Content is the new currency of the digital era, offering the best and most effective way to reach out and engage with your audience.
Time and time again, I find myself telling clients "Content is king," and although I've received my share of people claiming content is all buzz and no substance, the numbers don't lie: content marketing works, but only if you do it right.
In this guide, I've compiled a list of "secret" approaches to content marketing used by the best marketers with great success. Some of them are so simple, you'll probably wonder why you never thought of them in the first place.
1. Start with a Killer Headline
If there's one thing great content pieces have in common, it's that they all start with a killer headline. If you think about it, it's easy to see why. When people pick up a book or come across a blog post shared on Facebook, what gives them an idea if it's any good and worth reading?
That's the right: the headline.
Interest and Shareability: A good headline has the ability to pique a reader's interest, compelling him to dig deeper into the content piece, which encourages social media users to share content.
Baiting Readers: People's attention spans on the internet is short, so using your content to generate interest can be a real challenge. You can use clickbait titles to pique the reader's curiosity so they will want to click through to your site. However, Clickbait titles will fail if they don't deliver what the reader expects.
Anatomy of a Great Headline
You may have seen CMI's terrific guide on the elements of a great headline, starting with the most basic: provide answers.
An effective headline has to be crafted with your readers' interests and needs. It should answer the fundamental questions:
- What is it about?
- Why is it important?
- Why should I read it?
Headlines should start with these questions in mind first. Everything else should follow this basic tenet.
2. Don't Underestimate the Power of Imagery
In one of its older studies, 3M claims that 90 percent of the data processed by the brain is visual. The brain also reportedly processes images 60,000 times faster than text.
The folks over at HubSpot have put together an assortment of interesting statistics on why you should include visual content in your marketing strategy.
- 40 percent of Internet users show a better response to visuals instead of plain text
- 46.1 percent consider web design as the primary criterion for a credible company website
- Infographics produce an average traffic increase of 12 percent compared to other forms of content
- Video content is 3 times more inbound links compared to plain text
- Facebook posts with photos generate the most likes, comments, and shares over links, plain text, and video
Below are a few examples of how to use imagery on your content:
Use Image Captions to Display Key Takeaways: Photo captions leverage the power of an image, grabbing people's attention, and sending a message quickly. According to Kissmetrics, "Captions under images are read on average 300 percent more than the body copy itself..."
Use Cuteness to Make Your Content More Engaging - Another thing that you can do with your visual content to make them stand out is to tap into people's natural desire for cuteness.
A California State University study showed that pictures of babies increased activity rates by up to 88 percent, while images of cute animals generated an increase response rate of 42 percent.
Now, leveraging a picture of a cute baby or animal may seem like a shameless tactic, but it's all about execution. For example, babies and drinking water have nothing to do with each other, but the Evian ad with dancing babies still generated more than 122,000,000 views on YouTube. Likewise, Budweiser's "Lost Dog" Super Bowl ad topped USA Today's Ad Meter for the second straight year.
Use Infographics: NeoMam Studios and HubSpot break down the reasons behind why infographics are so successful with -- you guessed it -- more infographics. Again, infographics appeal to people's natural inclination towards imagery, offering a visualization of information or ideas in a simple but terrifyingly effective manner.
If you're on a budget, you can use sites like Venngage to make infographics using free templates.
3. Make Blogging the Heart of Your Content Marketing Strategy
Blogging is the cheapest and most basic form of content marketing, and even if it's been around since the Web 1.0 days, it's still here for a good reason: it works.
Although there are many types of content you can include in your content marketing strategy, blogging is still the cornerstone of it all. I've had many business owners tell me they don't really need a blog as part of their content marketing strategy, and that they're better off just posting updates on their social media channels.
4. Create Content on a Consistent Basis
"Blog early, blog often."
The beauty of blogging also lies in its ability to let you publish content frequently. However, I wouldn't recommend publishing a blog post every day. Technically, there's no harm in doing it on a daily basis, but most businesses tend to enter the territory of diminishing returns that way, especially when you compare audience engagement between high and normal blog publishing rates.
A Moz study on blogging frequency shows that while doubling publishing rates on their blog led to an increase in traffic compared to their benchmark rate of 10 weekly blog posts (1 per weekday), the marginal increase in sessions was just 2.9 percent.
Moreover, Moz's content engagement (likes and comments) dropped only by small a percentage when the normal publishing rate was reduced to 1 blog post every other day. In fact, audience engagement dropped when post frequency increased, showing that users can only take so much content before they lose interest.
Simply put, the additional resources required to churn out more content might not be worth the small gains in traffic. The pain is not worth the gain.
While consistent blogging is important for both SEO purposes and audience engagement, the better approach is to focus on quality instead of quantity, which brings me to my next point...
5. Focus on Longer Content (for Blogs)
A Buffer.com study on the optimal length of online text content shows that longer blog posts and articles often tend to show better results in terms of traffic, SEO performance, and conversions. The report shows the ideal length for blog posts is 1600 words, with 74 percent of users read blog posts under 3 minutes long, and 94 percent of users read blog posts under 6 minutes long.
Meatier content takes time, research, and knowledge to build, which is what increases its value to readers and helps establish your brand as knowledgeable and reliable. It also increases lead generation and conversion rates.
The point is: focus on creating high-quality in-depth content that doesn't just answer the what, where, and when, but also the why and how questions of your readers.
As I mentioned earlier in this guide, content is the most effective medium for connecting with your audience, whether it's on social media, your blog, or through content assets such as case studies, press releases, or white papers. Ultimately, content is what pushes an ordinary reader to go to your site and convert into a customer or lead, so it only makes sense to invest in content marketing.
If anything, these content marketing secrets emphasize the importance of planning your content marketing strategy and approach.
Besides implementing these methods, it's also important to measure, analyze, and tweak your content according to performance. Implantation is just half of the equation -- be sure to monitor your published content's performance bearing your content marketing campaign's key performance indicators.
Do you have anything to add to this list of content marketing secrets?