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Blog Content 2016 Performance Report


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Using machine learning and correlative data models, we set out to explore and highlight the structural and linguistic trends that are defining how digital content performs.

The following report shows you how to adapt your content to maximize engagement with your audience.


Published in: Data & Analytics
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Blog Content 2016 Performance Report

  1. 1. Blog Content 2016 Performance Trends April, 2016 All Industries
  2. 2. 1 Million articles 8k Content Feeds 3000 Topics Atomic Reach Marketing success powered by machine learning Atomic Reach is a machine learning platform that analyzes the influence of text structure and use of language on digital audience readership. About Us
  3. 3. Using machine learning and correlative data models, we set out to explore and highlight the structural and linguistic trends that are defining how digital content performs. The following report shows you how to adapt your content to maximize engagement with your audience. Enjoy! About this report Content Audiences Engagement patterns
  4. 4. High Quality Content here are the facts Writing an active blog is an essential communications method for all businesses to build authority, drive sales and maximize audience engagement. To achieve success, high quality content is mandatory. • Google: High-quality content is the only way to get a good site ranking on Google (CMI) • SEO: High quality content is the foundation of all other SEO activities (SEL) • Leads: Blogging is the most effective lead generation tool for marketers (Hubspot)
  5. 5. What makes your content perform From the timing of the delivery of a post to social media, to the structure of your sentences and the words you choose, each element is a pre-determining component impacting how well your content will perform. Headlines The headline of your content is the most crucial element for increasing visibility and shares. Headline optimization is a precise science and must be applied correctly. Timing The best time to distribute your content on social media depends on the network and your audiences’ readability level. Optimizing distribution is essential to maximizing results. Language Audience readability is key. Who they are and what they know informs the right language, tone and vocabulary needed to engage them. Structure There are common structural elements within content that are prerequisites of high quality content. They all need to be used.
  6. 6. Performance benchmarks Posts with the three key elements of high-quality content (headlines, language, structure) generate material increases in performance. Above all, high-quality content is built on a clear understanding of the readability of your audience. Source What is the impact of high-quality blog content? 12x 7x 3x more leads per month more traffic more leads per dollar
  7. 7. 6% 20% 12% 31% 31% Readability Matching language to the needs of your audience is the most important thing you can do. Ideal readability levels vary by industry and brand identity. For example, financial services content unexpectedly performs better at a lower readability level, while parenting articles perform better when written for a more advanced audience. Understanding your audience is crucial. Readability Levels Segmentation of content and audience by readability - Genius - General - Academic Knowledgeable Specialist
  8. 8. Paragraph Density structure impacts perception As the number of paragraphs matching the correct paragraph density increases, the higher the average pageviews 0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 <50% 50%-84% >85% %ofMatchingParagraphs Average Unique Pageviews Average Pageviews Consider paragraph density as a visual signal to your audience that your content is written with thought and care, and is of a high quality. Paragraph density is most affected by the number of sentences in a paragraph, but can also be influenced by the complexity of the words you select, and the length of your sentences. Paragraphs either too long or too short create an incorrect perception and result in a loss of engagement.
  9. 9. Sentence Count structure impacts perception A clear trend towards longer posts is emerging and engagement data confirms that audiences prefer to spend their time reading long-form content. Additionally, # of words per sentence impacts readability and engagement yielding an ideal range of approximately 8 to 10 words. The ideal length of a blog post is increasing into the 70+ sentence range 0 2000 4000 6000 8000 21-30 31-40 41-70 71+ SentenceCount Average Unique Pageviews Average Pageviews
  10. 10. Word Count structure impacts perception Word choice impacts the sentences’ fluency and contains implicit expectations of the audience’s required expertise on a topic. In addition to overall word count it is of particular importance to pay attention to word complexity. The combination of the two signal to the audience whom you post is targeting and how well versed they need to be in order to comprehend and benefit from your point of view. Articles between 500 to 700 words outperform shorter and longer content 0 2000 4000 6000 8000 301-500 501-700 701-1000 1001-1400 1401+ WordCount Average Unique Pageviews Average Pageviews
  11. 11. The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do Thomas Jefferson
  12. 12. What makes a compelling title Title Findings Titles
  13. 13. Title Character Count title structure impacts performance While often cited as the most challenging part of the writing process, title construction is one of the most important influencers on audience engagement. When used effectively, a title communicates the topic and captures the readers’ imagination, and is the first point of contact between the audience and a post. A point of note: Google displays approximately 60 characters of a title in a search results page, correlating directly with reader engagement data. Titles containing 31 to 60 characters receive the most pageviews 0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 1-30 31-40 41-50 51-60 61-70 71-80 81+ #ofCharacters Average Unique Pageviews Average Pageviews
  14. 14. Emotion emotion creates connectivity Words are assigned an emotional value based on one of three states: positive, negative or neutral. Data illustrates that words with either a positive or negative connotation contribute to reader engagement, especially when represented within a title. Titles containing at least one word with an emotional value drive more engagement 0 2000 4000 6000 8000 NEUTRAL EMOTIONAL PresenceofAnEmotionInATitle Average Unique Pageviews Average Pageviews
