What is hero content?

image of the 3H model

Hero content is a concept that is central to many content marketing approaches and in this post I’m going to explain what it actually is and show how you use hero content in a campaign.

In this post

What is hero content?

Hero content is the main piece of work that an entire campaign will lead up to or centre around and can feature (among other things) a major white paper, a research piece or an eBook that provides valuable and useful information for its readers.

Hero content establishes the credibility of you and your brand and shows users that you can be relied upon to have a detailed grasp of the subject. In short, it shows you are a subject matter expert.

The benefits of hero content

To my mind there are three benefits of hero content.

The first is the establishment of credibility.

When you are working in services marketing credibility is the key because with services the potential client needs to know that they are buying quality.

A chunky piece of hero content helps to establish that credibility and shows the client that you know what you are doing. It gives them the warm feeling they need that you have the background, experience and knowledge needed to help with their particular issues.

The second benefit is that it gives you a substantial subject for the focus of your marketing.

If you are wanting to get press attention, backlinks and visits then nothing works as well as original research or a thought leadership white paper.

Your hero content can form a central part of your marketing effort and depending on your objectives will enable you to drive engagement, shares likes etc. for your site.

The final benefit is the use of hero content to build a mailing list.

There can’t be many people who haven’t signed up to a mailing list to get a valuable piece of research or to read an insightful article.

It’s pretty much standard practice in the business world and from my point of view, I accept it both as a price to pay for the content but also in the hope that when I get emails from the company they will also be interesting.

Using the ‘3H’ strategy

The 3 H strategy was devised by Google to help YouTubers and is a method of garnering interest and pushing them towards hero content.

It’s an excellent way of marketing, especially if you are in services but it works across the spectrum and you can see charities, government organisations and online stores all using the 3H strategy too.

The 3H strategy uses 3 different types of content; Hygiene, Hub and Hero to engage with the audience.

The idea is that it all revolves around giving away free content to build credibility and brand loyalty.

image of the 3H model


The 3H strategy:- Hygiene

Hygiene is the name of the content that underpins the whole strategy.

If you were to transfer it to the AIDA marketing concept then it would be an ‘A’ – Attention.

Also called supporting pieces these are short, sharp attention getters that give potential clients some insight into a small area of your expertise.

They form the bedrock of the strategy and are useful for getting hits through keyword marketing.

The important point is that they aren’t necessarily going to make you sales.

If it was in the field of human relationships then a hygiene piece would be a first date. All your customer is doing is seeing if they like you enough to go on a second date, you’re not getting married yet!

The most common types of hygiene content is a blog article but it could be a short podcast or video. In fact, anything that is designed to get attention from your target market.

Because they tend to be simpler and shorter, hygiene pieces are the cheapest to produce and many marketers will say that done well, they produce the best ROI of anything.


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The 3H strategy:- Hub

Longer and more in-depth than a hygiene piece, the hub content is the next step in the 3H marketing method.

Also called ‘pillar’ pieces, hub content is a way of gaining more engagement from your intended audience.

You’re starting to give them something of real value here so the types of assets you produce could be things like worksheets, step by steps, longer ‘how-to’ videos and indeed anything that your customer can use in their day to day work or life.

Strangely they tend to be the longest-lived content because where the hygiene pieces are often topical and of the moment, a good pillar piece can be reused in a variety of different campaigns.

The 3H strategy:- Hero content

This is where it ends up – Hero.

Now you are really getting to the meat of the issue and what you are providing is a chunky, original and useful bit of work.

Maybe you have done some original research that will help businesses or you have an ‘ultimate guide to…’ that assists startups, helps with inheritance tax or even helps people plan a funeral!

Whatever it is I guarantee that in your business there is some hero content that is waiting to be discovered.

By the time your potential customer has read some of your hygiene content, used your pillar piece worksheets and pored over your hero guide they are clear that you are trustworthy, you know what you are talking about and you are professional.

And when you are in services that is the golden nugget that you are searching for.

Start with a plan

The place to start is with a sensible and realistic plan.

Think about what you want to achieve as a result of the campaign.

Think about your potential clients. What issues do they have that you can solve?

Think about how all the pieces of hygiene, hub and hero will work together.

You can decide to produce all of the hygiene first and then roll it up into a hero piece or you can start with your hero content and then chop it down into bite-sized chunks. Then you can expand upon these in a series of blogs.

Generally speaking, I’d say you need to look at producing one hero content, 2-4 hub pieces and an 12+ hygiene pieces that all support the theme.

And don’t get too ambitious. You are much better off proving you are a subject matter expert about a single, focused issue than trying to write a hero piece that contains everything you know.

3 ideas for great hero content

So I’m going to fess up here. These aren’t 3 great ideas for hero content that I have just had.

In fact, these are all pieces of hero content that I have already produced for clients, so I’m not being original. But then the point is that these are simply examples of ideas that you could use in your own industry.

Rydoo – the state of expense management

Rydoo is one of the best global Travel and Expenses systems out there and they asked me to produce a report based on the data they were seeing from their users.
The report was designed to who how expenses claims had changed as a result of COVID and what it meant for employers and employees alike.

This is a great way to use data you may already have in your systems and produce something of value for your potential customers and to make you a thought leader in your industry.

