Kogan vs. ANZ vs. Qantas: Headlines, head-to-head

By | Content marketing, Tuesday teardown | One Comment

Tuesday teardown – In summary:

  • Headlines matter. If you’re not achieving the results you should be from your content – the first place to look is at your headlines.
  • Great headlines are personal. Make your headline personal for the reader (and avoid describing your content in the abstract).
  • Add more ’emotional’ words to your headlines. Headlines that trigger an emotional response typically perform strongly.

Websites referenced in this teardown:

Transcript of this teardown:

Hi. I’m Steve Pell from TLP. I’m here to do another one of our Tuesday Teardowns, where we look at some well-known websites and well-known CEO blogs for practical takeaways about how you can improve your marketing online.

Now, today we’re going to talk about headlines on blog articles, or for any type of content for that matter. We’re using three very well-known Australian CEOs: Ruslan Kogan (of Kogan Electronics), Alan Joyce (QANTAS) and Mike Smith (the recently departed CEO of ANZ).

There’s three takeaways today:

The first is that headlines really matter. If you’re not achieving the results that you think you should be from your content then I’d really encourage you to get stuck in and have a look deeply at the headlines, see how well they are performing, use some of the tools that we’re going to talk about today and see if you can improve, not the content, but the headline and the way that you’re describing that article out to the world.

The second takeaway, is that you should write personal headlines. Write headlines that are made personal for the readers; for the people who are engaging with your articles. If you do that instead of describing the content in abstract terms, if you make it personal/ individual, you’ll almost always see better results.

The third takeaway is if you can give your headlines have a degree of emotion, and add more emotional content, you’ll also see much better results.

Let’s jump in to the three articles. I’m going to show you some practical tool as well that you can use to pull apart your headlines and see how well they are performing. The first article we’re going to look at here is from Ruslan Kogan. It’s called “Best advice: If your ideas get rejected, you’re on the right track.” This article has achieved 14,000 views, 1,000 likes, 153 comments – so, a pretty well performing article all things considered.


Ruslan Kogan’s article – Best advice: If your ideas get rejected, you’re on the right track

We’re going to look at this CoSchedule headline scoring tool that allows you to input any headline, and it will give you a headline quality score. It will run you through a whole bunch of things about how the headline is going to perform on different mediums, the key words etc. Now, this isn’t always going to be accurate to the nth degree, but it’s a good indication if you’ve got a really low score or a really high score; that an article might not do as well as you’d hope or might do better than you’d expected.


The CoSchedule headline analyser

The other tool I’m showing here is this emotional value score from the Advanced Marketing Institute. This will give you a score based on the emotional content of words in the headline.

AMI emotional value

The Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer

In this case, 25% of the words from Kogan’s headline have an emotional content; the higher this score is, the better that headline will typically do, and I’ll put some links down below to some research showing that great headlines typically sitting a 30% to 40% emotional range will drive much better performance. So this is a reasonably good example from Ruslan Kogan. You saw we had a CoSchedule score of 75, and then an emotional content score of 25% here.

Let’s jump on to Mike Smith who’s talking about “Saying goodbye to a stronger, better ANZ“. This article has achieved 6,000 views, 1,000 likes, 64 comments, so a bit lower in terms of performance than the Ruslan Kogan article.

Mike smith

Mike Smith’s article – Saying goodbye to a stronger, better ANZ

Again, this is a personal topic from Mike Smith. So, it should be something that we can write an emotional, personal headline for. Let’s jump in, and you can see here a 65 headline score from CoSchedule; and in terms of emotional content it’s standing at 16%. Again, this correlates with what we’re talking about in terms of the performance of the article. Again, this comes back to more emotional, more personal headline equal better performance.

Let’s talk now about Alan Joyce: “Making the Business Case for LGBT Inclusion.” Again, this is a topic that Alan Joyce should be able to write a very personal headline for. You can see it’s achieved 850 views, 315 likes, 11 comments. This is really underperforming. Again, I’ve talked about some of Alan Joyce’s content on LinkedIn before, and it does tend to be a little bit more boring than it should be.


Alan Joyce’s article – Making the business case for LGBT inclusion

Perhaps this is below what you would expect for a CEO of an ASX 100 company. You question if this is worth his time. Let’s have a look at the headlines here in terms of scores, and you can see here a 59 headline score. It’s, again, lower. It’s a little bit boring, I would say, and the emotional content, it’s, again, down lower, with a score of 14%.

In conclusion

So, some really practical takeaways there for you today as we ran through three Australian CEOs and their blog headlines.

