Be honest. If you land on a blog post and find yourself confronted with nothing but a big fuck off wall of text - do you feel inspired? Do you feel ready to commit to the read? To donate 10 minutes of your time?
It’s also something that’s (for some reason) neglected by a lot of marketers.
Getting people to click on your headline is a triumph in itself. It’s a practice which takes creativity, the knack of knowing what provokes a reaction from your readers and a willingness to experiment. But once you get that click-through and a person lands on your website (your hallowed content hub) what’s to say they’re going to stick around?
If people don’t feel instantly glued to your site, if they’re not stimulated by what’s in front of them, they’re going to make like a tree and leave. And all that time and effort you put into crafting your content will have been for nothing.
It’s that simple.
If your visitors aren’t engaged by what’s on the page in front of them, they won’t care about your message. They won’t care about you.
The yellow brick road
There's plenty good reasons why you should be dwelling on dwell time. And the good news is that there are plenty of actions you can take to maximise dwell time on your website!
User experience is a site-wide journey which needs constant refining. However, today we’re just going to focus on your blog.
You might’ve already found a striking feature image for your new post - y’know, the one that sits at the top of the page, the first thing the reader sees and the one that gets pulled into social when people share your content.
But it doesn’t stop there.
In fact, that’s just the starting point.
Likelihood is you have a call-to-action in each of your blog posts.
Whether that be for a newsletter sign up, free downloadable content (or any other conceivable offer) - the aim is to guide your readers down the page.
Along that yellow brick road.
Taking them from point to point, educating them all the while, until they feel compelled to enter the next stage of the buyer’s journey.
But if you’re losing readers quicker than a toupee in a hurricane, there’s not much hope when it comes to growing your database.
So what can you do to maximise the impact of your blog posts and transform your content into lead magnets which deliver on their purpose?
Time to elaborate.
Emotion is everything
One of our favourite quotes comes from Maya Angelou…
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Colour, action, emotion, beauty - additional media can convey so many things quickly and with huge impact. Strong visuals evoke an immediate emotion - happiness, laughter, shock, disgust.
They get us right in the feels.
Visual media is an essential part of the narrative. It helps to engage and intrigue your reader, whilst reinforcing and consolidating the statement you’re so eloquently making - and ensures the content as a whole is more easily digestible.
According to John Medina, when people hear information, they're likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retain 65% of the information three days later.
It’s all about creating an experience that will last long in the memory, so that when the time comes again, the reader will turn to you as their most trusted source.
Catch the eye, consolidate your message
Eye-tracking studies by the Nielson Norman Group suggest that “...internet readers pay close attention to information-carrying images. In fact, when the images are relevant, readers spend more time looking at the images than they do reading text on the page.”
This is definitely something to think about.
With the rise of visually heavy social media sites such as Instagram and Pinterest - and the explosion of mobile technology, most of us now carry an all in one camera, video camera and editing suite in our pockets.
Most people fancy themselves as a photographer and/or filmmaker these days. Smartphones allow us to shoot good quality images and videos on the hoof. Think about what kinds of visual your reader is going to love and get creative with it.
“Coloured visuals increase people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80%.” (HubSpot)
If you have your own high quality shots, use them. They will allow you to be different, highly relevant and inventive. They will also enable you to create media that reflects your overall brand. If not, consider commissioning photos to be taken to a very specific brief.
If you don’t have the time, or you’re simply not a dab hand at photography, don’t worry. You can always source quality imagery from websites such as iStock and Shutterstock - just be sure to choose authentic looking visuals.
Experiment with different types of media
We’ve already explored the rise of video on several occasions. And with 43% of consumers demanding more video content in 2016 (HubSpot), it’s a trend that’s showing no signs of slowing...
Look around at what competitors are doing and go for a distinct look and feel that makes your blog stand out. But always be sure that the media you’re including is adding value to the blog post, rather than drawing attention away from the real message.
You can also turn to GIFs, memes and embedded social posts to enhance your blog post, grab the eye and encourage that journey down below the fold and beyond.
Optimise for search ranking
Media that sits within blog posts also impacts on search ranking.
Relevant and interesting media, carefully labelled with the right file name and keywords will boost your ranking. And an image that is surrounded by related text will rank more highly for the keyword it’s optimised for.
Here’s our top tips:
- Use images to break up the text and help explain the point you’re making
- Embed videos, gifs and tweets where appropriate
- Be sure to include alt-text on all images
- Captions are useful, but not essential
- Maintain a consistent level of quality
Whether you already use media throughout your blog posts, or this is your first step to more engaging content, you might be wondering how to measure dwell time.
If you’re not measuring your marketing metrics, you’re just going to be wildly stabbing in the dark - and it’s no different when it comes to dwell time.
At SupaReal we use tools like HotJar to help us gauge how blog posts are performing (beyond views and social shares), which media is having its desired effect on the reader - keeping them on the page and motivating them to read on.
With these kinds of insights you can tweak your published content over time to produce better results and make sure it’s doing the job it’s meant to be doing.
Create, optimise, measure, tweak, repeat.