Musings

How to Create Scannable Content

Posted by BSG Team on Jul 13, 2016 1:00:00 PM

Creating content that's easy to scanWhen it comes down to it, the majority of your readers aren’t actually reading your posts or webpages. Instead, they are scanning your content, stopping for individual words or sentences. In fact, research from the Nielsen Norman Group found that 79 percent of readers always scanned any new page they came across. Further, only 16 percent read pages word-by-word.

So, if your ultimate goal is to have more people read your writing, then you should be adjusting to your audience. Here are 6 ways to make your content easier to scan and effortless to consume:

1. Highlighting:  Make important or useful information standout. Bold, italicized, colored or hyperlinked text is more noticeable. Just don’t overdo it or it will lose its effect.

2. Subheads:  Clear, concise subheads will immediately tell scanners what they need to know. Resist the temptation to be overly cute or clever as it only slows scanners down.

3. Bullet Points:  Bullets break up text and organize information into meaningful chunks. Bullet lists help scanners quickly find the information that is most important to them.

4. Whitespace:  Big blocks of text can be intimidating for scanners.  Whitespace, much like bullet points, helps organize text and gives your copy a more manageable and scannable appearance.

5. Single-point paragraphs:  Online readers are usually looking for takeaways, especially if they are researching a service or product. Focused single-point paragraphs make takeaways easier to find and help you incorporate more whitespace.

6. Inverted Pyramid presentation:  The Inverted Pyramid puts the most important information at the beginning of a post and then the remaining information follows in order of importance, with the least important information at the bottom. Web writers who start with their conclusion and work backwards usually have an easier time engaging impatient readers who want to get straight to the point.

Each of these on-page elements give people something to hang their attention on as they move through your content. Without them, your writing could appear too overwhelming for many readers to even begin.

Topics: Content Creation, Writing

Take the Pain Out Of Blogging With Our Step-By-Step Guide

Posted by BSG Team on Jun 1, 2016 4:04:12 PM


blogging-laptop-1940x900_36253.jpgWe all want to write beautiful blog posts that people love to read as part of our marketing efforts.  But for most business owners daily, or even weekly, blogging is right up there with going to the dentist.

With this step-by-step guide to blogging, we have taken the pain out of writing.  Here is what you need to know to expertly and easily create a blog people love to read.

Step 1: Know your audience.

Before you ever put pen to paper so to speak you need to have a clear understanding of your target audience. You need to know what makes them tick. You need to know what their needs and wants are. You need to create buyer personas. When you understand your buyers and their interests you will then be able to come up with relevant blog topics.

Invest the time to create detailed buyer personas.  Our partner Hubspot has provided some great resources to help you get started:

Step 2: Start with a topic and titles.

Obviously before you can start writing you need to pick a topic for your blog post. It is a good idea to make a quick note whenever you come across an interesting story or blog topic. Before long you will have a nice collection of blog topic ideas. Do not worry if your topics are pretty general.  Use this to your advantage – play around with a variety of different working blog titles. This helps to focus your writing and creates even more blog topic ideas. A win-win.

Step 3: Write a captivating intro.

The first paragraph of a blog post should introduce what your post is about, all while captivating readers. 

No pressure here, right? Hubspot to the rescue again. They have a great post about writing captivating introductions, cleverly titled, "How to Write an Introduction [Quick Tip]".

It offers great advice for how to grab the reader's attention.  Remember, you want to attract the reader’s attention in the right way so that they will give your post more than a glance. You know you are offering them something beneficial; you just need to hold their interest long enough for them to see it.

Step 4: Organize your content.

You need to organize your content so that it can be broken down into easily digestible chunks. The best way to do this is to outline your post. This will help you to stay on track and properly focused. You will know which points to cover, and the best way to do it.

To make organizing even easier, you can download and use Hubspot’s free blog post templates. They are pre-organized for five of the most common blog post types. All you have to do is fill in the blanks.

Step 5: Now you get to write!

