“Traditional marketing talks at people. Content marketing talks with them.” ~Doug Kessler
Whether a tech entrepreneur or a freelance dog walker, you need to market yourself. Content marketing is now an essential part of any business strategy. To attract your potential customers, donors or subscribers, you must have high-quality content that is engaging, relevant and speaks to your audience.
Be it a brilliant blog post or a crushing case study, great content brings traffic to a website, drives search engine results, keeps a brand fresh and informs customers you are out there. Ignore it at your peril!
So, how do you write compelling content that works? We’ve put together five tips to get you started.
An article from Patrick, a Berlin-based writer and copywriter.
1) Write for your target audience.
When writing content, the first thing to start with is to know for whom you are writing, what they want and how you can help them.
Start first by defining your target audience and doing your research on them.
It’s proven that the narrower your audience, the more effective your content will be. Conversely, appealing to a broad range will only produce vague and ineffective content.
Defining your target market has other advantages too.
It helps you hit the right tone or brand voice to attract those specific readers. You will be able to create high-quality content that engages your audience on an emotional level, generates empathy and builds trust over time.
Another technique for understanding and getting under your audience’s skin is to create a buyer persona.
A buyer persona is a fictional figure of your creation who ideally most closely resembles your readers or customers. You know them inside out: their likes and dislikes, background, goals, desires and dreams.
Focusing on one imaginary figure like this will enable you to write more compelling content.
2) Have a clear goal for your content.
We already spoke about the benefit of defining your target audience. Likewise, it’s better to narrow the focus of the content to one main topic, which you stick to throughout, and give the text a logical structure from the introduction to the ending.
You should, therefore, think about what you are trying to achieve in your piece. How are you going to bring value to your audience? What actions would you like them to take?
Having a clear purpose will also help your audience find you more quickly and make the writing process easier. The average length of a blog post nowadays is 1,500-2,000 words, which is relatively short. If you try to cover a broad range of topics, you are unlikely to provide valuable solutions and make an impact on your audience.
3) SEO-optimise your content for search engines.
Once you have defined your goals for the content and identified a target market, it’s time to optimise the blog post for the search engines so that it will rank high and get viewers’ attention.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a vital element in content marketing.
The more often you appear in the results, the more authority and credibility you will have, and the more requests you will receive for your product or service.
How should we optimise for SEO? What is the best strategy or tactic to employ?
A central feature of an SEO content strategy is the use of keywords. These words in your digital content make it easier for people to find you via search engines.
Your previous research will help provide a plethora of valuable keywords and should include words relating to the products, services or topics you are writing about. Create a spreadsheet with a list of these and keep it updated regularly.
There are many online resources and tools to help you find the optimal words and rank them according to criteria such as search volume and difficulty level.
Search engines always favour content that has a clear structure, uses short sentences and paragraphs, and avoids jargon.
Take care also to use headings and subheadings to separate the text and keep things in order by using bullet points and lists where possible.
The easier the content is to read for humans, the more the search engines like it.
Track your results
It’s essential to know how your content is doing on SEO so that you can make any necessary changes. One of the best ways to do this is with the Google Search Console.
The Performance report shows how often people click on your site, the keywords used to find it and how high it ranks.
By consistently reviewing and tweaking your content against the site’s SEO performance, you will benefit from higher search engine rankings.
4) Create an attention-grabbing headline and a hard-to-ignore hook.
The subject line is the most crucial element of a piece of content.
According to statistics, eight out of 10 people will read the subject line, but only two out of 10 will continue to the rest of the content.
The subject line has to grab the reader’s attention and entice them into the text. Therefore, it should contain the central message conveyed by the text and, ideally, a main keyword (see SEO optimisation above).
There are many techniques writers can use to create great subject lines.
Here are a few:
- Make it funny and intriguing, or spark the reader’s curiosity with a bold, eye-catching statement or question.
- Reference the solution to the reader’s issue or pain point.
- Personalise it – there is nothing like the human touch. If you have researched your target audience, add something that will connect with them on a personal level.
After the reader has been mesmerised by your subject line, they need to be held firm by a good hook.
A hook is usually the first bit of text that follows the subject line. It’s there to engage the reader further and lead them to the next part of the content.
Effective hooks can be, for example, quotations, anecdotes, statistics or questions.
5) Revise and edit your work carefully.
When creating content, writers follow a natural working process from rough bullet-pointed drafts to refined first and second drafts to the final version.
Regardless of how pleased you are with the final result, a good practice before you press that ‘publish’ or ‘send’ button is to allow the text to sit a little, leaving it for a day or two before reviewing again.
After doing so, you will see the text with a fresh pair of eyes and likely find other ways to improve it. Another tip is to print and read it aloud to see how well it flows or, if possible, have someone else proofread it.
Work on your content to make it the best it can be, and you’ll reap the rewards! Or, if you’re looking for experienced copywriters, just give us a call!