Improve your click-through rates with these headline writing tips

Famed advertising executive David Ogilvy, widely hailed as “The Father of Advertising,” said, “On the average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy.” Knowing the ultimate importance of a headline, Ogilvy went so far as to say, “unless your headline sells your product, you have wasted 90 percent of your money.”
Why is a headline important?
A 2014 study by Media Insight Project, an initiative of the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the American Press Institute, found that roughly six in 10 people acknowledged that they have done nothing more than read news headlines in the past week. Thus, 60 percent of your audience will only look at your headline and nothing more.
As the first line of your content, a headline creates an initial impression that either draws your visitor in or pushes him or her away. That can happen incredibly quickly. KISSmetrics reports that you have less than eight seconds to make a compelling headline. After eight seconds, the majority of visitors leave.
While there are no words are that are more important in your content marketing than your headlines, the Content Marketing Institute notes, good headline writing is a deceptively complex process. “In fact,” they say, “crafting a clear, powerful, and compelling title may just be the most difficult part of content creation.”
Where to start?
As with everything else in content marketing, writing headlines starts with one important factor: your audience. You need to know your audience, what they are looking for, what they like, how they react. Do your research, determine your following and customize your headlines in ways most relevant to your target audience.
Nuts and bolts
When writing a headline, begin by trying to incorporate at least one of these four U’s:

  • Unique
  • Ultra-specific
  • Useful
  • Sense of urgency

Unique: Think about what you’ve seen and read before and then don’t write a headline like that. Being unique means being unlike the competition. If you write something that everyone else spins, you will not stand out. You want to stand out. So take your time, be creative and even a little risky.
Ultra-specific: When you understand your audience, it is easier to be ultra-specific when writing headlines. Provide enough information and make it clear that you are speaking directly to them and their interests.
Useful: No headline should ever be confusing. Remember, there are just a couple seconds for the customer to take it in and understand it. Make sure what you write is clear. Being useful within a headline means that the customer will immediately know there is a benefit for them if they continue to read on. Give them a reason to go beyond the headline. While it’s important to be unique, if you go too far in being clever, you lose usefulness.
Urgency: You can create a sense of urgency in a headline by making it enticing. Give the reader something that compels them to continue reading because, if they don’t, they will miss out.
In 2012, award-winning entrepreneur and Venture Harbour founder Marcus Taylor spent four months putting together a campaign. In all the promotions he used, he found that by creating a sense of urgency, it helped him increase sales by 332 percent.
Taylor tested headlines for his campaign. In one example, when he posted something that was straight forward, the click-through rate (CTR) was 0.77 percent. By adding urgency, such as the word “today” at the end of the headline, it increased the CTR to 3.94 percent. Thus, “Tips to Reduce Your Website Bounces Today” was more successful than “Tips to Reduce Your Website Bounces.”
Types of headlines
There are many types of headlines. While you don’t want to be formulaic, you can be structured. Here are some examples:
News: While this doesn’t work for well for promotions, it is great for use in newsletters. You want to be straight-forward and provide information or an update. This lets your audience know what is going on.
Value Proposition: This, on the other hand, is good for promotions. Grab attention in a headline with information that is of value to the reader such as, “Free shipping on orders of $50 or more,” or “50% off all books ordered today.”
Call-to-Action: When you ask a question within the headline, you invoke a reaction. Your reader will immediately begin to think. This call-to-action gets readers to continue. Within the content, you should be able to address the question whether it be, “How can you increase your conversion rate?” or “Are you ready for the holidays?”
 