Now you are ready to actually write the content. Use your outline as a guide and elaborate on points as needed. Trust in your knowledge of the topic and do any additional research to gather more stats and examples to back up your points.

Also, take advantage of the many online tools available to help you with your writing. Here are a couple of our favorites:

  • Power Thesaurus: This crowdsourced tool provides users with a ton of alternative word choices from a community of writers. 
  • ZenPen: A minimalist "writing zone" designed to help you get words down without having to worry with formatting right away. 

editing.jpgStep 6: Edit/proofread your post.

You have written your blog post, hurray! But you're not done yet. Do not get in such a hurry to publish that you forget the editing process. It is a crucial part of blogging. Many small mistakes that you miss when writing are like neon signs when reading.

If editing isn’t your forte then ask a grammar-conscious co-worker to copyedit and proofread your post.

Step 7: Make it pretty.

After edits are complete then you are ready to format. An ugly post is not going to get much attention from readers. So make sure your post is visually appealing. Use consistently styled headers and sub-headers to break up large blocks of text. Maintaining consistency throughout your blog posts and your website helps your brand look more professional.

Also, content with relevant images receives 94% more views than content without relevant images. So make sure you choose at least one visually appealing and relevant image for your post. Play around with different types of images to see what works best for your post and which are consistent with your brand.

Step 8: Always have a call-to-action (CTA).

At the end of every blog post, you should have a CTA to let the reader know what you want them to do next. It can be as simple as asking them to subscribe to your blog or to download an eBook.

Use your CTAs to offer more content that is similar to the subject of the post the reader just finished, that way the CTA is mutually beneficial to you as the marketer as well as your audience.

A good blog post delivers its message by combining words with visual interest in a well-structured format that’s easy to read. Follow the basics in this article to start writing posts that attract and hold your readers’ attention.

Topics: Content Marketing, Content Creation, Blogging

4 Strategies for Standing Out in the Content Marketing Crowd

Posted by BSG Team on Mar 2, 2016 12:30:00 PM

Content-1.jpgAccording to Nielsen, at least 27,000,000 pieces of content are shared each day. With so much material floating around, it can be hard to stand out and be found.  

Here are 4 strategic ways to get your content noticed:

1.  Create more content.

One obvious solution is to do more content marketing, and here’s why:

  • The more content you produce ...

  • The more Google and other search engines index …

  • The more likely you are to rank for certain keywords …

Google’s fresh factor algorithm feature means that newer content performs better in the search engines, leading to higher rates of organic traffic, which brings in new leads.

When creating more content make sure that it is is solid, authoritative, and provides value to users. When you continually put out great content, it keeps users engaged and they keep coming back for more. However, if you allow your quality to slip then you’ll end up hurting your business in the long run.

2. Create better content.

How is the quality of the content you are producing? We’ve already talked about making sure the content you create is authoritative, and provides value.

Here are several more things that you can do to create even better content and gain an edge over the competition. 

  •  Create visual content. Using compelling images is a powerful way to boost the engagement and potency of your content. Infographics are especially appealing.

  • Create live marketing.  Producing live content has become very important.  Here are two low cost methods that effective and easy to use: Periscope andFacebook Live.

  • Create unique data. Come up with your own data, statistics, studies, and results. It is a powerful way to attract more interest.

  • Create more social communities. Consumers crave exclusive places where they can find exclusive content. Make it powerful, unique, and targeted.

3.  Stay focused.

Make sure you have a clear objective with your content marketing. Your company needs to clearly define its goals. Most businesses want:

  • More leads

  • More revenue

  • More customers

  • More engagement

While these general goals are fine, it is a good idea to create specific benchmarks to gauge your progress.

4.  Don’t stop.

Content marketing is not a quick fix. To achieve success you must keep at it in a deliberate and strategic way. There will be bumps along the way. You will have successes and failures but don’t quit. Success takes time.

Content marketing is ever evolving and in order to succeed we need to evolve with it. Contact us if you need help.  We can create the content your business needs.