You do need to be careful of course. You need to be aware of GDPR requirements and you need to make sure you don’t give away any trade secrets!

Download a copy of the report here.

Access webinar

So although much of the hero content you see on the web is written, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Another COVID themed piece of content, the webinar “How to use the end of lockdown to rebalance your finance operations” was a way to drive engagement with a very specific target market – people who may need to buy new finance software.

The webinar was produced for the Access Group, a major UK based software house and was promoted across their social channels and supported with blogs.

There are lots of good things about webinars; they promote engagement, allowing attendees to ask questions and become part of the discussion, they are accessible for people who hate reading, and the platform pretty much demands that people give their email addresses otherwise they can’t get in!

The good news is that you know all of the information you need. After all you are an industry expert (even if you think you aren’t) so it takes little in the way of research.

And if you really don’t want to present it yourself then why not get a good looking and intelligent presenter. Ahem…

Ebooks as hero content

One of the most important reasons for producing hero content is to build an audience.

You want people to get some value out of your work so that they come back and enjoy more content.

The truth (that most content marketers won’t tell you) is that most of the people won’t buy what you are selling, but you may well find that they recommend you to other people and you may never know.

But, if you produce some hero content with real value it will build your audience and prove your credibility on a particular subject matter.

In a shameless act of self-publicity here’s an ebook I wrote for accountants called “The accountants’ guide to digital marketing” which you can download here.

Don’t worry that it talks about marketing an accountancy practice, in fact, it’s useful for anyone who wants to know more about hero content or just content marketing in general.

Hero content - free guide to content marketing for accountants

Need a bit of help?

I’m a professional writer and I spend my life producing this type of content.

I can either write for you to your plan or I can help you produce your campaign plan that you can write or I can do the lot.

Give me a shout and let’s chat. No obligation naturally.

Planning your marketing – make the most of your time and money

planning your marketing

Planning your marketing is hyper-important for all businesses and yet I’m constantly surprised at how few people do this.

I regularly get asked by clients to do fairly substantial pieces of work and then only afterwards do they ask how they should promote it.

It’s a bit like putting the cart before the horse!

not planning your marketing is like putting the cart before the horse
Cart – horse – you get the picture

So I would always advocate having some sort of plan, even if it is only on the back of an envelope to help you make the most of your marketing assets.

Planning your marketing – the benefits

There are tons of benefits to having a content marketing plan such as;

Speaking to the right people – one of the key building blocks of a content marketing plan is to set out exactly who you want to reach. There is no point sending out blogs about tyre choice to people who don’t drive a car. Read more about the importance of focus here.

Putting your content into the right channel – it’s fair to say that if you understand your target market then you will also understand where they hang out, so producing a plan will tell you where to place your assets.

Producing the right content – You’ve got your people, you’ve got your channel, now you can work out what marketing assets would work best. For example, TikTok videos work well with millennials, weighty, written reports go well with C-suite execs.

Marketing at the right time – sure you should always be marketing but I’d suggest that bringing out a big report on the state of the UK insurance industry on Christmas Eve isn’t going to get you the results you’re after. Marketing is often about timing.

Timing is everything

You get to test your output – the best marketers actually plan to test things against one another to see what works but you need to make sure that you are doing this in a structured way otherwise the results may not be accurate.

Things go a lot quicker – yup. Spending some time planning your content at the start slows down the project initially, but you find that later on, it goes a lot quicker than just randomly doing stuff.

You can plan in consistency – customers hate inconsistency of message so planning helps you to clarify your message and then build content around it, rather than putting out stuff that is based on the last thing you saw on the TV.

You can get your ducks in a row – If you have a clear plan then you can book writers, translators, editors, digital marketing people all in advance meaning that you know that the people you want to work with will be available.

Not spending money you don’t have to – this is a really important one. If you don’t want to waste your precious marketing cash then you need to get planning your marketing to stop you spending money on things that aren’t going to get you the results you are seeking.

It helps with marketing in the future – if you don’t have a plan then how do you know that your marketing worked/didn’t work and how will you avoid making the same mistakes in the future?

How to plan your content marketing

So here are a few steps that you need to take to build up your plan.

Step 1 – decide what your outcome is, in detail. Don’t just say general stuff like “we want to make more money” but be specific.
“We want to deliver a mailing list with 1000 people by the 1st of April”.

Step 2 – decide who you are going to talk to. Again, be specific and think about producing a customer avatar of your ideal customer.
This will save you from spending money you don’t need, talking to people who will never buy your service, on channels that they don’t use anyway!

Step 3 – set out a budget. This will also help define what you can do. If you are Coca-Cola then you can books some superbowl ads but if you are Joe’s Diner then you will be setting your sights on more cost-effective marketing.

Step 4 – Think about your current position. Are you already a ‘thought leader’? Do you already have a lot of content assets that you can repurpose?
This will feed into your plan and ensure that you don’t spend money duplicating content.

Step 5 -Decide on your channels. You may already have great engagement on say LinkedIn which you can leverage or you may decide that you want to build up a new channel from scratch. Remember that different customers like different channels.

