The N reasons you should read this blog post
I read an article this week about the best and worst run states in America. I, like everyone else, have opportunities to read many more things online than I have time for, so I’m pretty selective about the content I consume. The referenced article got my attention for a couple of reasons: I wanted to see if my state was mentioned, and I assumed the article presented the rankings in a list, making the content easy for me to digest. To satisfy your curiosity, my state (Oklahoma) didn’t make either list, and I was right about the accessibility of the content in the article.
This type of article represents a form of content that is powerful and effective. Readers like lists and rankings, even when they’re not necessarily authoritative. I confess, that when reading the article referenced above, I didn’t pay close attention to who or what compiled the ranking. I’m sure it was mentioned, but the source isn’t what initially got my attention. Were I to take issue with the content, the source then becomes a big issue. The authority of the source is still an issue when I’m in complete agreement with the content, but less so. The reader comments at the bottom of that article seem to reflect this: no one is questioning the source or its authority, but there’s plenty of discussion about the content.
Marketers need to take note of this list or ranking form of content and take full advantage of its compelling nature. Here are some reasons why this form of content is so effective:
- It stands out: because the headlines for such content usually includes phrases like “8 Steps to Amazing Webinars”, “Five Questions Marketing Should ask the CEO”, “Best Places to Work” or “10 Reasons to Switch to Whole Grains”. When content is presented under such headings, it appears helpful and arouses curiosity, which is the whole point!
- It’s easy to consume and digest: we immediately understand that the content we’re about to look at is structured in a very accessible way. Rather than long blocks of unbroken text, we know we’re going to see a list that is by nature broken down into easily consumable chunks. It’s even more visually appealing.
- It’s potentially controversial: there’s a chance we might not agree with the information presented, but we’d like to find out. To publish content like this usually means expressing an opinion and taking a position about something. Often, the information presented is subjective. It’s possible that the content will stimulate an argument or debate, but that is a good thing if you anticipate it. An added benefit is that when there is an acceptable level of controversy, it simply shines the spotlight on your content even more brightly.
- It invites comparison: when a reader has an opinion about the subject of the article, the opportunity exists to compare views. Do I have the same views as the article? If so, the article is validation for my views. If not, then I look at why the views differ. A comparison occurs that seeks to determine who knows more – the reader or the author?
Content marketing in general is an effective strategy for many companies. If you’d like to publish the type of content this post discusses – or any other – here are some steps to take:
- Assess your readiness to execute a content marketing strategy. When done properly, content marketing can vault your company to the top of the thought leader board, but it does require some resources. Use something like the Demand Metric Content Marketing Assessment to help understand your level of readiness.
- Set objectives for your efforts. Content marketing can help raise awareness, boost your brand image or generate leads as possible outcomes. What’s your priority? Determine what these are and document them in a Content Marketing Strategy Scorecard.
- Develop a set of quality standards for the content that will represent you. Document these in a Content Quality Checklist to assure that everything you publish works for you, not against you.
- Track your efforts to ensure you’re getting the desired results using a Content Marketing Metrics Dashboard.
If you’re looking for a way to jumpstart your content marketing efforts, consider publishing something in a ranking or list format. It’s a great way to start or strengthen any content marketing program.