Topics: Content Marketing, Content Creation, Inbound marketing, Content Strategy

Using Video to Grow Your Law Firm

Posted by BSG Team on Jan 27, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Using_Video_to_Grow.pngIn order for your law firm to be found online, you need to put information there that your prospective clients will find. That information has to be educational, informative, relevant, and useful, and it needs to be distinctive and representative about your firm’s brand.

Video marketing gives you exposure; an opportunity to create content that connects you to your ideal prospective clients. The more they know, like, and trust you the more likely they are to try, buy, and refer more of your services over time.

Here are five ways to use video to increase your Web presence and grow your law firm so that you can attract more clients, generate more referrals, and grow your law firm.

1.  Answer General Questions

You can use video to grow your law firm by answering general legal questions and by providing content that is relevant, timely, and utilizes the attorney as an expert in their practice area.

YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world with more than 1 billion users and 300 hours of video uploaded every minute. One of the quickest and easiest ways to increase you online presence is to make videos that answer general questions, upload them to YouTube, and use an annotation to link back directly to your website.

Periscope is another great way to attract new clients. It is a live video-streaming app that reached one million users in its first 10 days. Lawyers can use this live-streaming app to answer general questions and communicate live with the viewers in real-time. The replays are available for 24 hours after the live event.

You can also answer common questions from AskALawyer.com. All of the questions from this site come from real people and many of the questions could be like those from your prospective clients. Be sure to choose general topics. For example, “5 Things You Need to Know Before Hiring a Lawyer”.

2.  Add a Welcome Video to Your WebsiteWelcome_Video_for_Law_Firm.jpg

Videos are a great way to put a human face to your law firm. It is a great opportunity to connect with visitors and introduce members of your law firm. You may also want to include a brief 30-second review from a client as well. Endorsements from “real people” now carry more weight than traditional marketing messages.

Think of videos as a form of communication. When used strategically they will build trust, and make your firm an authority online.

3.  Use Webinars to Attract Clients

Incorporating webinars into your legal marketing activities creates unique, relevant content that can quickly gain popularity in the online community. Educational webinars can help your firm build authority online and are a great way to use video to market your business.

Firms should upload a copy of the webinar to YouTube, create a landing page, and offer the webinar as a replay.  Also, export the presentation into a PDF and upload it to SlideShare and include the YouTube video.

4.  Create an Educational Video Library on Your Website

Pick topics that help build trust, authority, and expert status in your practice area. You can search online for topics and keywords. Keep video topics from one to three minutes.

It is always a good idea to batch your tasks, so before recording videos, create a strategy so that you can record multiple videos during one session. If possible, record 10-20 videos and have your editor add an intro, title, and outro. Then your marketing team can distribute one video per week on your website.

5.  Add Videos to Your Social Media

Unlike other content, videos are not viewed as duplicate content; so one video can be distributed dozens of ways online. One 90-second video can be uploaded to your website, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, and SlideShare. The video links can also be shared on Twitter and you can use Periscope to discuss content from the video. That is a lot of mileage out of one video.

You don’t have to limit video marketing to these five strategies. You should also announce your new videos in emails and newsletters providing links to your educational video library and YouTube channel. As with all marketing, be sure to measure your results; track engagement and the overall result for each campaign.

Before you build your video marketing strategy, we do recommend that you consult your state bar rules. Make sure that your marketing agency understands legal marketing. Lawyers cannot do everything online that traditional marketers recommend.

You can read more about the various ways to use video to grow your law firm here. Want to learn more about how to attract more clients, generate more referrals, and grow your law firm by building authority online? We can help. Contact us today.

Topics: SEO and Content Strategy, Content Creation, Best Practices for Law Firms, Video Marketing

Creating the Ultimate Content Calendar

Posted by BSG Team on Jan 20, 2016 3:00:27 PM

Editorial_Content_Calendar.pngNo matter how good we are at our jobs we all want a better, faster way to get things done. Luckily in this rapidly changing world innovations are constantly emerging to help us do what we want in less time, with less wasted effort, and with greater success. Reinvention is the commodity we trade in these days to keep pushing our digital world forward.

