Three Types of Content that Can Help You Build an Audience

As content marketing continues to gain in popularity, companies are racing to create content that builds trust in their brand and creates a community among potential buyers. While we all know that building an audience is the end goal of content marketing, it’s sometimes difficult to know what type of content, exactly, will help you build the audience that you want.

In this post, I want to highlight three types of content that you can create to help your company build an audience.

1. Share Primary Research that Helps Your Audience Understand Your Market

Sharing the results of primary research in your content marketing can be an effective way to build an audience. If done well, the findings from primary research are genuinely useful, which can help you stand out from the noise of content marketing. In turn, quality primary research can help your target audience better understand your market, or answer a difficult question in their industry.

One report that I look forward to each year, like many others in marketing, is the Content Marketing Institute’s annual benchmarking report. Why? Because it provides a quick and easy way for me to see how our marketing department stacks up against other marketing departments, and it also provides useful information such as what types of content other companies have found to be the most effective in their B2B operations.

Source: 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmark Report

What’s nice about using survey research in your content marketing is that there are cheap and effective ways conduct surveys today. For instance, you can create a set of targeted questions with any word document, collect responses with Polldaddy (a subscription is $200/year), and analyze the results of your survey with basic Excel skills. Of course, once you have all the data, it’s usually a good idea to get a designer to create beautiful charts and graphs to make it visually appealing.

2. Create Regular Series that People Can Look Forward To

We all know that publishing regularly can help build an audience. But creating a series of posts is another great way to build a community. In online marketing, Moz’s Whiteboard Friday is one of the most popular ongoing series in the market because each Friday you get to learn a really useful tip or strategy to improve your Web marketing. However, nearly any type of business can start a series if you think creatively enough.

At Software Advice, for instance, we help businesses better understand enterprise software markets, which doesn’t immediately seem to lend itself to a series. What we started to notice on our blogs, however, is that our articles about big brands generated a lot of interest from our audience because people were interested in how big companies managed challenges that they face. With this in mind, we started a series called “Eat Your Own Dog Food”--a common term used to describe software vendors who use their own products successfully. In this series, we profile how top software brands use their own systems internally. It’s already generating a lot of interest and these articles are among the most popular on our blog.

To create your own series, consider what unique information you have to share and what your audience might be interested in learning about, then think of a creative way to turn it into an ongoing series.

3. Hold Google Hangouts to Discuss Trending Topics

A third type of content that can be useful for building an audience is hosting a Google Hangout with well-known people in your industry. It’s even more effective if you can find a trending topic to discuss. Convincing well-known people in your industry join you in a Google Hangout can help you build an audience by association.

For instance, I held a Google Hangout with HubSpot’s CMO, Mike Volpe, a while back to discuss whether cold calling was still effective in today’s connected world. Cold calling is a divisive topic in B2B marketing (e.g., if you Google “Is cold calling dead?” there are 34 million results) so I knew that discuss the topic with a major proponent of inbound marketing would draw some attention.

As a result of the hangout, I got many new Google+ followers and subscribers to the blog, and that article now ranks for the phrase “Does Cold Calling Still Work?,” continually drawing more people to that article.

Every industry has divisive topics. To take advantage of the buzz around them, find the thought leaders in your industry and ask them to join you in a Google Hangout to discuss new angles on the topic. While it may take some time to coordinate everyone’s busy schedule, I’ve found people to be very willing to participate because the topic is usually something they’re passionate about.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of the content that will help you build an audience, but I think it’s among some of the most effective types of content. If you’re able to successfully build an audience with you content, your marketing will also see some great spillover benefits that will help you generate a customer base the builds and feeds on itself.

Tags: Atomic Reach Tips, audience, B2B, CMI, community building, content marketing, Content Marketing, google+, google hangouts, hubspot, moz