Entries Tagged 'Content marketing' ↓

The Length of Content Marketing – how long should your blogs be?

Tape measure

You know you need content.

You know it must be genuine, interesting and relevant to your audience.

You know it takes time to create.

But do you know how long your blogs and articles should be?

If you do could you let me know?

There is no definitive right or wrong answer (there’s a surprise) and the decision about how long your article or post will be will depend on your subject matter and audience.

Short vs long

In the world of marketing, long copy has always out performed short. But does the same go for blogging?

If you opt for a long article you must make sure your message remains strong throughout, draws your reader in and keeps their attention and that it’s subject matter is relevant.

If you fail on any of these counts people won’t read your stuff.

But there is something else that should be added to that list and that’s the reader’s attention span.

Personally speaking, I prefer short posts and articles.

Why?

Simply because I get bored easily.

It’s rare for me to find a blog that’s over 600 words that I will actually read through from start to finish. I prefer my information in short, entertaining chunks that I can read quickly.

I guess that’s why most of my blog posts are short.

By my reckoning I can’t be the only person in the world that thinks this way, so what I write should appeal to a fairly large audience.

Long blogs attract more comments

Do they? Not sure, that’s just a guess.

Mind you, if you think about it, long articles probably do attract more comments.

If you’re writing 700+ words you can formulate arguments for or against a particular question. This kind of writing will evoke an emotional response in the reader – who will either be in your camp or behind enemy lines.

Therefore, if written well, your readers will be more inclined to comment and put their own viewpoint forward.

But if you write a short post that concentrates on a particular feature (so in my line it could be about website copywriting, email content, newsletters, SEO etc.), the reader will take that information away with them and use it and may be less inclined to comment (unless of course they disagree with you).

I guess what it comes down to is:

  • Who is your audience?
  • What do they want to know?
  • What do you want to get out of your blogging?

A good idea to make sure you cover all bases is to mix up your posts – have some long, some short, infographics, videos etc., so you provide something for everyone.

It’s not enough just to churn out the same old, same old week after week. A bit of variety will keep your audience entertained and help attract a wide spectrum of readers.

Over to you

What are your thoughts on this?

Are you a long or short fan?

Leave a comment below.

Why Content, Social and SEO Marketing Should Be One Strategy

One strategy?

Surely they’re three different disciplines, aren’t they?

If you believe that, you may be experiencing issues with all three.

Taking content marketing first, how did you get started with that? I’m guessing it was a blog.

When you started out online, everyone and their dog were telling you that you had to have a blog. So, never one to turn down advice, you set one up and started churning out articles.

Probably, after a month or so of regular posting, you found your ideas drying up. Not only that, but you realised no one was really engaging with you. Perhaps one or two comments were posted and one or two people shared the odd post, but there certainly wasn’t the flood you’d expected. Demoralised, you gave up.

Sound familiar?

The mistake you made was viewing your content marketing, social and SEO strategies as three separate entities. They’re not. They must all work together if they are to survive.

Three cornered marketing

Have you noticed that old school SEO is no longer effective? Gone are the days when SEO companies could achieve fantastic rankings by building a few links here and there. Today, SEO is content driven. It’s all about feeding Google the high quality content it craves.

In the same way, your social media strategy is nothing without great content. If you don’t have anything to share people aren’t going to follow or engage with you.

Content, social and SEO strategy

Planning your content

With high quality content being the driving force behind your marketing strategy, it’s essential you plan what you’re writing carefully.

As with your web copy, brochures and other marketing materials it’s important you understand the audience you are reaching out to and, most importantly, what problem they want solving.

Only then can you be sure your content will resonate with them and lead to the sharing, engagement and traffic generation you want.

Of course, there are millions of blog posts published every day, so yours has to stand out.

A great way to make sure yours is head and shoulders above everyone else’s is to search the keywords you want to write about and see what your competitors are saying about the subject. Then all you have to do is write something that’s better than theirs.

But I’m not just talking about churning out a flurry of 500 word articles. You must produce linkable assets; content that people will see as authoritative work, that they’ll share and talk about.

A great way to do this is to create something longer than the average post that also cites other relevant work within your niche. Not only will this enhance your readers’ experience, it will also boost its chances of being shared.

How?

Well, take a note of all the experts and external material you’ve cited and email them (or contact via social media) to tell they you’ve included them in your piece, asking them to share it with their audiences.

Once published you’ve also got to do some promotion. Share it with your social audience through all the channels you use. Plus, if you’re part of any forums or groups (such as LinkedIn groups), push it out to them too.

It’s not enough just to write something, publish it and hope for the best. Your three-pronged content marketing strategy is something that must be worked at. If you want people to read what you’re putting out make sure it’s written well, it’s relevant to your audience and that you’ve done everything you can to encourage people to share it.

Only then will you have a strategy that drives your business forward.

Author: Sally Ormond, Copywriter at Briar Copywriting Ltd.

What is Customer Engagement and How Do You Get It?

You hear it all the time: if you want to sell you have to engage with your customers; your content must engage your customers; or your blogs must be engaging. engaging content

OK, I get it. My writing must be engaging, but what exactly does that mean?

Well there are 2 types of content: that which asks the reader to take an action (sign up, buy now, click on a link); and the type that encourages interaction, comments and social sharing.

That second type of content is the engaging one because it starts a conversation.

How to write engaging content

Before you can learn how to write engaging content for your blog, you must first take some time out to understand what it is your audience wants.

After all, if you don’t give them stuff they’re interested in they’re not going to spend time reading it. And if they’re not reading it they won’t comment on it, share it, like it or anything else.

So, if you’ve set up your blog as a thinly veiled cover for lead and sales generation, you’re in trouble because your readers aren’t stupid and they won’t keep coming back to read your content.

