Stop Writing Boring Content!!
Is your content boring?
One of the biggest difficulties of content marketing is writing compelling copy that people actually want to read -- after all, we've all heard the rumors that the Internet is responsible for our declining attention spans -- and it's getting harder and harder to reach people.
Sorry...I got distracted...what was I saying?
Oh...right...back to the article...
But I would flip that “rumor” around a bit and argue that we aren’t necessarily losing our attention spans (myself excluded, apparently) but rather, we are evolving into incredible multitaskers. But that said, it IS harder to grasp people's attention online, for the sole reason that there is just so much content available.
Content marketing relies on the regular creation of content relevant to your company or organization, but it also relies on readers actually reading your content. The goal is to stand out from the crowd (often easier said than done).
How to Create Compelling Content
Before you create any type of content -- from blog posts to graphic novels -- it’s crucial to first develop a deep understanding of your target audience. Without this knowledge, your content will undoubtedly miss its mark.
A more professional company that sells solely to other companies (B2B) might be more formal in their text than their B2C (business to consumer) counterparts -- even though the end goal might be the same.
But you’d have to know this first. Try creating customer personas, and really narrow-down your audience. If you market towards a specific job title, brainstorm about what that person does OUTSIDE of work, and formulate the best way to reach that potential client.
Regardless of industry, all of your content must be written for your specific audience. After all, you want these people to not only read your document, but to eventually find their way onto your main website to learn more about your product when they’re closer to the buying stage.
The first thing anyone will notice about your blog post, white paper, etc. is the headline. Of the readers on the web, 80% will read your headline, but only 20% will read your text – it’s wise to spend nearly just as much time crafting your title than it does the rest of the content.
Try to write a headline that contains less than 60 characters…as this is generally the maximum about a search engine will display. A brief headline also fares well for Twitter shares (as a Tweet is restricted to 140 characters) – and social media sharing is crucial to successful content marketing.
In addition to the main title, try to incorporate as many sub-headlines as possible…this will organize your text to make it easier to comprehend, and easier to read.
Remember, if someone is sharing your post through social media channels, they will only see your headline and the link. If your headline is boring...no one will click the link or read your content...would you?
3. Clear, Concise and Scannable
Most good writing classes stress the importance of writing clear and concise text. In other words: get to the point. Your reader’s time is precious...the second you take that for granted, is the second they stop reading and close the window.
The web has added one more criteria for successful copy: it must be scannable. Maybe it IS our decline attention spans, or that we just don’t have the time anymore, but readers on the web barely actually read...it’s more like “scanning.”
To optimize your text for scannability, break it up into keyword-rich heading and sub-headings, use bold and italic font where appropriate and organize content into bullet points, charts, or tables (if possible).
Break up your text into shorter, chunky paragraphs. Notice how none of my paragraphs are longer than 2 or 3 sentences? That’s no accident...it’s significantly easier to read...and your audience will thank you for it.
At the bare minimum, EVERY blog, white paper, case study, etc. must incorporate some visual element to break up the text. Whether this is a picture, graph, presentation or video...the addition of a graphics encourages your audience to become more engaged with your text.
Often times, these visual elements can become content in their own right including; infographics, charts and graphs. These are fantastic because it forces the images to broadcast your message, rather than just your text, creating easily digestible nuggets of information.
The reason children’s books contain more pictures than words is simple: they’re simpler to understand and comprehend. While I’m not suggesting your readers might have the intelligence or reading level of a young child...it’s a probability that they don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to reading your content...so make it easier for them.
It can be easy for professional writing to read like term papers...and I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound too appealing. This is especially true in any writings promoting a business when you’re trying to come off as professional -- but I’m willing to bet your content marketing needs a little personality.
The level of personality in your content marketing will depend on the type of content (and of course, your audience). Put it this way: generally something like a blog post will lean towards the informal, whereas white papers and case studies are stiffer, more informative and formal documents -- but like most things in life, the rules are not set in stone (and are meant to be broken.)
Usually B2C marketers have more freedom when it comes to writing with personality, and although the audiences differ, human beings are still making purchasing decisions in a business (B2B) environment (as of this post, this function hasn’t yet been automated). So while B2B Marketing DOES need to be more straightforward than B2C, its content needs to be readable and accessible, as well.
This will ultimately depend on the goal and audience of each specific type of content you choose to create. But from a reader’s perspective, text with a clear personality goes a long way towards building customer trust.