The more emotional your headline, typically, the better that’s going to perform. The more personal the headline, typically, the better that’s going to perform. Headlines, they really do matter. They are an area that has a huge impact on the performance of your content, so please, jump into the resources below, tweak your headlines, see if you can achieve some better performance. And please start using some of these tools that really help you to start understanding how your headlines are going to perform.

Thanks a lot. I’m Steve Pell. That’s been another one of our Tuesday Teardowns.

Behind the scenes on a thought leadership campaign launch for an ASX Chairman

By | CEO blogging, Content marketing, Thought leadership, Tuesday teardown | No Comments

The launched campaign for Russell – we’ll discuss each of the highlighted specifics in this article

I’ve had a number of requests for detailed case studies of how we go about building thought leadership for CEOs and executives. This week I’m excited to share a detailed behind the scenes example of a thought leadership campaign launch for Russell Yardley.

As I’m writing this, the article has achieved two and a half thousand views, 80 detailed comments, and a large number of shares and likes. That’s a pretty significant achievement for an article on LinkedIn – moreover in this case because it’s almost exclusively targeted at CEOs, CTO/CIOs and board directors.

If you’d like to see the finished product, you can see the article as published on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-technologists-dont-belong-boardroom-russell-yardley-faicd

This article takes you behind the scenes of the planning and launch. In the 2000 words and 13 illustrations / screengrabs / graphics that follow I’ve got Russell’s permission to share:

  1. The strategy behind the campaign
  2. How we move through planning, interview and article construction
  3. How we structure distribution to ensure a successful launch
  4. The delivered campaign, and results

For some context, the campaign for Russell is a supported CEO blogging campaign, leveraging our video supported interview process. With this process, we shoot a one hour interview upfront, use this to build out five video supported blog articles.

For background: Why this campaign is LinkedIn focused

Because Russell already has a deep LinkedIn network, and is looking to build support for increasing the capability and competence of boards to make better technology decisions and to provide improved governance of those decisions, this strategy focuses on LinkedIn publisher as the distribution platform.

LinkedIn for distribution is not a strategy that’s right for everyone – it has strengths and also a number of weaknesses. For most CEOs, it’s probably a better idea to use your on site blog as the primary distribution platform. However this is impacted by a number of factors – how many followers you have, existing website traffic and overall aims need to be considered when you’re thinking about the right platform for content distribution.

Step 1: The strategy behind the campaign

1A: Getting started with the expert positioning framework

The Expert Positioning Framework below is one of our key foundational documents in planning any thought leadership series. As we work through this document we’re looking to understand what makes Russell’s expertise unique, and what he wants to be remembered for by the market.

This framework is exceptionally important in delivering results – if the expert positioning isn’t right, then it really doesn’t matter what content gets produced.

Expert positioning framework

The expert positioning framework, we use to ensure all content connects to the way Russell wants to be remembered by the market


1B: The stages in our influencer content planning process

The graphic below shows how we flow through the process, connecting the positioning from core themes, to topics, articles and interview questions. You’ll see how each separate element is delivered in the following graphics.

Content planning

A clear illustration of the links between the core theme (image below) and the positioning that we want Russell to be remembered for

1C: How we positioned Russell’s expertise

This framework shows exactly how we want Russell to be remembered by the market. All content produced for Russell then connects to this core theme (although it may approach it from a number of angles). The red arrows show the topics that were used in the launch article for Russell.

Content positioning

This one page framework shows just how simple thought leadership positioning should be. One core theme and a number of supporting topics have been highlighted.


Stage 2. Interview planning and article construction

2A: Building an interview roadmap

From the positioning framework, we develop a one hour interview roadmap (you can see this below).

For this article, the relevant questions we discussed are in red. We’ve blurred out the future weeks articles (you’ll have to watch on LinkedIn).

Interview questions

The interview questions used with Russell to generate this content.


2B: Generating the content – The interview

The interview as a key foundation of the content development process. Shown below is a couple of minute excerpt pulled out of the longer 1 hour interview.

Once the article is finished, this excerpt then sits as supporting multimedia within the article:


2C: Transcription – From voice to copy

From the interview, the full one hour video is then transcribed. This gives our journalists everything they need to work with. From here they get started turning this interview into the structured, persuasive articles that you see as distributed.

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 1.20.51 PM

The interview is then transcribed, ready for our journalists to work with


2D: The final article (for Russell’s approval)

Our journalists use the transcript to finalise the content, in line with the positioning guide that you saw above. We’re building the content using Russell’s words, in line with the themes that he wants to be remembered for.

