I recently had a Twitter debate (Twitbate?) with a fellow content marketer regarding conversions on content. My learned colleague had tagged me in a post regarding a study showing creative headlines don’t convert, asking for my thoughts.
What followed was a brief exchange that actually really fired my imagination. I understood her point, but I said – and still say – a sweeping generalisation for all readers across all mediums is a dangerous thing to make.
@SitaSpeaks quoted a survey that showed straightforward headlines beat creative ones 88% of the time, and asked if I agreed. The thing is: I do and I don’t. As I said to her, headlines need to be treated differently depending on where they’re published. Absolutely, online, on a website, on a blog, it is likely you’ll need to go short, sharp and to the point to gain followers and have a chance at a conversion. After all, that’s the reason for the explosion in listicles and “top tips” articles – they satisfy the search engine’s need for helpful content that answers questions, and set the writer up as the expert in that field. The keywords are all optimised. The journey to conversion has started.
The dangerous point I see is when you take this approach and apply it to all of your content.
There is a difference I see between consistent messaging and the same messaging. Consistency needs to be maintained while also catering to the medium and the audience at the time. Just as I once wrote on the different ways your audience will consume the same content, they’ll also interact with it differently depending on where and how they are consuming it.
Think of it this way: social media has a different tone and approach to your blog, right? Your native content will have a different tone and approach to your brochure, or your annual report. You’ll need to approach something for a mobile app differently to a magazine. And yet all of these mediums can share a messaging approach: just because they deliver the message differently doesn’t mean it’s a different message.
But the thing that has really stuck with me since this debate – and the reason why I now find myself writing a blog while sitting in a garage waiting for my car to be returned – is what you see below.
My friends, there is no magic formula that will guarantee you conversions on your content. Yes, there are approaches and ideas and mediums that make it more likely that your content will resonate with your audience – but will it push them into pressing the “buy” button? …No.
The only formula you need to follow when it comes to content marketing is the most simple one: right message, right place, right time. Do your research. Know your audience intimately. Understand your goals. Have your metrics ready. Analyse. Test. Learn. Rinse. Repeat.
It’s the only way. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling you snake oil.