The skill of content writing has become a vital component in the mechanics of effective business marketing, writes John Cradden.
Content writing is the process of writing, editing and publishing content in a digital format, and it can include things like social media copy, press releases, blog posts, email newsletters, e-books, whitepapers, product category descriptions or video or podcast scripts.
To put it more simply – and perhaps more eloquently – content writing is about conveying the story of your brand.
“A large part of the raison d’etre of content writing for marketing is to convert your readers, listeners or viewers into customers”
When done well, it broadcasts meaningful, helpful and insightful messages to help engage your target audience and move them to buy into your product or service.
To help take your business content to the next level, here are some useful content writing tips. Most or all of these tips will apply no matter what type of content you’re writing.
Create an outline or basic content strategy
If you’re investing in high quality written content for the first time, as opposed to just writing stuff on an ad-hoc basis or off the top of your head, creating an outline or a basic content strategy will help create some structure and ensure you get across the message you want to convey. You can try using a template – there are loads of free ones online.
Make sure your content is original and unique
If you’re an expert in your chosen topic, then writing a highly original piece of content should be straightforward in terms of what angle you want to take as you’re likely to have had many stimulating conversations with colleagues and customers and gotten a feel for what they want to know more about. You should still make sure that all of your information is reliable and accurate, though.
If you’re not an expert, then it’s fine to take some cues from material written elsewhere, whether that’s other articles and blogs, surveys, reports etc, but resist the temptation to copy and paste similar information that already exists online.
Your readers will eventually catch on, particularly if you’re writing content for B2B marketing purposes. Instead, reach out to colleagues in your workplace who are the experts, and look for reputable sources through your social networks who will be willing to provide original insights, quotes, tips or even case studies in return for a mention in your piece.
Think of a good hook
To make your content stand out, thinking of a way to draw your reader in and make them want to keep reading is essential. Again, this might come naturally if you’re passionate or at least knowledgeable about the topic, but might be a bit trickier if the topic is boring or technical. If you have a number of points to make, put your most important or key one in the open sentence or paragraph.
Keep an eye on length
The format of many forms digital content these days tends to favour brevity rather than length, particularly for social media posts, landing page copy, but also for website blogs. Research shows that readers tend to prefer shorter articles when reading online vs print. So the advice is to be short and snappy, making one point in your article or blog very well, and not worry about adding filler for the sake of it.
There will be times, of course, when long-form content still makes sense, such as when you want to demonstrate extensive knowledge and expertise in your chosen field in a blog, or else for whitepapers and e-books. For this, it’s worth considering hiring a good content writer, as readability will be everything.
If the piece is on the longer side, do strongly consider incorporating multimedia elements like videos, podcasts, graphs or images to break up the text and make it easier to consume. It’s also a good opportunity to increase traffic to your company’s various marketing materials, such as the increasingly popular format of podcasts.
A large part of the raison d’etre of content writing for marketing is to convert your readers, listeners or viewers into customers. A practical and tangible way to do this is to incorporate calls-to-action (CTAs) links throughout your content.
SEO-optimise your content for search engines
Making sure you Search Engine Optimise your content is pretty essential these days, which is about making your content more visible to searches in Google, Bing, and other search engines as well as popular social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. The process of doing so will also help guide you towards writing about topics that are popular in your industry, and thus gain more traction.
Keep tone-of-voice consistent
It’s well worth getting familiar with the concept of brand tone-of-voice, which is the way companies communicate with their audience, particularly in terms of writing style and emotional tone. The challenge is to keep this tone of voice consistent across all the different types of content you might be creating, but the benefit will be that your audience will come to know your voice and help them feel more comfortable and reassured when they read what you write.
Take care with editing
Writing a piece of content may take a bit of time, but when it comes to editing a useful rule of thumb is give yourself a decent break between drafting it and editing/proofreading. This allows you to return to it with a fresher, more objective eye and spot any mistakes or errors more easily.
Make your content easy to share
Content that is easily readable (ideally with a great hook) is far more likely to get shared. You could have a great post with a load of informative information but if the post is hard to read then in all likelihood the post with hit a brick wall and will go nowhere. Like with multimedia links and CTAs, incorporate a sharing link if you can.