Content Marketing and Copywriting
While blogs encourage interaction they can also drive more traditional readers away. But as with any good read there are mechanics and psychological tricks to turn readers into followers.
Blogs evolved and require a new approach
Blogging originates from e-journals that became popular in the 1990s. Mostly featuring personal accounts in notebook style they evolved over time with software and reason.
As the heritage suggests blog posts used to be less formal than traditional web content by professional writers, scientists and corporate communication offices.
While a less formal style and content attracts bigger crowds there is also a risk to drive the more traditional, more serious readers away. However, the more forgiving format and readership enable and encourage interaction and a call for action.
While technical articles, news articles and product descriptions serve an information need blog posts often drive readers to action.
The advantages of blogging and what they trigger
If the engagement with an online audience needs to go beyond a pure informative format, it is worth considering to setup a blog. Blogs can be embedded in classic web domains or run all by themselves on their very own domain.
These or similar needs could trigger the use of a blog as opposed to a regular web site (with rather classic or conservative content style):
- Clarifying various uses of products or services
- Sharing best practice advice
- Updating an audience about developments or behaviors
Many times blogs are not operated by the owners of the product, service or event in focus. Some examples are:
- User blogs for a large company’s products and services (e.g. Apple iPhone)
- Blogs by analysts who offer their latest opinion on the stock market
Bloggers can take advantage of several specific features of this format:
- Gather readers feedback and own opinions
- Develop customer satisfaction trends
- Establish a reader contention through interaction and engagement
- Add additional third party content that helps the blog entity grow and gain expert content
- Call for an action (again, blog posts are a much more forgiving format to pitch for a click or animate the reader to consider a product)
How to compete for the reader’s precious time?
But how can blog posts captivate readers in a way so that they like to read, like to engage and likely follow any action?
Communication psychology is as old as communication itself. We are surrounded by well thought-through, well crafted and well delivered formats with their messages. Communication scholars teach specific styles for many content formats we all know and consume on a daily basis:
- News articles
- Short stories
- Sales pitches
- Laudations and eulogies
With all the competition out there it would be odd if blogging wouldn't have received any attention by communication scholars and communication psychologists.
It’s no rocket surgery! Just tell a story.
Since blogs follow rather simple dynamics in their online world with the time and attention span available by any reader and with readership being quite similar across the board regardless of topic and depth, blog post standards have emerged that are measurably successful on a global scale today.
A flexible sequence to trigger an action
One could argue that there should be several “standard” blog post elements. But here again, the format is forgiving and so is the reader. The big advantage of blogging is to allow to mimic the readers needs in their natural language as much as possible.
So, the following structure and ideas are simply suggestions that can be followed, enriched or partly ignored.
The most important rule for successful blogging and to really captivate the audience is to design and follow a flow that keeps readers wondering and interested.
Paragraphs (3-4 lines), language (no sloppy jargon but not too technical or abstract) and format (never more than two font sizes, using just one font) need to be kept simple, professional and easy to follow.
Blog post title suggestions
• Numbers stick out, you might have caught yourself clicking at a search engine result just because the snappy, numbered title intrigued you: 21 Ways…, 10 Things…, 5 No-Go’s, etc.
• Adjectives that attract a readers attention will work well too, simply observe your own habits when radio through blog post tittles online: Sexy, free, useful, absolute, stunning, surprising, etc.
• Rationale can help to drive the more serious reader with a promise to learn or gain something: tips, tricks, reasons, principles, etc.
• Great triggers are words like Why, How, When, If, etc.
• Consider: titles will be truncated in the search engines results
• One to three keywords that relate to the blog posts content are always important for traffic generation and trustworthiness of the article
Why should the reader bother to read it this blog post?
What is it really all about?
How does it help the reader?
This can be 2-3 sentences long and should compliment the title.
Introducing the problem or situation
Setting the stage and providing background information and context that is crucial to grasp the problem or situation.
Revealing a conflict and setting the reader into the middle of it.
If they are not confronted with the topic at hand why should they bother?
Carrying over to the next paragraph becomes increasingly important or readers are lost.
Why is this a problem if it remains unresolved?
Using facts, graphics or quotes to demonstrate an undesired situation goes a long way. Here the audience will be made felt rather bad about the status quo. They who'll look forward to a solution.
Hypothesis of a solution
Nudging the reader to solutions or asking questions that lead them to find the right answers can further engage the readers and keep them interested. To remain relevant:
• Bullet points, lists and tables should be used where possible
• Key points can be stressed
Close out the argument
After so much pain and convincing the blog reader will be happy to know that solutions are available. Better even: they might have come up with some on their own while reading the blog post.
This paragraph opens up to receive the solution(s).
Resolution - what can or should be done about it
The solution is presented. The reader expects to find something to go home with. This is also a great opportunity to call for action. A well-written blog post that has presented a problem or concept that the audience relates to will leave them wanting to take action immediately so they can feel that they’ve taken part and concluded the issue all by themselves.
Action items can be:
- To try the new tool or method right away
- To convince third parties of the solution
- To follow more information like an e-book or audio book
- To complete an action like purchasing a product or service
If you read our own blog posts you will realize that most articles follow the above steps. Now you can ask yourself whether this style works here on this site.
And all the hard work is worth nothing if you never invest into BEING FOUND through search engines and other means online. Before drafting your compelling blog post you should seriously analyze search words and keyword phrases. Here is why.