How To Help Your Content Get Clicked, Read and Shared Online

I conducted a very simple A/B test not long ago.

I wanted to try and see what type of post would gain more traction online – specifically on LinkedIn – on an influencer marketing topic that I recently researched.

I was interested in finding out how people interact with link-based posts vs. plain-text posts. Both would feature the same information. (For reference, I have 2,800 connections on LinkedIn).

Test #1: Full Article

First, I researched and prepared an 1,800-word article on the subject. It was rich in insight, included imagery, and referenced reputable third-party resources through hyperlinks. I wrote it originally on WordPress but later published it to LinkedIn Publisher. By default, with that publish, there was a post that went out featuring an accompanying image and a direct link to the LinkedIn article.

Results: 43 views, 9 likes, 0 comments.

Test #2: Plain-Text Post

I then decided to summarize all the info within the 1,800-word post and re-publish it as a short, plain text post. This time, I would give away all the need-to-know answers, bullet it for better readability, and include no link or photo. It was 200 words total.

Results: 945 views, 17 likes and 2 comments.

Test #3: Results of the Test

Finally, not to get too  “Inception-like,” but I thought the test I ran was quite telling and decided to do a third post. This time, it wouldn’t focus on the influencer marketing topic, but rather, the results of the above test. It would also be a short, plain text post and include my data points.

Results: 3,003 views, 49 likes, 14 comments

In reviewing the results and thinking through the style (and information) of each post, I think there are a few important takeaways here…

1) People are LAZY

It’s common today for marketers to make the big claim that “humans now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish!” Okay. That may be true, but let’s consider what that actually tells us.

  • People are looking at [most] content for a very short amount of time.
  • You only have a few seconds to impress them and get them to commit to spending more time with you.
  • You can’t ask for actions that require TIME without REWARD (even if that reward is simply education or entertainment).

Many marketers are solely interested in driving people off social and onto their sites. Why? Because that’s where a sale or conversion can take place.

But you wouldn’t walk up to a stranger at the bar and immediately ask them to come to your house. You’d probably talk at that bar first, then ask for a coffee date, then maybe dinner at a restaurant for a third date, etc. – before a house date.

So why are we not having conversations and communicating with these users directly on the platforms where they are?

What I’ve noticed over the years is that people prefer to stay within the confines of the platform they are on. For example, they would rather watch a native Facebook video than click and be brought to YouTube to watch it (I’ve tested this multiple times).

Beyond video, an even better example is Instagram Shopping where large e-commerce brands are building systems where purchases can take place right on Instagram without breaking that session. I think this will ultimately lead to greater social-related sales. We are lazy creatures and want to get information quickly and easily, and anything that disrupts that flow isn’t ideal.

So, all this rambling leads to two important recommendations:

Sometimes short, simple posts generate better results. But remember, short, simple posts don’t always take less time to prepare. I believe Albert Einstein was the one who once said: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” You’ll still need to research, you’ll still need to analyze. It’s not that your plain-text posts should lack substance or richness, it should simply be short and to-the-point to help give people what they want faster.

Keep as much content on the platforms themselves as you can. Only direct people to your website (or other relevant places) when it makes sense. That is: when it can’t be contained within the platform due to restrictions (ex. videos that exceed 1 min on Instagram) or after you’ve done enough “dating” and you feel they are ready to come over. Like in sales, you need to raise awareness, then nurture, and then strike with the offer when you believe it’s the right time.

2) You Have to TEST

Even if you have a very good understanding of your target audience, even if you’ve built out buyer personas and know what makes them tick, even if you have been working directly with these customers for years, it’s still nearly impossible to predict how they will engage with the majority of your content online. The only way to move beyond gut instinct or educated guesses is through testing.

The test I did was pretty simple and clear cut. And it provided some good data. If I continue to run similar tests, I can gain even more valuable insight. Turn that data into digestible information that you can reference later.

You must classify your content and measure its impact.

First, do this over a full quarter period. It needs to be long enough where a variety of content types will have been published. If you are posting 4 times a week on Facebook, that’s going to be 52 posts that you will analyze.

