Instead of approaching blogging by trial and error, approach it empirically. Here's how to write for your blog by considering science.
Businesses these days have many avenues through which they can reach consumers with content: social media, videos, apps, in-person and online events and much more.
One of them—blogging—has become a very powerful marketing tool, ranking as one of the top five most effective content marketing tactics, according to the Content Marketing Institute’s reports on B2C and B2B Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends in 2015.
Writing in-depth articles and blog posts is now almost a necessity for businesses, as it not only helps drive traffic to websites but communicates the business’s expertise within the industry. However, not all businesses have mastered the art of blogging.
With so many variables (topic, length, writing style, platform, format) it can be hard to pinpoint the type of blog post a business should write as well as how to write it. Instead of approaching blog posting for businesses by trial and error, approach it empirically.
Related Article: Why Every Business Should be Blogging
Write the Content
Blogging is never one-size-fits-all activity; different consumers have different behaviors, and your blog posts should reflect that. There are tons of blog post topic and title generators (like those on HubSpot and Portent)—and they can be helpful—but merely selecting a topic that sounds good won’t make for an effective post if you’re just writing for any and all consumers that happens upon it.
There are a couple ways to identify an audience: two of which are by persona or by generation.
- Buyer Persona: Some businesses develop in-house buyer personas that they would like to target. This practice has been in place for many years, though care should be taken: a narrow-minded focus will scare off other potential readers that don’t fall within that target.
- Generation: Baby boomers consume content differently than generation X and millennials, though baby boomers and millennials share some interests: community values and youthfulness, while gen Xers value individuality. If you’re targeting generations, do some research to make sure you understand what they find valuable.
Once you have your audience, tailor the content to evoke certain emotions. Research has shown that content that evokes “high-arousal” emotions (anger, anxiety, awe) are received better—and shared more often—than content that evokes “low-arousal” emotions, like sadness.
It is important to note that not only positive emotions are received well; negative emotions, provided they are strong, are shared just as often. Humor, of course, is almost always well-received, according to The New York Times Insights.
Related Article: 5 Tips For an Endless Supply of Blog Topics
Format It for Fluency
Reading blog posts—in fact, reading anything on the Internet—is vastly different than reading printed material. Though lengthy, comprehensive and well-researched articles are valuable, blog posts written to satisfy the reading habits of your target audience can result in more views. Blog posts that had the highest usability, satisfaction and comprehension had the following features:
- Concise: Cut the fluff. If you can say what you need to say in 500 words instead of 800, you’ve already hit your word count. Nielsen Norman Group research showed that concision improved usability by 58 percent, but don’t get carried away here—long articles do work, provided they have substance. Quick Sprout postulated that longer does better in the SERPs, and, at first glance, that is true. However, long content that has substance is obviously better than long content with fluff.
- Scannable: Not all Internet users read every word. Bullet points, lists, bolded areas and short paragraphs do much better than the “wall of text” format, improving usability by 47 percent.
- Scrollable: Although pagination had no discernible effect on reading comprehension, some participants noted that paginated text was “too broken up.” It also took readers longer to search through the text, which could cause frustrating.
- Adequate White Space: Readers preferred margins (defined in a Software Usability Research Lab study as the “white space surrounding the text passage on the left, right, top, and bottom”) and optimal leading (5 mm between lines in the study) rather than no margins and sub-optimal leading (4 mm).
Post at the Right Time...
Take advantage of the “rush hour” for blog posting. TrackMaven’s Content Marketing Report shows that although most businesses post to their blogs in the middle of the workweek (namely Tuesday and Wednesday), the articles that received the most shares were those posted over the weekend. To get the best chance of visibility, post a blog:
- On Saturday: The TrackMaven research report showed that only 6.3 percent of the 1.2 million analyzed posts were published on Saturday, but those raked in 18 percent of total social shares.
- Between 9 p.m.-12 a.m.: Engagement increased at this time, meaning that there are more eyes on your blog posts. This is, of course, outside of working hours, but the magic of blog posting platforms means that you can schedule posts whenever you’d like.
- More than 10 times a month: This seems like a lot, but HubSpot data showed that companies that published over 16 blog posts a month got 3.5 times more traffic than companies who posted only up to four a month. Investing in a comprehensive editorial strategy early will help push out quality blog posts without lagging behind and falling prey fluff.
Related Article: Mistakes Bloggers Don't Want to Make
…and in the Right Place
Your article’s home is on your business blog, but that doesn’t mean it can’t rent space elsewhere. Facilitate social media sharing by posting a link to your blog post on all platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and even Pinterest if applicable.
Image via Content Marketing Institute
Beyond social media, posting to your business’s newsletter is another great way to gain exposure. The Content Marketing Institute’s report showed that marketers rated e-newsletters as the most effective platform for content marketing. Include a snippet of your post in your newsletter, linking back to your business blog. Those who receive your newsletter are more likely to be interested in reading it.
Use Your Intuition
Although the benefits of using research to craft blog posts to draw in readers are manifold, it cannot all be down to an exact science. Marketers are trained in being able to identify what users want to read and how they want to receive that information, so use your best judgment—and a little bit of data, too.