Content Marketing is one of the most powerful tools we have to attract visitors into our site, help them convert into leads and finally into clients.
Great content will help you attract and retain your audience.
You want to catch your audience’s attention with educational, helpful content that helps them with a specific problem and gets them to engage with your brand.
Your ultimate goal with content is to move a lead in the buyer’s journey and ultimately turn them from a lead into an actual client, and later on even an advocate.
It all sounds pretty straight forward right? You create a blog, start producing different types of content for your website, etc.
But there is a lot more that goes on in writing, you can’t just write to write. You must have a clear understanding of your audience, you must have a consistent approach and a clear strategy to follow.
Today I want to focus on helping you understand how to become an effective writer and what skills you need have to be one.
First of all,
Why does effective writing matter?
Did you know that 47% of people consume 3-5 pieces of content before taking the first step towards making a purchase?
With tons of content out there and millions of people writing content on the same subject, you are writing about and also directed to your audience, the need to become one of the best and differentiate yourself is very huge.
Even for someone who has been in the industry for a long time or is a professional writer, writing is difficult.
With your content, you want to achieve one thing. That is to be a source of endless information that helps your readers and your audience achieve their goals.
You want to portray yourself as an advisor for their needs and address their pain points. You don’t want to make your content about selling your products or services.
Please keep in mind that people don’t want to be sold to, they will tune out any piece of content that feels like a sales pitch.
You want your writing to be so targeted to their needs and speaking “their language” so that they want to stick with you and prevent them from clicking any other site.
When you get someone engaged with your content they will stick with you and they will slowly but surely begin to connect with your brand and your business. This will create brand advocates that share your content and speak about your brand.
Great writing will help you achieve all this.
So now, let’s get to the nitty gritty.
How do you effectively write content?
I’ve collected 10 of the attributes that I consider most important in terms of writing great content.
10 Core Attributes of effective writing
The first thing that a reader will see is your headline.
This is your first chance to connect with your audience, so you want to make sure you choose a headline that talks directly to them.
Did you know that 80% of people will read your headline but only 20% will actually read the article?
That is why you need to create a headline that directly speaks to them will actually make them click on it and read your piece.
An attention-grabbing headline needs to be: useful, create urgency, be unique, be ultra-specific and make a promise to the reader.
Start by selecting a working title and come back to it once the article is done. Always come up with 5-10 possible topics to choose from.
There are a few common formats for headlines and titles that work best, let me share them with you:
This format is highly searched on Google because people want specific answers and guidance to their problems.
This is a common way in which people search for queries and look for an answer to their problems If you write a headline in the way they are looking for answers chances are you’re piece will get clicked on.
Here are some examples:
“How to fix my broken iron”
“How to make a mother’s day brunch”
“How to prepare a kid’s lunch in under $10”
The list format will tell the reader what to expect from your piece of content. They will know right from the headline the number of ways in which they will be able to solve a problem.
Let’s use the examples above and turn them into this format:
“3 easy ways in which you can fix your broken iron”
“10 ways to make a beautiful mother’s day brunch”
“7 ways in which you can prepare a kid’s lunch in under $10”
When people look for specific queries, they usually type in the question that they want to solve. If they don’t know how to do something they will specifically type in the question.
“How to fix your broken iron”
“How to prepare for a mother’s day brunch”
“How to prepare a kid’s meal in under $10”
This is a highly effective and engaging type of headline because it evokes curiosity in the reader.
If there is a secret solution to their problem they will want to click on your piece.
Most people don’t have the time to read long pieces of content. If they are looking for answers they want them fast.
This is why this type of format is highly engaging. You are telling the reader that there is a solution to their problem and that they can read all about it in just a couple of minutes.
The tone is a big piece in the writing puzzle.
Imagine you are talking to your grandma about the new fitness app that was just launched and you are using typical millennial words like “YAS” ( I know, silly example) but chances are she will not understand a word you are saying and will lose track of the conversation and will slowly disengage with what you are saying.
