In the highly interconnected virtual marketplace we work in these days, knowing how to write persuasive content as a small business owner – or hiring a skilled, professional content writer who can get the job done right – is a business essential.
Every time I sit down to write copy as a part of my own marketing efforts, regardless of my overall goals as a content writer, I always have one ultimate goal in mind: to make a connection with the reader and to change them in some small way.
Perhaps I’m trying to make an emotional connection, one that gets them to undertake a specific course of action such as getting them to buy a product, subscribe to an email list or sign up for social media. Other times, I want to make an intellectual connection and educate my reader on a topic. Regardless of my goal, the key here is the word “connection” – the goal of connecting with a reader never changes, no matter the client or the marketing goal of my content writing.
Bearing all of that in mind, let’s take a quick peek at some of the most valuable tricks I’ve found in my experience as a writer. Following these 4 tips will help make these emotional connections and, as a result, create better quality content.
Don’t Bury the Lead
You may not have been to journalism school, but you may have heard this bit of wisdom before. It’s an old newspaper axiom: Don’t bury the lead. It may sound a bit trite, but it’s as true for writers now as it was back then. This advice is still as excellent and timely as it’s ever been for content creation.
Not burying the lead boils down to opening your content with the information that’s most relevant right at the beginning. If I’m going to write an article about the importance of recycling for our planet’s future (which is pretty important) I’m not going to hold onto a statistic like how much trash the average person generates each day (about four-and-a-half pounds). I need that information up front, in the first paragraph of the content. Don’t worry about giving away the “punchline”. My job is to hook the reader and give them a reason to keep reading the content. If I manage that task at the beginning, they’ll continue doing just that.
Don’t Overestimate Your Reader’s Patience
I’ll admit it. Content writers, myself included, like to show off how clever they are. That’s especially true when that cleverness has something to do with the written word. But content writing isn’t usually where you want to show off.
Why? Because let’s face it, your reader just doesn’t have time for that. When folks go online looking for something, whether it’s goods, services, or just information such as product descriptions or white papers, they’re there with one goal in mind. They don’t have time to read your delicate prose, nor are they going to make the effort to pat you on the back for your gifted writing.
Let’s take this moment to remember that digital copywriters don’t have captive audiences. A reader can always close that browser window with your blog posts, email, or product descriptions on it in an instant if you’re not delivering exactly what they want. As a writer creating content marketing material, it’s vital you remember that your readers only want what they need to know, and then they’re ready to move on.
Do your job, do it well, but don’t get carried away. The best content writers keep things brief.
Simple Does It
Among the most popular advice for content writers, as true today as it’s ever been, is K.I.S.S. or Keep It Simple, Stupid. Create content (from eBooks to product descriptions or email marketing) that’s organized, efficient, and easy-to-read while making sure you avoid prose readers will see as showy or ostentatious. Some things to keep in mind with the K.I.S.S. approach include:
- Craft your marketing content with short paragraphs. Your reader isn’t interested in reading “Moby Dick” if they’re just looking to find car insurance in Dallas, so give them a bit of a break.
- Opt for shorter sentences whenever it’s possible. Ernest Hemingway was a master of this, perhaps due in large part to his early work as a newspaper reporter. You can see that punchy style from his journalism days in his later fiction. Most writers’ content can be vastly improved with a bit of trimming.
- Skip unnecessary words. If it can be said in 20 words, cut it down to 10, and then to 6. That’s how a good writer knows they’ve written the most effective version of a sentence.
- Avoid jargon in content. This can get especially problematic when that jargon is specific to a profession and not too common. At the end of the day, a content writer shouldn’t need their work translated.
- Avoid the passive tense. Most of the time, writers want to see readers take action, which in turn means getting readers motivated through content marketing, so keep that content active and engaging.
- Avoid needless repetition and also try not to use the same word more than once in a sentence. This is the kind of thing that bores readers and makes writers seem like they were too lazy to try and communicate their point more effectively in their content marketing.
- Address your reader directly. Haven’t I been addressing you this entire piece, as if we were sitting down and sharing a cup of coffee? Do this whenever possible in content writing; it’s the easiest and most effective way to engender a personal connection with readers.
- Be comfortable with white space. Writers should always leave some space in between their text. A crowded and gray piece of content is unpleasant for a reader to try and trudge through.
- Use bullet-pointed or numbered lists when it’s possible, whether in email, social media or any other type of content marketing. Lists help readers keep track and allow content writers to present even more succinct points to their audience.
Everything Should Make Sense
Stories usually begin at the beginning. We learn that as children, when we open our picture books to the message, “Once upon a time…”
But web content writing doesn’t need to follow that format. A writer’s audience could land on any page of a website during their initial search. It’s the reason writing content can get a bit difficult, and why you need to find a way to speak to your audience no matter what they’ve come to see. Also, every web page you write has to communicate who you are and what it is that you do. Content writers must keep this in mind as they create their content.
There are too many tricks and tips out there for content writers to elaborate on in just one blog post. I’ve narrowed it down to four that can do a great job of boosting connections between readers and writers and that can have a tremendous effect when it comes to creating better quality content.
If you have questions about what you’ve read, or any other content marketing queries, I welcome you to ask the skilled and professional writing experts at iwebcontent. Better yet, contact us today and bring us on board to handle all of your digital marketing for you!