Blogs, articles, news, reports … Whatever a destination marketing organization (DMO) chooses to call pieces of written content on its website, there’s a common theme present: all of us want to populate our sites with content that is timely, engaging, and has an appealing presentation that draws in readers.
Speaking of readers — from now on you should think of them as “skimmers.” According to Nielsen Norman Group, mobile readers reported that they skimmed newsletters 74% of the time, fully read them 24% of the time, and glanced at but didn't read them 2% of the time. This might be depressing considering the time and effort we put into our content, but it's important to keep these serial skimmers in mind when writing copy.
So how do you create killer content and please the masses? Here are our top three blogging must-haves.
How & What to Write
According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, 73% of adult Americans read at only a basic or intermediate level — which is what eighth-graders are expected to read. To effectively reach the most people with your content and to keep the skimmers happy, use these three reminders when writing to an eighth-grade reading level: keep it simple, keep it short, and keep it clear.
Going through a season of writer’s block? You always have a secret weapon to fall back on — your blog is a great place to call out current, relevant details about what’s happening in your destination. Check out the Visit Brighton blog that shows off an event front and center.
A screenshot of VisitBrighton's blog
Lastly, when creating content for your blog, think about how you can present it on different social platforms. Will the hero image make people want to click on the link? Did you use a URL shortener like bit.ly to keep the link short and sweet? Can the title of the blog stand alone in a social post? These are all good questions to ask yourself in the building of your blog.
Firsthand is Your Best Friend
Another b-word that DMO bloggers know all too well is “bandwidth.” We get it — you might be too busy putting out fires and wearing different hats (and any other idiom you see fit) to keep cranking out content for your blog. However, you’re in luck, because a fresh perspective keeps a blog, well, fresh.
Guest blogging is a valuable, yet sometimes overlooked option for populating content. The neat thing about guest authors is that they bring a new outlook, writing style, and experience to the table. Leaning on guest bloggers saves you time and diversifies your blog with new faces, places, and ideas. Simpleview celebrates its guest bloggers, especially when they knock it out of the park with a video like Explore St. Louis’s Director of Partnership Barry Draper did with, “5 ways to position positive stakeholder engagement & build trust.”
Something that happens organically when using guest bloggers is the spotlight of a first-person perspective that gives a unique outlook. First person accounts personalize the many diverse faces, voices, and experiences in your destination. Whether written by a local, traveler, influencer, or DMO employee, sprinkling in pieces about someone’s first-hand encounter in your destination just might seal the deal for a potential visitor.
Louisville Tourism shows off its guest bloggers’ first-hand experiences front and center, encouraging readers to eat, drink, and visit where the authors suggest.
An example of Louisville Tourism's guest blogger features
Search & See
Think of your website’s blog as a grocery store. There might be aisle after aisle of shelves stocked full of desirables, but if you can’t find what you're looking for, you might shop somewhere else next time. Not only do skimmers want to absorb content fast, but they also need it at their fingertips with minimal effort. Using tags and categories on your blog is a practical way to organize your content and make it easier for readers to find.
In addition to tagging each blog post, make sure your website’s search functionality is accurately pulling content from your blog. It can be very frustrating to search for “foodie blogs” and be fed (no pun intended) hundreds of results that hardly relate to anything food-related.
The Visit Stockton blog features a drop-down menu for categories and a search bar, so finding the right article is a breeze.
Visit Stockton's blog categories
Remember, your blog doesn’t have to be basic; get creative, have fun, and think outside of the blog box. You never know which articles will flop and which ones the skimmers will want to read word by word, so don’t give up. Blogging is an ever-changing art — what works today might not work tomorrow, so just keep writing. In the wise words of Ernest Hemingway, “Do not worry. You have written before and you will write now.”
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