When it comes to blogging and other forms of content marketing, one of the key goals, if not the key goal, is to spur visitor engagement.
However, according to Neil Patel, who works with major organizations such as Amazon.com, NBC, General Motors, and others to improve their content marketing programs, what we mean by the term “engagement” is often a bit fuzzy.
According to Patel, when visitor engagement occurs it means that “real people are responding in some measurable way to your content.” And what are these measurable ways? Patel suggests they are the following:
- Increased site traffic
- Increased number of leads (and eventually sales)
- Greater brand awareness over time
- Comments to a blog posting
- Social sharing of the blog
The issue then is writing blog postings that result in visitor engagement and these measurable benefits. Below are some of the ways we can do this:
Have a strong, catchy headline.
You may have noticed that many blog posts have titles such as “Five Ways to…” or “Ten Things You Should Know About…” Titles offering a specific number of tips or points are attention grabbers, and because people move so quickly online, anything that can make them stop for a few seconds and read a post – like having a strong, catchy headline – should be part of your strategy.
Begin with an inverted pyramid.
The inverted pyramid is an old writing method in which the writer, often a newspaper writer, presents all or most of the key facts of a story within the first few sentences of the article. The goal is to grab the readers’ attention as soon as possible. Then they are more likely to read the rest of the blog post, the beginnings of visitor engagement.
Start with a story.
Another option is to start your blog with a short story. The New York Times is famous for this. They tell an anecdote – a couple of paragraphs – related to their article at the very beginning, again enticing the reader to read the entire article.
In public speaking, there is an old adage that says you should design your talk by telling your audience what you are going to talk about; talk about what you said you were going to talk about; and then finish by telling them what you just talked about. This can also work with a blog posting. Make sure the reader knows what the blog is about, go into details, and then recap the post.
The visual appeal of the blog post is very important in enticing readers. If the posting is just a mass of words with few or no paragraphs, you might as well kiss your web visitor good-bye. Instead, use lots of short paragraphs, headings, subheadings, bulleted points, and other visuals that invite your visitor to read your post.
Call to action.
We have already mentioned that you should conclude your blog with some type of recap. Following the recap, you need a call to action. No blog is complete without one, but you have to be careful. If the call to action turns into an advertisement, as so many of them do, it can leave a bad taste in the readers’ mouth. However, if it is as simple but helpful as the one below, it can prove very successful at creating visitor engagement.
Here is a powerful content marketing cast study.