How-to: A “how-to” headline promises that there is more to learn by reading the article. Remember that you want your content to be informative and beneficial to your audience. Having a “how-to” headline such as, “How to incorporate more vegetables in your child’s diet” or “How to increase your click-through rate” suggests that you will, in fact, have those important tips when the reader goes beyond the headline.
List: Putting a number in the headlines helps alert the reader that, for example, he or she will not just get “how-to” tips, but 5 or 7 of them. Immediately it is made clear what your offering is and the customer gets quantifiable results. Additionally, research by Conductor, a company that focuses on web presence management, shows that headlines with numbers are 36 percent more likely to generate clicks. Odd-numbered headlines have a 20 percent better click-through rate than headlines with even numbers.
Ask your audience
Headline writing really is a science. This is why many marketers opt for testing so they may compare more than a couple different headlines for the same content. If you aren’t sure what will work, try several things and see what your audience chooses.
A/B testing or split testing is the practice of segmenting your audience randomly and then assigning each segment a different headline. The thing that is great about A/B testing is that you are not seeking a deep opinion, you are quickly discovering what catches the reader’s eye and makes them want to continue reading your content. Additionally, readers almost never know they are being tested because one groups sees one headline and another group reads another. When you see the metrics, you determine which of the two got a better result.
In 2013, The Boston Globe performed more than 20 tests on its audience when they moved to expand their online offerings. They wanted to understand what content appealed most to its customer base. For example, during A/B testing of headlines, half the audience saw the “Red Sox Gear Up for Spring” and the other half saw “Oh Yeah: Time for the Sox” as a headline for the same story. By measuring the results, writers and editors could see that the second headline was more effective.
As you craft your headline, keep in mind that whatever you write, no matter how simple or clever, the content must always deliver what is stated in your headline. Don’t disappoint the customer.
If you have a content marketing program, or are planning one, download our ebook:  100 mistakes businesses make when starting, optimizing and scaling content marketing programs.  Learn from the mistakes of hundreds of other companies.  100 mistakes walks you through common and uncommon challenges that they faced with their content marketing programs.

Why FAQs are a good idea for your content strategy

What is FAQ content and why are content marketers using it as part of their content marketing strategy? FAQ content, as the term implies, is a piece of content that contains a question and answer (Q&A) addressing a common concern about your business.

Company websites usually have an FAQ page to help answer questions for both customers and prospects. The FAQ page is commonly used for prospects that are not simply learning about the issues, but are farther along in the marketing funnel and therefore making a decision about whether or not they’d like to work with you. 

The About Us page, on the other hand, talks about a company’s history and the most impressive information about the culture and team. 

The FAQ page can be considered a customer service tool. It’s where people go if they need specific information about your products, services or business operation. Your FAQ area can also serve as the first point of contact for customers and prospects looking for answers before they contact you directly with their queries.
Good FAQ pages save account managers and sales reps time by answering common questions, and they also improve the overall experience for customers. Customers like quick answers and transparency improves your credibility.

How should FAQ content be formatted?

Today’s successful companies have the most effective FAQ pages. How are these companies formatting their FAQ content in the digital age? Here are a few FAQ tips and tricks that all SEO and content marketing strategists should be paying attention to right now:

Highlight information
Focus on providing information to visitors. Design a unique FAQ interface that also considers the disappearing attention span of customers. It’s important to have an FAQ section that is uncluttered and easy to use. Make the questions and answers stand out. 
Incorporate keywords
Frame your questions so that they contain the main keywords that site visitors would look for when they scan the FAQ page. Keywords help your SEO. In this example, the FAQ article used the keyword phrase “estimated reading times.”
Keep it simple and concise
Ensure that the questions and answers are clear and well-written. Use simple words and short sentences that could have been written by your customers themselves. 

Utilizing a conversational tone will increase the likelihood of your FAQ page being discovered through Google searches. 

Questions should be written from the perspective of your customers. Answer each question directly, from your business’s point of view.
Consider bullet points for information that will take up more than five lines. If your response requires a detailed explanation or context, you can include a link to a blog article that is dedicated to that topic. Not only will your FAQ page look less cluttered, but it will also be SEO friendly. 
Try a multimedia approach to answer complex questions
If you’re struggling to answer a question in written words, feel free to use images, infographics, slides or videos. 