Your writing has to give them what they want – that means ideas, great information, tips and hints, in fact anything that will start a conversation and give them something for nothing.

Types of engaging content

Although you can generate a lot of traffic by writing top tens of this and top tips for that, they don’t tend to be the posts that generate the engagement you want.

Having said that it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use them, just don’t use them exclusively. You must mix them up with other types of content.

Try writing opinion pieces, but be genuine. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Yes, you might offend some people, but others will be inspired by your honesty and respond to you with their own thoughts. If they do – bingo – a conversation has started.

Believe it or not, people do actually want to know about what you think, especially if you’re seen as an expert in your field. They’ll keep coming back for your opinions and, because you’re being open and honest, they’ll feel your blog is a safe place to air their views too.

The conversations will grow, the sharing will increase and before you know it you’ve got a shed load of engaging content.

So, if you want traffic and just traffic go for top lists and tips. If you want engaging copy that is shared, commented on and keeps bringing people back, write questioning posts and opinion pieces.

Author: Sally Ormond, copywriter at Briar Copywriting, blogger, tweeter and wine lover.

 

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos/Graeme Weatherston

5 Content Types That Don’t Overtly Sell

content that doesn't sell

According to Neilsen, less than 50% of customers trust any form of advertising.

That confirms what I’ve long believed – the best content marketing doesn’t push or overtly promote your products, services or brand.

Yes, you really can produce content that doesn’t shove selling in your customer’s face. You see, great content is all about offering advice, information and tips and here’s how you do it.

1. Facts

Before anyone will buy from you they want to be in full possession of all the facts.

That means providing detailed product information offering them everything they need to know, because if you don’t tell them, they’ll wander off to another company that does.

This information can also include ‘how to’ guides to add extra value by telling them the best way to use your product so they can see for themselves the benefits it will bring.

2. Questions

You have loads of customers and, believe it or not, they probably don’t speak to each other (because they don’t know each other) and so are likely to come up with the same questions time and time again.

That’s why it is important for all your departments (customer service, sales team etc.) to make a note of the questions to provide a comprehensive FAQ section on your website, or create ideas for blog posts and ‘how to’ guides.

This will help improve the service you offer your customers and reduce the number of calls you get.

3. Showing

Your content doesn’t always have to be written.

How about using Instagram and Pinterest to show your products in action, or videos to offer ‘how to’ guides and useful or unusual ways your products can be used?

4. Tips

I’ve already mentioned ‘how to’ guides, but why not think a bit bigger than that? Your customers will love you if you provide ideas around your products. You’re not selling them directly, merely planting a seed as to how they could be used.

You could provide recipes, checklists, and information about styling tips or even research around your area of expertise in reports.

Each of these won’t be a sales tool per se, but they are food for thought about how your product can be used.

5. Reviews

Customer reviews and case studies are fantastic below the radar marketing tools. They give your customers real life stories about how a product can be used and the benefits it offered.

There’s no hard sell, just simple facts outlining how someone benefited from what you offer.

How else can you produce content that doesn’t sell?

Well, how about simple things like linking your content back to your product page under the guise of ‘to learn more’ rather than ‘buy now’. It’s also a good idea to enable social sharing and printing of your web page and offering a regular email or newsletter to capture email addresses from potential customers to grow your own marketing list.

It really is possible to produce content that isn’t all about sales. It’s what your customers want, so isn’t it about time you gave it to them?

Author: Sally Ormond, freelance copywriter at Briar Copywriting Ltd and cyclist who is very nervous about attempting her first time trial this week.

 

 

How to Create an Effective Content Marketing Strategy

content marketing strategy

OK, before you run off for that well-earned coffee, this isn’t just ‘another one of those content strategy blogs’.

Well, yes, it’s about content marketing strategy, but it looks at where you’re going wrong. Yup, I hate to say it, but you are probably barking up the wrong tree right now.

Ask yourself something – why are you producing the content you are producing? How are you measuring its effectiveness? How do you decide what type of content to put out?

Head spinning yet?

If you don’t have a well thought out content marketing strategy, you won’t be able to get the right content in the right format out to the right audience at the right time. It’s as simple as that.

To summarise, you’re just producing content for the sake of it.

So what should your strategy look at?

Things to consider when creating your content strategy

One thing I have noticed (and I am guilty of it too) is that most of the content produced by companies is in the written form. It’s things like blogs, articles, reports, e-newsletters etc.

Granted, writing is a great way to get your information across, but it’s also time consuming to read and, let’s face it, a bit boring.

Think about your audience and what it is that they might like. Mix it up a bit with infographics, videos, animations and even music. This kind of content is very shareable (when done well) and will help widen your reach.

Talking of widening reach, how do you measure the success of your strategy?

Most companies look at web traffic as their main metric. After all, content is there to attract readers, so surely the best measurement is the amount of extra traffic it brings.

Wrong.

Traffic is great, but it doesn’t mean you will automatically sell more. If you plump for traffic volume as your prime metric all you’re doing is measuring an activity not results.

Far more effective forms of measurement are:

  • Sales lead quality and quantity
  • Direct sales
  • Product awareness

These metrics give a direct correlation to the effectiveness of your content strategy and sales.

Let’s face it all the traffic in the world is useless if it doesn’t convert into sales.

The top 3 goals for any content strategy should be:

  • Lead generation
  • Customer acquisition
  • Sales

These are the only 3 things that matter.

Right, before you get back to work think about your own strategy. Make sure you are putting out a variety of content formats and measuring its impact using the goals above.

By focusing on the things that matter (i.e. the needs of your audience and tangible results) your strategy will become incredibly powerful.

 

Author: Sally Ormond, freelance copywriter, MD at Briar Copywriting and cycling nut.

 

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