Content has a vast number of formats that are intended for different audiences, platforms, and objectives. Each type of content plays a crucial role in providing customers and prospects with the information they need.
Written content, however, remains the most popular way to communicate with audiences.
It's vital to understand the differences in written content types to navigate the content marketing landscape and choose the most appropriate format of content writing for you.
The best form of written content will mainly depend on your audience's preferences, sales funnel stages, and the platform you're writing on.
Here are 12 content writing types to use in your campaigns.
Blog posts are the most popular form of website content used by many businesses for driving traffic, establishing authority, and engaging with their audience.
A blog post is a longer content form that allows you to convey a lot of information in one piece and attach additional media formats for illustration.
Businesses publish articles in the form of blog posts in a blog section of their website. These articles cover topics related to the industry their audience would be interested in.
Blog posts generally range in length from 1200 to 2500 words, with the majority falling somewhere in between.
Hootsuite's blog is an example of this type of content. As a social media management tool, they create articles on various topics related to social media marketing.
Blog posts can be informative, educational, or even entertaining. There are various types of blog articles, such as:
- How-to guides
- Expanded definition posts
- Templates and checklists
- Reports or statistics
The type of blog posts you choose should depend on the topic you write about, how in-depth you want to cover it, and who you want to address.
Blog posts are a great way to gain new audiences because most people search for topics through search engines.
This poses a great opportunity to use search engine optimization and get your website pages in front of as many people as possible. As a result, you can boost brand visibility and awareness for your product or service.
Blogging can also be a powerful content strategy to build authority in your niche. Writing about topics relevant to people interested in your industry will create the impression that you have expert knowledge.
With the help of AI writing tools, you can now generate complete articles that are optimized for search engines in minutes.
Take the example of Surfer AI, which created this article in about twenty minutes.
SEO writing can be time and effort intensive, not to mention requiring tasks like keyword research and on-page optimization.
You can obviously write articles manually but leveraging artificial intelligence can greatly increase the scale and output of your content creation efforts.
Website copywriters create content for landing pages, product pages, home pages and more.
Effective website copy communicates clearly and engages visitors to take actionable steps.
For example, if you visit a company website, you will know what the company does, what it offers, and how to purchase the product or contact the company.
Trello's hero section, for example, communicates its value in a simple, easy-to-understand sentence.
While this seems easy, the role of website copywriting is to provide this information clearly and concisely and encourage a visitor to engage with the brand by registering, booking a demo, or buying a product.
A great company website should include the most essential pages, such as:
- About Us
- Product or Services Page
- Contact Page
These pages should list the key benefits of your products and your unique value proposition. Website copywriters are often trained in conversion copywriting.
Advertising and sales copywriting
Ad copywriting or sales copywriting is the most common type of copywriting in marketing campaigns.
You can see it everywhere in real life—on TV, in papers, on fliers, or on billboards. There are also various ads you can see on the internet, such as Google Ads, social media ads, pop-ups, and website banners.
Advertising content is meant to get you interested in a product and then persuade you to buy it.
Sales copywriting aims to capture the prospect's attention quickly and convince them to engage with your offer.
While the ultimate goal is to convince users to purchase, sales copywriting also targets other actions like:
- registering for a webinar or lead magnet
- subscribing to a newsletter
- filling a call-back form
This advertisement by Monday, a work management platform, serves as an example of sales copy.
The ad copy taps into the emotional connection a person may have with their work and promises to do better.
Sales copywriting involves various psychological and sales techniques that allow the creation of short, powerful messages.
Some copywriting techniques commonly used in ad copy are:
- PAS: Problem, Agitate, Solution
- AIDA: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action
- FAB: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action
These copywriting techniques are meant to trigger strong emotional reactions, such as the fear of missing out leading to a purchase.
Technical writing is content written for specific industries that need to present information precisely and accurately.
Technical writers are usually skilled industry professionals with relevant degrees, certifications, or experience.
Technical writing involves describing and documenting complex processes in certain disciplines such as science, medicine, engineering, computer science, or finance.
It usually has a very targeted audience that often involves industry professionals. Technical content is often long-form because it has to be comprehensive and communicate concepts and walkthroughs in extensive detail.
An example of technical writing is Stripe's documentation for developers.
Technical writing is a blanket term that may include:
- Technical documentation
- Policies and procedures
- Industry white papers and case studies
- Business documentation
- User manuals
The key to understanding technical writing is that it has to be applied in professional settings, such as a company or another organization.
The purpose of technical writing is strictly informational or educational and is often meant to further the reader's knowledge or to help them accomplish a task.