That’s then provided back to Russell for final approval, in a format that looks something like this:

Article created for approval

Article ready for final approval by Russell


Stage 3: Distribution planning

Once the article is approved, it’s ready for to launch. In the section that follows, I’m going to run you through our full launch plan for this content.

3A: The distribution overview and schedule

You can see here that we’re targeting a fortnightly distribution, launching every second Wednesday at 10am.

Distribution schedule

The distribution overview for the Russell Yardley content. We’ve just blanked out the upcoming articles (you’ll have to stay tuned!)


3B: Timeline for each article launch

The timeline below shows all the activities that are focused around launch. We’re just blanking out a couple of our “secret sauce activities” that are focused on getting high comment velocity on launch.


This is the day-by-day launch plan for the Russell Yardley content.


3C: Deliverables and action items

This is exactly what’s required for each article launch. You’ll note the large number of secondary updates – which are pre-developed for social sharing over the two week window the article is being actively promoted


The deliverables and action items, as allocated


Stage 4: The delivered campaign, and the results

4A: The article as deployed to LinkedIn:

As deployed, this is the content that was launched last week, kicking off this campaign for Russell. Below is a screenshot from LinkedIn (you can click through to the original content here).

The headline is really important in getting thought leadership content to work. The headline is so important because what viewers must decide to click (or ignore). They make the initial decision to engage with the content solely on the basis of the headline.

There’s a whole book we could write on writing great thought leadership headlines. But that’s a different (and potentially very lengthy) article! There’s plenty of formulas to follow, but in this case we’ve made the headline slightly more provocative than the article, whilst ensuring that the article still delivers on the fundamental premise of the headline.


Russell’s content, as launched on LinkedIn. Given this is a personally aligned campaign, LinkedIn was selected as the distribution platform (rather than a personal website).


4B: The importance of view and comment velocity at launch

If you’re distributing on LinkedIn, it’s critical to generate a high comment velocity at launch. In our experience this is the single biggest factor in predicting whether your content will be successful. If you hit a high comment velocity, you’ll take over the newsfeeds within your network. It becomes a virtuous cycle where people can’t avoid your blog.

Generating the number of comments that Russell has here isn’t easy. It’s a function of both:

  • a provocative article, and
  • a well executed distribution plan.

The great thing in this case is the number of non-executive directors and CEOs who are commenting. This article generated as high a quality of discussion as I’ve seen on LinkedIn. I’d encourage you to go and have a look at the comments here for a good example of what it looks like when you get this right.


The content generated a high comment to view ratio. For most thought leadership content, the number of comments is a key indicator of success – You’ve started an industry based conversation.


4C: Email distribution to existing contacts

Because we wanted to engage as many people as possible in the campaign quickly, we also distributed via mailchimp to notify Russell’s contacts and colleagues of the blog.

A couple of comments and recommendations here:

  • In this case you definitely don’t want to be distributing the whole article via email. We want to maximise view and comment velocity at launch, and that only happens if people are reading the article on LinkedIn.
  • Don’t include ANY calls to action that take the recipient anywhere else aside from the LinkedIn content.
  • Use a simple template that makes it easy to read on mobile. A design that’s too fancy will pull attention away from the content.
  • Subject lines are uber important in getting the email opened. If you have a great headline, use that. The only risk around using headlines as subject lines is length – you can get away with a bit more length in a LinkedIn headline than the average email subject line.

You can see what this distribution looked like as sent to Russell’s contacts below:

Email distribution Russell Yardley

If you’re trying to maximise view and comment velocity on launch, it’s critical that you don’t include the whole article in the email.


If you have questions, let’s discuss in the comments below

Clearly there’s a lot of detail that sits underneath each of these stages. If you’ve got questions, please jump into the comments and I’ll try and answer in as much detail as possible.

I’d also like to thank Russell for allowing us to openly share the process, strategy and execution behind this launch.


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Why does Deloitte have twice the website traffic of KPMG?

By | Content marketing, Tuesday teardown | No Comments

   Tuesday teardown – In summary: 

  • In this Tuesday teardown, we investigate why Deloitte has about twice as much website traffic as EY or KPMG.
  • There are three very noticeable differences evident across the four websites: (1) Sliders on the homepage, (2) The ratio of promotional vs. value added content, and (3) The number of menu choices.
  • These three differences are  all indicators of a design team that’s done more work investigating and delivering the best possible experience for real users of the site.