Step 6 – Decide on your content types. As I said earlier, your customer type + channel determines the sort of output you will produce.
Remember though that you may produce one type of content to support or drive people towards another. For example, you may produce a blog that has a Call To Action that points people towards downloading an ebook or signing up for your podcast.

Step 7 – Choose your team. When you know what you are going to produce then you know who you need. If you are going big on YouTube then you probably need a videographer or editor. If you are producing a blog or case study then you probably need a content writer. Ahem….

Step 8 – Put together a content calendar and brief. This shows what you are going to do when you are going to do it and who will produce it. A major part of planning your marketing, you will probably also need a project brief if you are going to use freelancers and you can get a free example here

Step 9 – Produce your content. Or get your freelancers to do it. Don’t underestimate the effort needed to produce a blog a week. If you have a busy business then it is unlikely you will be able to stick to your plan so be realistic and think about outsourcing.

Step 10 – Promote your content – seriously this is one of the biggest steps in your content plan. So many people produce content and then leave it on their website gathering dust.

Step 11 – measure, adjust, repeat. If you are an amazing superhero then your marketing will hit home first time every time. If you are like the rest of us then you will start off with a flop.

Take some time, reflect and then adjust your approach. Sooner or later you will find the marketing mix that is right for you.

Planning your marketing – summary

So there it is.
There’s a load of reasons why you should plan your marketing before you start from understanding who your ideal customer is to saving you money on producing wasted assets.

If you have any specific questions the do post a comment and I’ll try and answer.
All the best!

The Ad

If you need help producing a marketing plan or you are looking for someone to do it for you then I am your man.

Just get in touch and let’s talk.

Oh, and if you have enjoyed this then don’t forget to sign up to m y list to get notified whene more useful posts appear.

SaaS companies and content marketing – why?

SaaS companies and content marketing

Saas companies and content marketing- it’s a match made in heaven.

Don’t believe me?

Well read on you old cynic and I’ll tell you why every SaaS company needs to invest in content marketing.

SaaS companies are different

Fact!

And if someone says ‘Fact’ on the internet then you know it’s true.

But it really is in this case.

SaaS companies don’t have a physical product.

Most of the time they don’t have offices or storefronts

They don’t have salespeople that you can meet.

In fact, 93.75% of SaaS products are bought with no human interaction at all*

Why does this matter?

Well the truth is that for a customer to buy they need to have some form of validation.

Put simply they need to know your product does what it says it will.

They need to know what it will do for them.

And they need to know that you won’t use their credit card number to buy a Mercedes Benz in Tallinn. (no offence Tallinn people**)

In short, what you need are credibility and credibility.

Content marketing builds credibility

Not on its own obviously, but I can guarantee you that before they choose to buy, people who hit your site have a really good look around.

They look for signs that you know what you are talking about (blogs)

They look for signs that other people have found your service useful (case studies)

And they look for examples of ways that it will benefit them (white papers, eBooks and reports).

If you don’t believe me then think about what you did before you bought that PeopleHr or Calendly subscription.

In my opinion, SaaS companies and content marketing go together like eggs and bacon (mmm bacon) and there are three steps to a successful content plan.

Step – 1 build credibility

The first thing you need to do is to build credibility by having a back catalogue on your site that reflects the service you are offering.

Generally these will be blog postings about specific issues that your customers may face.

So for example, you are a company that offers a SaaS product that automatically tracks and reports on assets.

You’d produce a series of blogs that are related to the fixed asset industry; How to secure your assets, Should you use asset tags? How to report asset depreciation.

These aren’t sales pitches, although there’s no harm in having a call to action at the end of the post, they are more about building the credibility of your site simply by demonstrating that you understand the problems that your industry faces.

Step 2 – Build confidence

Your potential customer already feels you have credibility within your niche but they want to be confident that your product is a good one.

Remember that they can’t touch it or test the quality other than what they find online so you need to provide the digital assets that will give them the confidence they need to make a purchase.

You do this by providing validation of your service.

So my favourite are well-written case-studies.

These show real-life customers with happy smiling faces who have bought your product and found their lives transformed. You know the sort of thing.

In my opinion no SaaS company should ever have a website that doesn’t have half a dozen case studies on it.

Case studies showing happy smiling people work wonders. Just perhaps not that happy.
Ok perhaps not THAT happy and smiling

Step 3 – build shareables

So far we’ve looked at what people see when they get to your site but how do they get there in the first place?

What you need to build are shareables.

These are things of value that people will share with their network and that you can push out to your own network or through paid advertising.

If you do it right, then you can pick up free publicity from newspapers and magazine sites that are hungry for original stuff. Trade magazines are particularly good for this.

So I’m talking about original surveys, reports, eBooks and maybe even infographics and explainer videos.

These cost more but there’s a good reason why you want to invest in it.

They work!

Seriously, have a word with an SEO guy (or gal, let’s not be sexist here) and find out how valuable a link to your site from the top trade magazine in your niche would be.

A good, weighty piece of original work is also worth handing over your email address for so it also helps you build your mailing list. Gold dust.

OK so this isn’t the whole story

Look you’re not going to get rich just by doing a load of blog posts and sticking them on your site. Often blog posts don’t work on their own.

