Living somewhere between opinion piece and brand messaging, blogs have become a standard component of the marketer’s toolkit. They range from informal to informative, giving brands and executives a platform to build credibility through thought leadership.
Here’s the problem: More often than not, they’re just plain dull.
In the mad rush to embrace content marketing, marketers sometimes mistake quantity for quality. An overstuffed content calendar might look nice, but if the blogs don’t speak thoughtfully to issues customers and prospects really care about, there’s little incentive to come back for more and build readership.
This challenge will only be compounded as brands double down on more and more blog content. HubSpot found that 55 percent of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority. Therefore, it’s critical that once you have eyes on your content, you’re keeping readers engaged, informed and (ideally) a little entertained.
If you’re looking to elevate your blog game, here’s a few things the most compelling pieces have in common:
- They have an opinion. Let’s be clear, blogs should not be news sources; we have professional journalists for that. Filling your content pipeline with 500 words rehashing what happened in your industry each week doesn’t add anything to the wider conversation. Blogs are, however, a great opportunity to put trends into context. Why does it actually matter, and what does your brand have to say about it? Taking a stance adds personality and flavor to your brand identity and establishes connections with your readers.
- They have a clear, consistent voice. Blogs aren’t just a direct line to audiences – they’re conversation starters. But like any strong content, they require a distinct voice that reflects the authentic brand persona. Whether they’re defined by informality, tongue-in-cheek snark or thoroughly researched points of view, blogs should reinforce the way your brand communicates across all channels.
- They don’t waste words. One of the best, and sometimes frustrating, things about blogs is that there’s no set formula. That does, however, mean there are conflicting opinions about just how long they should be. For example, HubSpot has calculated the optimal length for a blog is over 2,000 words, whereas the digital-focused Hook Agency insists it’s closer to 1,200. Hot take: length does not matter so long as every word is intentional. A range of 1,200-2000 words might make the piece highly SEO-friendly, but getting readers to the site and getting them to stay for the whole ride are two entirely different metrics. Say what you need to say, no more, no less.
- They’re visual. This may be surprising, but long stretches of uninterrupted text is not the most visually pleasing. It makes the information harder to digest, increasing the likelihood your readers will look elsewhere. Intersperse other marketing materials – infographics, social shareables – that help support your thesis. Also, don’t underestimate the occasional meme to help make the page pop.
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- They’re easy to locate. If a tree falls in the middle of a forest, and no one can find the link to the live stream, does it increase engagement? No, it does not. The same is true for blogs, which is why SEO needs to be built into how you craft your content. From the key terms you include in your headline to a healthy number of back links, blogs should be a blend of SEO-friendly strategies and compelling language.
Blogs are, as a medium, ripe for experimentation. Living on a brand site, personal URL or LinkedIn Pulse, pushing the traditional boundaries of what a blog can be can help yours stand out in an increasingly crowded field. Which leads me to one last tip – try to have some fun. If you’re not enjoying writing it, chances are nobody will enjoy reading it.
Stay tuned for more from PAN’s Content Team as we impart our thoughts, perspectives and tips for outstanding content: https://www.pancommunications.com/blog/
Cameron Brody is a Content Manager at PAN Communications. He occasionally has terrible ideas @cambrody93.