The editorial calendar is the perfect example of this reinvention having transformed itself over the years, from a simple spreadsheet for tracking what we publish to an essential component for managing the entire life cycle of a content marketing campaign.

The following editorial calendar tips, tools, templates, and takeaways will help your business whether you need to build a new system from scratch or just want a few tricks to make your calendars more efficient.

1.  The Basics

The first step is to gather key content marketing strategy information. Answer the following questions to determine what you need to track in your calendar, as well as help you stay focused on your marketing goals.

  • Who are you creating content for? Knowing your buyer personas helps you to keep your target audience in focus as you create your calendar.
  • Why you are creating content? Think about your goals for the content you create. Your content marketing mission and goals will impact what you publish, where you publish, and how often.
  • What resources do you have at your disposal? Do you have a dedicated in-house team of writers and videographers or do you outsource most of your content creation? The workflow you track in your calendar will likely depend on who is writing and where their expertise lies.
  • How can you stand out? Are you filling a need with the content you create? What gaps exist in your current content creation efforts – or the efforts of your competitors? Aiming to play a lead role in meeting your audiences’ needs will help you fill your editorial calendar with enriching content that helps you meet your business goals.

2.  Setting Up Your Calendar

There are lots of dedicated tools on the market that offer a wide range of calendaring capabilities.

When first starting out it’s fine to use a simple Excel spreadsheet or a shareable Google Sheet to track your content’s progress through your editorial process. As you grow you may need to expand content collaboration solutions with integrated tools that can help marketing teams manage editorial processes.

We recommend that your editorial calendar include the following:

  • The date the piece of content will be published
  • The topic or headline of the content piece
  • The author of the content
  • The owner of the content – i.e., who is in charge of making sure the content makes it from ideation to publication and promotion
  • The current status of the content (updated as it moves through your publishing cycle)

Depending on your company’s specific goals you may also want to track these elements to help you stay organized and on track over the long term:

  • The channels where your content will be published: This can include only your owned channels (such as your blog, Facebook Page, website, YouTube page, email newsletters, etc.), or you can expand your tracking to include paid and earned channels, as well.
  • Content formats: Is it a blog post? A video? A podcast? An infographic? An original image? Consider repurposing great content into other formats to ensure you get the most mileage out of it.
  • Visuals: Don’t overlook the appeal that visuals can add to your content, both in terms of social sharing potential and overall brand recognition. Tracking the visual elements you include in your content efforts will establish a signature look and cohesive brand identity.
  • Topic categories: This helps make your calendars more searchable when you are looking to see which target topics you already created a lot of content about – or which you haven’t covered often enough.
  • Keywords and other meta-data: Track meta-descriptions and SEO titles (if they differ from your headlines), this will keep your SEO efforts aligned with your content creation.
  • URLs: This allows you link to older pieces of content in the new content you create.
  • Calls to action: Every piece of content you create should align with your company’s marketing goals.
3.  Keeping Your Calendar Filled and Focused

One of the most challenging parts of building your editorial calendar is making sure you have enough relevant ideas to fill the schedule.

You should use your editorial calendar to keep a running list of topic ideas. It makes it an easy reference tool when you need some inspiration or direction.

We recommend that you track:

  • The topic idea
  • The owner of the idea
  • The target keywords/categories to which the content would map
  • Who might be available/qualified to write the piece
  • A time frame for when you will publish it.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to using editorial calendars to organize your content marketing and to keep your marketing efforts moving in the right direction.

Topics: Content Creation, Content Strategy, Blogging, Writing

The Psychology of Colors, Fonts and Shapes in Design

Posted by BSG Team on Dec 23, 2015 1:21:26 PM

It's no secret that emotionally resonant creative assets are crucial to effective marketing, branding and advertising.  They help differentiate companies from their competitors and help to create relationships between brands and consumers.

