Executing your content strategy can be overwhelming, especially when there are so many ways to format your content. In the spirit of “freeing the content superhero in you,” we’ve developed content brief templates to help you more easily optimize the value of your current and future content.
We’ve identified over 50 common marketing content formats. We will use the Shake and Bake Guide to share what we’ve learned.
Each article in this series will be formatted in the same way. We’ll share an example outline suited for the specific content format, a fictitious sample we created, and three or four of the great examples we found in our research. Our goal is for you to have all the tools you need to quickly write effective content and get it out into the world.
This post focuses on how to format a “Best of” list (Best in Class, Best Practices) review style article. Marketing content is designed to help your target audience answer their questions and guide towards what to do next. The format the content takes will depend on the types of questions your target audience is asking and where they are looking for answers. “Best of” content typically fits with top or middle of funnel content because that is when your target audience is first exploring a challenge they face and potential solutions.
“Best of” List Format Outline
Format Length and Style
“Best of” lists can be in a variety of formats and styles, all of which are usually informal in tone. Each of the examples we looked at consisted of a few intro paragraphs. Then they dive straight into the list itself.
These articles typically provide detail for each item in the list with a paragraph explaining the features or benefits of each product and how they differentiate themselves from the others. Frequently, the text is accompanied by images of the products or or other graphics that relate to the topic the list is covering.
You can help your audience make their own comparisons quickly by comparing each alternative based on the same short list of important characteristics. For example, one of the lists we reviewed compared products based on two characteristics: 1) What it’s made of, and 2) how it performed its intended use.
These two characteristics also serve as a good starting point to answering even more specific questions for potential customers. As long as the information is easy to skim and ordered from most general to most specific, the more information about the product or service the better.
List styles vary. They can be in-depth overviews, or they can be general lists of each product with links to where to find the products or learn more. The product category itself and your company’s tone should influence the approach you take.
Be careful to remain as objective as possible even when your product or product category is featured in your list. Your content will perform better in search results and your brand will be more trusted by readers when review articles present a number of alternatives and share pros and cons even for your own product or service. “Best of” lists typically include multiple alternatives and speak at a more general level than what you might see in a competitor comparison article.
Competitor comparison articles are a close cousin to “Best of” articles. Comparing yourself to a competitor can be one of the most powerful forms of content you can share (although it usually feels a little scary). In a competitor comparison article the focus is typically on comparing your product to one other competitor. Objectivity matters here, although most readers will most readers will expect (and often want) you to make the best case for why your product is better than the competition.
- Description and purpose of the list
- Explanation of how the list is organized and how items on the list were chosen
- The characteristics by which the products will be compared
- (Optional) Quick view of the list
List of products
- Name of the product and simple description
- Explanation on why it was chosen
- How it stacks up on the chosen characteristics
- Any additional notes or comments for the reader including unique features or common concerns with the product
Summary: “The bottom line”
- Final conclusions/ Summary of the list and its purpose
- Resources used to make the list or where the reader can find more details
- (Optional) Answer commonly asked questions or concerns about the product category
Where “Best of” Content Fits in the Customer Journey
Most content formats are good at answering certain types of customer questions but not every customer question. “Best of” content makes great Awareness and Consideration stage content.
The awareness stage is where a customer first becomes aware that there may be a solution to a challenge they currently face. They may be introduced to your product category or maybe even your product at this stage. However, they aren’t ready to buy. They are trying to get their hands around the problem they face.
Potential customers are likely asking themselves, “How important is it to solve this problem?” and, “Is it possible a solution exists?” The marketing content objective at this stage is to raise awareness about a challenge potential customers likely face and to raise brand awareness among customers who haven’t formed a solid opinion about their preferred product.
“Best of” lists, especially in the form of comparing different categories or types of solutions, can make good Awareness stage content. Since customers are looking for a solution to a problem they’re having, i.e., not shopping between brands yet, you’ll want to provide content that’s informative, helpful, and educational. By understanding the pain points of your customers and addressing them, you can write content that increases your chances of engaging with them.
During the consideration stage potential customers research options to understand how to compare alternatives and determine which alternatives appear promising. “Best of” lists targeting this stage of the customer journey tend to provide more points of comparison among products and more details about potential solutions.
At this stage, you should focus on creating comprehensive, to-the-point and impactful content that helps potential customers make a decision about which product category they will explore or which products will make their shortlist.