  15. 15. Keywords keywords drive engagement Keywords in a title provide the reader with a contextual signal and are a key driver of engagement. When constructing a title, the placement of a keyword is as equally important as the presence of a keyword. Data illustrates that keywords are more effectual when placed in the back of a title, as readers are more likely to interact with the last 3 words. Note that keyword balance is also important. Stuffing titles with keywords has a negative impact on post performance. Presence and placement of a keyword are material to the performance of a title 0 2000 4000 6000 8000 1 2 3 4 5 6+ TitleKeywordCount Average Unique Pageviews Average Pageviews
  16. 16. Pronouns personalize the experience Using pronouns personalizes the title and the experience for the reader. Note that the type of article you are writing influences the type of pronoun you select. When constructing a title, use of a 2nd person pronoun over the exclusion of a pronoun can impact initial pageview performance by as much as 200%. Use of a 2nd person pronoun can increase pageviews by as much as 200% 0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000 NO PRONOUNS 1ST PERSON 2ND PERSON 3RD PERSON UseofPronouns Average Unique Pageviews Average Pageviews
  17. 17. Superlative connect with the audience Audiences recognize that writers are skilled at using titles to maximize interest, but are equally adept at recognizing an over-indulgence of the craft. When used correctly superlatives are a valuable technique authors can apply to amplify a feeling and increase title engagement. That said, overstuffing of superlatives or incorrect use can have an adverse affect on engagement. When used appropriately, superlatives can increase title engagement by over 300% 0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000 12000 NO YES SuperlativeInTitles Average Unique Pageviews Average Pageviews
  18. 18. In The Form of A Question pique curiosity Phrasing a title in the form of a question is a constructive method often used by authors to pique the interest of the audience. It can also establish an immediate point of view before the article is even viewed, which can be a valuable method to increase engagement. Titles in the form of a question are a valuable engagement method 0 2000 4000 6000 8000 NO YES TitleAsAQuestion Average Unique Pageviews Average Pageviews
  19. 19. Who, What, When, Where, Why Or How establish purpose Regarded as the 5 fundamental questions of journalism, the 5Ws are equally important for business writers. Using the 5Ws provides a clear purpose for the article and explains to the reader what they should expect to learn. The 5Ws provide clear purpose and set an expectation with the audience 0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 None At least one AnInstructionalTitle Average Unique Pageviews Average Pageviews
  20. 20. Presence of a Number set context with the audience Use of a number in a title is a common method exercised by writers to set an expectation with the reader as to the style of article. Presence of a number in the title communicates a form of structure such as, a listicle, a series of facts, or a schedule of prioritized thoughts. When used to establish the form of content, numbers in articles are effective and result in increases in engagement. When used in context numbers are an effective method of driving readership 0 2000 4000 6000 8000 NO YES PresenceofANumberInTitles Average Unique Pageviews Average Pageviews
  21. 21. The two most engaging powers of an author are to make new things familiar and familiar things new. Samuel Johnson
  22. 22. Social Network Engagement How social network audiences engage with content Social Audiences Are Unique By Network
  23. 23. Increasing the frequency of sharing is one of the lesser used but most effective techniques available to businesses to maximize engagement. As illustrated in the data above, increasing the number of shares per post, increases the average number of re- shares per share – i.e. 6+ shares per post results in an average of 300+ re-shares per share. Conversely, 2 shares per post results in an average of under 200 re-shares per share. Sharing Frequency 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 1 2 3 to 5 6+ #ofRe-sharesPerShare Average Like Rate per Post Average Reshare Rate per Post
  24. 24. While the user annotation associated with the post (the post comment) and the title of the article function as the primary engagement drivers, post word count does impact overall performance. As is the case with article length correlations, 500 to 700 words is the ideal length on Facebook. Facebook Engagement 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 301-500 501-700 701-1000 1001-1400 1401+ AverageFBRe-shares Word Count
  25. 25. Facebook sentence count Longer form content performs better on social networks. Performance data shows that the ideal length for a Facebook post is in the 31 to 40 sentence range, which is slightly shorter than posts hosted on a blog. Ideal post length for Facebook is in the 31 to 40 sentence range 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 1-20 21-30 31-40 41-70 71+ Engagement # of Sentences Avg FB Reshares Avg FB Likes
  26. 26. Consistent with ideal length findings for posts in general, long form content performs better on Twitter. Of interest, data correlations illustrate that the minimum ideal length on Twitter is approximately 500 words, and articles on the higher end of the spectrum (1400+ words) drive the most average engagement. Twitter Engagement 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 501-700 701-1000 1001-1400 1401+ Word Count Avg TW Retweets Avg TW Favourites
  27. 27. Twitter sentence count Consistent with word count findings, on Twitter articles with longer sentences perform better. This suggests that Tweets are shared actively and rapidly to draw attention, but when clicking through to the corresponding article, Twitter audiences will invest significant time consuming information. Twitter audiences engage more with longer form content 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 21-30 31-40 41-70 71+ Performance Sentence Count Avg TW Retweets Avg TW Favourites
  28. 28. When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into its writing. Enrique Jardiel Poncela
  29. 29. Our team meet the experts Paul Blamire VP, Client Experience Paul oversees all facets of user- experience initiatives. He continually looks atplatform data correlations to help marketers build highly effective content programs. Jessica Qi Data Analyst Amathematics wiz, Jessica spends her time applying advanced analytics models to draw out important data correlations impacting content behavior. Summer Luu Director of Marketing Summer manages Atomic Reach’s marketing programs and is available to respond to all media inquiries or questions about this report.
  30. 30. Contact how to reach us 647 Dupont Street, Suite 404 Toronto, ON Our office
  31. 31. “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” Ernest Hemingway