Websites referenced in this teardown:

Transcript of this teardown:

Hi, I’m Steve Pell. I’m here to do another one of our TLP Tuesday Teardowns. Today we’re going to talk about the big four accounting firms. There’s a really interesting phenomenon going on where if you look across the big four, and we’ve got them up here: DeloittePWCEY and KPMG they’re all pretty comparable. They all offer reasonably similar services but from Deloitte to KPMG, there’s a massive difference in the amount of traffic that these websites receive. Let me show you what I’m talking about:

We’ll start with Deloitte over here on the left. We’re on their global site and I’m using Alexa as a benchmark. Alexa ranks sites from one to five hundred million in terms of popularity,. They’re saying here that Deloitte is about ranked 4,800th most popular site on the internet. You’ll see as we work through, the other sites are significantly less popular. So a higher number means less traffic.

Alexa rank

This is PWC here and they’re about 7,500 ranked. A significant decrease in traffic from Deloitte here to PWC. As we go to EY, 9,100, and as we go to KPMG, 9,500. Now, these Alexa ranks, I’ll just give you the caveat that they’re not perfect. They use some survey methodology across a whole bunch of people who have this toolbar to look at how many times those people go to websites, and estimate from there.

If you’re looking at your own website or your competitor’s website, these numbers will probably be up the millions. At that level, they can be a little less certain. But at these levels where you’re talking about global websites and global brands, these are a really good predictor of traffic numbers.

We use them as the benchmark and say, “Why is it then that Deloitte has about twice as much traffic as EY or KPMG given that these companies basically do the same things?” Let’s have a look at some of the differences on these websites and talk about how these might be leading to these big differences in traffic:

1. Sliders on the homepage

Deloitte here, you’ll notice it’s a static site – There are no sliders. We’ve talked in this series in length about how damaging sliders are to the user experience on your website. If we go through the sites: PWC, we’ve got a slider here. EY, slider. KPMG, slider.

You can see that everyone, apart from the best performing website, is using these sliders to jam pack in more content but also, at the same time, not realising it, to destroy the user experience and distract people. These are people who have come to their website looking for potentially information about something they’re looking to do in their business.

That’s the number one difference – these sliders are damaging user experience, and hurting repeat traffic to these sites.

(For more research on the negative impact of sliders, see our recent Tuesday Teardown “Sliders = Distraction”)

2. Promotional vs. value added content

Let’s talk about another factor which is the amount of value added vs promotional content that these businesses are putting front and centre on their website.

On this Deloitte site, the core of their website is all value added content. We’ll scroll down. It’s about 70% of this site here, or 100% outside of the menus, is content.

Deloitte value added content

Let’s look at the competitors here. PWC, outside of the menus it’s probably about 50% when we it in because this is news about PWC, this is an interview with their CEO etc. There’s some content in here but it’s unpredictable and not consistent, so we’ll say 50%.

EY, that reduces pretty substantially. Up here these sliders are about EY, and you have contact us, careers, events. This is all about EY news and you have a piece of content in the middle here, so about 30% of the home page is content all up.

KPMG, again is a bit of a mix up but it’s in that 30%-50% range of content outside the menus.

Again, you’re seeing that the business here that is doing this best and then the business that is doing it second best in PWC, are putting content front and centre of the user experience. That’s leading to more traffic acquisition, better performance.

(For more support on why it’s so important to put value added content front and centre – see: 75% of B2B buyers want marketers to curb the sales-speak in their content and Forrester research showing that today’s B2B buyer will find three pieces of content for every one piece of sales or marketing collateral).

3. Number of menu choices

One last thing that I think comes out and jumps at me when we look at these websites is the number of menu choices that you have to confront when you first hit these sites. Let’s look at KPMG here. At the top level, we’ve got eleven choices at the top level on the menu bar, so a lot of choices.

The more choices you have on your menu, generally I’d say the less detail you’ve gone into about use cases and user experience, the less you understand what people are actually coming to your site to do.

EY, we’ve got six, so almost half as many as you have on that KPMG site. PWC here, eight. Again, quite a lot.

PWC 8 menu items

Deloitte here, you only have three: services, industries and careers.

Deloitte 3 menu options

To me, that says that the people running this site have a much deeper understanding of the way that this is being used by customers and the use cases that people are working through, and they’re more guided in the way that they structure their site to make sure that that information is found quickly and presented front and centre through both the menus and the content here.

(For more: See this comprehensive collection of research on why too many choices leads to decision paralysis and frustration)

In conclusion:

That’s all for me today. Today does really reinforce the importance of getting your use cases right, so you understand what customers are coming to your site for. It also reinforces why it makes so much sense to put content front and centre on your website. That’s all for me today. If you’ve got questions, please jump into the comments down below. We’d love to hear from you.

Otherwise, we’ll see you next week for another TLP Tuesday teardown. Thanks a lot.

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