Research from Hubspot shows that businesses that blog get 67 percent more leads monthly than businesses that don’t blog, while data from Demand Metric show that content marketing costs 62 percent less and generates three times as many leads as traditional marketing.
If you’re a startup or an established business, the best way to achieve maximum ROI from your content marketing efforts is by blogging.
There are a lot of tips and suggestions on the best way to make a blog successful, and a search of “blogging tips” in Google will show millions of results. What many resources lack, however, is data to back up their suggestions. Below, I share seven actionable insights from several authoritative blogging studies — the insights from these studies will help you build a successful blog; it is important to consider these seven facts as you work on your blogging strategy for 2017.
The Best Blogging Frequency
Many businesses are unable to make blogging work for them due to having an inconsistent blogging schedule. While research has indeed shown that blogging can aid business growth, it is important to realize that inconsistent blogging will yield no results.
The first thing you need to work on for your blogging strategy in 2017 is your blogging frequency. How often should you publish new posts? Once a month? Once a week? Once a day? The subject of blogging frequency has been controversial, with “experts” sharing lots of conflicting data on what is working for them. Of course, many “blogging experts” go as far as toeing the line of “only publish a post when you really have something to say…” But we all know that’s not how to run a business.
What does research say? According to data from Hubspot’s blogging frequency benchmarks, the best blogging frequency involves publishing at least 16 blog posts a month. According to the study, that analyzed data from over 13,500 bloggers, businesses that publish 16 or more blog posts monthly get 3.5 times more traffic and 4.5 times more leads than businesses that publish less than four articles monthly.
In 2017, blogging whenever you want won’t cut it. That’s not how to run a business. You need to balance your resources with the right frequency that yields maximum results — available data shows that the real difference happens at a frequency of 16 or more blog posts monthly.
The Best Content Length
The content length debate is much older than the internet.
Is longer content better, or shorter? There are various schools of thoughts. Many people toe the Hemingway line and recommend short, concise writing that doesn’t say more than what is necessary. At the same time, it is also important to realize that creating content these days should be done both from a conversion and algorithmic perspective. What will be most informative and persuasive to readers? What will be search engine and social media algorithms favor? As much as I’m tempted to tell you to write “short, concise articles” the data just doesn’t point in that direction.
Almost every study conducted on the most effective content length for the web agree that content needs to be at least 1,000 words. The recommend length by most studies is 2,000 words. In fact, research by Buzzsumo — that analyzed 100 million articles — flat out concluded that “the longer the content, the more shares it gets.”
Research by serpIQ also found that search engines generally favor content above 2,000 words in length.
Ideally, your blog posts should be at least 1,000 words. If possible, make them over 2,000 words. Try to balance length and persuasion; the longer your content, the more search engines have to index (and even though we’re entering into 2017, you still must not underestimate how much of an impact search engines have on content discovery online).
The Type of Content That Gets The Most Shares
While there are hundreds of different types of content you can create, it is important to consider what kind of content will give you the best bang for your buck;. Should you start with text or multimedia? Should you go for list posts or how tos?
According to the Buzzsumo research earlier referenced, some content types consistently, overwhelmingly outperform others. For example, one of the key findings of the study was that list articles get about double the number of shares that “how to” articles get.
According to available data, the most shared content by far is the infographic. This is followed closely by the list post. Videos get the least shares of all content types.
In light of available data, the best strategy will include a combination of infographics and list posts. You don’t want to ignore other types of content, but it is equally important to know what is most likely to get the most shares and views.
The Best Number For List Posts
Once you decide that you want to be publishing list posts, what number is best? An epic mega list of “1,001 thing you should know,” a very short list of “3 things you should know”? Is there even a magic number for list posts? Apparently, there is.
The same Buzzsumo study found that 10 is the magic number for list posts; in other words, you’re a lot more likely to get more engagement if your list includes 10 items. In fact, lists with 10 items work so well that they get four times more shares than the second most popular type of list posts (lists with 23 items)!
Use of Media
The rise of Buzzfeed, Upworthy and co has brought to limelight the importance of using multimedia in content; in fact, one of the fastest ways to massively grow a new blog is by using a lot of multimedia.
According to superstar blogger Neil Patel, one of the key techniques he has used to repeatedly grow several of his blogs to over 100,000 visitors a month is infographics. For one of his blogs, he was able to generate 2,512,596 visitors and 41,142 backlinks from 3,741 unique domains from just 47 infographics. That’s 53,459 visits per infographic — which is nothing to sneeze at. The research is with him on this one; besides the Buzzsumo article revealing that infographics are the most shared form of content, it also revealed that having an image in your content could more than double shares and engagement for your blog posts.
It’s easy to publish your next article without an image, but don’t. Include a couple of images, and, if possible, spice things up by including other forms of media.
Give Life to Your Old Posts
According to a source, the average engagement rate on Twitter is 0.7 percent; in essence, only 0.7 percent of people that follow you will engage with your Tweets at any given time. The results for Facebook is also around that same range.
In an increasingly social world, where we all want to be heard, how do you achieve maximum performance for your posts? By constantly and repeatedly sharing all your blog posts — including old ones. According to Buzzsumo’s analysis of 100 million articles, it is possible to increase engagement by 686 percent by constantly re-sharing your articles.
Depending on the size of your blog, you should attempt to share every blog post at least once every few weeks; with this approach, followers who didn’t see your content at first will eventually see it, new followers will discover your old posts, and the resulting engagement (in form of likes and retweets) will further increase exposure to your articles. This might not seem like much for one article, but it can quickly create a ripple effect when done for hundreds of articles.
Document Your Content Strategy
As an active contributor to the Website Setup project (which is aimed at helping people learn to start blogging), one of the key things I keep emphasizing to clients is the importance of strategy — not just having one, but documenting it.
Ultimately, the purpose of this article isn’t to give you another list of facts so that you can say “wow!” and go on with your day. Instead, the purpose is to inform and influence you to create a blogging strategy that finally starts to yield results from your content marketing efforts in 2017.
The most important step towards realizing this change is to have a documented strategy; often that will mean the difference between failure and success. According to research from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, the difference between success and failure with content marketing is a document strategy or the lack thereof. The study found that 60 percent of companies that document their strategy get results, compared to 32 percent of companies with a verbal strategy and 7 percent of companies without a documented strategy.
If you don’t have a strategy, your failure is almost guaranteed. If you have a strategy that is not documented, you have a small chance of success. With a documented strategy, however, success is almost guaranteed.
In essence, having a strategy is not enough. Your strategy needs to be documented.
Start by preparing a strategy that outlines the type of content you will publish, your blogging frequency, how you plan to market your blog and your content calendar. Make sure this is prepared in advance before the new year, and you’ll more than double your chances of getting results from your blogging efforts.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.