Pull all of your data into a spreadsheet. You’ll want the following stats included for each post:

  • Total impressions
  • Total engagements
  • Engagement rate
  • Cost per engagement
  • Total clicks
  • Cost per click
  • Click thru rate
  • Total conversions
  • Conversion rate
  • Cost per conversion
  • Total cost

Now, you need to add columns for classifications and content types. If you’re a restaurant brand, you might break it down like this:

Classification:

  • Food
  • Health and Wellness
  • Promotions
  • Community/Goodwill
  • Events
  • Staff

Content Type:

  • Plain text
  • Link
  • Photo
  • Video
  • Animation/Gif
  • Offer
  • Other

Now run analyses on the content by groups. What trends do you see? Do food posts produce the best levels of engagement? Do promotions produce the most conversions? Do plain-text posts produce the best cost-per-click? (Just kidding, there is no click). Spend time filtering and examining the best and worst of your quarter’s posts. Adjust future efforts based on your goals and what you’re seeing. Your data will vary by brand/audience, thus, not everyone will see the same trends.

3) Man Bites DOG

It should come as no surprise that if you’ve posted 1000 photos to Instagram, the ones with the most likes and comments might be… your graduation photo, your first wedding photo, a photo of the first day at your new job, or the first photo of your newborn baby.

These photos stand out.

They aren’t everyday life. They aren’t everyday occurrences. They are unique, memorable, and worthy of extra praise.

Now put on your marketing cap.

You always need to be thinking about what that “wedding photo” might be for your business to help really stand out, get noticed, garner engagement, and make an impact.

Like a major life milestone, they don’t come every day. There’s going to be “filler” content to help stay top of mind. But you should always be brainstorming and working your killer creative ideas into your strategy and your content calendar so you can bank on when these big splashes might be.

There’s a reason my third post – the one with the test results – produced far more views and engagement than the previous two. It’s a case study. It’s real, first-hand primary data. It’s something that one might not easily come by. So it stands out, and it’s useful news too.

So what might make a big impact? Take into consideration events that you participate in, sponsorships, volunteer days, staff promotions, discounts and offers, etc. Anything that stands apart from everyday brand life.

Let’s call it the 80/20 rule. 80% of your material should be organic, everyday filler content. It should still be relevant, and high quality, but it helps fill the gaps. 20% should be those campaigns and “big moments” that stand out. This balance is really in place for two reasons:

  1. To conserve cost. If every day you had an amazing video or a cool animation, you’d quickly run out of resources. Most marketers or marketing teams simply don’t have the time and talent to make every single piece of content that stellar.
  2. To make the stellar posts stand out even more. You don’t get married every day. When you do, people notice. This balance ultimately drives an overload of action on your best material.

Conclusion

Digital storytelling is a big buzzword in our field today, but it’s a real thing. Consumers are tired of one-way communication from brands and the high-pressure sales messaging that comes with traditional advertising. They want to be talked WITH, not talked TO.

I think good digital storytellers take into consideration all that’s referenced above. These marketers consider their audience when posting and the type of content that will resonate best. They consider creativity and put extreme thought into their efforts. They measure and lean on facts to drive future decisions within their content calendar. They’re strategic and organized and every post serves a purpose. They focus on entertainment and education rather than buy, buy, buy! Most importantly, they keep in mind the buyer’s journey – slowly reeling people in before it’s time to talk business.

Keep in mind, it’s a funnel.

Most people are at the top (awareness), some are in the middle (research, consideration) and less are at the bottom (decision, renewals). Your content should reflect this.

60% of your material should be top of the funnel, 30% middle of the funnel, and 10% bottom of the funnel. If you are supplementing your efforts with advertising – and using specific targeting and remarketing parameters – you can do a better job at serving the right content to the right audience at the right time.

Digital storytelling is simply social media marketing with strategy and structure. Done right and it will help your content get clicked, read, and shared, and entice consumers to slowly become buyers over time.

