When it comes to digital customer engagement, content is still king. But, while that phrase may not be particularly new, this doesn't mean the type of content brands are using is staying the same.

Much like the internet itself, content offerings continue to evolve, and this presents new opportunities for you to reach and support customers in 2020.

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Don't worry, the importance of maintaining an active blog and social media presence isn't going to diminish in the coming year. But, as you adopt more types of content, you'll expand your company's reach as well. This includes providing new support options that revolutionize how your organization approaches customer service.

So, let's take a look at the list of trending content options below that'll benefit your support team this year.

1. Podcasts

Though podcasts have been around for a while, they've only recently gained notice from content marketers. Research shows that 32% of adults in the United States now listen to podcasts monthly — that's triple what it was in 2008. And, podcasting advertising revenue is expected to exceed $1 billion by 2021, in large part thanks to ever-increasing adoption of smartphones, as explained in the graphic below.

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This medium offers multiple opportunities for content marketers and customer success teams. For example, you can produce service-related podcasts where experts break down how to use and troubleshoot your products. Or, you can have thought-leadership episodes where organization leaders discuss trending topics in your industry.

If you have the right audio setup, make podcasts a regular part of your content calendar and provide value-driven information, just like with a blog. How-to's, industry interviews and news highlights are great ways to engage your listeners.

If you don't have the resources to start a podcast, you can gain marketing attention by sponsoring or advertising on one that's relevant to your niche. If you choose the right partner, this can be an excellent way to remain relevant to your target audience since most podcasts produce episodes at a weekly rate.

2. Online Courses

Many people are interested in learning and developing professional skills, and as a business owner, you're considered an expert in your industry. You and your team possess information that others would find valuable.

When you synthesize this information into an online course, you keep your audience engaged with your site and establish yourself as a thought-leader in your industry. Additionally, online courses can serve as a great way to share knowledge about something you're passionate about. And, they can complement your other business activities, even providing an additional source of income or helping you grow mailing lists.

A successful online course doesn't require fancy editing or anything beyond basic audio and video recording equipment. However, it will require that you plan out specific modules for what you'll teach and that you display charisma in front of the camera as you provide lessons that are relevant to your brand and audience.

For example, we can look at this case study, describing entrepreneur Chalene Johnson's work. Chalene created a Kajabi course called, "The 30-Day Push Challenge" where she taught her viewers goal-setting lessons using a simple and straightforward method. The purpose of the course was to help people complete yearly goals in just 30 days. So, Chalene set her own goal and filmed a video each day for a month showing people how she achieved it.

By the end of the first month, the online course had more than 75,000 signups, which she used as new leads for her mailing list.

3. Self-Service Support Resources

Content isn't just about creating marketing materials. As potential customers investigate your company, they'll naturally have questions and concerns — and these questions need answers.

However, the majority of customers don't want to speak with a service representative. In fact, more than 60% of consumers prefer using a "digital self-serve tool" for simple inquiries. They don't want to send an email or make a phone call, rather, they want to find answers independently through a website or app.

Of all the self-service customer support options, an on-site knowledge base will likely be your best option. These resources essentially act as a smarter, more robust FAQ page that allows for faster resolution of customer inquiries.

This is perfectly illustrated in a Yotpo case study. With clients like GoPro, and partnerships with brands like Facebook and Google, the e-commerce marketing platform found itself needing to "preempt customer questions" so users could resolve inquiries on their own.

To overcome this roadblock, the company created a searchable knowledge base that includes over 600 support articles. Today, the knowledge base has eliminated thousands of customer support tickets and has reduced ticket volume even as monthly sign-ups have increased.

4. Webinars and Live Video

While an online course is typically prepared in advance and packaged for customers to view at their own pace, webinars and other live video formats are also becoming increasingly popular. In fact, Cisco predicts video streaming will make up 80% of all web traffic by 2021, and live content is playing a big role in driving this push.

The demand for live content isn't just limited to sports or video games. Many brands have built their following by streaming weekly shows on Facebook, posting live-streams on Twitch, or hosting webinars on their site, like in the example below.

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Entrepreneur, Neil Patel, notes that people spend triple the time watching live-streamed content than they watch pre-recorded videos. And, live-video content generates more comments, shares, engagements and viewing time than standard video. One example of a brand capitalizing on this is Benefit Cosmetics, which draws over 25,000 weekly viewers on Facebook.

5. Ebooks

Depending on your industry, ebooks can be a great way to provide value for your customers and attract new targeted leads. For instance, guides and other informative resources can be especially appealing in a B2B setting.

As Chris Christoff, Co-Founder of MonsterInsights, explains in an article,

"It's easier to grow your email list and grab users' attention when you offer them valuable information for free. It shows you want to teach your audience new things so they can succeed in their endeavors … Even if you aren't selling your ebook, providing it for free moves users down the sales funnel so they become more familiar with your brand and its content. It's essential to align your content with your audience's buying journey so they feel ready to purchase." - Chris Christoff, Co-Founder of MonsterInsights

Best of all, you don't necessarily have to come up with brand new content to create a quality ebook. One easy strategy is compiling a series of related blog articles into a single document. As long as the topics are related, this should require minimal editing to create different chapters in your ebook.

6. Customer Checklists

Checklists may seem like unusual content to give your customers, but for the right industry, these can provide significant value and potentially help you make sales.

A checklist essentially provides your customers with a to-do list and often draws from content that would normally be written as part of a blog post. Examples of this could include steps for prepping your car for winter or seasonal maintenance tips for your HVAC system.

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Checklists do a great job of providing value to the customer and your business. After all, depending on your industry, many of the tasks included in a checklist would entail ordering products or services from your company.

The visual nature of checklists means that customers are likely to print them out for future reference, offering a continual reminder of your brand. And, the content can also easily be repurposed for blogs and social media.

When it comes to reaching and supporting your customers, the possibilities are almost limitless. By adapting your content to the interests of your audience and their preferred platforms, you'll be in a much better position to reach them.

For more tips, check out these customer support resources.

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Originally published Jan 27, 2020 8:00:00 AM, updated April 29 2021

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Customer Support Help Desk & Ticketing Software