Erin Robbins O’Brien is the COO of GinzaMetrics and co-founder of FOUND Conference.
10 Ways to Create Better Content. The Top 3 Things That Will Drive Traffic to Your Site. Here’s one thing that makes me want to gag – the overuse of numbered list headlines. Isn’t there a better way to present content? Rant aside, there’s larger issues at play.
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My first concern that we’ve become completely unimaginative as marketers, writers and communicators. We are looking for the fastest return and best link bait – but here’s the rub, it’s losing its luster and now that everyone and their mother has written an article like this.
More importantly, listicles mean you’re also losing authority.
If everyone is an expert, then no one is an expert. Now that everyone writes on blogs and can pay to play on major publications, everyone gets to cast their bid for “the top XX ways to do XX.”
These lists can often be overlapping or conflicting. For marketers looking for real help, this complicates decision making or setting KPIs for their industry and team.
The amount of “stuff” that is being thrown around by experts is enough to put an eye out. How many of these lists are supported by well-rounded research or metrics? Just because it worked one time, at one company, or for one campaign, does not mean that it is a repeatable, successful tactic that marketers can use for a variety of markets and brands.
Let’s get visual
If you’re focused on creating lists as your main form of blog content, you may be missing out on better ways to capture your audience’s attention. Depending on your company’s focus, perhaps videos, slides or narrative content will convey your message in a more appealing way.
Need some more encouragement? Here are some statistics to help you decide:
- 40 percent of people will respond better to visual information than plain text (Zabisco)
- Publishers who use infographics grow in traffic an average of 12 percent more than those who don’t (AnsonAlex)
- 94 percent more total views on average are attracted by content containing compelling images (MDG Advertising)
- 188.2 million people in the US watched 52.4 billion online content videos in one month (comScore)
- 51.9 percent of marketing professionals worldwide cite video as a type of content with the best ROI (eMarketer, 2013)
At the risk of creating another overused trend
Every time I read the 10 steps to improving marketing content, webinars, SEO, social media, etc., I feel like I’ve entered a recovery program. A simple search for the 10 steps for marketers yielded 10 articles. Given that most of these lists don’t use the same steps – that actually totals 100 steps.
Now what, marketers? I have to ask myself, which steps do I want to use? Who am I going to listen to? This dilemma is going to be tenfold for someone new to the industry.
Lists aside, it is helpful to read anecdotal stories about what’s worked. In the B2B world, these are often case studies, customer webinars or thoughtful posts on how someone overcame a challenge. Getting your advice across in one of these formats allows the reader to decide if the advice can be applied to their business.
Is the brand in the same or adjacent market, have the same audience or have other similarities? What works at the agency level may not work for a large enterprise, and best practices for large teams in an office may not be applicable to a distributed global team.
All marketers, and challenges, are not created equal. Taking 10 steps in one direction may lead me astray from my target market if I am taking the wrong 10 steps. Show me how it worked in a similar situation, and I am more likely to benefit from the advice.
If your case study/customer story can demonstrate how XYZ company used ABC strategy to produce XX percent ROI, then you have a story to tell that has teeth. If the goal of business is revenue (and I’m pretty sure it is), then the goal of marketing must be to drive sales and increase conversions.
Demonstrating the worth of specific strategies based on their impact on the bottom line is giving marketers tools they can use for job security.
10 things to stop doing
There are times when list formats work, but for the most part, it’s a quick content marketing trend that needs to end. Stop resorting to lists and start writing meaningful copy (times 10).
It’s helpful to look at what is trending in your market. If you can jump on an issue or hot topic early on in the discussion, then you can set yourself apart as a thought leader. Waiting until my grandmother has written about it, however, is going to be less effective.
Look to your own customer and prospect base. What questions are prospects asking? What information is your target market searching for? If you’re wondering how to get the most out of your analytics software you can start here by identifying the keywords and phrases your target audience is searching for and then creating content to respond to those queries.
However you go about it, go toward the imaginative and stay away from the hackneyed.