While measuring content effectiveness remains a top challenge for content marketers, there’s one challenge that continues to keep marketers up at night more than ROI—producing engaging content. 56% of all B2C content marketers and 60% of B2B content marketers report that producing engaging content will be a top challenge next year. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the top priority for 72% of content marketers in 2017 will be creating more engaging content, followed by having a better understanding of what content is and isn’t effective.
But which channels will content marketers need to focus on? With blogging being the leading content marketing tactic for 65% of content marketers, we can expect teams to invest more resources, creativity and analytics capabilities to develop better blog posts. And according to a recent blogging report from TrackMaven, the urgency to create more engaging blog posts has never been more apparent.
The research found that over the past five years, the average number of blog posts published per brand per month increased by 800%. Also, the average number of social shares per post from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest decreased by 89%.
The bottom line is this—brands are creating more and more blog posts, but people are far less engaged and less likely to share them.
After evaluating over 65,000 blog posts over the past year, TrackMaven was able to uncover what makes a blog post highly shareable. Here are the most interesting data-backed insights from the report to help you optimize your approach to developing more engaging blog content.
Brands are competing for people’s attention with every blog post published. The report found the most competitive day to publish content is Wednesday and the worst time is 1pm. Not surprisingly, the least popular time to publish a post is on Sunday and at 2am. As for the best day and time to hit publish, posts published on Sundays and at 3pm received the highest average number of social shares per post.
Your blog’s headline is the first, and sometimes only, part people read when they come across your content. Even with regular headline A/B testing, it can be a challenge to pinpoint the minute characteristics of a winning blog title. That’s why TrackMaven dissected each blog title in their research to reveal what works, from length to word choice:
- Headline length: The industry best practice is to keep blog titles around 65 characters or less because this is where Google cuts off titles on search engine results pages. TrackMaven’s research can help you get even more strategic with your headlines. They found the optimal blog title length is seven words, averaging 412 social shares per post. And the optimal character count (not including spaces) is 41.
- Punctuation: If your headline style includes frequent use of punctuation, now there’s some comprehensive data about which punctuation marks could have an impact on social shares. Apparently the vertical bar ( | ) is the highest-performing punctuation mark in blog titles, with an average of 5,869 social shares per post. So rather than using dashes in your headline to indicate a pause, for example, use a vertical bar.
- Pronouns: Using pronouns in titles is a great way to make your content conversational, and they can have an impact on social shares as well. The research found posts with two pronouns in the title get the most shares, with an average of 446 social shares per blog post. And second person pronouns continue to outperform the rest. Second person is consistently correlated with increased blog shareability, with six out of the top 10 pronouns being in the second person.
In the last year, the average length of blog posts has increased 12%, from an average of 639 words per post to 718 words per post. While this small increase in word count does correlate with more social shares, doubling this word count would be even better. Posts that are 1,200 to 1,400 words overwhelmingly performed best in the study, with an average of 428 social shares per post.
Who doesn’t love a good listicle or a series of bulleted lists? When used appropriately, they make content scannable and more digestible, enhancing the user experience. But the research suggests content creators should be wary of overusing them. Blogs with two lists see the most engagement with an average of 601 social shares per post. However, blogs with no lists at all perform better than those that go overboard with four or more lists.
With blogging being the leading content marketing tactic, it’s imperative to continuously improve your process for creating more compelling blog posts. But your blog posts are just the beginning to a more engaging content strategy. To take full advantage of your highly shareable content, ensure you have a strategy and technology in place to keep your readers engaged on all channels as they progress through the buyer’s journey.
To learn more about how OneSpot can help you increase engagement with your content, visit onespot.com/solutions.
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