How Should You Distribute and Promote “Best of” content
Perhaps the most common way to distribute “Best of” content is through a series of blog posts on your website. That’s only the beginning. A social media post is easy to pair with each “Best of” blog post in order to bring awareness to the post itself. This post may tease the results or share the topline results directly in the post.
There are a number of ways to be creative promoting your list. It can also be featured on the front page of a website or the blog. Discussing the list can be the topic for a podcast episode or YouTube video version of the list for even more content.
Not every brand has the credibility to have its content rocket to the top of search results. Not every “Best of” list needs to be based on a high volume search term to be effective for your audience. Effective distribution requires effort in promotion.
Including the content in multiple social posts (spaced apart), email newsletters, shared with the sales team to share with prospects, and sharing directly with relevant influencers and the companies featured in the article are all ways to promote the new content that don’t rely on immediate organic search performance.
Of course, organic search is a prime target for “Best of” lists because “Best of” lists are designed to answer specific questions potential customers commonly ask. “Best of” lists have the best chance to rank well in organic search results when they are focused on narrow topic, provide detailed information, present information objectively, and have been shared and linked to by others.
Fictitious “Best of” content example
Overview: Description and purpose of the list, method for how items on the list were chosen, explanation of the characteristics that will be used to compare products
Optional: quick preview list of items or results
List of products: Name of the product and simple description , explanation on why it was chosen, and any additional notes or comments for the reader
Summary: Final conclusions/ summary of the list and its purpose as well as resources used to make the list.
Optional Discuss common concerns or answer commonly asked questions about the product category.
Four high-quality examples following the “Best of” content format
Best based on attributes of a product
One way to format a “Best of List'' is to spotlight the different attributes of the product itself. Maybe you have a product that fits in a general category such as a car or something simpler like toothpaste. You are able to split the general category up in a variety of ways as seen in the article linked at the top of this paragraph, allowing for the consumer to differentiate the products easily.
The consumer is able to find the category of the product they are looking for right away, and this is all due to the differing products based on what the product provides (main feature or use). The reader doesn't want to be wasting time sifting through the different types of products themselves, rather they want to find a solution to their problem as quickly as possible.
Best based on a customer’s preferences for product
Another format that you can use would be to focus on the customers tastes or habits to categorize products based on uses. The article above dives into specific sleeping habits to pair a product to suit different types of sleepers. For example, they go into the best mattresses for side sleepers, the best for couples, and even the best for back pain.
The categories are all created with the customers in mind as the company knows that these are possible searches customers may have. Showing the “best of” based on customer habits or behaviors, again, allows customers to hopefully solve their problems quickly and effectively by taking the advice from the company itself that specifically addresses their problem or question.
List of best practices (good for non-product solutions)
Another example we chose to highlight takes the “best of list” idea and uses it to put reader practices, which they are trying to use to solve a problem, in no particular order of bests. The author of the article chooses to focus on behaviors rather than products. It doesn’t even put the practices into subcategories like we have seen in the other two articles.
Instead, they provide examples for how to incorporate each of their “best” practices in your life. It all goes back to solving the reader’s researched problem as quickly and conveniently as possible.
Best of list (with video inclusion)
Some companies opt to pair a best of list with a video. I don’t know about you, but when I’m looking for products in the form of “best of” lists I immediately check YouTube for a video. Combining an article with a video can engage your audience in two different ways allowing for the push of traffic from two different avenues back to your website.
With the example above, the video allows for more personality to shine through when discussing each product, allowing the viewer to connect more to what is being shown. The article that pairs with the video is very “bare-bones” and gives the pros and cons of each product, while at the end the writer gives their personal opinion on which product he chose. This video and article format can be used when discussing a wide range of products as well as entertain your audience on a deeper level with the accompanying video!
Now it’s your turn!
You can create your own “Best of” content with confidence by following this guide.
Keep in mind the different ways to share your review with your target audience. Younger audiences and consumer product categories will appreciate video content and heavy promotion via social media. Older audiences and shoppers for technical products may appreciate in depth written content.
These articles are meant to be short, sweet, and straight to the point, answering the consumer’s questions throughout. These lists are a truly great way to engage the reader while providing a solution to their problem. That’s the goal with your content marketing, right?
Most marketers spend too much time researching the content they create and still end up guessing about what will work. Cobomba software uses AI to identify and then track every question your marketing content needs to answer. You receive new content recommendations every month so you create your content in a flash and attract customers to your company.
You can see for yourself. Request your free content audit today.