While different content forms can seem completely dissimilar from one another, there’s one formula that ties them all together for optimized performance. Whether it’s an article, video or infographic content should always have a headline, intro, body, outro and call-to-action (CTA). Many new forms of content are being developed as this is typed, like virtual reality and augmented reality. They are not exceptions to this formula. It works across all mediums. This is the keep it simple stupid approach to optimized content creation.
This is the initial most important aspect of any creative. If the title isn’t alluring than clicks and engagement with subsequent content are unlikely. However, this can be a tricky problem to overcome. Most reading this understand the amount of click-bait headlines we’ve been bombarded with last decade. Those headlines that don’t align with the content behind them can lead to distrust in a brand and the content creator themselves.
Here’s the headline tactics The New York Times uses. It’s a good round up for consideration:
- Highlight the tension – Bald Eagles Are Back. For Pilots, That’s a Problem.
- Highlight the turning point – Their Student Debt Was Forgiven. Until It Wasn’t
- Note the scale of the issue – A Generation in Europe, Stuck in ‘Permatemp’ Jobs
- Address the reader directly – Before You Go, Check Your Passport
- Call out telling statistics – Yankees Ticket Prices A Factor As Sales Fall $166 Million
- Use two sentence structure to tell story within headline – The Senate Voted to Confirm Sessions. It Wasn’t Pretty.
- Surface voices from the story – ‘I Quit,’ Said Man in Handcuffs Who Died After Taser Shocks
- Assign Blame – Air Travel Is Terrible. Silicon Valley is Partly to Blame.
- Use specific and evocative language – YouTube Stars Tremble At The Whim Of An Algorithm
Lastly, based on years of professional experience, it’s never recommended to put a company name in a headline. Time and time again those posts seriously underperform analytically compared to the others. Consumers don’t necessarily care about a company or brand. They care about whether or not they can solve their problems.
In the spirit of keeping it simple, here’s a checklist for the introduction all content marketers should consider following. It’s worked very well my entire career:
- Tell them what you’re going to tell them
- Make an argument or important statement
- Answer this – “What’s in it for the reader?”
Creating content is a privilege for the originator. The consumer has expectations that the content will make their lives easier. That’s what businesses do and why they exist. The introduction is a chance to lure a consumer into the content and convince them that a problem they have will be solved.
This is where the creator delivers on the promise of the headline and introduction. It’s not complicated. However, if the creator fails to deliver on what they promised the consumer will be disappointed and likely have a bad view of the brand behind the content. Here’s a simple way to consider the deliverables in the body of content, regardless of form:
- Tell them what you told them you were going to tell them
- Prove the argument or the importance
- Provide the value
This is the wrap-up of the original point of the content. It should deliver a definitive takeaway. It should also summarize the main points of the body and reemphasize the argument in the introduction. Creators don’t create for their company. They create for an audience. Don’t forget that in the creation process. Lastly, here’s two things to remember in the conclusion:
- Tell them what you told them
- Remind the consumer what was in it for them (what they got out of it)
All content creators have an obligation to tell their consumers what to do next. If a user takes their precious time out of the day to dedicate to engaging with a creator’s content than that creator is obliged to tell them what to do next. If not, it’s a disservice to the consumer and to the brand. Always include a CTA at the end of creative.
In total there are five major considerations to consider when creating optimized content for the consumer. They include the title, introduction, body, conclusion and CTA. If these are all included in content, then both the creator and the brand will be much more successful at driving audiences and subscribers. For more additional creative guidance on native ad units, both social and programmatic check out our latest “Guide to Naïve Content Amplification.”