Use category labels, clickable questions
Organize all the questions by putting them in categories. That way, visitors can quickly find the category that contains the information they seek. If your site has over 100 topics, use category labels and a list of clickable questions to increase your visitors’ efficiency. An effective FAQ section reflects well on the company. Lastly, visitors would feel confident about the company’s ability to provide proper support for their products or services. 

Tags that link an answer to another related frequently asked question is another good way to be helpful to the reader, while also increasing the pages viewed and time spent on site.
End the website page with a CTA
Make the most of your FAQ article by adding a call to action at the end of your answer. A CTA that links to other pages on your site helps push visitors back into your funnel and influence conversions. 

You may also link at the bottom of your FAQ to related articles or Q&As that tackle the next steps

Choosing questions for your FAQ page

The first place to start is with your account managers or customer support team. Ask them about the most common questions they receive. Explain that this FAQ page will hopefully reduce questions, making their life a whole lot easier.
The next group of people to address are your sales professionals. Ask your sales team about the common questions that they receive during the sales process? Including links to these answers is easier that writing out the answers over and over again via email.
In order to truly understand what issues, concerns and questions keep propping up in the minds of your target audience,  take these necessary steps: 

  • Review emails and customer support tickets.
  • Check out social media and online forums discussing your brand.
  • Visit competitor websites and read their user feedback.
  • Take a look at competitor FAQ pages to brainstorm fresh ideas.
  • Ask your family members, friends and colleagues what questions about your service or product they would need to be answered before they decide to make a purchase. What information is missing from your website that causes uncertainty?
  • Collaborate internally. Talk to the sales team to hear what prospects ask during the sales process. Account managers, meanwhile, can tell you what questions come up a lot from their customers.

The whole process will help you determine what people care about most before as well as during and after a purchase. It will allow you to come up with an authentic, useful list of frequently asked questions.

The right questions should be raised strategically to educate customers about your offerings and create demand. Use the opportunity to turn complaints into questions and turn those questions into a path to further customer engagement or conversion.
For more information about creating content that will improve the sales cycle and customer experience, contact Tempesta Media.

8 tips on how to incorporate internal links to your content

Internal links within a blog article show that there is content available from an earlier discussion, a wider discussion or a continuing discussion around the topic.

When these earlier, wider and continuing discussions are located on other websites, they are external links. Internal links point a reader to the discussion located on another page of your website, but still within the same website.

Why does content perform better with internal links?

Internal links are very useful:

  • They create traffic for your website.
  • They enrich your content.
  • They establish your website’s authority showing that it is a cache of information.
  • They serve as a map of your site’s structure, including its multi-tiered contents.
  • They precipitate reader engagement within your site and invite browsers to visit again.
  • And, finally, internal links within a blog article carry more weight in terms of rankings. This helps with SEO.

So how many internal links should there be for every blog article? Here are some tips for writing effective internal links that will hopefully answer that tricky question:

Use an internal link as your first hyperlink

Start the discussion by pointing to your own resources as an expert. Internal links should be the first hyperlink in your content. It should be located near the start of your page. This gives the link better chances of being clicked, which is any link’s raison d’être.

Make the internal link visible to increase clicks

Links are usually in blue or are underlined to call attention to itself. You may also make it bold or italicized. However, making the link twinkle or be in a different or larger font may be a tad too much.

Make the internal link a natural part of the content – don’t force it

Internal links should be anchored to important words or phrases within your article. “Click here” and other generic terms or CTA buttons must be avoided.

Content still reigns supreme when it comes to your internal link. Don’t suddenly go off-topic and don’t give far-off examples just so it leads to a page in your website that you want to get maximum views. Make sure your link adds value to your current blog article.

Link to a page just once for every article

If you’ve already linked to page B once within the article, that’s enough. If you feel the latter part of your article can also be enriched by page B, find a page C within your website that can also do the job. Or just stop with that one internal link altogether.

Linking your article twice to the same page says to the reader that you have limited content.

Link deep within your website, not just the main pages

An effective internal link should not just lead to your Home, About Us or Contact Us page. Those main category pages are easy enough to search for. Link to content that is three or more clicks away from your home page.