Social media posts
Social media posts vary depending on the platform you use. While social media is associated with short messages, the length of posts varies for different social media platforms.
For example, people use Facebook or LinkedIn to write longer posts, where users are receptive to longer content.
On the other hand, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest are predominantly visual platforms with little written content, such as captions and descriptions.
Even though X, formerly Twitter, now allows long-form content, most of the posts there are short-form writing.
Social media writing is characterized by simple, informal language that grabs users' attention and persuades them to share, like, or comment on the post.
Here's an example of a social media post from Starbucks on Instagram.
The purpose of social media content is to engage with the target audience, and reveal your brand's personality, and take on current trends.
Writing for social media is unique because digital marketing platforms rely on a combination of visual media and memorable captioning to perform well.
Unlike other types of content writing, which are mainly driven by the quality of the writing alone.
Ebooks and white papers
Ebooks are a way for businesses to share their insights related to their product or service. It proves the business has the right skills and knowledge to provide a beneficial experience to customers.
Ebooks can cover various topics and take many forms, from how-to guides to product overviews.
They can also be a workbook if they include interactive elements such as exercises.
Whitepapers, similarly to ebooks, are meant to demonstrate expertise and establish thought leadership.
Even though they are widely used, ebooks and white papers are an essential part of B2B digital marketing strategies.
They present research, expert analysis, or an insight into a topic or solution to a problem.
Because ebooks and white papers are long-form content that is supposed to demonstrate a company's expertise, the author must have a deep understanding of the topic.
This is also why it's almost impossible to recruit freelance writers to help you create these content formats.
Just like you wouldn't hire a freelancer to publish press releases, white papers must be written by insiders.
They are usually read by industry professionals, and the writer should, therefore, conduct extensive research or have previous experience in the field.
Gartner, for example, has several ebooks to demonstrate their expertise.
Often, ebooks are also used as lead magnets in exchange for user information.
You've probably seen ads that proclaim "the 10 best ways" to do something in exchange for your email.
It's not uncommon for these types of content to be over 50 pages or 10,000 words in length.
Case studies refer to actual instances where customers have successfully achieved their goals through the use of a product.
It allows brands to foster credibility and trust among potential customers.
The main purpose of a case study is to prove to potential users that you understand their problems and have the expertise to solve them.
A case study should follow your client's success story without focusing too much on your product.
Instead, try educating readers on the challenges and how they were overcome with your tools.
While writing a case study, focus on the details and make your content actionable. Don't just gloss over the methods used to achieve the results you're showing.
We created a case study that showcases how a niche site, Aquarium Store Depot, was able to attract 400,000 visitors a month using Surfer's tools.
And dive deep into the 5 steps the site's owner, Mark Valderrama took to grow his traffic.
Case studies can also allow decision-makers to see how similar businesses successfully use your product, which acts as social proof and instills trust.
A well-written case study includes:
- A thorough analysis of the problem
- the challenges encountered
- The results you achieved
- Proof of results via a screenshot
- Quotes and testimonials from actual clients
Including these essential elements will ensure your product is shown in the best possible light.
User manuals and documentation
User manuals and documentation are often part of technical writing.
Often, businesses create guides and tutorials to help users get the full benefit of the product.
User manuals and documentation are meant to replace human support and serve two purposes.
- Users are able to get started on their own quickly
- The business doesn't need to maintain a large support department
To create this type of content, the content writer needs a deep understanding and knowledge of the product to explain it clearly to the user.
Here's an example of a guide by WordPress that goes over the basics of setting up your website.
Writers need to consider the depth of information and what users can figure out independently.
This should result from understanding how complex the product is, whether there is something similar on the market, and who the product's audience is.
You'll find that hosting documentation about a product on a separate subdomain is also common. Helpful notes like this are also referred to as a knowledge base.
Creating manuals can be time-consuming but it is often worth the effort. You don't want to ignore them as part of your content creation process.
Companies may also recruit the services of power users to monitor support forums and answer questions from other users.
UX writing is communicating with software users in a way that allows them to take action and achieve a desired result. It involves all text that appears in software or in-app, such as buttons, pop-ups, error messages, and more.
UX writers work with product teams to create a seamless onboarding process based on user research and testing.
Take the example of Surfer's Content Editor app, which prompts users to enter their main keyword.
It provides users with a seamless experience to improve the adoption of a product so that they will use the software to achieve the result they desire.
UX content writing often overlaps with conversion copywriting because they share a similar goal: moving users to the next step.
Comparison and versus pages
Also called alternative pages, comparison or versus pages highlight differences and similarities between products or services.
