6 Lessons to Learn From the World’s Most Popular Blogs

6 Lessons to Learn From the World’s Most Popular Blogs

Clarity is everything (or why lists work) The power of the headline Visual content matters Data-driven content wins the long game CTAs may not be sexy, but they work Long-form content works 1. If you’re going to produce content, make sure that it’s presented in a way that makes consuming it simple and straightforward. There’s an important lesson to be learned here, particularly for brands that are struggling with headlines. You can create compelling headlines without lying to your audience. No matter what problem you’re tackling, you’re solving the issue with your written analysis and trying to create an engaging experience through compelling words. To be as engaging as possible, your content needs enough structural integrity to guide people to the end. Data-driven content wins the long game All content is not created equal. Instead, it’s helpful to understand why they work and what the average business owner can do to create effective CTAs. Its article, “How to Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy From Scratch,” article was a 9-minute read, but just look at all those shares! Which of these blogs do you think has the most effective content marketing?

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We’re living in the golden age of content marketing right now.

Social media has made it easier than ever before to reach and connect with your ideal demographic.

Social Media Today put it best with its infographic on social media marketing statistics of 2017.

That’s right, 79% of all American Internet users are on Facebook!

While there are still some brands that refuse to adapt to the changing needs of the marketplace, more and more businesses are accomplishing amazing things in the world of marketing.

Despite my long-term involvement in it, I’ve always considered myself a student of the industry.

Every day, I’m excited to see where the world of digital media marketing is going and to find new ideas or techniques that I can share with all of you.

That’s why I’ve decided to analyze some of the world’s most popular blogs and present you with 6 actionable lessons that you can use to enhance your marketing strategy right away.

Each of these brands, in one way or another, has changed the marketing game, and the average business owner can learn quite a bit from their success.

Here’s the list, and feel free to jump to any particular section that interests you.

  • Clarity is everything (or why lists work)
  • The power of the headline
  • Visual content matters
  • Data-driven content wins the long game
  • CTAs may not be sexy, but they work
  • Long-form content works

1. Clarity is everything (or why lists work)

It’s easy to look at sites that have simplistic aesthetics and think that their owners are just not invested in the presentation of their content.

The truth is that some of the most effective blogs I’ve ever seen tend to value simplicity over complexity.

Why?

Because that’s what their users value the most, too.

I’ll be the first to defend long-form content (it’s what most of my content is, after all).

But I’d be a fool if I didn’t recognize the power and impact that short-form content has had on the world of content marketing.

And it’s not a surprise when you stop and think about it.

The average consumer can get their information from lots of sources.

If we’re working off the assumption that most of them cover the same topics, particularly as it relates to current events in the industry, it’s no wonder that users stick with the no-fluff version.

The idea that straightforward content is easier to read isn’t breaking news. We’ve all known about that since middle school.

What makes this clarity-driven content so exciting is its accessibility and actionability.

I was thinking about this while scanning Lifehacker, which has one of the most pleasantly minimalist designs I’ve seen.

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With an estimated 21 million unique monthly visitors, Lifehacker’s emphasis on keeping things as simple as possible is clearly working for them.

There aren’t any ads surrounding their articles, ensuring that you’re able to focus on whatever content you happen to be reading.

Take a look at the article below and you’ll notice nothing but white space, which helps keep the page from feeling cluttered.

And while you’re presented with some options for what to read next, it never feels overwhelming or distracting.

It’s not just easy to learn something. It’s easy to take that knowledge and apply it.

Since we’re on the topic of clarity, it’s time we talked about list articles.

In our industry, lists are often viewed as a necessary evil.

Plenty of people will argue that listicles somehow undermine the integrity of the content marketing process.

I couldn’t disagree more.

Uninspired listicles are clearly not a great marketing tool. But those have short-sighted thinking and bad writing to blame above all else.

The problem isn’t the format. The problem is that people misuse it.

If anything, I welcome the listicle if it encourages brands to prioritize simplicity and clarity in their marketing efforts.

Well-written listicles feature a recognizable structure and a clear value proposition. They’re easy enough for the average reader to enjoy, and people find value in them.

The format works — in the right hands, of course.

The Huffington Post, with 160 million visitors every month, has the list article down to a science.

If you take a closer look and actually dive into the articles, you’ll notice that there’s minimal fluff here.

For example, take a look at the article “10 Things People With Autism Wish You Knew.” You’ll notice that it manages to provide value without overstaying its welcome.

And that’s an important lesson for any content creator. If you’re going to produce content, make sure that it’s presented in a way that makes consuming it simple and straightforward.

2. The power of the headline

I’m always a bit hesitant to discuss the importance of headlines when it comes to content marketing.

Not because I doubt their importance. The value of a compelling headline has been proven time and time again, so it’s not exactly controversial.

No, I’m worried about the brands that see the word ‘headline’ and think ‘click bait’.

So, before we move forward, let me be absolutely clear. If you’re in the world of content marketing, don’t overuse click bait.

It’s really that simple.

Your headline should still be intriguing and catchy. It should inspire curiosity and compel the average reader to stop what they’re doing and think, “Man, I gotta know what all this is about.”

But don’t promise something in your headline that your article doesn’t cover.

One of my favorite examples of this is Business Insider’s article titles. No matter what industry they’re tackling, the titles always manage to be eye-catching without ever being misleading.

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With over 78 million readers every month, Business Insider proves that you can rise above click bait and still develop a massive following.

Your headline should be an introduction to your content — not a trick that gets people to read your article.

Why am I so insistent about this?

Because quite a few brands engage in click-bait behavior, and I’m convinced that they don’t understand how much it can damage their reputation.

When it comes to digital media marketing, your currency is trust. If people trust your content, they’re likely to share it.

If they trust you as a content creator, they’re likely to believe in your business.

Trust, just like success, is difficult to earn and easy to lose.

The moment that consumers open one of your articles and think, “Wow, this was just click bait,” you’ve compromised your relationship.

And for what? A slight bump in traffic in the short run isn’t worth the long-term damage.

There’s an important lesson to be learned here, particularly for brands that are struggling with headlines.

As tempting as it might be, don’t start making click-bait titles.

Forget about the fact that they can compromise the relationship you’ve built with your audience. The truth is that you just don’t need them to experience the benefits of compelling headlines.

All you really need to do is apply the 3 basic rules of headline structure.

  • Make sure you’re using relevant, specific data in your headline.
  • Imply value propositions with words like ‘Tips’, ‘Reasons’, ‘Secrets’, and ‘Ways.’
  • Provide a major call to attention.

From there, the rest will come down to collecting data and constantly testing.

It won’t be glamorous, but it’s better than destroying your credibility.

You can create compelling headlines without lying to your audience.

Want to know what the secret is?

The content…

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