Whoever you are, whether your writing experience is in conventional media or blog content (or you’re a business owner trying to put out a blog because you see the value in it), you have to realize that writing a marketing blog for your business is a different feat.
At its core, the principles aren’t all that different. If the articles are exciting, original, interesting, or useful, then people are going to read them; however, what works in a marketing blog isn’t quite the same as traditional written work.
There’s definitely a different slant on what captures the attention of an Internet audience. Take these five examples of article formats, and run with them because they will give you an immediate advantage–the ability to inspire clicks.
1. Numbered Lists
Numbered lists are still some of the most clickable blog post types that you can use. Yes, the Internet is flooded with numbered-list headlines, but there’s a reason for that–they grab our attention.
There’s something about seeing that, “10 ways to… whatever” title that makes us want to read it, possibly due to some innate need we have to create lists and give ourselves as many options as we can for everything under the sun. And if everything on the list is a real option we can use, then there actually is good reason for those posts being so popular.
Just try not to overuse them to the point where the headlines start to feel really redundant. On that same point, if you are in fact turning every post you publish into a numbered list, be sure that you aren’t adding random points that are arbitrary and hold no weight, just to add another number to the list.
That’s a quick way to lose readers because they’re not dumb, and they know when you’re just trying to add more to your list. The key is that everything on those lists still has to hold value and be interesting to retain value for your readers. The last thing you should be mindful of with these posts is that they perform better when you provide a lot of options.
Basically, add as many points as you can, within reason, so that your post will stand out if it is competing in a Google search with another list-style post for the same topic. A post with the headline, “12 things to remember about (x)” is going to beat your post titled, “3 Things to Remember About (x)”.
2. Step-by-Step, How-To Articles
Much the same as a standard, numbered-list post, this lesser-used type is also very effective and maybe even more so because it tends to have more actionable content. You’re actually giving people the exact steps they need to do something, which is what they’re usually looking for in the first place when they do a search for information on something.
This also inspires a great way to repurpose content that you’ve already done by taking previous articles that have general information or instructions for certain projects, and then developing the precise steps someone would need to do that.
Again, as with the numbered lists, you should avoid adding unnecessary or ill-conceived steps just to fill your article, which won’t be helpful to the reader, anyway. It’s easy to fall into this so that you can finish writing the content faster, but you will end up earn for your blog a reputation of being useless and misleading.
The much better practice is to create posts that are step-by-step blueprints that people can use to really do what they are trying to do.
3. Comparison & Versus Articles
In the olden times before the Internet existed, people used to subscribe to a real-life print magazine called Consumer Reports. If you were about to make a big purchase, or even a small one, Consumer Reports was pretty much the end-all, be-all source that you would consult before making a decision because they conscientiously and comprehensively reviewed countless products to give people all the information they needed to decide whether or not something was good enough to buy.
Nowadays, people will generally buy whatever is advertised the loudest into their faces, but smart people still do their research, and do you know where they are finding that research? That’s right. The Internet. You can provide tremendous value to consumers, who are your potential customers, by doing exactly what that magazine did back in the day.
With so many options for everything now, people get a lot of value out of these kinds of posts. The first thing you want to do is find products and services that your audience is interested in or needs, then build “vs.” articles that put one brand up against another, or one version of a product against another version of it.
You can also use this format to compare your own business with your competitors, obviously showing that your product is clearly better than that of your competitor. Don’t write it in the first person, try not to make it sound too much like a sales pitch, and let the pros and cons speak for themselves.
4. Full Review Posts
This format is going to be similar to the aforementioned comparison articles, but the main difference is that these will focus on only one product or service, rather than putting one up against another.
Like the Consumer Reports magazine articles, you will want to break down everything about the featured product and remain as objective as you possibly can. Remember that the point of this article type is not to pitch your own product or service, but to give quality information that your target audience can use, whether you sell it or not.
You can even write review posts for a specific company or service, as long as it’s valuable to your subscribers and larger audience.
5. White Papers & Extended-Length Posts
When you want to give your audience a little extra, beyond what you normally post in your blog, you can do special posts that are a lot longer and provide a lot more information. You can come up with any number of ways to create extended-length posts, but one of the best ways to do it is to write a white paper.
For those not familiar with this, a white paper is basically a very comprehensive article that is similar to an academic or professional paper that has tons of relevant information, thoughtfully composed and heavily researched with plenty of credible sources. It’s more like a thesis than a blog post.
Obviously, these are quite a bit more time-consuming; so, you probably want to post this kind of content with less frequency, maybe on special occasions. A great way to utilize these is to offer them as bonus content exclusively for your subscribers as a kind of loyalty content program.
Everything Should Be Actionable Content
You may have noticed a theme here, and that is that everything you publish should be actionable content. It is the way you stand out from other blogs.
“Actionable” is a relatively new term because it’s a distinction we have to make now, which we didn’t have to make in the past because any published work was automatically actionable. If you’re not already familiar with this term, then you need to get familiar with it because it’s pretty much the first priority of content writing.
So, what does it mean? Actionable content is content that has real value for the reader. They can take the information you provide and execute it to complete something in the real world. When people type in a few terms or a question into Google search, they are looking for articles that tell them exactly how to do something or explain something they don’t understand.
When you give searchers exactly that, and the information is reliable and accurate, you win a reputation of being highly useful, an authority on the subject. The bottom line is this: Don’t just get people to click on your post; give them the information that they actually need.
What’s Next? Check out all of the articles in our series, Building Your Blog 101:
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