Welcome to Part II of our four-part series on using content marketing to replace lost leads from the coronavirus pandemic. If you missed Part I, get caught up here!
Step 3: Transform your blog
A well-designed, updated, search-optimized blog is the backbone of any content marketing strategy—and can be a particularly useful tool when it comes to lead generation. Here are few strategies for employing empathetic, practical messages you should be putting out there right now, and some ways of optimizing the process.
Write as long as you need to, but trim the fat
The length of the average blog post, according to Orbit Media, is about 1,200 words. And these days, great bloggers tend to write longer, more in-depth articles that stretch over 2,000 words. It turns out there’s a correlation between length and performance: The longer the post, the better the results. So don’t be concerned about longer posts not attracting readers just because they’re long—if the work is good enough, people will care about it, whether it’s 500 words or 5,000. That said, a flabby, overwritten post will bore readers and turn them off. Cut all unnecessary language and tighten wherever you can.
Quality vs. Quantity: Why not both?
In order for a blog to be successful, it needs to be updated with new posts regularly. But it’s not just quantity—quality also counts. According to Orbit, about half of all bloggers only publish weekly, or several times a month. In other words, they invest more time writing fewer posts. One or two longer, in-depth articles a week is a great schedule to ensure that your blog is achieving great results, too—it just depends on your preference.
…But give it enough thought
On average, bloggers spend nearly four hours writing a post. And apparently if you spend 6+ hours writing, that’s even better.
Make it informative
Your readers want to know what it is that you do—and whether or not they can learn from you how to do it. Blogs with how-to guides (for beginners and experts alike), ebooks, and original research and surveys tend to be the most successful. Opinion and topical blog posts generally perform less well, but that doesn’t mean they should be avoided.
Make it personal
Part of creating a blog that’s authentic and essential is also making sure that the content is personal, and that the writing is personable. For a touch of inspiration, especially now that live events are impossible, try incorporating some personal testimonials and advice. This can also be a great way to boost morale among contributing employees, and draw new audiences to your blog.
More media is merrier
You might be wary of packing your blog post with media—but in general, more is better. In fact, bloggers reported an increase in performance with each added image. Just try to make the images tightly related to the content of your writing.
One important note: embed videos from YouTube with caution. If the user is logged in, YouTube will recommend personalized videos after the embedded video is completed. That just increases the likelihood that the reader will leave your site.
Only gate it if it’s killer (and even then, maybe don’t)
Gating content is controversial, because most site visitors won’t shell out their personal information for access to second-rate content. But there are still some kinds of content that visitors are willing to fill out a form to get. If your content is high-quality and useful enough—like a very thorough how-to guide, or a piece of original research—visitors might consider filling out a form to get it. But even so, high-quality ungated content also generates quality leads, so gating might not be a necessary step. It might just be a hassle.
Update your pages
The best-kept secret about maintaining a blog is that you can raise its profile by going back into the archives and frequently updating your pages. While it’s not as much fun as writing new posts, keeping your pieces evergreen and full of useful information means that they’ll have a greater chance at continuing to attract visitors to your site.
Step 4: Get the cameras rolling
More than images, more than infographics, consumers love video. In fact, over 50% of consumers not only prefer video to any other form of content, but they’re also more likely to remember the message of it. If you’re looking for a way to attract and keep the attention of new customers, video is a great place to start.
Marketers can often be reluctant to incorporate video into their strategy because videos can be expensive to produce. But they don’t have to be. There are plenty of ways to use video that require only a little lift, and are just as engaging as expensively produced content. Here are some tips for getting started.
Start with a goal
As with every strategy, start with a clear goal. Are you hoping to increase brand awareness? Are you trying to drive engagement? Who exactly is your target audience? Answering these questions before you start making videos will help you gauge your success.
Keep it simple
You don’t need the fanciest gear in order to make a compelling, short video. The best way to begin is to start small and then scale up as your videos become more popular. All you really need to start shooting is your smartphone, a tripod, and a mic. There are plenty of add-on iPhone mics, but we recommend using an external Zoom recorder for the best sound. Consistent branding—for example, a logo in the lower third—is all that it takes to make a video look polished.
Tell a compelling brand story
Start building out your video assets by detecting places in your current content strategy that could benefit from a video boost. Try these tactics:
- Takeaways: Add short videos to your blog posts to explain some of the takeaways from your longer, more in-depth articles.
- Case studies: Your users and/or your team members have a lot to say about your product. Why not put them in front of the camera while they do it? This kind of testimonial would live equally well on your site and your social channels.
- Introductions: Get your team on screen! Your employees are personable and charming—they’ll have much more interesting things to say about what it’s like working at your company than even the best script writer could come up with. What’s more, their insight into your company culture and mission will help you generate many other ideas for video projects.
Make assets that are exclusive to social
When it comes to social assets, video is your most important tool. Video posts get shared 1200% more on social than other kinds of media. And, with the help of animation tools and other video-making apps, it’s not difficult to make videos that are native to social channels.
One place to start building out your social video content by making short clips that correspond to each of your blog posts. This can be a thirty-second clip—an informative how-to-style video, for example, that’s made up of written slides and stock images. These kinds of videos, which live on social but also refer to the content on your site, are a great way of boosting awareness of your engaging, informative messaging without adding too much to your content creation workload.
Taking interactivity to the next level with AR and VR
If your company is in the process of reallocating funds, now is the time to invest in augmented reality technologies. AR, the interactive experience of real-world environments, has transformed ecommerce and is set to keep growing to become a $75 billion dollar industry by 2023. The reason AR has become so popular is because of its incredible impact on sales: customers convert at a 40% rate when they can see or experience a product in AR before they buy it.
AR might be a great solution for your business if you have a product to demo—or if you’re hoping to enhance your customer service chats. It’s also a good stepping stone before trying out fully simulated virtual realities. According to a report from B2B Marketing, the number of VR experiences in B2B will account for 40% of all experiences by 2022—in part because virtual experiences have a surprisingly big impact on customer engagement. VR has been linked to increased spending and increased customer satisfaction. So, while investing in AR and VR might be high, your return on investment might make it worth it.
This post is the second of a four-part series on replacing lost leads with content marketing. Check back soon for Part III!