I know, I know…
Even though you’ve read page upon virtual page about content marketing already, you couldn’t resist clicking the link to read this post. Some uncontrollable impulse forced you to click your mouse or tap that screen.
Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret—that impulse is what content marketing is all about.
This week, we’ve talked about how you can create great content, even if you think you’re a horrible writer. We’ve also mentioned some great resources to help you find inspiration for creating that content.
Now, let’s take a look at how you can shape that content so it will be simply irresistible for your audience:
1. Put things in a list
Lists are compelling. They’re easy to skim and most people skim when they’re reading blog posts.
Lists are also easy to write.
Don’t use them all the time, but don’t forget them, either.
2. Use the word “you”
You wouldn’t find this copy so compelling if I talked about what an anonymous “they” should be doing with their content.
Really, who cares about them?
No, this is a post for you, about what you can do for your content marketing.
If I’m talking to you, you’re more likely to pay attention and keep reading what I’ve got to say.
3. Make declarations
Which blog post are you more likely to read: “14 Content Tips You May Want to Read Because They’re in a List” or “14 Content Tips You’ll Read Because They’re in a List.”
Probably the second post, right? Because the title makes a bold declaration.
Declarations show that the writer knows what he or she is talking about.
They are informative and valuable, too, because making declarations ensures that the reader will take something away from the content.
4. Write tweet-ready titles
You may have heard how you need to make titles of all sorts engaging, whether it’s an email subject line or blog post.
But what does an “engaging” title actually mean?
Well, try picturing every title like a tweet. Think about what kinds of tweets drive the most traffic and model your titles after those.
5. Make sure your content doesn’t blind people
Text on a screen is different than text in a book.
Keep most paragraphs to one or two sentences. Three can sometimes work, if you’re feeling lucky.
Don’t forget to make breaks in your text with subheads, images, and breaks to fully optimize your content for readability.
And pay close attention to your color schemes—stay away from fluorescent colors that will blind your reader.
Making any of these mistakes can make your content completely unreadable.
6. Write what people want to read, not what you want to write
Your content should always have an audience in mind.
That means you should have their needs in mind, too, not your own. Remember, content marketing should provide something valuable to people.
So although you may want to write about how terrible your day was or how someone should do something about the lines at delis in grocery stores, that’s not the kind of thing people will want to read.
They want to read something that’s written about the things they’re thinking about.
So ask yourself what concerns and delights your audience, then go from there.
7. Make sure you’ve got more of the “content” part and not so much of the “marketing” part
A lot of organizations get caught up in the “marketing” part of content marketing. Don’t!
Content is supposed to give your audience something of value. In return, you’re developing trust, authority, and expertise.
A blog post that ends with “BUY NOW!” each time will generate far fewer potential customers or supporters than one that ends with “Download our free guide!”
Why? Because people need to be convinced to buy something and one blog post probably won’t do it. You need a lot of content to build a good relationship.
8. Talk to people about the problem, not the solution
Instead of asking if an audience has a problem, then presenting a solution (your product), content needs to meet your audience’s problem, acknowledge the issue, then show your expertise on the subject.
When the audience trusts that expertise enough, they’ll be ready to take the next step and they’ll think of you first.
9. Don’t write your content in a bubble
When you’re writing, always remember to pop the bubble of your products and services by showing how they impact real people and real things every day.
If you stick to isolated product pitches and studies, no one will be able to see it in the context of their own lives.
10. Don’t forget about SEO
One of the most rock-solid benefits of content marketing is boosting your website’s ranking in search engines.
You don’t have to be an expert to write content that’s great for search engine optimization (SEO).
Just link phrases you think your audience is looking for to deeper pages on your website that relate to the topic and you’re halfway there.
11. Show people how to do things
Google’s Keyword Tool estimates that, each month, the phrase “how to” is searched 414,000,000 times and the phrase “how to videos” is searched 618,000,000 times.
So, it’s more or less safe to conclude that people use the Internet as an informal instruction guide for just about everything.
Your own “How to” posts should discuss not just the things your organization offers, but anything else that your audience is interested in that can be related to what you offer.
We do this a lot with “How to” blog posts about subjects like Facebook.
We’re not Facebook, we’re not selling Facebook, but we do have Social Campaigns, a tool that can help people get the most out of their Facebook Page.
12. Pay attention to what’s working
Always have a way to track what content is being read and what’s being ignored.
With Email Marketing, you can do this by monitoring click-throughs and open rates.
With blog posts, check to see which search terms are leading people to your site and what posts are getting read and shared.
With social media, you can see who’s “liking,” retweeting, and engaging with posts.
All of this can show you who’s actually reading and interacting with your content.
13. Tell people what you told them … again
Content marketing isn’t just about making the content, it’s about making sure things stick.
In the end, it all comes back to thinking about your audience before making any content in the first place.
- Who’s going to read the content?
- What are they going to do with it?
- What are they going to take away from it?
- What’s your organization going to get from it?
14. Include a call to action
No blog post is complete without a next step of some sort, so here goes:
What do you find is most effective when it comes to content marketing? Let us know below!