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content marketing gavel on computer

7 tips to boost your click-through rates
The 10 rules of social engagement
5 best practices to guide your digital campaign
We see these all the time, and while some are helpful, we don’t always get examples showing why they work—or what the repercussions of not following them might be. No wonder modern marketing can feel like gambling.

Aren’t there some “laws” for us to live by so we can do more than hope we understand the art of persuasion? As it turns out, yes!

      • Writing headlines and subject lines: First impressions mean a lot in life, and marketing is no different. So how do you catch your audience’s attention without fumbling the opportunity? A great place to start is Betteridge’s Law, which states “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.” Sensational headlines in the form of a question typically mean the author doesn’t have enough facts to write with confidence. And with native advertising and fake news making readers more confused and distrustful of the media, you don’t want your headline or subject line triggering those same feelings. The moral: avoid sensationalizing your headlines (or subject lines) at the expense of your credibility. See what not to do (and have a laugh) at the expense of these headlines.

        • Checking facts and sources: With multiple moving parts, roles, and variables at play, modern marketing leaves a lot to manage. Make sure you’ve invested in someone to check your facts and sources, too. Named after Ward Cunningham who created the first wiki, what many now call “Cunningham’s Law” suggests “The best way to get the right answer on the Internet is not to ask a question, it’s to post the wrong answer.” Aside from a questionable headline, the fastest way to discredit yourself or lose thought leadership status might be to share misinformation—and get called out for it. The moral: people tend to correct things. And while you can’t control personal opinions, fact and source checking will help prevent commentary on your content from turning into a full-on roast.

          • Testing your content’s impact: Measuring your content online can validate your brilliance or inform a better approach—unless your own people are skewing the results. Social scientist Donald T. Campbell’s Law states “The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.” Or in the words of economist Charles Goodhart, “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.” If your marketing team is rewarded or celebrated for increasing things like search or click-through or lead qualification, are they doing something to influence that increase? The moral (as awkward as it might sound): do what you can to keep your people from muddling audience data and the ensuing insights you might act on. After all, when you put goodness in, the better chance you’ll get goodness out.

          Also see: Reining in the content machine

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