As Marshall McLuhan famously said: “The medium is the message.” And the message is definitely changing as the media world changes. There is a massive shift — from broadcast or display marketing that attempts to interrupt the activities of the audience — to digital content marketing that attempts to integrate with the activities of the audience.
New Media Require New Content Methods
This article looks at two of the best online tools to help businesses refine their customer outreach messaging and search engine optimization (SEO) results. The first tool is designed to help craft compelling headlines. The second helps define topics that relate to your business and the needs or interests of your potential customers.
The currency of online content is attention. All online content competes for that same scarce currency. Content consumption online is a two-way street, as users leave detailed traces of their consumption habits. Content marketers track data about what gets searched for, what gets attention, what gets ignored, and can modify their messages and methods accordingly.
New Content Methods Produce New Messages
As a result, content is produced and consumed in a completely different way online, from blog articles, ebooks, infographics, images, GIFs, and videos, to podcasts, webinars and more. This includes marketing as well as information and entertainment content.
In fact, the best online marketing IS information or entertainment, and preferably both. This combination explains why Facebook and YouTube are two of the leading platforms for both pay-per-click advertising and content marketing.
If you’re not putting a substantial emphasis on the creation of compelling, ‘killer’ content as the foundation of your online marketing, you may gradually lose the ability to find and influence potential customers. The life of your business may depend on getting this content equation right.
When A Tree Falls In the Forest
Whether you are writing a blog post, an infographic, or a video script, killer content is only useful if people actually get to see it, read it, watch it, or listen to it. This means the content needs a headline that does at least two things:
- Get noticed. A headline exists to attract attention, and…
- Get to the point. The message in a headline has to match the message in the content that follows.
A headline that achieves these two goals works because it not only attracts readers, but it qualifies those readers at the same time. By getting to the point, the headline filters down to an audience that already has an interest in the topic. So how do you know if a headline is doing its job?
It All Hinges On the Headline
Try the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer the next time you sit down to produce a piece of content. It’s a free service offered by one of the web’s leading content marketing software-as-a-service providers. Based on their analysis of the click-through performance of millions of headlines, the Analyzer lets you type in a headline and gives an instant score on a scale of 100, with 70 and higher being the target range.
The Analyzer also provides a breakdown of the elements in your headline that determine the score, and offers ideas that make for better headlines. Power words (like “awesome” and “help”) and emotional words (like “killer”) make a big difference. Specific formats that are proven to be effective include list, question, and how-to headlines.
Professional marketers spend time getting the best possible headline for each piece of content. It’s the price of admission to the party, and it’s no place to cut corners. The pros typically recommend trying 15-20 different headline versions, or more if necessary.
The Analyzer keeps track of the Headline History in a clickable list of versions so you can go back and forth until you get one with maximum attraction power that delivers a clear message.
CoSchedule offers a TON of additional headline-writing (and article-writing) tools as well, so this is a resource that is well worth checking out.
And how do you come up with a regular supply of topics for headlines to try out in the Analyzer? That’s where the other half of the SEO formula comes into play, and the use of keyword research takes over.
In the Beginning Was the Keyword
Keywords are the gospel of SEO because they point to the most meaningful connections between your customers’ concerns or preferences, and your information creation strategy. The two-way nature of online content consumption can give access to the search language used by consumers in your specific industry, service, product, or business niche. The search language they use will tell you the keywords to build your messaging strategy and specific article topics around.
One of the most powerful ways to access this information is with a paid online software service called SpyFu. Based on massive web-wide collections of Google search results and Adwords data, SpyFu gives content creators and marketers the ability to gain insights into what competitors are using to attract customers. It not only shows what is working, but it also shows what is wasting resources.
SEO Expertise Works Wonders
While this advanced SEO research can provide useful insights even for users with minimal tech background, it is an extremely powerful tool in the hands of an SEO expert. It can turn all of your competitors into an advisory panel on the most cost-effective content marketing opportunities for your business.
To get the best ROI on your SEO investment, get in touch with me on LinkedIn, or contact me for a free SEO consultation. I can help you write the story of your online marketing success that will deserve banner headlines.