Creating blog content can be a bit like swinging for a pinata and hoping you hit it.
There’s no strategy to the actual content-writing, per se. You’re just blindly hoping that if you hit hard and fast enough you’ll strike gold (or sweets, as it were).
But brands that do this run a big risk of missing the pinata altogether. And landing in the thorny bush right next to it, never to be seen again.
The thing is, powerful blog content largely rests on the shoulders of powerful copy. And copy is a mix of science and art…that can be analysed to make sure it’s as strong as it can be from every angle.
Often, brands can get overly technical and miss out on all the golden elements that make a great blog post so valuable, readable and ultimately relatable.
And lacklustre blog copy is simply a damn shame.
That’s why I developed a unique methodology – The 13 Lenses – that analyses blog copy and content by putting it through 13 magnifying glasses and helping you assess how to create content that performs.
That don’t miss a trick. And make the copy at every stage of your funnel as optimally powerful as it can be.
Sharply in focus, one might say.
WHAT’S THE GIST OF THE 13 LENSES OF HOW TO CREATE CONTENT THAT IS OPTIMALLY POWERFUL?
The concept is that you can use the 13 Lenses to look at any piece of copy or content and analyse its potential effectiveness.
This creates strategy-powered copy that optimises content from every angle.
Copy is a masterful mix of full-funnel marketing, sales psychology, creativity and best writing practices. And lest we forget the many algorithms and needs of various platforms.
With the 13 Lenses, every single area is considered for the purpose of your copy.
In this case, I’m going to take you through using the 13 Lenses for crafting a killer blog post. This process will make sure every blog post you create is optimised for as much power as possible.
A blog post superhero, if you will.
Let’s get started.
1. THE GOLDFISH LENS
Your customers have the attention spans of goldfish.
I know, it’s harsh but true.
Often, brands make the mistake of waffling on with huge, chunky paragraphs that lose their audience after a couple of sentences. Or even at first glance.
When you’re analysing a blog post (or about to write one), consider these questions:
- Are the paragraphs short and staggered in length? No more than three or four sentences per paragraph is the rule to follow.
- Are the sentences short and sweet? Ideally one thought per sentence to minimise rambling. And mix it up. Like so.
- Is the content easy to skim and scan with subheaders and/or bullet points?
You should be able to answer a big fat YES to these three questions.
Here’s a glowing example from Freshcaller’s blog.
WHY THEIR CONTENT NAILS IT
- There is one clear thought per sentence, which keeps the reader from being overwhelmed by jumping thoughts and chunky text.
- There’s a natural, easy-to-follow flow, focusing on short and sweet one-sentence paragraphs.
- It’s EASY TO READ – no tricky words or show-off language that has the reader consulting a dictionary.
Remember, you have around 6 seconds to grab their attention. And keep it. So keep it choppy.
And talking of holding their interest…
2. THE INTRIGUE LENS
Curiosity may have killed the cat. But it powered up the white paper.
Creating intrigue is essential to hooking your reader in and keeping their interest piqued.
A strong title should hit these notes of intrigue:
- Does it use The Curiosity Gap – or unexpectedness – in the headline?
- Does it build anticipation from the start with storytelling or cliffhangers?
- Does it include any intriguingly specific stats?
Here’s how it’s done, as demonstrated by this white paper title from Pardot:
WHY IT’S AN INTRIGUING TITLE
- The title begs the question: how is it a love story? It builds intrigue because it’s unique and compelling.
AND HOW THE LANDING PAGE HOOKS US EVEN MORE
Take a look at the landing page and how it reels us in with a stats and storytelling combo.
Convinced yet? I sure am.
And this leads us nicely to…
3. THE CONTEXT LENS
Your blog readers aren’t all at the same level of awareness. Or sophistication.
So you’re going to need to consider the context.
At the top of the funnel, for example, your prospects might only be problem-aware. And thus need to be educated about the available solutions to that problem.
They won’t be ready to hear about your all-singing, all-dancing services or products…yet.
They need nurturing.
No one wants to be proposed to on a first date.