Original article: https://www.site-seeker.com/how-to-help-your-content-get-clicked-read-and-shared-online/

Pressed on Time? Top 5 Website Metrics to Track

Every marketing program is different. Some, with lots of tactics and movement, can cause marketers to spend dozens of hours building reports. Just last month, my team and I logged 25 hours on a single quarterly report. There was just so much to cover (or rather, uncover).

Thoroughly gathering and analyzing data isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s necessary for any successful marketing program. In doing so, you can help determine how users are behaving on your site and what your most effective marketing tactics are. It also allows you the ability to notice trends and patterns of your best customers. By interpreting data, you can make better decisions on how to improve and remove any guesswork from the equation.

I’m not stupid though. I’m a realist. I know most marketers and business owners don’t have 25 hours to spend on a single report. So I’ll make it easy for you. Here’s our team’s five favorite web metrics to track. These are the key performance indicators (KPIs) that can most quickly give you the insight you need to keep tabs on your activity and hint at what to do next.

1) Goals

Goals are the most important actions on a website. Setting up goals inside of Google Analytics (or related website tracking software) at the very start of your program is critical to maintaining true data. Every program will have different goals.

  • B2C businesses with e-commerce integration on their site will almost certainly have transactions and/or wish list entries as goals.
  • B2B brands with longer sales cycles typically have form fills as goals.

Take time to identify what type of goals you need within your program and set them up properly in Google Analytics. Name your goal, accurately depict the action that should be recorded, and place a value on it. Almost all of your views throughout the software will allow you to see what is driving goals and at what rate.

For your goals that track information about sales leads – like request more info or content gate forms – you’ll want to make sure you are using software to properly track and follow through on those leads. Consider marketing automation, lead nurturing and customer relationship management (CRM) software to better manage the sales process at it relates to your web-generated prospects.

“Goals are the most important part of any report, for any client. Organic traffic, paid traffic, social media activity – none of it really matters if you can’t measure the effectiveness of your efforts. How you do that is through the tracking of goals. This can include form fills, LiveChat touches, mobile click to call, and more. By placing a value on those actions, you can even equate goals to true dollars and better measure your return on investment. Of course, you’ll want to identify cost per acquisition first.” – Trey Didio, Digital Marketing Specialist

2) Events

A square is always a rhombus, but a rhombus isn’t always a square. I love that analogy. I use it all the time but I think this is the first time I’ve ever worked it into a blog post. Go me! Events can (and often are) used as goals, but don’t have to be. Our team typically uses them as quality verifiers. These are less important actions, compared to goals, which take place on a site that help understand a user’s behavior and help you improve the user-experience.

Think of things like PDF opens, usage of certain features like nutritional calculators, video views, etc. By exploring usage of these assets or features, you can understand what is improving your on-site experience, keeping users engaged, and potentially assisting in a conversion on your site.

“Measuring events is one of the most important keys to success when measuring website performance and calculating ROI. It helps you discover if your site is pleasing to your audience. Tools like Google’s UTM builder and/or Google Tag Manager make is easy to organize and track events as you start to build and measure your marketing campaigns. You can easily see these under your “Events” and “Campaign” tabs in Analytics, and you can run a number of metrics against these items. When you invest money into building content and assets like videos, ebooks, landing pages, etc. it’s best to keep a watchful eye on the effectiveness of them.” – Jessica Amidon, Senior Digital Marketing Team Lead

3) Medium/Source

Medium/Source is the breakdown of where traffic/visitors originate. It’s a very popular KPI to explore since it helps judge what efforts are best at driving traffic to your site. Going one step further, you can explore what type of traffic sees the most conversions and therefore has the highest quality visitorship.

There are typically five different media: direct/none, organic, paid, email, referral. There can be dozens, if not hundreds, of sources, which is a drilled-down view of those media. For instance, within organic traffic, you may have organic/google, organic/bing, and organic/yahoo. Within referral, you could see referral/amazon.com, referral/facebook.com, and referral/yelp.com.

