New to content blogging? Experimentation can teach you what works best for your blog.
Think you know what your audience wants from you? If you’ve done your research, it’s likely that you’re keyed into what your customers want to read. Do you have a public relations, marketing, and analytics team? Even better! You’re probably on the right track to relevant content blogging. There’s a good chance that with research and guidance, your posts will be a hit with your readers.
But what if your posts aren’t getting the traction you thought they would?
It’s tough to know why some blog posts go viral and others barely get any views, especially if you’re optimizing your posts and sharing them on social media. Even with the best research, you might not be posting what your readers are looking for at that time. Don’t despair, though. If you’re writing evergreen content, your posts will always be alive. If one post doesn’t perform how you expect immediately, it may outperform your expectations at a later date.
When we go over analytics with our clients, some are mystified. They ask us how it is that we know what we do. They can’t seem to fathom how we can strategize and optimize our posts while still writing fresh, lively content. The truth is simple: We believe in research, experience, and experimentation.
When you’re researching a blog post, there’s a lot to consider
First, what are your prospective clients even looking for? The only way to find out is by beginning your research.
If you’ve done your keyword research, you should have a long list of topics your audience would like you to address. Don’t be tempted to forgo this list and write on topics you think they’d like to learn about or that you’re particularly interested in. Think of your keywords as scientific proof of what people are wondering about. It’s your job as the blog expert to present answers or interesting material to the curious public.
Another way to approach research is by combing through your analytics. What posts are getting the highest hits? Where are you getting referrals from? What pages and posts on your website are getting viewed after the entry page? The answers to these questions will give you more insight into your audience.
Finally, make sure you’re researching your content. Fact checking is important for your reputation and to your blog readers. If you want to to be known as an authority on your topic, be sure to provide the best, most researched material. My recommendation – never, ever publish something that you cannot 100% stand behind. If you don’t know whether or not something is factual, you need to go above and beyond to make sure you find out.
Experience is also important for optimizing your content. As you grow as a writer and editor, you’ll gain the experience that professionals have built up over the years. The more you learn about your audience (by creating and if necessary redrafting personas), the better suited you will be to speak to them. But keep in mind, no one – not even an experienced content manager – is a mind reader, which is why research should always lead to experimentation.
Experimentation is key to continuous blog growth
In fact, experimentation is a big part of the reason we know what works and what doesn’t for online writing. Since you don’t always understand what your audience wants from you, we recommend varying the content for all levels of readership. There needs to be a good mix of content that will speak to both first-time readers and your regulars. While you may think all readers are completely educated about your product, don’t forget about new readers who found their way to your site by an optimized keyword, yet know nothing about your product or industry. These readers would require some simple posts to digest. But we’re not recommending you write only to them either. If you have a loyal customer base, you need to speak directly to them as well. They’ll require more details or possibly even longer posts to keep their interests. It’s never good to assume your readers understand too much or too little.
Better yet, switch the post type up to keep your readers on the edge of their seats. Do you regularly write very short posts? Mix it up by posting a long interview. Maybe you can even include video or audio in the post. Do you regularly share how-tos? Maybe instead you could write a longer, more detailed post. Do you usually use the same blog templates? Mix up the format and try different headers or lists or paragraph lengths.
Often, this is where we see people stop their experimentation.
We beg to differ.
There are so many different things your company can experiment with.
Have you tested your headlines? If you only spend a few moments thinking about your headline before publishing it, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Most successful content marketers write anywhere between five to even sometimes twenty-five headlines before deciding on the best one to use. We suggest writing five-to-ten headlines and then testing them out via your social posting to see which ones get the best traction. You might find the original headline you chose to be weaker than another you simply Tweeted. If so, change the headline, but remember to keep the optimized keyword in the headlines at all times. If you need help learning how to write captivating headlines, check out this post by CoSchedule. Bonus: Not only will it teach you how to write good headlines, it will show you how they experiment with headlines – just like we do.
Maybe you need to change your call-to-action. A call-to-action (CTA) is one of the most important parts you’ll write in a blog post. If you’re blogging for business, you want to convert readers into customers, and you do that with a well written CTA. Every blog post should have one, which gives you ample opportunity to test how well it’s working for you. Experiment with word choice, color, and size until you find the best combination to convert your readers.
When HubSpot changed the color of their CTA button, they noticed a 34% conversion rate change. And that’s simply by changing a color, folks. Tell me that doesn’t motivate you to go and start tweaking your blog. Before you do, we suggest you keep reading. You don’t want to change everything at once, or you’ll never know what worked and what didn’t!
Use your analytics to help you find out the best days and times to post. One way to experiment with content blogging is to share your posts at different times and also on different days until you find out what works for you. Another way to find this answer without mixing up your posting is to check your analytics. Find out what time your blog has its highest traffic. Check and see if there are consistent days people are reading what you write. If so, maximize your potential by posting on those days and in that time range.
And whatever you do, don’t stop there
After you experiment with your blog posts, you need to start right back at the first step: research. Experimenting will do nothing for your blog if you don’t check the analytics. Which posts worked best for your company? Was it posts with different content than you normally share? Was it the posts with different blog styles than you normally share? Maybe you’ve upped your headline game and are now writing more catchy titles. Whatever it is, take all the research you’ve gathered from your testing and make incremental changes to reflect your new content blogging best practices.
What happens if after experimenting you notice that some of your posts never took off? No worries, you can repurpose your content. Just be sure that you’ve given it enough time to grow organically first. If nothing seems to be happening over time, redo the post. You already have the content, but maybe you need to find better-optimized keywords. Maybe the content is good, but could be better shared in a different format with a new keyword and up-to-date examples.
The bottom line is that you won’t learn about what best works for your blog until you try new things. Do the unexpected. Keep people guessing.