One of the best ways to generate emotion is through the use of colors, fonts and shapes. Your choices in colors, shapes and fonts make all the difference in whether you inspire trust, authority, experience or any other feeling.

Check out this great infographic from Colourfast that details just how influential color, font and shape are. It's a fascinating peek at the science behind how we interpret what we see.

Show Me the Full Infographic

Psychology_of_Color_Font_Shape.png

Topics: Creative Marketing, Content Creation

6 Journalism School Lessons That Will Help You Create Better Content

Posted by Liza Rodriguez on Jul 9, 2015 9:58:00 AM

6a00d8341bf67c53ef0168e7bd2560970c-800wiI’ve recently come across several articles that discuss the reasons why one should think like a journalist when creating content. They stress finding credible sources, focusing on accuracy and being objective, all good ways to make your content stronger and help build trust with  readers.

I’m completely onboard with the advice, especially since I have a journalism background.  But I’d like to take it one step further and suggest that it isn’t enough to think like a journalist.  You should write like one too.

Here are six writing tips I learned in Journalism School that will help you create better and more readable content:

Include a Nut Graph. Every good story has a nut graph. Think of it like a thesis in a research paper.  It tells readers exactly what the story is about  -- it’s the story in a nutshell.  It also serves several other important purposes such as transitioning from the lead and explaining its connection to the rest of the story.

Use a News Peg. A news peg refers to the timeliness of a story. It’s a topical hook that allows you to capitalize on the themes, ideas and events that have already captured your audience’s interest. 

Here’s an example:  The Washington Post reported today that Latinos now outnumber Whites in the state of California. This is a great peg for an article that offers advice on how to market to Latino Millennials.

Kill Your Darlings. William Faulkner said “In writing, you must kill your darlings.”  Stephen King piggybacked on the idea with “kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”

So, what does it mean? It means that sometimes you have to cut the parts of your piece that you love most.  Each choice you make as a writer should further or support your main point. If your darlings (those clever little turns of phrase, funny anecdotes, etc.) aren’t serving those purposes, give them the axe.

Kings-promo-7Write with Bricks and Balloons. All good stories include both hard facts (bricks) and entertaining details (balloons).  The bricks keep your piece grounded  -- they are the data, stats and findings that support and prove what you are saying.  The balloons are those extra details that give color to a story.  In short, balloons are the elements that make for great storytelling.  Check out the balloons in this story written and reported by John R. Roby from the Press & Sun Bulletin  in Binghamton, NY:

“Two next-door-neighbor-dads, having just returned from watching their kids march in the local parade, agreed to spend the afternoon sharing a pot of homemade Maryland crab soup (red, of course) and iced-cold National Bohemian beer.”

Numbers are Numbing. Using data and stats from reputable sources help with the credibility of any piece, but that doesn’t mean your copy should read like an Excel worksheet. Make numbers easily digestible for readers when possible.  For example, a recent story in the Daily Mail describes the world’s largest yacht as 656-ft long or the length of two football fields.  It’s much easier for readers to understand just how big the yacht is when they are given a comparison that makes sense to them.

PADCABANNOGLACGP_jPick up a copy of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style.  On my first day of Journalism School, I was handed a packet of materials. Among them:  an actual facebook and a copy of The Elements of Style.

You can decide for yourself whether the book is deserving of its reputation, but despite your final decision, there is no denying that Strunk and White offer some good advice, especially if you want to write like a journalist. Some of their most useful tips:

  • Avoid fancy words. Do not be tempted by a twenty-dollar word when there is a ten-center handy, ready and able.
  • Write in a way that comes naturally. Write in a way that comes easily and naturally to you, using words and phrases that come readily to hand.
  • Be clear. Clarity is not the prize in writing, nor is it always the principal mark of a good style… But since writing is communication, clarity can only be a virtue.

By employing some of these tips, you will craft content that resonates and is remembered. And isn't that the whole point?

