How Content Gets More Visibility Through Urgency

Jun 08, 2017


BEST PRACTICES SERIES

Article ImageContent marketing has grown wildly popular. In fact, 88% of B2B marketers employ some kind of content strategy. In some ways, this is beneficial; it means we have more data to use in producing more content, and a network of support through publication and syndication. However, it also means a drastic increase in competition.

Accordingly, visibility is a top concern for today’s content marketers. If your article looks similar to those of your competitors, or if it covers a topic that’s been overdone, nobody will want to click through to read your material. There are many ways to address this problem, including targeting a more specific audience and striving for more original content, but one method is both effective and simple to implement: instilling a sense of urgency. 

Urgency: What It Is and How It Works

You know what urgency is, but let’s look at why it’s so important for content marketing. Young people now spend up to nine hours a day on social media, but that amount of time is rarely contiguous. Instead, it’s broken up into smaller chunks of time, usually a few minutes here and there as you’re waiting in line at the store, finishing dinner, or taking a break from work. You don’t have time to read an entire article, so even a moderately interesting headline often gets a “pass.”

Let’s call this the “maybe later” effect. If an article doesn’t seem important, it’s going to be cast aside. Similarly, with the overabundance of content out there (211 million new pieces of content every minute, by some estimates), users can only view a finite amount in a given day. They want to allocate their time to the pieces that are most urgent for them to read, since there will always be time for non-urgent articles. 

Options for More Urgent Content 

So what type of content qualifies as urgent? You have a few options here:

News--News always performs well, no matter who your target audience is. If you’re covering consumer goods, your readers will want the latest reveals and information. If you’re in a specific industry, your readers will want to keep up to avoid getting lapped by the competition. Plus, covering the news proactively makes you seem like a bigger authority. You can use newsjacking, the strategy of taking an existing news article and rewriting it or covering it with a new perspective, to leverage existing content and make it work for your brand.

Mistakes and errors--People don’t like making mistakes, and if they make one, they want to know about it, so they can either correct it as soon as possible, or cover it up before anyone finds out about it. That’s why articles that list common mistakes are so popular—and carry a natural degree of urgency. For example, you might write about “The X Ways You’re Damaging Your Car Without Realizing It.” If you fail to read an article like this, the implication is you’ll keep making the same mistakes.

Cost savings or revenue optimization--Similarly, the business and entrepreneur crowd is often desperate to optimize their revenue streams. Offering a simple tip that could theoretically increase daily sales grabs their attention—the sooner this tip is implemented, the more effective it’s going to be. In a sense, neglecting to read this content (or postponing it) results in a massive opportunity cost.

Immediate action items--You can also make an article seem urgent by writing content that offers immediately implementable advice. For example, writing an article on how to change a bike tube serves the urgent need of someone whose bike just got a flat tire. A list of life hacks for how to stop procrastinating immediately could help someone aimlessly browsing social media for distractions from their work. 

Practical Tips

You can make your article seem even more urgent with these tips:

  • Focus on the headline. Remember, 59% of links that are shared on social media haven’t been clicked by their sharers. Most people make up their minds about the content of a piece based solely on the headline, and share it if they feel it’s valuable. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; getting people to share your work means it will reach more of the people willing to actually read it. However, it means you need to spend more time optimizing your headline for urgency, and less time on the actual content.
  • Use “urgent” trigger words. It’s a bit of a shortcut, but try using more “trigger” words that convey urgency immediately, like “now,” or “today.” Your language should let people know they have something immediate to gain by reading your work.
  • Rely on visually compelling imagery. In addition to your headline, you’ll want to spend time optimizing your image. Use strong colors to stand out, and draw more eyes to your piece.

Once your content strategy has a higher sense of urgency at its core, you’ll see more click-throughs, higher share numbers, and ultimately, more regular readers. Be sure to experiment with your headlines to find the best approach to wording, and measure your results carefully to weed out tactics that don’t work.


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