If you're not producing top-tier content that scratches a real itch, you won't keep readers interested. That's the assertion Neil Patel makes in his article, The Surprising Secrets to Creating Content that Finally Converts. Patel runs a popular web blog that receives millions of page views monthly. His secret? He researches topics at length and writes how-to guides that solve real-world needs.
Patel asserts the vast majority of us are looking to glean knowledge online, rather than reading for enjoyment, as we might a novel. While we might browse the news, read an opinion piece or pour over a review, we're often looking to solve real problems.
Looking to capture attention with your own how-to guide? Here are some of the techniques Patel recommends:
Show, don't tell
Write your blog post like you might a walkthrough, or a step-by-step guide. Employ clear language and flesh out your point with images - we're visual creatures after all. A 'show, don't tell' mentality is all about understanding that your reader is there to get better at something.
In an opinion piece, brevity is better than bloat. In a guide, longer is better, because you need to lead the reader from A to B to C. Patel goes to extremes, putting together 3,000-4,000-word guides that always draws on data to back up his hypothesis.
Never assume knowledge
It's better to coddle someone than overestimate their expertise. As readers, we tend to ditch a post the minute we feel we're losing our grip on the subject matter.
If this Cisco study is to be believed, 82% of all online content will be video by 2021. Even if that figure is off the mark, we know from our own daily browsing habits that we consume more video content than before. Brands need to start leveraging video more, something Patel has been doing on his blog and on his YouTube channel.
To show people why your methods make sense, draw on the data. Whether that's a survey, a marketing study, or a screenshot from Google Analytics, lay out your findings in your article. As Patel says:
"Rather than just telling, it helps to show a visualization. If you read a statistic without a visual representation, it is often overlooked. If you want your content to stand out, you need to use visuals."
Ultimately, some brands are going to be better suited to this sort of content than others.
But even the most obscure brand can make a splash online by giving away advice for free. Leverage what you know, share a few trade secrets in the short-term, and win long-term gains in the process.