Effective marketing relies on well-written content. Yet, less than half of B2B marketers say they’re effective at content marketing. When developing content for blogs, articles, white papers, case studies, email campaigns, website, proposals and presentations, use this checklist to increase readership and response rates.
Tips to Write Effective Content
- Know your audience. The first rule of writing effectively is to develop a deep understanding of your readers. Get to know what their interests, concerns and motivations are. Then develop and deliver practical tips and valuable insights that are meaningful to your readers and address their concerns. At the same time, remember, prospects and customers will see through anything that doesn’t feel authentic, so don’t be self-promotional, Write with honesty and benefits in mind.
- Identify desired outcomes. Define the goals you hope to achieve with every piece you write. What actions do you want readers to take? Some common outcomes include social media likes and follows, email subscribes and opens, and website page views, downloads and clicks. Determine how you are going to make it clear and easy for them to act. Then identify the measurement system you will use to evaluate every piece you develop and create content with your goals in mind.
- Focus on content: When developing content, think about the ideas and messages you want to convey and why they are important to share with your target audiences. Then follow up with research to validate your concepts. The more you know about your subject, the easier it will be to write compellingly about it. In many cases, people respond to numbers and sentiments. Find statistics to support your messaging or testimonials that generate a favorable emotional impact. With millions of pieces of content available to your readers, make your messages easy to read. To accomplish this, use sub-heads, short sentences and paragraphs (when possible), write in the active tense and use quotes, charts and graphs to further engage readers.
- Develop a writer’s mentality. That means cultivating curiosity, asking questions, engaging in the task at hand and fine-tuning your focus. This orientation will build your confidence and competency. In writing 101, most of us learned “write first, edit later” and those words of wisdom are still relevant today. Turn off your inner critic, and let the ideas flow rather than focusing too much on the phrasing and structure. You’ll be less likely to suffer from writer’s block. Once you have a first draft, you can revise and organize. Then share your work with others. Ask for feedback. The key is finding a system that works for you.
After all is said and done, remember that words matter. Use powerful and persuasive language to create word pictures and mental images that deliver the exact messaging you want. Avoid words that sound too preachy like “should” or “must.” In many cases, brevity and clarity take precedent over word count. As an example, if the optimal blog post takes only seven minutes to read, there’s no room to waste.
Today’s marketers are both professional writers and publishers and with 60% of marketers creating at least one piece of content each day, solid writing skills are essential. But it isn’t enough to simply throw content out there and see what “sticks.” To be effective, content needs to be original, strategic and engaging. Even more important, it needs to compel readers to take a specific action that is directly connected to organizational goals. Like any craft, writing skills are honed over time. Keep your nose to the grindstone and practice these techniques to steadily increase the readership of your content and its effectiveness.