Avoid broken links by updating the URLs regularly

As you add to your content, return to previous articles to add or change internal links. Your data or your products may have changed; therefore your content needs to be updated.

So how many internal links should there be for every blog article?

No content marketing or SEO expert has dared to put forth a number – except to say that each article should have at least one internal link. No maximum limit has been set either. So as long as you have other pages within your website that can add value to your current content, feel free to add another link.

How long should my blog article be?

All blog assignments have a minimum required word length of 500 words. You can see your word count at the bottom right of the content entry screen. You may write more than 500 words, but you cannot submit the article if you write LESS THAN 500 words.

What’s the verdict on the ideal number of words in a blog post? The short answer is, it depends.

Recently, some writer-influencers have put forward that blogs need to be longer. Just how much longer? They can’t really give a number. Some say 1,000. Some say 1,200. Some say 2,000. And still some say even more. There hasn’t been a consensus yet. The reason is the length depends on how saturated your market is with content and how difficult it is for your business to improve your SEO related to certain keywords.

When it comes to SEO and content marketing – content above all else

However, all these experts agree on one thing: Your blog’s readership is still primarily dependent on your content.

Speak to the needs and interests of your audience. You’ll see that they’ll stick with you whether you offer them 400 or 4,000 words. If you provide value and actually help your readers, the content will perform better.

Your blog articles need credible insight – context is queen

Another way of looking at this is that length should not be a consideration in the way you write your blog. Expound on a theme until it is crystal clear. Give examples if necessary.

Of course, this shouldn’t be an excuse to insert fluff. Short or long, every word should count. Each word should add value to an article.

All ideas should be fully flushed out.

Sentence and paragraph length

The jury may still be out on the ideal number of words in a blog post. When it comes to sentence length, the Flesch-Kincaid readability test requires it to be 20 words or fewer to be considered “fairly easy to read.”

Meanwhile, industry observers stressed the importance of mixing up paragraph length. Paragraphs consisting of three to six sentences work best for business and technical writing.
Do long winded sentences sound good when they are read out loud? Probably not… long winded sentences can come across as wordy in a blog article as well.

Many factors are involved when determining blog article legnth

  • Target audience. A Microsoft study famously revealed that the human attention span had dwindled to 8 seconds thanks to technology updates and current digital lifestyles. This made the case for short-form content until a BBC report dismissed it as a myth. Moreover, a Source Global Research survey found that business people, especially thought leaders, need substantial content pieces (hence a higher word count).
  • Industry. Fashion blogs don’t need discussions to be as extensive as business how-tos. Medical blogs – even those that target parents – need more words to explain treatments, complications and contra-indications.
  • Goal. Different blog article word lengths can produce different results. Short blogs are conducive to discussions with readers. Medium length blogs usually get the most social media shares. Longer blog articles get noticed by search engines.
  • Writers and time. Each writer has a different flair. You also only have a certain amount of time in your day to craft the content.

Blog articles can be long and short

Of course, the easy answer may be not to stick to a particular length for your blog. Make it short when you feel it’s enough but wax on if there’s a need. Between 400 and 1500 words should be a safe bet.

Tempesta Media offers any number of words in a blog post that a partner feels best fits their unique needs.

Varying the length, style, days of the week, and format of blog posts will authenticate your brand and hopefully improve your SEO rankings.

Make content marketing a priority for your business

Discussions on the ideal word count of blog articles will not be concluded any time soon. If Google keeps changing their search algorithms, your approach will continue to change. In the meantime, the best you can do is to strengthen your craft.

Conduct research on best practices. Update your old content. Rewrite articles that you think could use a little polishing. Up the frequency of the new content insights that your offer.

If you feel like you are falling behind or need a partner, Tempesta Media offers monthly content subscriptions to ramp up your content efforts.