“As a marketer, you have to understand which sources and media are producing the best return on your investment. Don’t just look at traffic numbers, but look at goal completions too. If organically your site is doing well from a traffic perspective, it is definitely a good thing. But, you should dive further and see if that organic traffic is of good quality i.e. are those visitors converting or taking valuable actions on the site? What type of actions? Are we getting contact information from them to help them enter into our sales funnel? Furthermore, look at the pages that are not converting, or are converting at a lower rate, and try to spruce those up to mimic the conversion rates on better pages.” – Priyanka Kapadia, Operations Manager

4) Organic Traffic

Not all marketers or business owners engage in paid online advertising, so we’re not featuring it in our top 5. But, on the other hand, everyone should be monitoring organic traffic. Organic traffic is made up of visitors coming from search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. It’s essentially “free” traffic because you aren’t paying for the clicks.

You do, however, need to put time and attention into your site to improve it in such a way to achieve higher search rankings and get more of that free traffic. This is done through search engine optimization (SEO), or technical, textual and creative improvements made both on your site and on other sites that link to your site. Having a solid SEO strategy and solid rankings in the search engines can lead to great traffic volume over time.

“Looking at organic traffic can give you a snapshot of how your SEO efforts are doing. If the traffic is stagnant or slightly decreasing, that’s a good sign that SEO efforts need a boost. I would perform an SEO audit and competitor analysis and come up with a new strategy based on the results. If it’s falling sharply, you should drop everything you’re doing and check to make sure you’re not being penalized by Google, or in noncompliance with a recent algorithm update(s). It could also mean the site has been hacked, the site has accidentally been set to “no-index” or has disallowed search engines from crawling via robots.txt. If organic traffic is increasing, then check to see if there’s a particular reason why, and double down on what you’ve been doing. If organic traffic is increasing sharply, you should pop open a bottle of champagne then call me and with the secret ingredient so we can make millions selling an ‘SEO Hack’ book.” – Dan Weber, Account Manager

5) Top Organic Landing Pages

A landing page is a page that’s crafted to receive traffic from an external source – like Google or Twitter. When building landing pages, it’s important to remember that a user may not have seen any other page on your site yet. Therefore, these pages should offer a great user experience, give the user what he/she needs to know about your brand and product/service, and provide the ability to learn more or buy.

A common misconception of websites is that everyone comes to the homepage and navigates from there. It’s simply not true. For some of our client sites, as much as 40-60% of traffic goes through landing pages, rather than navigating through the homepage. Optimizing landing pages is a giant but critical task for the improvement of any website. More importantly, organic landing pages, or those pages that are ranking in search engines and receiving traffic directly, should be given extra attention.

“It’s important to measure top performing landing pages so you know which pages are best at driving traffic to your site. In a way, these are your heavy hitters – your best pages. Consider adding prominent call-to-actions on these pages. In doing so, you can track more than just page visits, duration, bounce rate, etc. – you can see if the page is effective at driving conversions. Are they watching the video? Downloading the case study? Filling out a form? This helps measure true success of the pages. Also, don’t forget to look at how you have these top performing pages built so you can replicate that strategy on other pages and help drive even more organic traffic to your site.” – Melinda Aiken, Account Manager

You must always keep tabs on your website’s performance. It’s the single most important element of your online presence and, depending on your product or service, could very well be more trafficked than even your storefront. Make sure to set up a dashboard, and auto-reports, inside Google Analytics to track these five metrics, as well as other KPIs that you deem as valuable to your marketing efforts.

Here’s How To Set Up A Dashboard:

  1. Sign in to Google Analytics: https://analytics.google.com/analytics/web/
  2. Select the property and website you’d like to view.
  3. Navigate to “Customization” and “Dashboards” in the left hand sidebar.
  4. Create a new report, name your report, and then create a dashboard.
  5. Set up modules for the metrics you want to track. This may take a little time, especially if you’re a novice, but it’s worth it.
  6. Click on email and arrange for the reports to be sent to you and how often.
  7. Whenever you sign into Analytics, you can now view this dashboard for a quick pulse check on your digital marketing program. Remember to select the date range you’d like to view.

This article was originally published for Site-Seeker. To view the original post, please click here.