Producing entertaining and useful content is a proven strategy in marketing a business or product, as it leads to more visitors and eventually more sales or leads. Regularly publishing articles around a topic is excellent for SEO, and is an example of what is known as content marketing.

Most articles online can be classified as belonging to a particular type. For example, articles with the titles “How to Teach Your Dog Tricks” and “How to Make Pancakes” are both instructional articles and therefore share common features, even though they’re about completely different subjects.

Being able to identify common types of article is helpful in generating new article ideas, as choosing an article type gives you a starting point for writing about your subject.

Once you’ve chosen an article type, it’s often a good idea to look at successful examples of that type of article for ideas about how to structure your own writing. The principles that make a particular type of article effective are essentially the same no matter what topic you’re writing about.

Here are five powerful article types you can use in your marketing:


1) Listicles

The ‘listicle’ (a new word formed by joining ‘list’ and ‘article’) is one of the most common types of article online. It uses a number in the title, and the article is structured as a list. Examples include this article itself, and titles such as “17 Ways to Improve Your Diet”.

Listicles are often criticized as ‘clickbait’, yet they remain incredibly common as they are popular with readers. The listicle owes its popularity to the fact that it promises readers some easily digestible information, as they can quickly scan through a list. Furthermore, using a number lets readers know that they won’t just get one piece of information, but several. It’s easy to see that the title “17 Ways to Improve Your Diet” is more attractive than just “Improving Your Diet”, as it offers a much clearer benefit to the reader.


2) Instructional or “How To” Articles

Instructional articles often have titles that start with “How To”. They are often tutorials that guide the reader through a practical task step by step, though they could be giving advice about a spiritual or emotional issue instead. Some huge sites such as wikiHow are completely devoted to “How To” articles.

If you’re writing an instructional article about a technical topic, it’s best to be extremely thorough and give the reader every step they need to take. Pictures can help the reader follow along and serve as a useful aid to written instructions.

“How To” articles about spiritual, emotional or psychological topics are less straightforward, and you will need to explore more of the ‘why’ rather than just giving practical instructions ‘how’.


3) Complete Guides

Complete guides are highly informative articles intended to give the reader all they need to know about a topic. They are often several thousand words long and split into shorter, more manageable sections. These articles take a lot of time to write, but can generate a high volume of traffic.

Complete guides are often described as ‘evergreen content’, because they remain relevant and useful for years, attracting readers over a longer period of time. Writing a complete guide requires a large investment of time, which should eventually pay off as the guide becomes a core part of your site’s content, attracting visitors well into the future.


4) Case Studies and True Stories

Case studies are a good way to put your ideas in context and show how they apply in the real world. Using a celebrity or well known individual as a case study can attract readers who are interested in that well known person but may not already be aware of your business or product. A few examples on this site include 3 Marketing lessons from Elon Musk and Marketing Lessons from Sam Walton, Founder of Walmart.

Alternatively, you could write about a personal experience or something that happened to a friend or family member. People appreciate stories that they can relate to and connect with on a human level, and these articles can be incredibly powerful.


5) Articles about Trending Topics

Writing about a hot trending topic is a great way to drive traffic to your website in the short term. As with case studies, these articles will attract people who don’t already know about your business or product but are interested in a related issue.

If a news story or current event is receiving a lot of attention, think about whether it can be related to your website’s topic in some way. Publishing some unique analysis on a hot topic gives you the chance to capture a share of the already large number of people reading about it. Another good thing about these articles is that news and trends are always changing, so there is always something new to write about.


Applying the 5 Types

The article types discussed here are some of the most popular and powerful used in content marketing. They offer a good starting point from which to brainstorm new article ideas. These article types are very flexible, and you can even combine two or three types at once. For example, you could write a listicle about a hot topic such as “5 Things You Need to Know About the 2016 Elections” or incorporate “How To” style advice into a personal story such as “How I Quit Smoking”.

Once you have an understanding of different article types, you’ll find new article ideas easier to come by. Using a variety of article types gives you several different angles from which to cover the same themes. Most importantly, publishing several different types of article will help your content reach the largest audience possible, attracting people who would never know about your business or product otherwise.