So ask yourself these questions:
- What stage of awareness is my reader likely to be at? (Your blog post should sell the next step in the funnel, and not try to jump them down too many steps).
- How much are they likely to know about the topic already? (Their level of sophistication will affect whether you use technical or simple language)
Whatever the answer is, content will rarely be salesy, and will likely need a little of this…
4. THE VALUE LENS
Your readers need to get true value from your content.
They are most likely reading to be educated on the problem they’re facing…and looking for a solution.
But the web is full of shabby blog posts which barely scratch the surface of the topic. And that simply won’t cut the mustard if you want to compete.
So, you need to objectively think:
- Does the content give real, tangible value to the reader?
- Is unnecessary fluff trimmed out?
- Have we linked out to other valuable resources whenever your reader might need further clarification or tips?
Here’s the thing: have you ever seen a blog post from a brand that is their own company news? (Eeek).
Hearing about Andy’s promotion to VP of Sales is NOT adding value to the reader’s life.
Instead, you need to understand what makes your reader tick. What is going to make their lives better and how to create an article from that.
The best way of creating a valuable blog post? Get to know your audience with actual conversations.
Here’s a handy article from Get Spokal to demonstrate how to create content based on your customers’ pain points.
And once you’ve nailed that down, it’s time to look at…
5. THE OUTSIDE-IN LENS
The main point to consider here is – is the content created on insights, not assumptions?
- Do you use Voice of Customer data? These are actual words or phrases used by customers (they can be gathered from buyer interviews or even by simply surfing social).
- Have we done keyword research to understand what prospects are searching for? If you know what they’re typing into Google, you’re onto a winner in terms of content ideation.
In other words…
Don’t just base your content on what you think will resonate (‘inside-out thinking’). Base them – through research – on what prospects are actually looking for (‘outside-in thinking’).
The results will speak for themselves.
Especially if you spice things up a bit with…
6. THE CREATIVE SPARK LENS
Content can make use of all the formulas and techniques in the world, with decent results. But if it’s lacking that creative spark, the copy will only grip your reader so far.
A healthy injection of creativity is the key to crafting eye-catching, attention-grabbing content.
Take a look at this intro from my agency’s very own blog.
Are you gripped? Did those chat up lines work?
Here’s why it lights the creative spark:
- It uses storytelling and analogies to reel the reader in and use their imaginations (metaphors and similes work well too)
- It uses humour to engage the reader
- Dialogue is a great way of infusing creativity into content
But make sure you’re always keeping it real with…
7. THE REAL TALK LENS
Nope, I’m not saying your stories all have to be real. But your content needs to be relatable.
People respond to humans. And no matter your brand, technical or otherwise, you need to be communicating with your audience in clear, relatable language.
Consider these points:
- Are you talking directly to the reader with the words ‘you’ and ‘your’?
- Are you asking the reader questions and keeping it conversational?
- Are you steering clear of cliches and jargon?
- Does the flow feel like someone is talking?
Take a look at this blog post extract from Mailchimp.
What do you notice here?
- That’s right, there’s no jargon
- They talk directly to the reader, using the word ‘you’
- They don’t use overly complex language
Here’s the litmus test: think about the tone of your content – would you speak to your mate in a pub like that?
If the answer is ‘no’, you might need to make it more relatable.
8. THE HIERARCHY LENS
The flow of your longer form content needs to make sense and not jump about all over the place.
Typically this will involve:
- A powerful header –>
- A gripping intro –>
- Value-driven subheaders that dig deeper into the problem-solving (with examples!) –>
- A conclusion section that nicely punctuates the article.
Another important point to hit is expectation matching. Essentially, the top 10% of the content needs to match what the reader was expecting to read.
(Watch your clickbait here, pretty please.)
Here’s a 9-part blog post structure that’ll give you plenty more food for thought (written by yours truly).
Next up is an important one…
9. THE BRAND LENS
Your content needs to be in line with your brand.
You really don’t want to suddenly be talking in a different tone of voice, about topics that have nothing to do with…you.
The two, most key points to remember are:
- Are you using the right type of English? (spellings, idioms, references).
