Another holiday season is fast approaching, and that means websites are scrambling to ready killer campaigns (or have already launched them) that will generate North Pole-sized sales. For those fortunate enough to have a wealth of resources at their disposal, this will mean lavish advertising campaigns that will feature them prominently on the most highly-trafficked sites on the net.
Those with more moths in their digital wallet than Benjamins will need to rely on other assets, one of their most prized ones being their blog. While blogging and SEO have always been valuable tools in the online marketing arsenal, the paradigm is shifting, and quality content is now more important than ever.
There’s two reasons for that. On the one hand, Google’s search engine has evolved to put less emphasis on keywords and more of it on other aspects of a post’s content and quality. These changes will continue to happen as Google’s crusade for an unadulterated Internet only increases. And on the other hand, search engines and SEO are no longer the primary method to attract eyeballs in the first place. Instead, social media and social sharing have become a prominent means through which content is found and consumed.
That, more than anything else, is why quality is king. While search engines can still be tricked, real people can’t; or at least not quite so easily. Your blog post has to strike a chord with readers, a powerful chord; a “this post was so cool I just have to share it with my friends” chord.
At the same time, your post has to be a little self-promotional. It’s not entirely enough just to get people there, to read your post and depart. You need them to read your post, love it and share it themselves, but to also draw something from it and become interested in what you’re selling. That is a very difficult balancing act.
The Art of Sharing
Firstly, you need to understand what content is being shared. Contrary to popular opinion about the attention spans of the internet hordes, long-form content is shared far more often than short-form. In fact, the longer and longer it gets, the more likely it becomes that it will be shared. Sharers clearly respect the effort put into longer pieces, and that effort is finally being rewarded by the internet.
Meanwhile, on the emotion front, readers tend to share awe-inspiring or humorous posts more than anything else. 46% of all shared posts were deemed to be either humorous, joyous, or amusing, and 25% awe-inspiring, according to a study conducted by OkDork. People want to share pleasing content, not something that will bring their friends down.
The easiest of those emotions to hit is probably humor. While it’s hard to inspire awe or joy in some subject matter, you can always sneak humor in (like I could put something funny in this bracket right here if I wasn’t so lazy; don’t be lazy!).
Tying it All Together With a Pretty Bow
In the end though, it all needs to tie-in with your product(s), encouraging your now-joyous readers to either look into other information on your website, return later for more information, or head straight to your checkout so your online payment processor (and hopefully you have a good one that won’t butcher that final, crucial step and will also be cost-effective for you) can rack up another sale for you. All of these are crucial to succeeding in an online sale. Your blog content can drive them there, but your inefficient and non- user-friendly shopping cart can drive them away just as quickly.
The content needs to be engaging, but also self-promotional. In this sense, your blog post should almost borderline on a sales letter masquerading as shareable content with a catchy title, a very personable (and personal) feel, and laden with humor. It should skillfully extol the virtues of your product or service in a way that feels fun and non-aggressive. Finding something shareable to talk about in your industry should be quite simple to not only come across, but to write about in an educated manner. After all, you are an expert in your industry, and your customers will surely think of you as such should you deliver consistently as both a content provider and retailer.
One possible way to pull this off is to compare your product to another comparable one, but not a direct competitor. Say you’re selling a motorized skateboard, instead of trying to attack other products in that niche, take a shot at regular skateboards instead with your blog post “5 Reasons Why Pushing a Skateboard with Your Foot is soooo 1990’s”.
You’ve just created an article concept with the potential to be a fun, viral success, while innocuously touting your own product and generating interest and potential sales for it. Congratulations. Now get to it; these blog posts (and the jokes in their brackets) don’t write themselves. Good luck!
Owen Andrew is a tech journalist and Apple enthusiast. When he’s not writing or drooling over the latest Apple announcement, he’s usually hanging with his kids and doing family activities. Feel free to give him a shout on G+ or Facebook