Whether you’re publishing news articles, blogs or features on your website, headlines have the power to make all the difference to your content marketing.

Research from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism this year confirmed that headlines are the biggest driver of engagement in online articles. The study, which looked at US online readers, found that 51 per cent of people claim a compelling headline is what makes them click on an article.

The quality of an article’s source accounted for just 37 per cent of clicks, so clearly headlines are a good area to be focusing on to improve engagement with your audience.

With this in mind, it’s great to see so many ideas doing the rounds about how to write better headlines.

Here’s a fantastic infographic from the team over at CoSchedule which looks at ‘How To Write A Headline That Will Get The Best Results’.

how-to-write-a-headline-that-will-get-the-best-results-infographic

To summarise, here are three quick actionable ideas to write better headlines:

  1. Don’t sit on the fence. Very positive or very negative headlines get more attention.
  2. Focus on the beginning and end of your headline. This is where the greatest impact lies.
  3. Tweak your headline using Google search suggestions.

Two of the online marketing world’s biggest operators have implemented a pretty interesting test to determine whether quality of quantity matters most when publishing content.

There are two clear schools of thought on the matter. Firstly, the assumption that publishing more content will increase the potential number of visitors as you simply have more opportunities to connect with your audience. Secondly, the quality school of thought notes that if this content is churned out with little or not thought then too many of those opportunities will be wasted when there is nothing engaging, original or well-written to keep them interested.

Moz and HubSpot both implemented tests to see what really happened when they changed their frequency of blog posts.

Moz

Starting with SEO kings Moz and their team found that dropping their publishing volume to half its normal level resulted in an average drop of 5.6 per cent in unique pageviews base on their daily average.

They did see some impact on average traffic, although the changes were not as noticeable as expected. You can see the impact in the analysis below:

55aedfa4e5eec5.90355960

Interestingly, however, when the team doubled their publishing volume, there was essentially no impact on the number of unique pageviews.

Moz concluded that their results showed content marketing might take a while to get up to speed but “once it’s spinning, its massive inertia means that it isn’t easily affected by relatively small changes”.

The site also monitored engagement and, as they expected, found that when more posts were published the engagement levels dropped per post, indicating that people only had so much time to spend and would spread that more thinly if given more content to engage with.

As for quality, Moz hypothesised that posting fewer times a week will give them more time and that they will be “better able to focus on the quality of the posts” published, while publishing more frequently will result in the quality of each post suffering.

What they found was that they largely kept quality consistent (although they acknowledged this is hard to measure) and instead used the extra time when publishing at half their normal rate to invest in other projects, leaving them more productive and positive as a team than when they were rushing to deliver more content.

HubSpot

HubSpot had a clearer editorial focus behind their mission. They had previously reviewed their editorial setup to establish their ‘optimum’ publishing frequency and wanted to use the experiment to do so again in light of the developments within their company and the market as a whole.

The team focused on their Marketing Blog in particular, which usually publishes between three and give blog posts on a week day and one post on each weekend day, resulting in between 20 and 25 posts a week.

But, the majority (92 per cent) of the company’s leads in a given month come from posts published prior to that month – an interesting side note to bear in mind for company’s consider their own content strategy. So the experiment focused on the effects of new posts.

To summarise, HubSpot found that posting blogs at a low volume but with high comprehensiveness (that is to say high quality articles that required particularly large amounts of research to create) resulted in nearly 32 per cent less traffic than their benchmark. When posted at high volume but with low comprehensiveness, there was a five per cent increase in traffic. This is visualised in the graphic below, where LVHC = low volume high comprehensiveness and HVLC = high volume low comprehensiveness.

traffic_to_new_posts_during_part_1-1

Much like Moz, the Hubspot team concluded that there is “only so much content our readers can consume”.

Both studies are well worth a closer read for anyone looking to ascertain their perfect publishing frequency and focus of their editorial strategy.

Check out the HubSpot study here.

View the Moz study here.

Image: Majunkz
Image: Majunkz

If you want your content marketing to achieve the goals and ROI your team have set out, you need to be thinking about more than just the words of your article and consider also the structure you slot them into.

Great Expectations

What you say should enlighten your audience or inform them of a something new. But the way in which you say it should not require them to make any extra effort in order to understand your message.

When people look for content for their website they are generally have an expectation of what the established verticals are.

1. Online News

2. Blogs

3. Landing Pages

4. FAQs

5. Newsletters

6. Interviews

This is just a quick list of some of the most common enquiries that Newsvend gets on a regular basis as a content agency, there are of course others. The key here is that these are the types of content that audiences expect to find online and as such they tend to be the most easily digestible.

By ensuring your content conforms to an expected format, you remove one extra barrier and help your audience to engage with you and your business. So if possible see if your content can slot into a common template. If you’re unsure about this or would like to see some examples, please get in touch for some samples.

White Space

Whatever form your content takes, white space is important. Don’t even think about hitting publish on that 1,000 word essay formatted into just three paragraphs. Break it up using pictures, bullet points and paragraphs and give it some structure!

