Do you want your brand’s content to dazzle in digital environments? If so, you can’t take the same approach as you would with traditional hard-copy content.
Here’s a crash course in digital content, including what it is and how it fits into a modern content marketing strategy. From there, you’ll discover how to create compelling digital content that delivers meaningful results for your business.
What is digital content?
Simply put, digital content is any form of content that’s available in a digital format. As PCMag explains it, digital content is anything that can be retrieved or distributed over the internet or other electronic medium.
Also called digital media, this type of content can include:
- Digital versions of traditional physical media, like images and documents.
- Audiovisual content like digitally encoded music and video.
- Natively digital items like web pages, software programs and social media posts.
What are the types of digital content in content marketing?
In a content marketing context, digital content describes assets produced and deployed in service of a company’s overall marketing strategy. Digital content you’d typically find in content marketing includes documents, web-based assets, static images, motion graphics, audio content and interactive content types.
Let’s take a look at each type of digital marketing content in more detail. Keep in mind that some of these categories overlap — but in general, they’re the main tools within a digital content marketer’s toolkit.
The documents used in digital content marketing are designed for the screen, but they’re often formatted in a way that makes them ready for the printer. Examples include:
- White papers.
- Slide decks.
- Press releases.
Digital documents like these tend to be distributed as PDFs, making them easy to save and share — as the “portable document format” name suggests.
As an example, here’s the second page from our What Is Content Marketing? eBook:
Most digital documents contain a combination of formatted text, images and branded elements. The fact that they’re not tethered to an online environment means readers can consume the information offline and without distractions. Plus, it’s easy to print a PDF and read the content as a physical document.
Marketers may leverage these types of digital documents as gated assets for lead generation, meaning someone who wants access will need to provide an email address in exchange for the resource.
Although PDFs can be circulated online, they still have a life outside the Internet. In contrast, other types of digital media are exclusively hosted online. These include:
- Landing pages.
- Product pages.
- Blog posts.
- Articles in online publications.
- Product reviews.
This blog post about blogging is exactly the type of digital content that lives on the web:
This could easily be repurposed as a digital document like a how-to eBook, or a static image like an infographic. But there are advantages to having it as a web-based asset.
Marketers can update online content as often as necessary. The latest version will always be available via the same URL, unlike a static digital document that exists as-is until a new file gets circulated.
Additionally, content hosted on a website is more likely to show up in search results, so people looking for that type of digital content can find it more easily. Plus, it’s easy to share in an email newsletter and across social media. Even as the content evolves, the link should still point to the same place.
As they say, a picture speaks a thousand words — making graphics and photos valuable communication tools for brands that have something to say.
Images can be incorporated into digital documents or web-based content. But they can also be standalone pieces of content that are saved and distributed like digital documents, as PDFs, JPEGs or similar file formats.
Because they’re static — without moving elements or audio — it’s possible to post, print, embed, screenshot and circulate them across a variety of channels.
Types of static images and graphics often used in content marketing include:
- Digital illustrations.
- Digital photos.
- Banner ads.
Static graphics can be purely visual, or they can be mixed in with text. For instance, here’s the first part of an infographic on writing a brand positioning statement. We paired this with a blog on the same topic, illustrating each of the key points from our written how-to guide. Steps like writing, asking questions and filling in the blanks are visualized through custom illustrations:
This type of digital content adds an element of edu-tainment to content marketing. It’s great for visual learners who prefer to take in data points, processes and other information when it’s presented in an engaging, illustrated format. And it makes words and ideas look a lot more appealing.
Taking still images a step further, marketers can use motion graphics to make visual assets more dynamic and engaging. Whether they’re composed of animated graphics or video clips, “lights, camera, action” content can include:
- YouTube videos.
- Instagram Reels and Stories.
- TikTok videos.
- Animated infographics.
- Video ads.
One example is this animated video we produced as a way to show our content marketing services:
Of course, this information could be presented in a document or a list on our website, But, as with static images, motion graphics are great for people who learn by seeing. They’re valuable because they show, rather than tell.
Vibrant, colorful motion graphics can be ideal for bringing brand messages to life, demonstrating steps to follow and communicating something human or humorous that’s hard to get across with other types of digital content.
Video and audio content work well together, but audio can also hold its own in a content marketing context. A few types of digital content featuring audio elements are:
- Songs or jingles.
- Radio ads.
- Live or recorded talks.
Audio content can be found in a variety of online and traditional channels, from music streaming apps and social platforms like Clubhouse to public radio stations. Marketers can leverage audio’s adaptability to provide compelling digital content wherever their target audience is most likely to find it.
