Clutter is the new normal!
In a world cluttered with ads, breaking through the noise has become more challenging than ever. As I mentioned in my article on creating engaging video content – blank spaces have become endangered species, both online and offline.
This has led to the rise in inbound marketing – most especially content marketing. Content marketing is the gold standard of inbound marketing. When you create content, you’re providing your audience with valuable information – FOR FREE!
Content marketing done right attracts potential customers to your website. It is also a great strategy to engage and guide your customers through the buyer’s journey.
However, content marketing is useless without content writing – or simply put, WRITING.
Writing is the foundation of any content you publish – blog posts, videos, web page copy. Every single thing is built of writing. When most marketers hear you mention writing, all they think of is “articles or blog posts.”
And “content writing” is more than just writing articles or blog posts.
Now that we have established that, here are some best practices you should follow during content writing. These practices are not set in stone, but they go a long way to ensure you get the best out of your content marketing plans.
Create an Outline
An outline is a mandatory step in your content writing process. It sets the tone for the rest of your work and also helps your content come out more precisely and better.
This happens because writing an outline forces you to put all your thoughts down in an organized way (rather than writing everything off the top of your head). Doing this also speeds up your writing process. It also helps you create a much better structure for your content.
Finally, creating an outline ensures you don’t miss out on any of the significant points you have to include in the content piece you are putting together. It lets you see your content from a “high level” that’s impossible to know as you’re writing or producing.
So, how do you create a practical outline?
Here are three tactics that work well:
- Use a previous piece of content that did well: Have you written a blog post that garnered attention or a video that got loads of engagement? Its organization and structure can act as a guide to writing out your outline.
- Use a template: Most professional content writers work off of proven templates. These FREE templates by HubSpot are a great place to start.
- Use top-performing content: Tools such as Social Animal, BuzzSumo, and Ahrefs can help you find popular content pieces on your topics. For example, if you are writing about “parenting tips,” these tools can give you a list of content or posts that have gotten good engagement. Pick the ones that come close to what you plan to achieve and use them as a basis for your outline.
Make it Easy to Consume and Share
Shareability is a big thing if you are creating content. If your content pieces are easy to digest and share, you are on your way to the “Super Bowl.” Here are a few tips for creating content that is easy to consume and even easier to share.
- Keep it snappy, rich & entertaining: Whether you’re writing about artificial intelligence or biodegradable weapons, your content pieces need to grab and keep people’s attention. Otherwise, they’ll click over to something else. Tim Staples’s book (Break Through The Noise) has some great tactics on breaking through the noise with rich, and entertaining content.
In summary, your final content needs to be super engaging to work. And no matter what format you’re working with, that starts with the content writing process.
- Create shareable quotes: This works both for text-based content or videos. With text, you can use tools such as Click to Tweet to create highlights that your readers can share instantly on their Twitter feed.
For video, you can create 10-second soundbites that can be shared on social media feeds, with links to the main video at the end. Tactics like this increase the odds that your content will get shared and linked to by other writers. The result is a higher ranking on search engines.
- Use interesting angles: Every minute, 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube. And on WordPress, users post 70 million new blog posts every month. With that amount of content going up on the Internet, you can’t put up generic content and expect to get engagement or traffic.
You need an intriguing angle to grab the attention of your readers. The angle is the most crucial part of your copywriting. It is the hook or big idea that drives customers to action because it connects deeply with the prospects on a personal level and creates urgency.
Your angle can be a personal story. A bit of controversy. Or merely saying the consumer has nothing to lose by reading your article or watching your video. The angle you use always depends on your target audience.
Make it Actionable
For most audiences, creating entertaining and informative content is not enough. It also needs to be valuable and actionable. Your customer should walk away with at least one piece of advice/tactic/strategy that can be implemented almost immediately.
Here’s how you do that:
- Include a step-by-step process: Most content out there is just a list of things you compiled from other people’s lists of items. When you organize a set of tips or techniques into steps, your content instantly becomes much more comfortable to act on.
- Use examples: Examples make your content easier to put into practice.
Make it trustworthy
People only share or link to content they trust. While the design is a significant factor in building trust for your content, the writing process plays a vital role too. You can also argue that content defines design and not the other way around.
Here are a few tips to make your content more trustworthy.
- Use proper grammar: Grammarly is an excellent tool for improving your writing skills.
- Do your homework: Research and references show that you know what you’re talking about.
Write a Magnetic Headline & Introduction
In a world dominated by clutter, it can be challenging to keep your target audience engaged. They have so many options or are already fatigued and move on faster than you can say Jack Robinson. With such a short window of time, your headline and introduction assume a significant role in how well your content performs.
Here’s how to create headlines and introductions that work:
- Add some emotions or use power words: This free tool by the Advanced Marketing Institute gives you an “Emotional Marketing Value” score that you can use to benchmark the emotional impact of your headline or introduction.
- Use short introductions: Your introductions should be approximately 4-8 sentences in total.
- Preview your content: While writing your introduction, you can list out short summaries or bullet points of what they are about to learn by reading your article. These bullet points are the benefits the consumer gets for reading and implementing the tactics in your content.
Content writing is everything, and these five tips are a great way to kickstart an engaging content marketing process.
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