The truth is that there are a whole load of things around it that you need to get right in order to really sell your proposition, but having a credible and fresh site is the way to start and once you have the foundation, you can then start to add the bells and whistles that will really make your site earn its keep.

The whole point about SaaS companies and content marketing is that it helps develop the credibility of your business and if done right fosters a community feel that is worth its weight in gold.

SaaS companies and content marketing – the ad

You didn’t think you were going to get away without an ad did you?

C’mon dude, that would be ridiculous!

So look I know you haven’t got time to write all this content yourself so that’s where I come in.

I produce superb content that will show potential customers the beauty, nay, the majesty of your product or service.

Just click the button and let’s talk.

* and 97.383% of statistics are made up.

** we love your 8 administrative districts and humid continental climate

Content for accountants – 9 great ideas for winning posts

content for accountants ideas

Content for accountants is always a tricky subject.

If you believe popular opinion, the world of accountancy is dry, dull and overly technical so it doesn’t bode well for generating winning content ideas.

The truth is that many business owners see accountancy and finance as necessary evils so producing something that is going to wow them is a must if you want to get traffic to your site.

So how do you come up with winning content? Read on for my 9 favourite types.

In this post;

  • Content types Vs Content topics
  • What to use the different types for
  • How to generate topics
  • Your job isn’t finished

Content types Vs Content topics

It’s important to understand that there are different types of content that you can put out there for your accountancy practice.

These shouldn’t be confused with the topic of your content.

There is a whole series of different types of content and they vary wildly. I’m also making myself a hostage of fortune here because new forms of content seem to appear daily.

After all, two years ago no one had heard of TikTok and now it’s in the top 30 web sites by visits in the world!

But anyway, let’s give it a go.

So typical types of content for accountants may include;

  1. Blogs
  2. White papers
  3. Reports
  4. Case studies
  5. Explainer videos
  6. Podcasts
  7. Infographics
  8. Surveys
  9. Calculators

Notice that there are things missing from this list.

So I wouldn’t suggest that doing a 20 second TikTok is going to be appropriate content for accountants as generally speaking the format is more light-hearted and doing a silly dance to the soundtrack of a 1970s soul/funk classic might not be giving out the impression you want.

Having said that if you are a young, funky go-ahead practice then why not? You won’t have much competition!

What to use the different types for

Each of the different types of content has a different use for an accountancy practice.

It’s important to know what you want to achieve from your work because this will inform the type of content you produce and how you use it for example;

Blogs

Blogs are great for fattening up your site, providing credibility and depth for better search engine rankings.

They work really well if you want to explore a small part of one subject in-depth but you don’t want to be writing 5,000 words on inheritance tax and then try to get people to sign up to a mailing list to view.

People often use blog posts as a way to signpost and direct people to weightier, hero content that they can ask for an email address for.

Want to know what Hero content is? Click the image below

image of the 3H model

White papers

White papers are longer than blogs and shorter than reports or eBooks.

They are designed as an in-depth discussion about one aspect of a particular subject and are particularly good for sending to existing clients to introduce services that they don’t currently use.

For example, a client may buy bookkeeping services from you but not know that you do company formations or tax planning.

Sending out a link to a new white paper that explains the important aspects of owner-manager tax planning is a great way to get them thinking about it and drives enquiries.

It’s also very shareable content and works well if you link to it from a LinkedIn post.


Reports and eBooks

Reports are a great way to build your credibility and your email list.

These are chunky pieces of work and they are particularly effective if you are using them as thought-leadership and original research pieces.

These are very definitely Hero content and are something that you need to be getting something in return for, in other words; emails, links, shares.

Hero content is worth spending some money on to publicise using post boost or PPC advertising because it will be chunky linkable content that will bring traffic into your practice site.

Yes it will cost more but it will be worth it as long as you use it right.

A really good example of an eBook is my guide to content marketing for accountants which you can download for free by clicking on the image below.

Case studies

Case studies are epic pieces of content that highlight one of your services and how it has made a real difference for a real-life client.

They massively add credibility to your site and in my opinion no accountancy practice website should be without them.

Personally, I reckon you should have a menu item dedicated to case studies.

They are also really useful to send to prospects that operate in the same industry or who is looking for the same services as the case study.


Explainer videos

Accountancy topics can be really complex and boring, we know that, but a great type of content for accountants is the explainer video, especially if you are able to confidently and clearly explain your topic.

Most accountants I know hate the idea of hearing their own voice and detest having their photo taken or appearing on video so if this is you don’t worry.

I’ve written lots of video scripts which we then either film with an actor or use a whiteboard video producer and a professional voiceover to make it ultra-professional.


Podcasts

Podcasts are a great way to attract potential customers or engage with your current clients.

You choose a simple topic that you can talk about for say 30 minutes and maybe invite a subject matter expert to informally discuss with you.

Typical topics might be how to do business post-Brexit or what MTD means for SMEs.


Infographics

Infographics are a great way to produce shareable content that can generate some epic links for your company.

A lot of my clients have had great success using an online app like Canva, but if you can’t be bothered to learn how then engage a designer on Upwork or People Per Hour and let them sort it out for you.


Surveys

If you have some original insight then that’s like gold dust in the world of content for accountants.

