If you own a business, you may have heard that content marketing can be an effectiveway to increase the reach and awareness of your brand and gain new website visitors and leads.But what exactly is content marketing? In a nutshell, content marketing is the act of communicating with prospects without selling. Rather than pitch/sell your products or services on various channels, you provide information that is helpful, amusing, entertaining, or enlightening (or a combination of these). The hope is that the engaging content will lure prospects and customers to your website or other online profiles and that they will check out your products and services.Does content marketing work? According to a study by Curata.com, 85 percent of the companies they surveyed saw an increase in awareness-building as a result of their content marketing initiatives. Also, 62 percent of these companies reported that content marketing actually increased the quality and quantity of leads in their sales pipeline.What are some of the types of content marketing? You may be surprised at how many forms there actually are, and how many you can use for your company:Blogging – This form of content marketing is probably the most familiar to you. You create useful content in the form of a blog/article with the intent of placing it on your website as well as sharing it via social media and even on content aggregate sites such as StumbleUpon and Reddit. Blogs also provide an RSS feed that readers can subscribe to and receive whenever you publish a new blog post.Books and eBooks – Companies will often pull together a series of blog posts or articles and turn them into a short hardcover book or ebook for free or paid distribution. B2B companies especially may use eBooks to provide a deeper look at a particular topic in exchange for their contact information.Social Content – Content created specifically for social networks like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn may be a different format, but can have significant impact on awareness and engagement when planned and implemented using best practices.Email Marketing – Did you know that email marketing continues to provide the highest conversion rates of any online marketing tactic? By the way, email marketing can be tied in nicely with direct mail (ask us how).Case Studies – Yes, case studies are still used, especially with B2B companies. Case studies can be placed on your website and shared via social media. Remember the old adage: “Facts tell, stories sell”.Videos – It’s no secret that videos are some of the most shared content on social media Short, entertaining videos can reach many viewers, but even longer and more technical videos can be valuable if they are titled well and placed on YouTube, Vimeo, etc.Infographics – You’ll probably need a talented graphic designer and writer/editor, but a good infographic is often reshared and retweeted. If your infographic is properly branded and provides good content, the potential for a wide distribution of your brand is significant.Microsites – Many companies now use dedicated web sites for specific content, campaigns and promotions that don’t necessarily fit on your regular website.Press Releases – Press releases are still used, but now most companies place them on press release websites such as prweb.com. Although press releases still sometimes reach journalists, most often they are effective as direct to consumer information.Surveys – Asking for feedback from past and current customers and then publishing the results can reach prospects in your pipeline as well as brand new ones.Teleclasses and Webinars – Reach a potentially wide audience with current and engaging content that is valuable to your prospects and customers. The recordings can then be re-purposed and shared again.We are passionate about helping our clients reach their marketing goals. Have you used content marketing for your business?