Whether you’re writing a web page, a blog or a tweet, brilliant content will attract and keep customers. So, let’s discuss ways you can up your content marketing game.
First and foremost, your writing needs to speak to your audience. If you want to communicate with people, you need to know who you’re speaking to. Focus on your target audience and put them first. The tone of voice and the words you choose speaks volumes. Therefore, take time to make sure everything you publish is well thought through.
Writing well is a skill and, in a world where everyone is a writer, it’s never been more important to ensure that the content you create is quality. So, what does it takes to produce great written content?
First, as mentioned, you need to start by knowing who you are you writing for. Different audiences will respond well to different types of writing. Try to identify one or two audiences to target, as you can’t target everyone at once. Ask yourself these questions to pinpoint your target audience:
- Who will use your product?
- What information do they need?
- What language would they use when talking about your product?
- Who is their tribe – who do they interact with?
Try to build up a mental image of the typical customer for your product or service. Use market research to help you create a clear picture of your target audience.
Next step, create brilliant content. Business writing isn’t easy, and it takes practice to do it well. Your writing should be informative, helpful and authoritative, with a good bit of personality. And, of course, you also need to be able to get your message across. Here are some tips to get you on the right track:
- Write the way you would speak. What would you say in a face-to-face conversation with a customer? Read your content out loud and pretend they are sitting across from you. Don’t be over-friendly or too familiar though, or you might lose some authority.
- Little snippets of information are more likely to be retained in your readers’ minds as opposed to large amounts of information. Aim for about 20 words per sentence and chunk your content into logical paragraphs and sections. The attention span of someone reading online is not long, so you need to ensure you get your point across quickly.
- Start with one or two related themes and stick to them. Focus will help you build up site authority in the eyes of your readers and in search engine algorithms.
- Write content that is easily scannable. Use short, punchy bullet points when it seems natural. Consider using numbered lists too. These are easy to read and are memorable. Make sure you use easy-to-read design also. It’s important you have enough white space around your text and avoid using distracting colors.
- Use language that’s suitable for your target audience. If your audience is large and diverse, use simple, familiar vocabulary and plain English. If your audience has a specific level of education you may be able to get away with more complex ideas.
- Use meaningful headings and subheadings to encourage your readers to take note of what you have to say.
- Build in keywords so your content can be found. Know in advance which keywords to use to help with search engine optimization (SEO). Incorporate these into your writing as you go along – don’t try to add them later.
- Test your writing by using online readability tests such as read-able.com to see whether your writing is pitched at the right level. If it’s not, shorten the sentences, simplify the vocabulary and try again.
- Make your content trackable by using tools and link shorteners such as bit.ly or goo.gl to help track your readers. You’ll be able to find out where they come from, where they go, which articles are popular and which are not. This will help you create good content.
- Use social media buttons to make it easy for readers to share your content. Target top social networks and actively try to spread the word about your business. Spend 15 minutes a day highlighting your content on social networks and let your work contacts know.
Finally, leverage your audience. Your audience can help you create good content. Many of your readers will be happy to contribute, especially if you mention them by name. You can quote your readers’ comments or interview them. Invite your readers to write or blog on your site (but make sure you edit their work before publishing it) or use their feedback as a starting point for your own writing. Just be careful to strike a balance. User-generated text is cheap and plentiful – but it can be less authoritative than content you write yourself.
Need some help getting started? Try a couple of these suggestions:
- Interview your customers. Ask them what they look for in a product.
- Write about what you’ve learned from working in your field – be an expert.
- Publish some field data, perhaps with your own comments. Make sure you acknowledge the data source.
- Choose some of your clients to interview for case studies.
- Review any books, movies or magazines that are relevant to your business.
Quality writing is the foundation of an effective website, blog or social media campaign. Remember, avoid writing about your business and focus on writing about what will be interesting for your audience. For example, ‘Mary’s ice cream shop is the best!’ sounds like it’s going to be a sales pitch. But ‘The surprising history of ice cream’ is relevant and engaging, and not all about you. This will help you build trust with your audience and keep their interest levels up. If you can produce interesting content that your readers find valuable, they will engage with your brand. This will lead to higher sales and free word-of-mouth marketing.