Topics: Content Marketing, Content Creation, Blogging, Writing

5 Crucial Steps for a Successful Email Marketing Campaign

Posted by Josh Bernstein, BSG Contributor on Jun 5, 2015 10:49:32 AM

Unknown-1-1It should surprise no one that email marketing has surpassed direct mail in terms of sheer volume. The reasons are obvious: email is cheaper, more measurable and better targeted than direct mail. Email marketing is an effective way to grow your contact database and foster your existing contacts for increased profits. Here are some helpful tips for a better understanding of an impactful and successful email campaign.

Know your audience and speak directly to them.

Lazily copying a campaign model from someone else will get you nowhere. Be aware of who your potential clients are and provide them with something they can use. Use any and all information you have gathered about your customers to personalize for them targeted, relevant messages. Each one of your target audiences should have a developed offer customized for them. Take the necessary time to promote a specific product or service to generate repeat business from existing customers, as well as finding ways to drive your product and message home to a new set of customers.

Write a great subject line and grab the reader’s attention quickly.

A solid email marketing campaign grabs the attention of the reader immediately, most often with a killer subject line. Besides, the subject line is the very first thing that your clients will see when they are poring over the emails in their inbox. The subject line should be simple and straight to the point. It should tell the reader what to expect inside. Personalizing the subject line to each recipient and including the name of your company is a tested method that encourages high rates of emails being opened, as opposed to being “spammed.”

templatesDirect customers to a purposeful landing page.

You’ve already succeeded if your customers have opened your email and read it. Now is not the time to have their interest fade! Instead of sending them to your homepage or a basic product listing page, you should be sending them to a purpose-built landing page, specifically designed to convert click-throughs into leads and ultimately, into sales. An email landing page should:

  • Only include content that is relevant to your email campaign
  • Mirror the headline on the landing page to your email campaign so customers can quickly evaluate the relevance of the page
  • Display the most important information where it is likely to be read (at the top and to the left) 
  • Ensure that the copy can be easily scanned
  • Make sure your call to action is clear and distinguished so that your audience knows what the next step(s) should be
  • Make your call to action clickable 

images-3-1Your message needs to be succinct and to the point.

Let’s face it… this is a challenge for everyone. Easy writing is the hardest type of writing. Investing in a great copywriter will undoubtedly strengthen your campaign. Hiring a strong writer—someone who is entrenched in the field and who has specific experience crafting effective copy—will ease the burden of having to write all the copy yourself.

Test your campaign before you click send.

Your message needs to be vetted, edited and tested many times before it is actually sent. Send test emails to yourself to get a sense of what the email will look like with the more popular email readers (Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, etc.). It will also help you to ensure that images aren’t broken and that the details of the email won’t lead any customers to mistake it for spam. The only way to find optimal combinations of copy, design, etc. is to test and keep track of different combinations. You must edit and re-edit until your specific message is 100% crystal clear. Keep track of these key elements when considering what to edit and refine:

  • Subject Line(s)
  • Style, tone and context of the copy
  • Font sizes, colors and formatting
  • Call(s) to action 

If you don’t have the time to construct an email campaign or if you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where your business stands, take advantage of these helpful tips and begin developing an effective email marketing campaign that will nurture leads and transform them into successful sales. And don’t forget that your email campaign can also be used to generate additional income from your existing customer base. It’s a win-win situation, so stop procrastinating and get started!

 

Topics: Best Practices for Businesses, Content Marketing, Creative Marketing, Content Creation

Stop Writing Boring Headlines!

Posted by Josh Bernstein, BSG Contributor on May 27, 2015 10:54:58 AM

Unknown-8On average, 80% of people will only read the headline of an article or post.  Headlines either pull people in or they push them away. While this is a bothersome reality, copywriters must find ways to harness their skills and write the most effective and attention-grabbing headlines they can muster. Otherwise, four out of five people will never make it to your very first sentence. Here are some ways to strengthen your headlines and grab hold of the limited attention of your readers.

