Most online professionals know that article marketing is one of the most effective ways to promote a product/service. However, when marketing with articles, which is better, long or short articles?
Most experts say that articles should be between 400-600 words, give or take 50 on either side. However, in general, I disagree. Why? For the following three reasons:
NOTE: There are times when shorter pieces — eg, Tip of the Day, Just an FYI, an editorial/opinion piece — are justified.
1. Not Enough Detail: Many articles are written to sell something. So, a business owner may pay someone to write a general article on their topic to drive traffic to their site. This is fine, but as a reader, when I’m searching for information, I usually want details that go beyond what a general article will dispense.
It’s frustrating to just get the tip of the iceberg – ie, information I may already know – and not get the meat of a subject.
This is a big turn-off for me. And when I visit a site, if it’s filled with a lot of these what I’ve deemed “common sense pieces,” with no “meat” information, I conclude that the site owner is more interested in selling me a product/service than educating me on a particular subject.
Education leads to knowledge which leads to trust, which THEN leads to SALES. If more online sellers would realize this, they’d do better.
2. No Expertise: Many articles are obviously written (or commissioned) by those with little or no experience on/in/with the subject written about. Most of the information found in the majority of articles can be Googled and found via official sources.
I don’t know about most surfers, but when I look for information, I want the personal experience – how you did it, what worked for you, what didn’t work – and why? This is the real benefit of the Internet. It allows a true exchange of first-hand information.
When you’ve used a product, built a business, found an effective technique – and can back it up with a personal story (eg, this is what happened when I did “x”), it gives sooooo much more validity than just spouting off what can easily be found via official sources.
And again, this leads to knowledge, which leads to trust, which THEN leads to SALES. Why? Because people get the feeling that you know what the heck you’re talking about.
INSIGHT: I particularly like personal stories that detail what didn’t work so well? Why? Two reasons: a) It saves me from making the same mistake; and 2) allows me to brainstorm about how to do it better. It also lends an air of truth (hence, validity) to whatever sales pitch you’re making.
This leads to my final point – failure.
3. Don’t Tell Me What To Do, Tell Me What NOT to Do: Many articles begin with “How To.” And, this is fine most of the time. But, also take the time (eg, expand the word count) to tell me what NOT to do.
To digress a minute, I don’t know how/when we became a nation of people afraid to admit failure, but that’s almost the first lesson of success. It takes failure to get to success.
I’ve failed at so many things (especially businesses) that I just have to laugh as I look over the list (yes, I keep one). But you know what, I wouldn’t know half of what I know now if I hadn’t failed so often.
When you gain knowledge via failure – you’ve earned it – that’s like money in the bank. You can move forward confidently because you know what, for sure, DOESN’T work.
Why “Failure” Increases Sales
When a writer drones on and on about this, that and the other, I’m searching for the grain of truth, for the human element of failure. Admitting to failure does three things:
a) It tells me that you’re passionate about your product/service: When you’re persistent enough to keep trying something after failing at it – you’re either just plain crazy, or passionate about it. This passion will always be translated to your end user — you just have to trust me on that.
b) It tells me that you’re human: Part of connecting with a customer is making them feel like you understand their situation.
If you excel at everything you try – well, I just can’t relate to a person like that. If I can’t relate to you, you’re going to have a harder time selling to me. It doesn’t mean it’s impossible, it just means you’ll have to work that much harder.
c) It tells me that you care: When you fail – and put it out there for the world to dissect – it tells me you care enough about me, the consumer, to want me to avoid the same mistakes. And you know what, I’ll like you for that, trust you for that and BUY FROM YOU because of that.
Sincerity can be sensed and if you have page after page of obviously canned material on your site, re-evaluate why you are really in business.