This Message Will Self-Destruct in 48 Seconds

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If you’re building a startup, content marketing is a powerful tool to build a brand, develop customer relationships, and develop a a hiring pipeline. Blogging requires diligence and a few tricks to build a following.

I’ve been writing for about 3 years and I’ve analyzed a few hundred of my posts to better understand what makes for effective content marketing. These are my lessons learned:

  1. I have 48 seconds to get my message across in this post. No pretty images, no increase or decrease in word count, no amount of retweets or favorites will convince the reader to linger.
  2. Giving any indication to the reader that they are about to read a long post is death. Paragraph headings are the best indication of that a post will be long and these posts have 20% higher bounce rates, when a user immediately hits the back button after landing on page.
  3. The reader doesn’t care about images. Images don’t impact any metric I tracked: page views, time on site, retweets, favorites, or bounce rate. Images may attract users to click when they are browsing, but anyone who lands directly on a blog post is ambivalent about them.
  4. If the reader likes what they read, they will poke around the site some more. The relationship between time on page and time on site is very strong. Writing good content matters and surfacing related material pays off.
  5. Social proof works and its huge. Social drives about 45% of visitors to the blog. Importantly, there is no degradation in traffic quality from social networks. Visitors who arrive at the blog through retweets spend the same amount of time and have similar bounce rates to other visitors.

In short, when you start your content marketing strategy, be brief, get to the point and write great stuff. The rest will take care of itself.

Published 2013-11-17 in Content Marketing 


I am partner at Redpoint. I write daily, data-driven blog posts about key questions facing startups. I co-authored the book, Winning with Data. Join more than 20,000 others receiving these blog posts by email.

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