You don’t need to go overboard but doing a simple survey into a topical subject using something like Survey Monkey can give you some great shareable content for blog posts, white papers and infographics.

OK so in itself it may not be brilliant but the value in this for clients and prospects alike is the insight you bring to the table.

Calculators

Calculators are a superb way to climb the rankings and are actually a lot easier to develop than you think.

Simple calculators like an inheritance tax ready reckoner or a National Insurance calculator can help your clients and add real weight to your site.

How to generate content for accountants topics

Deciding what to write about can be the biggest obstacle to getting content for accountants out there.

What you are looking for here is not things that are interesting to you, but things that will be helpful to your target market.

Don’t get ambitious though. Choose depth over width in this respect.

What I mean here is that you are better to write everything there is to know about paying staff expenses for hotel stays rather than writing the ultimate guide to everything you ever need to know about staff expenses.

You can find a post I wrote about deciding your topics here

Your job isn’t finished

Once you have produced your content then your job isn’t finished.

If you leave it there then you probably won’t get any hits at all because nobody knows what you have done.

The best way to publicise content for accountants is to send a link out to your existing clients by email (assuming you have your GDPR ducks ina row). It won’t cost you anything and you can ask for links and shares too.

Post to your practice LinkedIn page, Twitter account and Facebook page and make sure you share it to any groups you are a member of.

The more socials it is on, the more likely it is to get traction and if you have spent money producing your content then why not invest a little more into some PPC and paid links to make sure it really gets out there?

Content for accountants – need some help?

Look if you are a busy accountant then you probably haven’t got time to start writing witty and urbane posts about SDLT so why not outsource the job?

I’m a professional finance writer and I can help you at an nth of the cost of doing it yourself.

Why not book an initial call and let’s have a chat?

If you have enjoyed this post then why not share it?

6 reasons your blog post is not working

reasons why your blog is not working

So your blog post is not working – what can you do?

One of the biggest mistakes people make when they start blogging is to think that all they need to do is write it, post it and then watch the hits roll in.

But that rarely (if ever) happens.

Actually if you are like most people your blog post will simply sit there in some kind of electronic limbo, waiting to be discovered.

So why does is this?

Well here are my top six reasons why your blog post is not working.

The TLDR version:

  1. You haven’t told anyone
  2. Your blog doesn’t match the title
  3. You haven’t got any incoming links
  4. You haven’t got any outgoing links
  5. Your topic isn’t useful
  6. Technical difficulties

You haven’t told anyone

So this is the biggest reason why nobody has read your post and the easiest to solve.

You just haven’t told anyone.

If you have a customer/client list then send out a link to your blog.

If you have social media accounts for your firm then make sure you put out some posts publicising your article.

Just don’t hide your light under a bushel, as the saying goes.

Your blog doesn’t match the title

Search engines have got smart over the last few years and your blog post is unlikely to get a high Search Engine Results Page (SERPs) ranking if your blog title doesn’t match what you are actually talking about.

Your typical search engine looks at the title, then checks for Latent Semantic phrasing to see if it matches.

For example, if you write a blog post called ‘5 ways you can save inheritance tax’ and you don’t mention tax, inheritance or death once in the body of the article then you’ll have a problem.

See this post about LSI here.

You haven’t got any incoming links

Incoming links are the lifeblood of a good blog so getting these from reputable sites is incredibly useful.

Links from customer sites are good but what you really want are links from sites that have a high Domain Authority. You can check DA on Ahrefs

Get five or ten links from sites with DA of over 50 and you’ll soon see your search placement rise and with it, your hits.

You haven’t got any outgoing links

So here’s a thing – the search engines want to know that your post is useful and relevant for the people that find it.

One of the ways that it does this is to look to see if you pass on any authoritative links to your readers.

Thinking about inheritance tax again, links to the .gov site has a DA of 93 and is very relevant to the subject in hand.

Your topic isn’t useful

It’s important to make sure you are writing about useful subjects.

It’s all very interesting to write about what you had for dinner but if you run an accountancy practice then it’s not massively relevant or useful to your readers.

Think about the sort of questions your clients ask regularly and write about those or check out questions on Answer the Public.

Technical difficulties

It’s easy to put off readers (and the search engines) by having a page that doesn’t render well or loads slowly.

You could also have technical issues that cause your blog post to be invisible to the search engines.

Make sure your site is working properly and your images are resized to be as small as possible whilst still looking good.

A blog isn’t of any use if nobody ready it

It can be the most dispiriting thing if you spend time and effort writing a blog post and yet it doesn’t get seen.

The answer is a combination of technical, SEO and content items that give you a post that will get read, shared and promoted up the SERPs.

But one final thought – don’t worry if your first post gets no readers at all. Blogging is a skill like any other that needs practice and I’m sure with a bit of time you’ll be getting readers and shares with the best of them.

How to build TLDR into your blog posts

Writing a TLDR blog works really well - Photo by ConvertKit on Unsplash

A TLDR blog post will improve readability for your customers so the big questions are: what is TLDR and how do you use it?

In this article I’m looking at the whole concept of TLDR; what it means, why you need it and how you should build your blog posts to make the most of this simple to understand concept.

In this article:

What is TLDR?

TLDR stands for ‘Too Long Didn’t Read’ and it’s almost morphed into a derogatory statement about modern attention spans.

