Make Your Messaging More Effective Through Visual Storytelling

Posted by BSG Team on Oct 2, 2015 3:39:36 PM

Here at BSG, we love a good story. Even when words fail us, we can still tell a good story using images. 

Humans are wired to organize information in a way that makes sense, often in the form of a narrative, but we are also visual creatures. About 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual and about 65% of us are visual learners. So why not marry the two and create truly compelling content through visual storytelling?

Here are some scientific reasons why visual content is so effective:

  • 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual
  • Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text
  • 40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text
  • 93% of all human communication is nonverbal

If you're still asking why visuals are important in storytelling, check out the infographic on using images below from our friends at Widen, a digital asset management company.  Some highlights include:

  • Articles that contain images get 44% more views than articles without
  • Users clicking on photos of real people are 200% as likely to convert to a sale
  • Images make up 93% of the most engaging posts on Facebook (up from 83% in 2012)
  • Tweets with images receive 150% more retweets






Topics: Content Marketing, Effectiveness

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

5 Great Reasons to Focus on Your Blog

Posted by Michelle Lazarus on May 7, 2015 11:48:58 AM

Here at Black Stag Group, we are passionate about blogs and blogging. We love telling a good story, and reading one, too. An exceptional blog consists of topics of interest to potential customers, items that may be educational and provide insight, and tidbits that offer a glimpse into a company's culture and values. With a consistent publishing schedule, companies can build credibility and gain customers' attention. blog

Research has shown that brands that create 15 blog posts per month average 1200 new leads per month.

Not convinced yet? Here are five more reasons to focus on your blog:

1. Blogs give websites 434% more indexed pages and 97% more indexed links. 

Want to be more findable on the Web? Blogging helps majorly with SEO. (Source)

2. Blogs on company sites result in 55% more visitors.

Company blogs are an amazing way to drive traffic to websites without spending a lot of money. (Source)

3. Companies with blogs get 97% more inbound links.

Blogs can become useful resources that others want to link back to, another way websites gain traffic organically. (Source)

4. Interesting Content is a top 3 reason people follow brands on social media.

Offering blog content that is consistently thought-provoking or helpful makes a blog worth reading. People will want to know what you have to say. (Source)

5. B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those that do not blog.

If you're a B2B company that isn't blogging, you may be losing potential leads to competition that does blog. (Source)

Even if you're not blogging, it's never too late to start - by blogging, you can begin building trust with your leads, increasing web traffic and gaining social media fans today.


Topics: Best Practices for Businesses, Content Creation, Effectiveness, Blogging

One Simple Must-Have For Your B2B Vendor Website

Posted by Michelle Lazarus on May 5, 2015 1:41:52 PM

It seems like common sense - a no-brainer -  but there's one basic content asset that many B2B vendors are lacking on their websites: thorough contact information.

That's right. The 2015 Web Usability Report from Huff Industrial Marketing and KoMarketing found that a lack of thorough contact information can cause 44% of your visitors to leave. This chart from the research shows just how important contact information is, compared to other content assets:


Thorough contact information reinforces trust and credibility. And it's not only contact information - it's any information that invites your customer to learn more about your company. Dianna Huff of Huff Industrial Marketing explains:

Think of contact information as a subtle cue, similar to the way we assess people upon first meeting. When a company doesn’t share its physical address and other contact information, and forces contact through a form, you as the potential prospect have a sense of unease:

  • Who is behind this company?
  • Where is it located?
  • If I have a problem, how will I reach someone?

Basically, you want to know if the company is legitimate or if it’s the Internet equivalent of a dog. By placing phone number, email address, and a physical address on a website, a vendor helps overcome some of these concerns – and thus establishes the beginning of trust.

Contact information doesn’t have to be relegated to the Contact Us page. Depending on your company and its size, you can add a phone number and/or email link in the header of each page. If you’re a large enterprise, consider adding “Contact Us” to the main navigation versus burying it in the footer. When “Contact Us” is buried, it’s harder for people on mobile devices to find and access it.

About pages and team bios confer credibility

In The New York Times article Quenching Consumers’ Thirst for Authenticity, James H. Gilmore, author of Authenticity, stated, “A sense of authenticity reinforces trust in what is real in an increasingly staged, contrived, and mediated world.”

Authenticity also is a tangible driver of revenue. In its 2014 global study, The Age of Authenticity, Cohn & Wolf revealed that 63% of consumers would buy a brand they perceived as authentic over its competitors.

The MediaPost article Unlocking the Power of Authenticity with Millennial Consumers, discusses how authenticity and its allied trait of trustworthiness are two of the top brand attributes sought by millennials before they decide to hand over their money.

Yet, many companies still rely on standard-issue boilerplate when it comes to their About page – a practice that does little to show a company’s authenticity or build trust and credibility.

The About section of a website doesn’t have to be limited to a brief “About Us” page or team bios. You can also include a press room, charities supported, awards, events, videos, and testimonials.

In addition, if you're able, Huff suggests:

Posting a client list builds credibility and trust, especially if you have A-list clients or well-known companies in your niche. A prospective buyer comes to your website and sees that you’ve worked with Recognized Brand Name A, B, and C, and automatically assumes that you know what you’re doing.

Ms.Huff includes many more suggestions! Read the full article here, and get great examples of being transparent with your company and culture to build trust and credibility on your website.

How do you do it? We'd love to hear from you! Let us know below.


Topics: Best Practices for Businesses, Effectiveness, Content Strategy

Inbound Marketing Study: HubSpot vs. Without

Posted by Michelle Lazarus on Apr 20, 2015 9:30:00 AM

Here at BSG, we believe in the power of marketing automation.  There are various reasons to employ it:  it saves time, it saves money and most importantly, it allows businesses to attract the right prospects.  There are many platforms out there but our favorite is HubSpot.  And it seems we’re not the only ones.

Marketing firm OverGo Studio did a study on 7 of their clients who use HubSpot, vs. 7 of their clients who did not. The results will knock your socks off - it's obvious that HubSpot not only streamlines marketing processes, but also helps to guide marketers' efforts by providing more accurate data. Below are the results in infographic format, or see the entire study by clicking HERE.


What do you think of HubSpot? What do you think of marketing automation in general? Sound off in the comments below.

Topics: Inbound marketing, HubSpot, Analytics, Effectiveness

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