If you're building a startup, content marketing is a powerful tool for building a brand, developing customer relationships, and creating a hiring pipeline. But blogging requires diligence and a few tricks to build a following. 

I've been writing for about three years and have analyzed a few hundred of my posts to better understand what makes for effective content marketing. Here’s what I learned:

1. I have 48 seconds to get my message across in this post. No pretty images, no increase or decrease in word count, and no amount of retweets or favorites will convince the reader to linger. 

2. Giving any indication to the reader that they are about to read a long post is death. Paragraph headings are the best indication that a post will be long. These posts have 20 percent higher bounce rates (when a user immediately hits the back button after landing on a page). 

3. The reader doesn't care about images. Images don't impact any metric I tracked: page views, time on site, retweets, favorites, or bounce rate. Images may attract users to click when they are browsing, but anyone who lands directly on a blog post is ambivalent about them.

4. If the reader likes what they read, they will poke around the site some more. The relationship between time on page and time on site is very strong. Writing good content matters and surfacing related material pays off. 

5. Social proof works and it’s huge. Social drives about 45 percent of visitors to the blog. Importantly, there is no degradation in traffic quality from social networks. Visitors who arrive at the blog through retweets spend the same amount of time on it, and they have similar bounce rates to other visitors. 

Be smart, quick, and to the point, bloggers.