I’ll be honest if I see big expanses of text then I tend to switch off so seeing a blog that understands TLDR and is sensibly structured makes me much more likely to read the whole thing.

I know I shouldn’t say that given that I am a writer and all, but my attention span has turned really short and the statistics say that I am not alone.

Essentially what TLDR is saying is that your reader needs to get information quickly and a TLDR post is a method of providing that.

“seeing a blog that understands TLDR and is sensibly structured makes me much more likely to read the whole thing”

Why you should care about TLDR

The very first reason you should care is that if you are at all bothered about the quality of your content, you’ll know that you need to provide information in the way that your potential customers want.

So a big rambling post does two things; it really annoys most people and it discourages them from reading on or clicking to read more of your material.

The second reason you should care is that Google rewards sites that are interesting to users.

The great god of Google looks at your site and assesses how many of the people who visit read for a long time and how many read other articles.

It also looks at their behaviour after they have clicked on the search result. If they quickly click back to the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs), then it tells the god that your page doesn’t have the information you need.

Or more pertinently, it may have the information but they couldn’t find it.

So if you have a lot of people who don’t read more than one article and don’t stay on the site for a long time then you will get penalised.

How TLDR helps your blog

What TLDR does is to tell people what information is in your post and where to find it.

This may seem counter-intuitive because if you are wanting people to stick around then you would expect that making them sift through acres of text would do just that but in fact the opposite is true.

In reality, users do a quick scan to see if the post is likely to yield the results that they are looking for and if it doesn’t then they click away to a new site.

“What TLDR does is to tell people what information is in your post and where to find it”

The evidence shows that in 2021, users have become much smarter about the information they see.

So TLDR is a way of showing users that they will be rewarded with the information they seek if they invest a little time in reading further.

It also has a way of surreptitiously showing them that if they click on to another post they are likely to find more information of use very quickly.

How to structure your TLDR blog post

Structuring your blog for the TLDR readership is really easy and I can promise you that after a short while it will become like second nature.

I wrote a longer piece on some of the finer detail of TLDR here

Have a read through this post and see if you can spot any of the TLDR blog items that you need to include.

The first one is to answer the question your reader is asking in the first couple of paragraphs.

This tells people what they are going to read right up front and is a way of reinforcing the pay off for continued attention.

Second have what I like to call a ‘TLDR block’ very early on.

This is a list of the headings in your post that give people an understanding of what information is included and where they can find it.

You’d think that people would simply navigate to the section, read what they want to read and then go away but actually that’s not what happens.

In fact they tend to read what they want to read, then go to other parts of the post to understand more or even better, they check out your other posts to get more in depth information.

Make sure you have internal links on all the headings in your list so people can quickly click straight through to your sections.

Need help with your content?

OK so producing content isn’t for everyone so why not give the headache to someone who actually enjoys the process?

I’m a professional business writer and i produce TLDR blogs for a living.

Getting me to write your content means that you get time back to do stuff you really enjoy.

Get in touch now and let’s have an e-coffee



7 attributes of great financial copywriters

A great financial copywriter

Financial copywriters are a specialist breed and you need to make sure you are hiring the right one.

Some of the attributes you’ll be looking for from your financial copywriter are obvious, some not so and may surprise you.

But all of the things in this post are important to consider if you are about to trust your brand to a writer.

Copywriting experience

Well it goes without saying right?

But really, if you are looking for a copywriter then hire a copywriter, don’t think that someone from the office can do it because ‘it’s only a few words’.

Copywriting takes skill and is harder than it looks.

You might want to find someone who understands SEO or who has experience writing for an insurance company or someone who is really good at making techincal subjects accessible.

But whatever you want you’ll need a copywriter

Financial experience

This is always helpful.

OK so some financial copywriters are amazing even though they have never worked in financial services but not many.

Frankly if you want someone to write about your accountancy software or your B2C loans or your whizzy new fintech app then it’s going to be a lot easier if the person understands a chart of accounts and APR calculations.

It saves you a lot of time explaining things too!


Financial copywriter at his desk
5 ways a financial copywriter can help your business

Something to add

What’s the difference between a good financial copywriter and a great one?

No it’s not a joke.

Genuinely, the difference is that a great financial copywriter will add something to your business.

They’ll come with ideas, tips and tricks to make your copy stand out.

They’ll have something to add to the conversation and it might even be totally unrelated to the copy they are writing.

Good standard of English

You might think that this is a given in the copywriting industry but you’d be wrong.

I’m always amazed when I see work from other writers that just doesn’t make sense.

Or has speeling errors (just my little joke).

Or has clearly been written by AI.

If that spelling error is annoying you then think what it will do to your clients.

Attention to detail

This isn’t just the details that go along with copywriting; it’s the detail that goes along with the gig.

Answering emails

Asking questions is they don;t understand

Making sure their copy is accurate

Delivering on time.

This is one thing that gets my goat. You have a deadline and I’d expect to deliver my copy by then if not before.

Some copywriters just don’t bother.

They get you

This is one of those ‘soft’ things that can’t be quantified but it is absolutely imperative.

They have to get you.

They have to get your company.

They have to understand your tone of voice.

