A few weeks ago, I was out hiking with my dog Marley when I had the idea for this blog post. I figured there was data out there about why people read blog posts, marketing emails, and social media posts from brands. Please enjoy the fruits of my research.
Why do people read blog posts?
Back in 2021, HubSpot conducted a survey that found people read blog posts for three reasons:
- Learn something new (33%)
- Be entertained (20%)
- Discover news and trends in their industry (12%)
Nine percent of survey respondents said yes to all three. I am in that camp, too. I have never – and will never – pretend to know everything. We all have great ideas and experiences, and we can all learn from each other.
I also like to laugh, often and loudly. Scott Galloway’s weekly blog post always comes in clutch.
And as for news and trends, well, where do you think I got the insights and statistics for this blog post? Not from thin air!
For the purposes of this blog post, though, I want to talk about reason #1. It doesn’t give you much direction when it comes to what to write about, does it?
This is when I turn to FAQs – what are people asking me about? – and my own experiences – what did I learn that I can pass along to my readers?
When I was researching this article, I found a helpful quote from Michael Brenner, CEO of Marketing Insider Group. He wrote:
“You must know what your customer is trying to accomplish in order to create content they’ll find valuable (and that they’ll read). Think about it: this is why blog articles like how-to guides, checklists, and listicles for top tools or strategies are all so popular — they help people solve a problem or accomplish an important task.” [Emphasis my own.]
What a great writing prompt!
“What tools or strategies will help my reader solve a problem or accomplish a task?”
These are probably tools and strategies you use all the time and don’t even think about. Take 10 minutes to jot them down. I bet you’ll instantly have a handful of blog post topics.
I’d also like to point out that many people – myself included – read blog posts because we know, like, and/or admire the author.
For me, this is a very small list. It’s hard to get on that list. Everyone who is on that list does more than teach or entertain me – they also allow me to get to know them as a human. They share intimate tidbits about their lives – their regrets, where they live, life lessons, the agony of losing a beloved pet. That vulnerability attracts me like a moth to a flame.
There are plenty of great writers out there – I choose to give my time to the ones who aren’t ashamed to be fully, messily human.
Write blog posts that help people solve a problem or accomplish an important task. And be human.
Why do people read marketing emails?
I had a much harder time finding an answer to this question. I read a lot of blog posts before finally concluding why people read marketing emails:
It arrives at the right time with the right information/offer.
The reader knows there is something in it for them.
Let’s talk about that first point, because it’s so hard to get it right. In a perfect scenario, here’s what will happen:
I am in immediate need of waterproof winter boots with a lot of tread. There’s a big winter storm coming, and last time it snowed, I was slipping in my current boots. Lo and behold, REI sends me an email advertising their top-rated winter boots. Get out the credit card because mama’s going shopping.
In the real world, you need to mix up the information and offers in your emails. Eventually, one of your emails will arrive at the right time and your reader will act immediately.
So let’s move onto the second point – your reader knows it’s worth their while to open your emails. I refer you back up to the section on what people want from a blog post, because those three reasons are relevant to email marketing, too.
With that said, we both know that most marketing emails are not opened. Depending on who you ask, the average email open rate is 15-20%. (Mine hovers around 40%.) And when people do open the email, they do not read it in full. Rather, they skim.
This means your reader expects your marketing email to be super short. A sentence here, a sentence there, some bullet points, done.
Your marketing emails must be in service to the reader (like your blog posts), and they must be easy to skim.
Why do people follow brands on social media?
Let me start out by saying that I’m talking about brands here – company and personal – not influencers.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about the B2C social media channels.
Because I’m a Gen Xer, I use social media to stay in touch with friends and family. The only brand I religiously follow is Jerry of the Day on Instagram, because it never gets old watching a snowboarder get dragged up a hill by a T-bar or a skier have a spontaneous yard sale.
Therefore, I needed to do research on this topic, and here’s what I found. According to Eddie Garrison writing for Social Media Insider:
“The number one reason people follow brands is to learn about new products and services. The next reason is to stay up-to-date on company news, followed by the desire to learn about discounts and promotions.
“By the way, it’s just as helpful for brands to know what people aren’t interested in. People don’t typically follow brands to connect with people who are different from them or to communicate with the brand.”
OK, good to know. Share new products and services, exciting company news, and sales, and you’ll be in good shape.
Next, let’s talk about B2B social media channels, er, channel: LinkedIn. LinkedIn doesn’t elevate companies or brands in your feed unless they place an ad. I ignore those, and you probably do too.
I engage with posts on LinkedIn for the same reasons I read blog posts: to learn from people I trust (aka, those in my network). I couldn’t find any hard data on this point.
Use B2B social media channels to keep people up-to-date on products, news, and promos. Use LinkedIn to teach.