Companies frequently use this kind of content to directly compete with their rivals by showcasing the advantages their product has over others on the market.
A well-structured versus page typically follows a feature-by-feature comparison, allowing readers to thoroughly compare the products and make an informed purchasing decision.
By directly addressing the competition and highlighting your product's superior features and benefits, you provide potential customers with a clear choice and a strong reason to choose your product over others.
While you will want to present your product in the best light possible, it's vital to stay objective and not turn your versus page into a sales page.
Podia, for example, has a great "alternatives hub' with several pages compared to its competitors.
These pages provide a detailed, feature-by-feature comparison, allowing potential customers to clearly see the advantages of choosing Podia.
Since versus pages cover features in depth, hiring freelance content writers or content writing services isn't going to result in a high-quality page.
Instead, write the content yourself, relying on your own knowledge of the product while sharing effective ways to use it.
Reviews and testimonials
Product reviews and testimonials offer prospects a sneak peek into the product, providing them with an idea of what to expect after purchasing it.
Online reviews usually take the form of comprehensive blog posts where a writer delves deep into the product's specifications, characteristics, functionalities, and benefits for the user.
An unbiased, comprehensive product overview in a review can greatly influence a reader's purchasing decision.
Reviews aren't just about listing features and benefits.
Users are more likely to trust a review if they can verify its source and credibility.
Although they don't sell any products, Wirecutter does a great job of reviewing tools and gadgets. They even explain their methodology and include a ton of first hand experience.
On the other hand, testimonials are accounts of real customers who have used the product.
They often include the results that customers achieve with the product, making the brand and its products more relatable to potential customers.
Collecting and showcasing customer testimonials can be done in various ways.
You can take testimonials from video content and interviews with customers.
Reach out to satisfied customers and ask them to share their positive experiences.
These testimonials can be showcased on the business's website, social media platforms, or email campaigns, increasing the product's credibility while building trust among potential customers.
Newsletters and email campaigns
Email marketing involves sending targeted messages to subscribers and can take various forms, but the most common are newsletters and email campaigns.
Email campaigns are more focused and typically revolve around a single event or promotion, such as a product launch or a seasonal sale. In contrast, newsletters are regular emails that provide subscribers with industry or niche updates.
Short emails are probably the most effective since most people read emails on their phones and the limited space phones offer.
However, emails can sometimes have much longer variations, especially for newsletters.
Writing emails can involve,
- email subject lines
- pre headers
- email body
Both newsletters and email campaigns play a crucial role in customer retention and sales.
By keeping subscribers informed about the latest developments and offers, these emails keep the brand fresh in the minds of the customers, encouraging repeat business and fostering a sense of loyalty.
Here's an example of a newsletter called The Industry that covers the film industry.
Newsletters aren't easy to write because they require insider knowledge and must be updated every day - quite like the news.
They are often long form and must be written well, in a noninvasive, engaging manner.
Choosing the right type of content
Your choice of content must depend on your audience and the types of content they are receptive to.
For example, a younger audience will likely prefer social media, whereas an older demographic may prefer long-form content like blog posts and white papers.
Similarly, B2B target audiences will respond better to formal communication via traditional mediums like email, whereas you can engage B2C consumers on platforms like TikTok and Instagram.
Most companies choose a combination of content types and platforms to reach their target audience effectively.
You need to show that you are knowledgeable on every topic you write about and can give your audience high-quality content irrespective of where you communicate with them.
Creating content must start with a goal.
Your objective can be, for example, brand awareness, lead generation, or increasing sales.
Your choice of written content will ultimately depend on your audience demographics, whether you are in a B2B or B2C industry and what you want to accomplish.
- Content writing types differ depending on the publishing platform, target audience, and purpose. Numerous content writing types serve different purposes, from educating to connecting with customers.
- Depending on the type, content can achieve various goals, from brand awareness to increased sales.
- Long-form content types include blog articles, reviews, case studies, ebooks, white papers, and guides.
- Short-form content types include website copywriting, sales copywriting, UX copywriting, social media posts, and emails.
- Choosing the right content for your business should be based on audience research, business goals, and your reader's sales funnel stages.
Even though we're most familiar with blogs and social media captions, several content writing types exist, differing by use case, audience, length, and platform.
Don't try and do everything together. It will only spread you thin.
For the best results, combine two or three types of written content to achieve your business goals.
Tailor your content's strategy based on your performance. Seek feedback, adapt your approach, and explore new content types to ensure your audience is engaged.
Ideally, begin with a content type that you know works in your industry. If you're not sure, look at your competitors and analyze which mediums work for them.
Given a similar offer and positioning, the same should work for you.