Marketing ideas to be productive when working from home

In Chicago, the weather has turned completely frigid and is reaching record lows. Record negative temperatures means schools are closed and many people in the Midwest are stuck working at home. Working from home can be a huge luxury, many employers list it is a perk on job descriptions. But with so many flexibility, freedom, and potential distractions, what are some best practices?

Marketing projects to do when working remotely

Nurturing campaigns

Nurturing campaigns can take a lot of time to plan and execute. Writing the emails, developing the content assets, and implementing the workflows are not easy tasks. Plus, it is hard to do when there are lots of distractions. Use the time at home to develop the emails and plan what content assets needs to be created. I always find that nurturing campaigns seem more daunting than they are – you just have to get started!

Analysis

Use the time to see how your marketing programs are performing. Take a deeper dive into some of the following metrics and see where you need to focus more energy on:
Google analytics

  • Bounce rate
  • Organic traffic

SEO

  • Page errors
  • Redirects
  • Broken Links
  • Page Indexing
  • Meta descriptions and meta titles

Landing Pages

  • Keyword optimization
  • Conversion rates

Google AdWords

  • Bidding strategies
  • Negative keywords
  • Any new trends and google updates

Content marketing

Content Marketing

How is your editorial calendar? Are you keeping up with your blog? Take advantage of the quiet to list off topics that would be great for your editorial calendar. Use this time to even develop some blog posts so that you can stay ahead of the game.

Prioritize your time and marketing projects

Make sure that you keep track of how much time you are spending on different projects, as often times we aren’t using our time effectively. If there are areas where you are stretched too thin, consider finding a partner that can help take some of that off your plate.

How Often Should Your Company Be Blogging?

One of the best ways to help your company make its mark on the digital landscape is to provide relevant, timely content that helps people solve problems. The more helpful you are, the more likely people are to remember your company when they need the services your company provides.
So how do you supply audiences with the kind of content they need to become customers? Blogging is one of the best ways to deliver the kind of rich, relevant content your audiences need and want.
As a general rule, more blogging means more visitors to your website – which means more chances to convert people into customers.
Success likely will not be immediate, simply because blog posts tend to generate more traffic the longer they are published and promoted. Your blogging efforts could take up to a year or more to bear fruit. But if blog posts are providing value to your target audiences, success will come.

General posting guidelines

There’s a lot of confusion around the correct frequency and timing of content for maximum impact. Different industries have different preferences, from how often to blog, to when to publicize on social media. Here are some general guidelines to follow:
Consider what your leads are worth. Blogging requires a significant investment of time and resources. But by blogging more frequently, companies can generate not just more traffic, but higher quality traffic to their websites. If the number of leads your website generates as a result of your blogging efforts does not cover the cost of blogging and then some, perhaps you should scale back your investment.
Blog consistently. Research from Hubspot reveals that companies blogging 16 times per week bring 3.5 times more traffic to their websites than companies blogging only once per week. However, how often you can post will depend on how much time and resources you can devote to this effort. The key is to remain consistent, no matter how frequently – or infrequently – you blog.
Develop long-form content that informs potential customers and demonstrates expertise. Creating long-form content such as e-guides, case studies, and white papers can help generate leads long after they are distributed. This type of content can help customers solve a common problem, demonstrate your company’s industry expertise, offer new industry insights, or a combination of all three. The content can be recycled into numerous pieces of content, from multiple blog posts to social media posts. Depending on your resources, try to create at least one long-form piece of content per year, up to one per quarter.
Post to Facebook once or twice per day. According to this infographic, this is the general rule of thumb for most companies to maximize visibility without over saturating news feeds.
Post to Twitter around four to 15 times per day. Twitter requires more frequent engagement to make an impact. That certainly seems like a lot of tweets!

