Tips for Writing Impactful Content

March 23rd, 2016

Your content needs to be thought-provoking, meaningful, and it must resonate with your target audience

The power of online publishing is such that every company is a media company nowadays, but is your company producing engaging and informative content?

According to data from the Nielsen Norman Group, you have less than one minute to entice a visitor to your website to stick around and explore. That’s not a lot of time to inspire rapt attention. If your site’s content doesn’t affect or appeal to its intended audience instantly and in an intellectual or emotional way, they’ll quickly lose interest, and you will lose business.

There are theories as to why and how cringeworthy content resides on so many business websites. It could be because of the oft-repeated “content is king” cliché that’s bandied about with wild abandon by marketing cheerleaders induces people to produce content for content’s sake. (Don’t do this) Or it’s possible business owners and decision-makers don’t want to pay a professional writer to help them. Regardless, if brands want to be successful publishers and use content to create relationships and up sales leads, they need to produce clear but compelling content consistently, and ensure it’s optimized for social media sharing.

Whether you’re writing for a corporate website, a blog, company e-newsletter, an advertisement, or emails to your customers, on the web, and especially in a world that’s increasingly dialled in via a mobile device, you have mere seconds to make that connection with your readers.

In general, there appears to be four content- or writing-related errors many brands make online:

  • Their content is poorly written and full of grammatical or spelling errors
  • The language used is sheer flimflam or gibberish, and it’s not the language their customers use
  • It offers no new perspectives or fails to recommend a solution to readers’ problems
  • It’s a standalone piece of work that’s not part of an overall content marketing strategy

Ergo if you’re scratching your head wondering why your website and marketing efforts aren’t bringing home the bacon, it could be because your content lacks sizzle, or it completely misses the mark.

“Words can be like X-Rays if you use them properly – they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.”

There are many good reasons that you should consider hiring a professional writer to help you and your team consistently produce quality blogs, marketing materials, and website copy. These may include:

  • Writing isn’t your forte. Writing is hard work and writing well doesn’t come naturally or easily to a lot of people. There’s no shame in that. But if you forgo investing in a professional writer to help concisely articulate what it is you do, and the value your company provides to your customers and potential customers, you’re essentially handicapping your business. Nothing scorns the prospect of new business and potentially damages your company’s reputation than a website rife with bad or unnecessary copy.
  • You’re busy running your business. Undoubtedly, managing or running a business swallows up most of your waking hours. As a decision-maker or business leader, do you have the time to write website copy, advertising copy, blogs, social media content, case studies, white papers, and press releases? Chances are you don’t.
  • You lack objectivity. In other words, you’re the DNA your business needs to survive, but you’re so close to the heart of it, and so knowledgeable, you simply can’t write effectively about it to your target audience. Sometimes, we need a friend or colleague to point out to us that which we cannot readily identify. When it comes to writing content about your firm or industry, the same truth applies. It could be that something your company does which might seem trivial or unimportant to you may be what dazzles and delights your customers.
  • Your approach to marketing is flawed. You need to know who your target audience is, what they care about and the issues they need to solve, and how your products and services can help them overcome their challenges and reach their goals. But are all of your marketing efforts in-synch? Are your marketing campaigns tied to achievable goals? Are you speaking the language of your customers and leveraging search engine optimization (SEO) best practices in order to ensure your website ranks high in organic searches? Your marketing messages (in whatever form) need to be as smooth as silk and should feature a takeaway or call-to-action that matters to your audience. In general, it’s critical to understand that writing or producing content is but one important part of a holistic marketing strategy.

The Quality of Your Content Impacts Your Site’s Performance

Professional wordsmiths hang on every word they write. They agonize over every sentence and they analyze and assess how those words read, sound, and flow from one paragraph to the next. They rely on keyword analysis and recommended SEO best practices when choosing words to craft a sentence. It can be time-consuming, but it’s a wholly valuable and worthwhile exercise.

A well-designed website with high-quality images and photos and intuitive navigation is important. But don’t let these things overshadow your site’s readability. Content and messaging that’s clear, simple, and bold will increase the number of visitors to your website. It builds trust, positions you as a thought leader, and in turn, leads to conversions whereby prospective customers will have conversations with you about how your services can help them. To quote Mark Twain, “use the right word, not its second cousin.” Indeed.

But it isn’t solely a matter of choosing the right words. It’s also important to ably express what your business is all about, and what challenges you help your customers overcome. Doing so across all of your digital marketing channels will help your business stand out from others in online search rankings, and swell your social media follower count.

Consider these six do’s and don’ts when thinking about drafting content for your website:

  1. Do use a dictionary, the spellcheck feature in your word processing software, and have one or two people proofread your content before posting it live online to ensure there are no spelling and grammar errors. Read your content aloud to catch errors. If it doesn’t sound right, it probably isn’t.
  2. Do write with authority and write for your audience. No one knows your company and its products and services better than you. Let your knowledge and confidence show.
  3. Do produce fresh content regularly. It works wonders for your website SEO rankings by keeping your brand front and centre, establishing you and your team as industry thought leaders, and it will keep people coming back to your site to read more.
  4. Don’t use fanciful, flowery words to promise everything under the sun and then underperform. It’s the opposite you need to shoot for. Under-promise and then exceed your customers’ expectations.
  5. Don’t use meaningless strings of keyword-stuffed jargon. Use plain language to get your message across sensibly and clearly articulate to your customers the value of your firm’s products and services.
  6. Don’t write excessively long marketing content, especially online. On one hand, it’s important to share your breadth of knowledge and expertise with useful, in-depth information. On the other hand, mobile computing and the Internet is changing how we consume the written word so dispense with unnecessary verbiage. You need to find the right balance between producing quality content efficiently without shortchanging your readers by being too vague.

We hope you’ve found this list of ideas for injecting content marketing into your business helpful.

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Not sure where to start? Have writer blocks when it comes to content marketing? Get in touch with us. Our experienced team knows how to make your marketing materials sing.