Content marketing isn’t an exact science – but it’s not far off. Creating quality content is an invaluable asset and serious currency for your business – and subjectivity arguments aside, the truth is that all first-grade content – like all first-grade content marketers – looks the same on the inside.
3 Reasons You Need Great Blog Post Headlines
In a groundbreaking study by content marketing deities Hubspot, it turned out that 16.12% of blog posts are shared more often than they are read. A pretty scary statistic for content writers working tirelessly to produce substantial, added value content – but a staggering reality check as to the gravity of a good headline.
Neglecting to optimise your headlines is basically like locking the door to your store. You know your audience wants your content – but how will they know that unless you give them a reason to come in?
The science of writing irresistible headlines has been massively documented, with articles offering a formula for successful titles down to the letter. The key is in personalisation – and by fine-tuning your headlines for success, you can guarantee maximum traffic to your content. Otherwise you could sink endless hours into a piece no user will ever find or click on.
You & Your offer directness through personal address. Speaking directly to your audience lets readers know this content was written for them rather than for you, e.g. You Really Need to Work On Your Headlines.
This is the perfect balance of specificity and vagueness. Specific in the sense that it zones in on one particular thing or concept, and vague because it’s going to make you work for all the details, e.g. This Is the Solution to Bad Headlines.
Why implies an answer to the question – so if they’re interested in the topic, they can count on you for all the answers, e.g. Why Sexy Headlines Translate to Sales.
The Most indicates a position of authority. Rather than pushing an opinion or biased perspective, referencing ‘the best’ or ‘the most’ in your title places you as a reliable source on the topic and promises a definitive outlook on the issue, e.g. The Most Important Rules for Writing Awesome Headlines.
Numbers are a proven way to entice readers – with numeral form historically working much more effectively than words. Studies also show that odd numbered titles improve a pieces’s click through rate by 20%, e.g. 5 Ways to Nail Content Headlines.
Being able to substantiate your point with cold, hard data is a powerful thing. The rise of data-driven content marketing shows no signs of peaking – with content writers searching tirelessly for those all-important figures that can transform their content from a mere blog post into a certified thesis.
This is what will take your article from an opinion piece to irrefutable factual content. Data-backed blog posts give your business credibility, demonstrating that your view is not only the popular one but the right one – and satisfy that human appetite for knowledge.
However, data has virtually no impact in isolation. Statistics should be used to substantiate your point – giving some weight to your opinions and offering a solid structure for blog posts which can, otherwise, end up reading like rocky ramblings. By guaranteeing your stats are reliable, up-to-date and 100% relevant, you can make your blog a legitimate resource for your readers.
Writing content and writing original content are two very different things. A perfectly satisfactory piece of content checks boxes and can bring a tidy level of traffic to your blog with some smart optimisation and a bit of luck. But – to truly carve your space in the sector, and set yourself apart from rival sites, you’ll need to make your voice heard amid the competitive drone.
Content syndication sites like Buzzfeed have found some great success in curating what they find across the web – adding a splash of personality and a sprinkle of humour to rebrand the content as theirs. As a business, however, merely recycling existing content won’t suffice in a digital world so saturated with content – and quality content at that.
So exercise your creative muscles and write a worthwhile, original piece of content rather than an elegant rewording of existing work. That way, you’ll stop merely having a blog and will realise that you have a voice.
The key difference between a blog and a business blog is in the branding. If you’re putting out quality content, you should be demanding credit for it – and that means capitalising on branding opportunities wherever possible.
Rather than simply relating ideas to your audience, present yourself as a thought leader within your industry – placing yourself within the professional context. Don’t just state information – seize it – and make sure that whatever’s yours has got your name on it. Bombarding your readers with branded content makes an inextricable connection between what they read and who wrote it – that’s how your business evolves from a corporate entity into a living, breathing brand.
Multimedia is the present and future of online content. Audiences are becoming bored with the good old-fashioned text post and are looking for new, dynamic ways to consume information – and as masters of content creation, it’s our job to provide the aesthetic buffet they’re hungry for.
90% of information that comes to the brain is visual – so it’s no surprise that cunning marketers are introducing visual elements to their content creation in an effort to infiltrate the minds of their audience. And this isn’t just about tricking your readers into consuming your content – multimedia content is also a nifty way of expressing your ideas. If you’ve got a complex idea to convey, the stats suggest that, with the help of detailed visuals, 67% of your target audience will absorb your content and grasp the concept too.
Our brains process visual information 60,000 times faster than it takes them to interpret text – making visual content a tidy solution to online audiences’ ever-shrinking attention spans. Rather than giving your heart to short-form content in a struggle to avoid boring your readers, embrace visual assets. Studies show they’ll bag you 94% more content views.
And what about video?
80% of visitors to your site will watch a video – and only 20% of them will read an entire text post. At this point, YouTube is the number two search engine in the world – making video a content platform businesses can’t afford to ignore. The multi-sensory benefits of this dynamic channel are endless – with companies able to add value, engage audiences and promote products in the strongest and most succinct way possible. So if you’re still in a monogamous relationship with text posts, now’s the time to experiment with other mediums.
The push and pull of online content is an equilibrium between offering added value for the reader and bottom-line benefits for your business. It may sound like a tricky balance to achieve within one piece of content, but the truth is that one invariably follows the other.
Reciprocal benefits help your content lose that blatantly self-promotional quality – which, for your readers, is an instant turn-off. Failing to offer substance and value to your audience undermines your content – meaning even high quality pieces will be ignored because of their inherently self-serving approach.
Whether it’s an answer to a common customer query, a comment on a relevant industry topic or an offbeat piece designed to bring your product or service into the mainstream consciousness, your content topics are a chance to show your audience you know exactly what they’re looking for. Ideas for quality content can be found by picturing your ideal customer or client – and, more importantly, what their concerns and interests are. Once you know what they want, you’ll know what they want to read – and if you pick a topic that complements your product or service, the call to action will follow utterly seamlessly.
Call to action
Content that fails to convert is a letdown – but content doesn’t even try to is worthless. As a business or content marketer, your ultimate priority when creating content should be to bring it full circle, back to the reason we’re all here: your product or service. In content marketing, there are no tenuous links – write about what your audience wants to hear or needs to know, and make sure that every bottom line is your business.
A quality call to action is strong, subtle and seamless – giving readers a powerful instruction that feels like a personal choice. The art of inspiring action is a tricky one, but the key is not to settle for simply describing your service. Accessing their subconscious is the way to access their inner consumer – so appeal to the imagination and let them know how your product or service will improve their life, however small that improvement may be. After that, all they have to do to is push the button – and they will.
Online content is a very different animal to traditional content marketing – namely because the currency is altogether different. While, in the real world, word of mouth is the ultimate driving factor behind the success of content, the credibility of online content can be assessed based on social signals – so likes, shares and, the holy grail of all online endorsements, links.
What’ll separate quality content from satisfactory content is share factor. For content to be sharable, and certainly for it to be linkable, it needs to break the mould. Simply jumping on big news and popular topics with the same unremarkable angle isn’t special enough to inspire shares. Trendjacking is dead – now is the time to lead the way. Remember: you have to create to convert.
More content marketers than you’d think churn out whatever they can for the sake of fulfilling content requirements, without any thought for its purpose or even its success. Instead of writing a piece because you need to write a piece, create something that is fresh, something exciting, something that challenges the industrial status quo – and you’ll be rewarded for offering content that, rather than simply shouting into the void, makes the right kind of noise.
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