The same goes for your audience.
You need to identify not just how they talk, how they think, how they usually communicate and what are their most relevant searches on Google for example.
The next thing you need to keep in mind is helping your readers do something or learn something new from you.
If your content helps your audience overcome a problem they have or helps them be better in any way or form it will portray your brand as an authority figure.
Position yourself as an advisor to keep them coming for more.
If you’ve been helpful with a specific matter to them they will trust you and your brand and will not only keep coming to you but also share and talk about your business with family and friends. Which makes them a brand advocate.
With the incredible amount of content out there, you must stand out from the rest.
To do this, you need to add something different to the conversation. Include new or relevant data.
See what else is out there and see how you can improve it. See what’s missing from other pieces of content that talk about the same topic and include it in yours.
Once you are done researching begin your writing and include any missing piece. After you are done writing re-read your content and ask yourself; What questions do I still have? Can I add some other types of content? Like a video or infographic to make it more attention-grabbing?
Next, always write for relevance of topic.
This should be a rule of thumb.
Don’t just pick a random topic that you think your audience might want to hear about.
Do a little bit of homework and research what people are currently searching for on Google or other search engines.
There are some incredible tools I use such as SEMrush that gives me keyword relevance and the actual questions that people are asking on search engines for a specific topic.
If you don’t have access to these tools there are a lot of free tools that can help you.
My personal favorite is answerthepublic.com.
A structure will give your writing a clear order and will guide your readers on the right path.
This will help them keep engaged.
You can choose whatever structure you feel most comfortable with but make sure your content does have a structure and order.
Here are two simple structures that can help you:
The “How-to” formula
Start with an introduction.
Provide a section that says why it matters to the reader.
Provide details on how to do something on a list format.
Finish with a conclusion.
Start by writing the list and then write the introduction and conclusion, it will be a lot easier to write them once you know what you’ve covered in the body (list) of the text.
Make sure that every time you write you have a main idea.
This idea will guide everything else and will prevent your readers from losing themselves.
Highlight that idea at the beginning of the content and work your way around it throughout the text. Bring back that idea along the body and at the end of the article.
It’s easy to lose focus once you begin typing so make sure you have a clear understanding of exactly what you want your readers to know and stick to it.
The next thing to keep in mind is that your writing should always support your brand messaging, values, vision, and strategy.
Even though you have several pieces of content and you might have several people writing everything must feel like one cohesive piece.
Everything in your writing, from the tone, the subject matter and details included in the content should all reinforce what your readers perceive as your brand.
You should always keep your buyer persona in mind. Ask yourself how this specific piece of content is supporting their journey? And if it doesn’t you shouldn't be writing that piece of content!
One important item that you should always include in any piece of content you create is inviting your readers to keep interacting with your brand.
That is exactly what CTA mean, a literal call to action.
This is your opportunity to keep the conversation and the interaction going even after the reader has finished the article.
A call to action could come in the form of asking them to share the article, to leave a comment in the bottom or to even a more straight forward action like asking them to call a number, subscribe to a newsletter or download a guide.
Make sure that if they follow your CTA you reward them in some form, for example, if they subscribe to a newsletter and give you their contact information you can give them a free downloadable guide.
And the last but not least step of effective writing is making sure you don’t have any grammar or spelling issues.
If you have a poor grammar that will only leave your readers with a bad taste in their mouth and will immediately lose trust in you.
No matter how good or relevant the topic is, it will distract your readers and will make you seem unprofessional and sloppy.
Attention to detail is always key in writing.
Phew, I hope I covered everything I needed to say on effective writing.
Follow those 10 core attributes of effective writing and see how your content turns from just another page that exists in your website to an attention-grabbing piece that is purposeful for your business and helps your audience in their day to day problems.
Writing is not easy but keep those 10 attributes in mind and you’ll see great results coming your way.
If you liked the article go ahead and share it with your friends, I hope they find it useful. If you’d like to know anything else related to content marketing feel free to contact us, we are always available to help.