- Is the tone of voice in line with your brand guidelines? I.e. you’re sticking to clearly defined do’s and don’ts of how your brand should speak and act.
If you don’t, you run the risk of having extra diluted content.
Like overly watery squash (which my British friends will know about). And no one wants that.
10. THE PRIMAL BRAIN LENS
In a nutshell: there’s a primal part of your brain that acts on instinct.
Without you even having time to think about it.
It works faster than the more-recently evolved rational part of your brain. So it can be a powerful thing to tap into.
- Play on powerful emotions like love, nostalgia, regret etc
- Use sensory words like ‘stink’, ‘bitter’ and ‘silky’
- Use onomatopoeic words like ‘bang’, ‘pop’, and ‘sizzle’
- Use the most primal instinct of all: fear (e.g. by warning readers about what will go wrong if they don’t follow your advice)
All of these literary techniques will bring your content alive, making it irresistible by appealing to the primal part of the brain.
Your reader can’t help but react.
Here’s ‘fear’ in action from Brafton:
So you can see it’s not a case of scaring them with a ghost story.
This is a real, tangible fear that they are wasting precious money – making it a powerful header and intro.
But you gotta remember this…
11. THE ZIG ZAG LENS
Is your content unique?
Or is it the same run-of-the-mill article that can be found elsewhere via a quick Google search?
Your blog needs to stand out from the others in your industry, it’s that simple.
Mull these questions over:
- Is the angle, approach, or perspective unique?
- Is the tone of voice different to other blogs and content on the block?
- Do you have your own uniquely-branded imagery – or just bog-standard stock photos?
You’re going to need to do your due diligence here if you want it done properly. And by this, I mean a thorough competitor blog post analysis.
And ideally, as part of a full-blown strategy in how to create content.
Finding your differentiators is a multi-step approach that takes a BIG deep dive into your competition and where your place to shine is.
But to whet your appetite, here are 5 ways to differentiate your blog.
12. THE SEO LENS
Oh yes. What is often thought of to be a complex beast, SEO is an important part of getting your content to rise up the ranks.
You want Google to fall in love with your content too
So while writing a truly value-driven article is amazing for SEO, there are of course keyword bits and bobs you need to consider:
- Is the focus keyword used in the title?
- Are the primary and secondary keywords used in the content in a natural way? (Keyword stuffers – retreat!)
- Is the exact keyword phrase in the H1 header?
- Do the images have alt descriptions connected to the primary keyword (but not the same)?
For a much more robust understanding of how to SEO your blog posts, here are 10 tips to increase your blog post SEO.
And last, but definitely not least…
13. THE ACTION LENS
Your content needs to inspire action.
It’s great, if your reader gets useful tips and thinks of you as an authority…but it’s even better if they’re prompted to act afterwards.
- Is there a strong and relevant Call to Action (CTA)?
- Are you moving them on to the next stage of the funnel?
Let’s take a look at this blog post extract from Hubspot:
So this is The Action Lens in full…action.
Hubspot know that they want to move the reader onto the next stage of the funnel. They don’t want them to read their blog post then vanish into thin air.
So they catch them with a gated lead magnet, ready for nurturing. With value-driven emails that will educate and inspire them. Sloooooowly building up to persuading them about their amazing services.
So that’s it in a nutshell: how to use The 13 Lenses Methodology to analyse the ‘copy power’ of a blog post.
WHAT IF YOU WANT TO QUANTIFY HOW YOU CREATE YOUR CONTENT?
It’s a very good question. And luckily, I have an equally good answer.
You can actually use this methodology as a quantifiable Quality Assurance (QAing) system for your own peace of mind.
What you have here is a simple spreadsheet. But it’s more than that.
It actually acts as a QA checklist for every blog post that you write. So you’re not just using instinct to gauge the ‘copy power’ of your blog posts, but actual quantifiable analysis.
And you can use it for all content too.
If you’re scoring below 30, you know there’s room for improvement in how you create your content. Even tiny tweaks can make a huge difference.
What do you think?
I think it’s time for your content to go from zero to hero.
Hero photo by Bud Helisson on Unsplash