CEO of iResearch Services, a global end-to-end thought leadership company that focuses on evidence-based research and insight-led content.
Unless you’ve dabbled in public accounting, it’s unlikely Benford’s law has ever crossed your mind.
Uncovered in the 1880s, accountants and auditors typically use this statistical theory to uncover fraudulent behavior or market trends. However, it can prove useful for your thought leadership marketing strategy to predict consumer behavior and adapt.
While 88% of the more than 3,000 stakeholders surveyed by Edelman believe thought leadership has the power to drive ROI, only 17% reveal that the quality of content they read is impactful. After all, without using research and analytics, creating impactful thought leadership is often a shot in the dark.
How can you change the narrative by developing engaging thought leadership that drives results? Look at Benford’s law.
What Is Benford’s Law?
I’ll preface this by saying, it’s not immediately clear why Benford’s law makes sense.
When the American astronomer Simon Newcomb thumbed through a book of logarithmic tables, he discovered that numbers starting with the digit one were much more common than other digits. Also called first-digit law, Benford’s law states that when real-life data sources follow the law, the first digit will be one 30% of the time, and numbers starting with nine account for less than 5% of the total.
Benford’s law holds true for several different data sets, including financial fraud, street addresses, stock market prices, city populations, Twitter followers and more.
The law poses that numbers are not random, but follow an ordered progression that is statistically accurate. To put it in perspective, consider wealth distribution.
How To Develop A Thought Leadership Strategy Based On Benford’s Law
So, what does Benford’s law have to do with thought leadership strategy? While analytics play an important role in establishing authority, we’re often caught up writing the best copy and developing comprehensive promotional strategies. In doing so, we leave statistics to analysts.
How can we quantify the one for thought leadership? Let’s dive into a few ways.
1. Make The Right First Impression
Your brand’s first impression matters.
It takes seconds online to form an opinion on your content. In this digital landscape, people make judgments that immediately affect your thought leadership’s credibility.
Even if your content is full of educational and valuable information — a survey of just over 2,000 people conducted by Adobe in 2015 found that 38% of respondents will stop engaging if the content is considered to have poor aesthetics in its layout or imagery.
To make a solid impression that keeps users on the content, consider the following elements:
• Focus on an attractive and engaging layout.
• Conduct audience research to develop content that pinpoints their needs.
• Use a unique tone of voice and perspective.
• Share your research that amplifies your point of view.
According to Benford’s law, more people will read one piece of your content than many. You likely have one shot for your audience to connect with your thought leadership.
2. Utilize Analytics And Research
If you want your targets to view your thought leadership, take a look at your analytics.
What content do your users land and drop off on? You may notice that a typical user doesn’t consume more than one piece of content before leaving your site. What’s your most commonly viewed topic? What platforms do you earn the most engagement?
Of course, you want to follow your numbers and amplify those content formats by creating similar pillars. Using data to develop thought leadership content that meets consumer demand is the best way to increase engagement levels.
However, when applying Benford’s law, consider elevating your high-performing materials with the idea that users are only consuming that one asset. Each piece of thought leadership should include unique takeaways and perspectives, so users walk away with your main message.
3. Provide A Seamless User Experience
A 2016 Forrester report (paywall) featured in the company’s Digital Customer Experience Improvement Playbook For 2021 explains that every dollar invested in UX results in $100 ROI — yielding conversion rates up to 400%.
Since a user is less likely to consume multiple thought leadership pieces, you should focus on creating a seamless user experience that drives action.
If someone clicks on your thought leadership landing page, the page should be easy to navigate with a clear layout and next step. After all, users typically want to find information in three clicks or less — keeping to the abstract of Benford’s law.
A few user experience best practices include:
• Use clear call-to-actions and an internal search bar.
• Create easy-to-use forms with limited fields.
• Include related content options.
• Implement clear navigation with breadcrumbs.
• Design with accessibility in mind.
4. Focus On Search Engine Optimization
In a study of more than a billion webpages, 90.63% of them receive no organic search traffic. With Google’s ever-evolving algorithm, it’s no longer an option to sit on the search engine optimization sidelines. You need to focus your thought leadership content on keywords that are likely to be searched and clicked on.
The more you develop engaging content that answers your user’s concerns, the more likely Google will rank you higher in search engine results. After all, in a study of more than five million search results, only 0.78% of searchers click on the second result page. According to Benford’s law, searchers are more likely to click on the content ranking number one than the ninth-ranking piece — thus increasing your thought leadership exposure.
Include search engine optimization in your thought leadership strategy by:
• Adding the main keyword in your headline and introduction paragraph.
• Writing engaging meta titles and descriptions.
• Creating valuable content and avoid any duplications.
• Optimizing your website’s speed.
• Building backlinks.
While content remains king, you won’t reap as many royal benefits if your thought leadership content doesn’t focus on search engine optimization. Reaching a higher ranking will not only increase your chances of earning clicks, but also improve your credibility with search engines for future content.
Elevate Your Thought Leadership By Making An Impactful First Impression
Benford’s law provides your thought leadership strategy statistical implications. You have limited opportunities to capture a prospect’s attention and convert them into long-lasting relationships. By following the law’s principles, you can focus on building a solid first impression with each piece of content because you may not have more opportunities.