Content marketing drives sales.
That has been true since the 4200 BC cave paintings that instructed readers on “6 ways a spear can save you from a wild bear.”
What else has been true since that long ago?
“Content marketing is not an overnight success.” That’s an understanding shared by every content marketer who knows what they are doing.
Content marketing takes time. And don’t forget the effort.
A successful content marketing is a product of blood, sweat, and tears. Creating “killer content” is a good start, but to have any real impact on your bottom line, you need to hack your content.
Content hacking is totally a thing and like growth hacking, it involves using creative techniques and smart hacks to make your content achieve what you want.
Here are 10 ways you can hack your content for maximum impact.
1. Write clickable headlines
Every sentence in your content has one aim – to get the reader to read the next sentence. One sentence over another, you get the reader through your content.
Your headline is a sentence. Your first and most important one, without a good headline, the chances of your content being read is quite slim. If no one will read the genius you packed into your content because your headline didn’t bring them to do so, then your content is what it is – useless.
Here’s a chart from Sproutsocial.com detailing overall headline preferences
You need to create attention-grabbing headlines that get the reader hooked.
Instead of: “5 ways content drives conversions”
Try: “5 proven ways content helps you get more customers and make more sales”
If you are thinking, “but my headline should not be so long,” you should know that if your short headline can’t get readers to click through you won’t be getting a medal from your journalism faculty, either.
See this Upworthy headline for instance:
“16 years ago, a doctor published a study. It was completely made-up, and it made us all sicker.“
That’s almost a paragraph, but did it get you to want to click on the story? Yup.
Because of those headlines, Upworthy did up to 88 million unique visitors a month.
Short and sweet headlines are great if they work for you. But if they don’t, be fearless to stretch things out a little.
If you are not sure if your headline is hit or miss, use CoSchedule’s headline analyzer tool to check your headline potency.
2 Write long exhaustive articles
Neil Patel ran a riveting experiment on his homepage in 2012. He created a version of his homepage with fewer words (498 words) and A/B tested it against the original version that had 1,292 words. The results? The original converted 7.6% better than the new and shorter variation.
Neil conducted the same experiment on his Crazy Egg blog and the results were the same. The long form version of the homepage converted 30% percent higher than the short version.
It is weird. But you can’t fight data.
The longer version of the homepages didn’t just convert better, but the leads were better quality, according to Neil.
And we agree with this. Again the idea of “short and sweet” is getting another pin in the nether.
Websites like theHustle have made long and even meandering copies more popular, and effective.
According to serpIQ which analyzed the top 10 results for over 20,000 keywords. The average content length for the top results were at least 2,000 words.
To summarize; when your content is in-depth, you will get better ranking. And better still, people will be more confident to link back to your content.
3 Add calls-to-action to your content
Your content is no use if it doesn’t direct people to your major conversion action. That’s what calls-to-actions (or CTAs) are for.
Do you want people to sign up to your emails? Ask them. You want them to buy more of your all-purpose herbal mixture? Ask them.
If you don’t ask them, they will simply consume your content and dive back into the big, wide and mesmerizing ocean that is the internet.
Some marketers are timid about asking readers to take an action. Well, don’t be one of them. Worst case: the reader will take a pass and move on. Or ideal case, the reader will click through and earn you $$$.
The only caveat is that you don’t disrupt their experience while at it.
Michael Aargaard from Unbounce sums up the ideal call-to-action in this equation: Value + Relevance = More Conversions.
“The more value and relevance you can convey via your call-to-action copy, the more conversions you are likely to get.”
A/B test the best copies and designs to use for the most impact.
4 Put your best content forward
Put the important elements of your content at the top of your content or webpage. Keeping with the Inverted Pyramid style they teach in journalism schools, keep the most important part of your content on the first visible part of your page – what online marketers call the “above-the-fold” area.
According to studies, while everyone scrolls down to the bottom of a webpage, they spend 80% of their time above the fold and only 20% in other parts.
It’s true that you can’t simply move everything above the fold, and that’s why you need to filter down to the most important elements.
If you have a subscriber box, keep it above the fold. A time-bound offer? Keep it above the fold. Your headline that will draw people into your content? Above the fold. Naturally.
5 Guest-post relevant content
Guest blogging is dead. Matt Cutts was dead-on when he called it in 2014. But not quite in the way you think. As a link-building tool, it’s dead. People (and Google) are wiser now. But as a way to build trust and authority, the game is still very much on.
Guest blogging is a great way to get your brand in the face of new audiences. You can still build links, of course, but don’t make it your focus.
6 Write honestly about your success (or failure) stories
Readers appreciate stories they can relate to. When a company founder writes about how he “wrecked his company in 5 hours and rebuilt it from scratch,” people pay attention. Because people connect viscerally with that.
Josh Spiker a writer, failed at launching a book about failure; and he wrote about it!
When Groove shuttered their content marketing blog in 2013 to start writing about their success stories, their blog gained over 5,000 email subscribers in a short spell.
Openly sharing data about your company may be extreme, but if done well, your readers will latch on to your content and become real fans and evangelists.
7 Repost your content to Medium
CoSchedule started reposting their content on Medium back in 2014 and it’s returned a couple hundred more views ever since. This is a really simple hack that can be done just by importing content from your blog.
Look for the import element on Medium and paste the blog you want to repost.
Medium provides a community and a publishing engine that makes sharing easy and immersive.
We’ve done this here at Starta ourselves and we’ve some decent unique traffic based on our Medium content.
8 Repurpose your old content
From email courses to e-books, to slideshares and infographics, there are immensely creative ways to give your old content a new breath of life.
Repurposing content helps you reach a new audience, republish a content when there is an intense conversation around such topic and most import, make the most of your efforts.
You shouldn’t develop a content only to have it gather dust in the dingy dark corner of your blog. Repurposing a content means someone who missed it the first time in a form might do so in its second form.
Other ways to repurpose your content: webinars, case studies, guides, Pinterest boards, Twitter posts or podcast.
9 Promote your content … again and again
Resharing content on social media time and again is a big part of our content regiment at Starta.
We share every new content on each of our social media outposts at least five times before we let off.
Not everyone agrees with this practice, but truth is, people, see all the content you share on your wall or TL and resharing a way to let them.
Of course, it’s important to keep the sharing very well spaced out to avoid spam.
Our resharing schedule looks something like this:
- Share blogpost immediately it goes live
- Share at different intervals once again on different social media outposts in the day.
- Share again the next day across all outposts
- Share again the following week
- Share again four weeks after.
10. Share content with visuals
It’s fine if, like us, you shared your content five times over. But what’d be great is if you shared it with visuals. People like pictures on social media. And social media posts with visuals often get up to 70% more engagement. For Buffer, they go 150% more clickthroughs when they started sharing with visuals.