Are you searching for a marketing strategy that results in both direct sales and an increase in publicity? Content marketing – marketing your business through blog posts and press coverage – is a great way to earn sales and links simultaneously.
The foundation of effective content marketing is – not surprisingly – writing great content. In this blog post, we’ll look at the five most important elements of a good promotional article, from eye-catching titles to imagery and inline links.
Eye-catching, intriguing titles
Without a good title, even the most interesting promotional article will be skipped over in favor of something more appealing. Since there’s so much content out there on the Internet, it’s important to have a good title in order to be read.
Sites like Buzzfeed and Upworthy have built a business out of thinking up good titles, often with less impressive content after the click. Since getting attention is the main goal of any promotional article, having an eye-catching title is essential.
Great titles use the same principles as effective advertisements. They inspire users to click without overpromising. Use words and phrases like “X Secrets You’ll Never Believe About” or “5 Great Ways to Do” to inspire users to read your content.
Lists – known to some as ‘listicles’ – are great for attracting attention. Break your article down into different sections and use a “5 Tips For” or “The 10 Best” type of headline to attract attention from readers interested in learning something new.
Titles are everything, and without a good one even the best content is unlikely to achieve its goals. Great content marketers brainstorm several titles for every new article they publish, and even A:B test different titles to study their results.
Subheadings for readability
Users have a very different attitude towards online content than towards printed content. While users might tolerate – and even appreciate – long paragraphs and details in books, they like online content that’s short and easy to read.
Because of this, it’s important to use subheadings in your articles to make them as reader-friendly as possible. Think of your promotional articles as being skim read by at least 50% of your readers, and try to sum up key points in subheadings.
Use the H2 tag to divide your articles and blog posts into sections, and implement other features – from bullet points to numbered lists – to break your content down even further and improve readability.
Writing for the web is very different to writing for print, and long paragraphs and “walls of text” aren’t tolerated to the same extent. Try to keep both your sentences and your paragraphs short, simple, and easy for users to skim read.
Better yet, focus on adding a conclusion to your promotional articles that sums up your key points in bold or italic text. This way, even skim readers will absorb your key points by the time they reach the end of your article.
Pictures with captions
Advertising guru – known to many as the father of direct marketing – David Ogilvy always believed that the caption was more important than the picture. He claimed that users were more likely to read captions than read long form marketing copy.
Today’s online marketing experiments, which were largely unavailable to Ogilvy during his lifetime – seem to confirm his beliefs. Adding images to your articles is one of the best ways to improve readability, but they should always have detailed captions underneath to increase user engagement.
Add one image to your article per 200-300 words to keep users interested in your topic and engaged in your writing. The huge amount of content available to online readers makes it easy to switch from your article to another – use appealing images in your copy and you’ll keep your audience interested.
There’s no need to take original photos for your articles. Stock photo websites like iStockPhoto and DepositPhotos make sourcing unique images simple. Likewise, you can also use images of your products or promotional images from your company’s – or your client’s – promotional media kit.
Inline links to your website
The purpose of content marketing is to drive traffic, and you’ll dramatically increase the amount of traffic you generate by including links to your website in the articles you publish on blogs or email to journalists.
Don’t think of links as a way of improving your SEO, but as a way of driving traffic to your website. They needn’t include your anchor text – even a branded link with your business’s name will have huge SEO benefits if it’s published on a reputable website.
Include at least one link to your website in every article or guest blog post you send out, especially if the article is directly promotional. If you can’t think of a place to add a link to your article’s body, place it in the conclusion or in the author byline.
Most blogs will encourage you to link to your website, provided it isn’t too ‘salesy’ or promotional in nature. One of the best ways to ensure you get the link is by creating a resource page on your website and linking to it in your article to help users.
Think of links as a tool for informing your readers – not just for promoting your own website – and you’ll have far fewer issues getting promotional articles with links to your website published on reputable blogs and mainstream media outlets.
A reason to comment and share
It’s 2014, and there’s no doubt that the Internet is a social medium. Every article you publish – whether it’s a “How To” guide or a press release – should encourage users to comment on your work and share it with their friends.
This is true even if you’re publishing your content on a third-party website. Having a popular article on a mainstream blog – whether it’s an industry website or a content aggregator – ‘proves your worth’ and makes promoting future content easier.
Ready to start promoting your content?
From guest blog posts to promotional articles, content marketing is one of the most effective ways to build your company’s online presence and drive traffic directly to your website.
Start reaching out to bloggers, journalists, and publishers that you think would be interested in your business today. You may be surprised at how much coverage – and how many sales – an effective content marketing campaign can generate.