If there’s a mismatch then it’s likely that the copy they provide, whilst great, doesn’t quite do what you want it to.

A great financial copywriter will understand what you are about and how to add real value to your team.

You like them

People laugh when I say this but one of the reasons that I went freelance is that I wanted the freedom to work with people I like.

And you should like your copywriter too.

Life is too short for tetchy meetings and awkward email exchanges.

It’s Friday PM and you want to talk about your campaign but you don’t mind having a little bit of a laugh too.

You have to like the people you are working with, otherwise the time passes very slowly indeed.

Financial copywriters are a different breed

We work differently and we think differently but we’re not that odd!

Someone who has worked in finance for any length of time will understand that there are some things you can say and some you can’t.

They’ll be as invested in the work as you are.

And they’ll add to the project by bringing their knowledge and experience to bear.

If you’d like to have a chat and find out how I can help your business then click the button and let’s talk.

What is a good bounce rate?

what is a good bounce rate she's thinking

What should you consider as a good bounce rate for your company?

This is a question that exercises most people who are looking to move their pages up the SERPs and it’s one that is to a large extent a question of opinion.

The problem is that Google, Bing and all the others don’t publish guidelines like this so any view is largely based on experience, hunches and personal opinion.

However we can give general guidelines as to what constitutes a good bounce rate as long as we add on a few important health warnings!


bounce rate image
Want to know what bounce rates are? click to read all about it

If you don’t believe me then check out what Google say about bounce rate here

A good bounce rate isn’t necessarily a good bounce rate

Confused?

Good.

So here’s the thing, one person’s good bounce rate is another’s disaster and this is our first health warning.

To a great extent the measure of what is a good bounce rate depends upon the type of company you are promoting.

This all hinges upon how you expect users to view your site and how it is organised.

For example, imagine a shop site that has a home page that has links to several product category pages and from there many product pages.

It would be highly unusual for a customer(real) to visit one page and do nothing else.

However a site with just one page that exists purely as a ‘contact us’ page or looks to get people to sign up can’t possibly have a low bounce rate as there are no other pages to view.

So your first port of call is to understand what type of site you have.

Types of company and what their bounce rates should be

So we know that there are different types of company and they all have different bounce rates so what are they?

Most sites should sit in a range that goes between 25%-90%.

That’s a big range so let’s chop it up a bit.

If you have a shop type site where you expect people to whizz about different pages then you should be expecting your bounce rate to be in the range of 25-50%.

If it’s more than that then you may well have a problem with usability.

If you have an informational site then you’d expect your benchmark bounce rate to be in the region of 50-75%.

This is because people are much more likely to be reading long-form content that takes longer to get through and it is distinctly possible that they may only have time for one page at a time.

Magazine type sites present a bit of a problem.

If you have a site that has lots of long-form content then you should be looking at a higher bounce rate than one that has short, click-baity type articles.

So these kinds of site could have any bounce rate and could be completely different from other similar sites.

Really good bounce rates can be really bad bounce rates

OK so you log on to your analytics package and you are delighted to find that your bounce rate is down to 5%.


Woohooo! right?

Nope.

You see if your bounce rate is too good (or too bad) to be true then it probably isn’t.

A bounce rate of 5 % would tell me that you have a lot of bots visiting your site or that you haven’t excluded your own IP address so your staff are lowering it when they move from page to page.



Really bad bounce rates aren’t necessarily bad

So your bounce rate is 90% – time to give up and get a job?

Nope.

First of all bounce rate is to a certain extent a function of time.

Sites with high bounce rates can often be very new and not have a lot of content to read and so naturally they don’t get a lot of pageviews.

As they add more pages and more users visit then their bounce rate reduces.

So if you have a very new site, or you don’t have a lot of content on your site then don’t worry, just start adding content and your bounce rate will naturally reduce.

Bounce rate is important but it’s not everything

Bounce rate is important for SERPs ranking but what is much more important is whether your site is doing what you want it to.

So for example if you have a high bounce rate but your site is simply designed to let users view one page and then sign up for a mailing list then that’s all you need to focus on.

But if you have a page that is designed to expose users to lots of ads when they cruise between pages then a low bounce rate is essential.

So the message has to be – concentrate on what you want your site to achieve and if a low bounce rate would help then focus on it.

If it makes no difference then see it as an item of interest and nothing more.

Want to get your bounce rate down?

then you are going to need more content and if you haven’t got time then you need someone to produce it.

Now where can you find an ever so slightly sarcastic writer who specialises in writing superb content?


What is Bounce rate?

bounce rate image

Bounce rate is a measure used to work out how useful your site is to visitors.

Bounce is one of those things that people will tell you is massively important whilst others will tell you it doesn’t matter at all.

In fact, the likelihood is that it is somewhere in between and, together with lots of other metrics go to show search engines that yours is a good site.

So how is bounce rate worked out?

Bounce rate is fairly simple to work out. It is just a percentage score of how many visitors consume your initial content and then go on and read something else – or more accurately don’t!


Check out the vid about bounce rate!


In general terms zero bounce is good, 100% bounce is bad.

So if your visitor reads a second piece of content then it reduces your rate which is a good thing.