The Effectiveness of Numbers and Lists

Numbers help a headline to stand out. The human eye is naturally drawn to a number’s close proximity to words. A numbered list can ease the reader into a comfort zone where they have a much clearer idea of what to expect from the text they are about to read. Also, certain buzzwords can be used to strengthen the chances of a reader making it through to the end. Strong adjectives catch the attention of readers. These are some good examples:

  • Fun
  • Free
  • Essential
  • Strange
  • Incredible
  • Shocking

Also, be sure to include some rationale, further heightening the chances of piquing a reader’s interest. Some examples include:

  • Reasons
  • Ways
  • Tricks
  • Secrets
  • Ideas
  • Facts

These are good examples of word-combinations that can help prepare the reader for the material and at the same time, provide an easy reading experience.  The reader knows exactly what he or she is going to get.

Blog_Headline_Writing_Tips1Short and Sweet

The old adage “less is more” has never been more true. Most people today scan text, instead of reading it. The perfect length for a headline is six words. The reason for this is that the majority of people scan headlines, only reading the first and last two or three words. The primary function of a headline is to get the first line read. Overwhelming a reader with a long, clunky headline will derail the attention span of a reader and leave your work unread. Try and keep your headline under 65-70 characters. In this age of Twitter and text-speak, the longer the headline, the less likely the reader will be to continue reading.

The Impact of Negative Wording

Negatives, by nature, draw upon our insecurities. As strange as it may seem, phrasing a headline negatively can have huge advantages. Data has shown that headlines with phrases such as “no,” “without” and “stop” have led to more shares than headlines without negative buzzwords. An example of this would be “STOP! Here’s 10 ways you can save money!” You’re grabbing the reader’s attention and at the same time, offering them a list of ways to benefit themselves. It’s easy and effective.     

Use the Five W’s

We all remember these five words from grade school, but let’s refresh our memory, as these words can be very helpful in catching a reader’s attention. They are Who, What, Where, When and Why. Take for example “5 Reasons Why You’re Not Making Tons of Money” or “Where to Go When Visiting New York City.”

Sense of Urgency

Much like the effectiveness of placing a negative-sounding word in your headline, adding a sense of urgency can help to grab a reader’s attention. Readers are apt to consider themselves and what’s at stake for them or their business if presented with an urgent headline. An example of this would be “Are You Losing Sales by Ignoring Your Customer’s Needs?” or “What You Must Understand about Health Insurance.” People tend to read that which appears scary or concerning to them, so don’t be afraid to add a little bit of desperation and seriousness to your headlines.

Follow a Formula

While there are many ways to write a great headline, here’s a formula that includes all the above points.

Number + Adjective + Keyword + Promise.

An example of this would be “12 Ridiculously Easy Tricks for Acing an Interview.”

Make Sure the Headline Is Useful

8844478218270This seems obvious, but many copywriters fail to understand this basic tip. If your headline doesn’t come across as helpful or of use to the reader, then you can forget about them reading the actual article. Know your readership and understand what they need and expect from you. Try and convey the big, long-term benefits of the product or service in the headline. Make sure the reader understands that by reading your article, they stand to gain something. If there’s no prize at the end, then what’s the point of taking the trip?

Headlines fail for a variety of reasons. They don’t coincide with what the article entails or they’re not specific enough. Sometimes they’re too boring or wordy. And many times, the subject matter just isn’t interesting enough to warrant further reading. By following the tips above, your headlines will start to carry that added level of oomph that is needed to grab the reader by the collar and demand their full, undivided attention.

Topics: Content Creation, Effectiveness, Blogging

12 Steps to Writing Your Next Piece of Content

Posted by Michelle Lazarus on May 18, 2015 9:30:00 AM

Many folks who consistently write content for their businesses have their own processes for doing so. But content guru Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs and bestselling author of Everybody Writes has come up with these practical 12-steps for making the writing process more efficient.

As Ms. Handley is one of the best-known content mavens around, here is her reliable advice: 

 

handley

What is your trusted process?  We'd love to hear your thoughts!

 

Topics: Content Creation

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