Use Text Tools to Highlight Important Points

Use the tools you have at your disposal such as underlining, italics and bold text options. These simple formatting tools help ensure you can still engage with skim readers. For example, bold text on important sentences allow someone to skip through the article and still gather the meaning.

Clear Calls to Action

And finally, make it easy for someone to find your call to action. Don’t hide it away but equally don’t let it interfere with the message your content is delivering. Simple, clear and direct will do the trick.

For too long there has been a perception that big marketing investments are only available to the biggest businesses with endless budgets. Content marketing breaks this trend and is in fact one of the most accessible forms of marketing out there, one that is being used more and more by start-ups and SMEs across the country.

We’re taking a look at three of the most affordable ways to get started in content marketing, proving that what you need to succeed in this game is great ideas and a clever strategy and not an endless pot of gold.

1. Careful Planning

time-273857_1280

If we could offer one top tip to keep costs down for content marketing it would be plan everything! Obviously you’re going to do this with all areas of your business and marketing when possible, but there is a tendency to view content marketing from the creative angle and refrain from over-planning matters.

Yes, successful content marketing has a very strong creative element to it, but if you allow it to happen as and when the mood takes you or your team, you will reduce your chances of success and increase your costs.

2. Regular Content

cms-265127_1280

Part of keeping content marketing affordable is ensuring that what you do spend has as a strong return on investment (ROI). Without this, you risk spending more to try and reach goals you could have reached with a lower investment. So if you need to maximise your ROI, after planning, the next best thing you can do is to maintain a regular stream of content updates.

If you can only afford to deliver on one form of content marketing and you can only afford to update it twice a week, that’s fine, just make sure you keep doing it twice a week for at least three months instead of three times a week for the first month and then once a month from then on.

3. Analysis

mobile-phone-426559_1280

Analysis in this context simply means don’t spend money you don’t need to spend. Check what is and isn’t working for you on a regular basis and review your approach to refocus spending on revenue-generating verticals and stop wasting cash on other forms of content that just don’t work for your particular audience.

 

Content marketing doesn’t have to be expensive, but to do it successfully on a small budget requires everything to be thought through and accounted for.

Writing a blog is broadly acknowledged as something that businesses should be doing, but in reality it can be a waste of time if not carefully maintained and set-up.

With this in mind, we’ve broken down the 8 simple things that you need to be doing to run an effective blog as part of your content marketing campaign.

1. Subheadings

Screenshot 2015-07-01 12.04.23

It sounds simple but subheadings matter in blogs. Not only do they offer a helpful way of getting some extra points for your keywords, but they help the reader. It’s unlikely your readers are the kind of people who are willing to read an essay online, but they will be happy to jump into a well structured article if you break things up with subheadings.

2. Bullet points and paragraphs

Bullet points and paragraphs serve a similar purpose to subheadings: they help break things up for your readership. Attention spans are much shorter when people read online than if they were to sit down with a newspaper, magazine or book, so keep this in mind and cater to them by breaking up your content into easily digestible chunks with clever paragraphs and bullet points.

3. Images

Images are an important visual aid in telling your story, employ them carefully when blogging and you will boost engagement from your audience and encourage them to share your message. Get creative if possible, don’t stick to stock photos. If you have the time and ability to take a quick shot of whatever it is you’re blogging about on your smartphone then why not do it?

4. Use language that suits your audience

If you’re writing a blog that is read by people in the professional sectors, it’s probably not a good idea to use too much slang. Equally, if you’re trying to engage people with a sports fashion brand targeted at under-25s you will most likely want to avoid too much stuffy serious language.

FotorCreated

This should already be part of your broader marketing approach, but make sure you don’t forget it when it comes to blogging and content marketing: know who you’re aiming to engage and talk to them in their language.

5. Internal Linking

Why are you blogging? Sure, one reason should be to get your message out to a wider audience and connect with readers. But is another not to increase conversions and awareness of your services or products? If so, put some intelligent linking in your posts to direct readers back to conversion pages or pages with more information about whatever it may be you’re writing about.

6. External Linking

External linking is more about good practice; it’s good manners to point back to any sources that proved useful in creating your blog.

But it also provides a useful link to your audience if they would like to research what you’re discussing and, of course, it ensures your own credibility by being upfront about where you have found your information.

7. Sharing buttons

SumoMe-Social-Sharing-Buttons

If you want to spread your message online then you better make sure it’s easy for your audience to help! The majority of people read quickly online, if you’ve managed to write a blog that has connected with one of your readers, you don’t have long to get them to spread your message so make sure it’s easy for them to share your blog post with their followers of Twitter or Facebook, or to email the article to a contact.

AddThis offers a useful set-up to feature a bar of buttons connecting pretty much all the major social networks.

8. Speak from the heart

This final point is connected to the above, essentially, we’re saying nobody likes to have the wool pulled over their eyes so don’t write a blog and try and come across as something you’re not. You will be found out and it will be embarrassing for you and your brand.

Instead, be honest, be yourself! People recognise and appreciate sincerity.