But…

Low bouncing isn’t necessarily good (and a high one isn’t necessarily bad)

It really depends upon what sort of site you have.

So a shop site would expect a very low bounce rate whilst a site that is all about getting people to sign up to a mailing list would be fine with a high one.

And that’s the problem with looking at this in isolation – it ignores what your site is for.

If you have a mature site and your bounce rate is ridiculously low (say 20% or lower) then it kind of suggests that something is wrong with your analytics.

If you have a brand new site and you are at 100% then that’s absolutely fine because it takes time to get a wealth of information on your site so that people have something else to read.

In general services type sites are good if they are in the 50% range and shop sites need to be under this but again, a shop site with a bounce rate that is 50% but converts 5% of visitors to customers is better than one with a 30% bounce that converts 2%.


More resources
Want more resources to help with your website? Click the image

What can you do about your bounce rate?

The first and most important thing is to have good, relevant content on your site.

The more content you have then the more likely it is that people will read more than one page.

Reduce the size of your pages too.

People may not want to read 2,500 words but they would happily read three posts of 800 words each.

Also make sure it’s easy to navigate round your site.



Split your content into chunks so that people read one and then naturally follow to another page to read the next part of the story.

You can also make sure that you point people to related pages. After all, someone who reads one post about SEO is clearly interested in the subject so may like to check out more of your SEO posts.

And finally give people more value if they read more pages.

So have a page that is an introductory part of a subject then follow that up with more in-depth pieces and finally a really useful downloadable.

You can find a more technical explanation of bounce rate from Google here.

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Need marketing help?

I’m a specialist in writing copy for financial and professional services companies so if you would like to get your bounce rate down then get in touch and let’s talk.

What is TLDR and why you should care

TLDR (or TL;DR as it used to be known) means ‘Too Long;Didn’t Read’.

Simple.

So why should you care?

Well TLDR is really important when you are composing your blog posts and web content and I’m about to tell you why.

In this post;

Truth is no-one likes a wall of text

Have you ever been faced with a wall of text and just decided that life’s too short?

That’s TLDR in action.

A massive wall of text on a webpage is offputting.

Sure if you are sitting in the garden with a white wine spritzer and a copy of catch-22 then you can spend some time enjoying the experience of reading, but if you just want to find a recruitment consultant then you haven’t got enough life left to make it worth while.

Research has shown that our attention span reduced from 12.5 seconds in 2000 to 8.25 seconds in 2015 and the trend is continuing.

This means that as a blog writer you need to make sure your posts are snappy and to the point.

Otherwise your readers will drift away

person drifting away from a boat
If you’re not smart your users will drift away

Split up your text

So what can you do about it?

Well for a start you can practice writing in short, snappy sentences.

Long paragraphs of text aren’t attractive at all so you need to avoid them and make sure you use easily accessible language because the average reader won’t be wanting to read acres of jargon.

Make sure you break up your text with relevant images too that illustrate your point.

Text for your homepage

So here’s the thing – Google says you need plenty of text on your homepage to tell it what it’s about but in reality your users won’t read it. So what do you do?

You start off by getting to the point above the fold.

Above the fold means the bit you can see without scrolling.

If you check out my homepage it says quite clearly above the fold – expert professional services marketing.

If you’ve come to the wrong place then you’ll know straight away but if you have come to the right place then you’ll scroll to…

Telling people what problems you solve

Look, we don’t want to read a page full of jargon, we just want to know what you are going to do for us.

So get to the point as quick as you can, the problem, the solution, who it’s for.

So don’t dance around your handbags for half an hour before getting to the point because your TLDR readers have already left the building.

I’d suggest that above the fold you go for your most important services.

Then as the user scrolls down you provide more detail.

And when they click onto another page you can expand your thought process.

TLDR for blog posts

Have you noticed that I answered the question right at the top of the post?

I did this for two reasons.

The first is for the TLDR people. They don’t have to read any further than line 1.

That’s fine.

If you are going to buy from me then you probably want to know much more than just the simple answer to the question.

So I am happy to give TLDR people the answer to their question because I know that they probably aren’t going to engage with me anyway.

The second reason is for Google.

Google likes posts that answer questions, and it likes to use the answers on it’s featured snippets panels.

So if you answer the question that people are asking quickly and succinctly in the first sentence then you are much more likely to be highly placed.


Free resources to help with your copywriting and SEO
Want free resources to help with your blog content and website SEO? Click the image for more

Chuck in a bulleted list

Did you see at the start of the article that there was a bulleted list?

This is designed to help readers get to the bit they want to read without scrolling or reading through the rest of the article.

Seriously though, with so much great information available why would people scroll past?

But they do!

Oh and set up page anchors so if you click on the item it takes you to the relevant section. Find out how to do page anchors here.

TLDR is important to keep readers engaged

So in summary then the principle of TLDR is important if you want to keep readers engaged in your blog and if you want site visitors to read more on your site.

On your home page make sure you get to the point right away and make it above the fold.

For blog posts, answer the question your readers are asking straight away as this will help engagement and will also boost your SEO score for the page.

And make sure you split your text up into manageable chunks and include the odd image here and there.

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If you’d like help with your site, whether it be copywriting, marketing or anything else then give me a shout and let’s chat.