For instance, our content marketing podcast, Above the Fold, can be accessed on Spotify, Anchor, Apple Podcasts and even our website:
Podcasts and other types of audio content are great for people who want to plug in and listen along as they get through a commute, wash dishes or focus their eyes on something else.
In addition, the musical qualities and visceral presentation of audio content can help ensure brand recognition in a way that visuals and text can’t — just think about your city’s iconic car dealership jingle or your favorite thought leader’s unmistakable voice.
Digital content involves a producer (the marketer) and a consumer (the audience). But it’s not limited to a two-step process. With interactive assets, the media consumer can actively participate in how they advance through the content itself.
The following examples of interactive content make use of some or all of the aforementioned elements like imagery, text, audio and video:
- Social media posts.
- Digital maps.
- Online courses.
- Virtual reality environments.
- Photo galleries with collapsible captions.
- Resource hubs.
- Mobile apps.
- Gamified activities.
The way a user interacts with content will vary depending on what it is. For instance, content shared across social media channels allow followers to engage by liking, commenting, clicking, re-posting and more.
Through choose-your-own-adventure assets, like resource hubs or interactive photo galleries, viewers can select from a limited number of actions and options. But open-ended options, like virtual reality environments, online courses and webinars serve as experiential content events. These enable participants to directly interact with the material that’s being presented, potentially determining original outcomes and almost certainly providing one-of-a-kind experiences.
What is a digital content strategy?
A digital content strategy is a subset of an overarching content marketing strategy. It’s an action plan that takes key business and marketing objectives into account and articulates how digital content will be leveraged to achieve those goals.
A digital strategy around content should address:
- What business goals you’re supporting.
- Who your target audience is.
- What unique value your content offers audience members.
- What types and pieces of content you will be producing and distributing.
- How each piece of content fits into your overarching digital marketing strategy.
- How you’ll create, manage, distribute and promote your digital content.
- How you’ll measure digital content marketing success.
7 tips for creating compelling digital content that drives results
When it comes to building out a digital content strategy, keep these considerations in mind:
1. Tailor digital content decisions to your target audience
First and foremost, content creators need to know who is consuming their content, including what that target audience likes and where they want to find content. Before you invest time and money into custom content, ensure the assets you produce will resonate with the people you want to reach.
2. Scale your digital content strategy appropriately
Creating digital content can be as quick and easy as dropping a new photo into an existing template. Or, it can involve heavy lifting from multiple creative teams and a lot of logistical considerations.
Develop a digital content strategy that can be realistically supported by the time and resources you have available. Depending on the assets you want to use, you might need to outsource certain projects to a third-party content creator who brings skills, technology and experience your team doesn’t have.
3. Develop and follow a brand style guide
Regardless of the type of digital content you create, a set of brand style guidelines can help you keep all assets consistent at all times. This resource will clarify what visual identity, tone of voice, brand message and overall look and feel each new piece of digital content should feature.
4. Repurpose existing content in different formats
Coming up with new ideas can take time and effort. If you’re eager to kickstart your digital content creation sooner, consider repackaging existing information in new formats. For instance, you could:
- Repurpose a podcast episode as a blog post.
- Turn a past presentation into a downloadable eBook.
- Illustrate a step-by-step guide with a new how-to video.
This way, you’ll get a lot more mileage out of each asset. You can also reach new audiences across different channels with the same on-brand message.
5. Prioritize quality during digital content creation
Digital media consumers face a practically endless stream of content each day. The quality of digital content matters because this is what will set your content apart from the rest of the noise.
Rather than producing and pushing out a high volume of lesser quality content, concentrate your efforts on creating error-free assets that reflect the quality of your products and services.
6. Keep up with digital content trends
Keeping up with content trends doesn’t mean you need to jump on TikTok and Clubhouse just because other brands are doing it. But it is important to understand what types of digital content are becoming more valuable in the market at large, and to your target audience specifically.
For instance, video is increasingly a media format of choice for many consumers. If your team isn’t currently well equipped to produce short and engaging video content, you can address this challenge in your digital content strategy — say, by investing in user-friendly video editing apps or outsourcing production to someone else.
7. Measure your success
Finally, remember to track the performance of your digital content. Choose and measure meaningful KPIs based on the type of content and your business goals they’re supporting. Then adapt your strategy to accommodate your findings and how your audience interacts with the digital content you’re getting out there.
Mastering the use of digital content in your marketing strategy isn’t easy — so don’t forget to celebrate your successes, too!