide? Interview that influencer, via Zoom call or via e-mail. Doing so dignifies the achievements of the influencer while highlighting your company’s role as an industry leader. Provided the interview is informative and entertaining, the result may be that your company will suddenly have access to a far wider audience than you’d ordinarily have.
Executing this type of content begins with identifying influencers willing to consent to an interview with one’s content team. Once this interview is published (and provided that its content is satisfactory to the interviewee), it can be expected that the interviewee will do his/her part to promote the article to his/her own network, which may be much larger than that maintained by the content marketer. We’ve created content using this approach many times; if you’d like to see a live example of how it works in practice, take a look at the site of the eMarketing Association, where Didit’s CEO Kevin Lee has amassed a collection of interesting interviews with leaders in the marketing space.
4. Hyper-Granular Content
If your company fields an e-commerce site where hundreds – perhaps thousands – of products are displayed for sale, you’ll currently face two thorny but related content issues:
- Duplicate pages. E-commerce sites that sell products available elsewhere on the web (often including Amazon.com) face the challenge of distinguishing their product pages in search results. In many cases these pages only include OEM-provided information on their pages, a condition that may lead search engines to conclude that they are duplicates (which are then suppressed on the results pages).
- Thin content pages. Product and product category pages that include sparse information rarely provide enough “search engine food” to favorably rank (even if they are not duplicates of other pages).
Hyper-granular content begins where standard OEM-supplied SKU information ends. You may have to get creative (for example, by adding additional photos or use-case information to the product or category pages), but doing so will give you definite SEO advantage.
Augmenting product and category pages can be achieved in several ways, depending on the nature of your product. For example, if your product is part of another product, incorporate information relating to the product in which the part is included. Conversely, if there are parts (or materials) that go into your product that are worth discussing, create some content about those parts or materials. The whole point of this exercise is to arrive at a product page that’s “fat” enough (in terms of word count) and unique enough to rank more favorably than competitor pages that have not been augmented.
Augmenting individual product pages takes time and effort. For e-commerce sites with many products, focus on augmenting the most profitable product/category pages first, and then move out toward products less profitable or less popular.
Putting it All Together
You may decide to deploy only one content type, two together, or all four at the same time. These content types are synergetic (a fancy term which simply means that each can augment the strength of the other once deployed). For example, embedding an unboxing video on a thin-content product page can boost the SEO creditability of that page. That page may also link to an expertise-driven video or blog article related to the product. An OPA/Yearbook-style article can link to the product or category page of both the interviewer and the interviewee.
While the four types of content discussed in this article do not constitute an exhaustive list of strategies and tactics related to content, we’ve found that clients deploying one or more of these tactics can achieve better SEO results, increased awareness, and lower PPC costs in the marketplace, all of which lead to greater business success. If you have further questions about content, please get in touch; we’d love to hear from you.