Posting considerations

These general guidelines have proved to be successful in most cases. However, it’s important to remember that each audience and industry will have its own needs and preferences. Remember: These are guidelines, not rules. To better customize what you offer to audiences, consider the following:
Blog post quality. Focus on blog post quality, and post frequency may not matter as much. As long as you consistently deliver high-quality posts to your audiences, they will return to read them – and they’ll likely bring more new readers with them.
Newsworthy content. Depending on your industry, you may be better served by keeping up with the latest news and trends relevant to you, so you can give your readers your own analysis. This will boost post quality as well as blogging frequency – both of which will help you bring in more visitors.
Competition. Keep an eye on what your competitors are blogging about, and how often. You don’t want to be a copycat – but you do want to keep tabs on what they’re doing so you can get a leg up.

Industry-specific solutions

As we said, each industry is going to have its own needs and preferences. Here are some industry-specific guidelines that work:
Technology
This industry has one of the lowest averages for Facebook posts published per week. It is recommended technology companies post no more than 10 times per week on Facebook, following the general Facebook posting guidelines of one to two times per day. Because this industry needs to keep up with up-to-the-minute news and innovations, Facebook isn’t the best place for maximum visibility due to the limitations of the news feed.
Strive to post to your blog 11 times per month or more – companies that shoot for this frequency will likely get three times the traffic than if they only publish once per month.
Manufacturing
Nearly three-quarters of manufacturing companies are publishing less than one post per week – but they’re choosing Facebook as their social network of choice, likely because the limitations of the news feed play best with this post frequency. About 60 percent are posting with images, and about half are publishing at least once each week.
Given that manufacturing is one of the last industries to adopt content marketing best practices, by increasing your blogging frequency, there is a greater opportunity and ROI.
Health care
This industry is posting one to three times per week, with up to 66 percent of health care companies posting to Facebook. They’re not posting very often, and that’s likely due to how highly regulated this industry is – so the best place to go for information is the website.
Real estate
Nearly half of companies posting once per week are using images. This is a key stat: Without high-quality images, a potential customer isn’t going to call up with a request to see a home.
Education
This industry is among the most active, posting consistently to Facebook even as post frequency increases. The need to stay constantly engaged is paramount to help educational institutions differentiate themselves among potential students.

Are you looking for help creating and posting content?

Keeping up with the content needs of your industry can be difficult. It can be a struggle to find the budget and/or manpower required to produce the content you need for maximum results.
If you need guidance on the amount of content you need for a successful ROI, Tempesta Media can help. Our industry experts can help you create a content marketing plan that serves your desired audiences and delights current customers. Contact us to learn more.

Corporate jargon is ruining your content

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A real thought leader shifts the paradigm by thinking outside the box and leveraging the business’s core competencies and monetizing its assets.
Technically, the above sentence is grammatically correct English. And yet, it means absolutely nothing. It is a potpourri of corporate jargon, full of words and absent of substance.
Go to the website of a corporate entity of your choosing and browse around for a little while. If you didn’t already know what that company does, would you be able to figure it out based on the website copy? Too often, the answer to that question is no. Perhaps out of a belief that corporate jargon is some kind of industry standard, many companies fill their websites with terms like “best of breed” and “synergy.” As a result, these companies all come across as soulless, generic corporations.

Choose your words

We created the Tempesta Media Voice Profile®, in part, to combat this problem. Your company is distinct, and its voice should reflect that. If you describe your company with buzzwords like “thought leader” and “full service,” the content you receive will likely have a corresponding lack of personality.
The words you choose impact the way people see your company. In fact, a 2010 study by Jochim Hansen and Michaela Wänke, of New York University and the University of Basel in Basel, Switzerland respectively, showed that people tend to trust statements that use straightforward, concrete language over those that use abstract terms and passive constructions. According to Hansen and Wänke, this has to do with the human brain’s greater ability to create images from clear data. Essentially, the easier something is to understand, the more our brains want to trust it.
So, when you fill out your Voice Profile®, don’t think about what other companies might do. Think about what makes your business unique. Use real words to describe what you do and who you are. Then we can provide content that will establish you not as a “disruptive presence” or a “shifter of paradigms” or any other meaningless corporate jargon descriptor, but rather as a distinct and reliable source of information that readers (and potential customers) can trust.
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