The mention of content marketing alone might be enough for you to curl into your shell. Writing may be something you haven’t taken on since your school days and you may have convinced yourself that you’re incapable of writing any form of content. That simply isn’t true.
Truth is, after a bit of practice, anyone can write engaging content. It’s just a case of putting the time in to learn and get it right. Updating your blog page, social media accounts and website pages are of course a step in the right direction, but putting words on a page isn’t enough for success.
Content vs engaging content
Writing content and writing engaging content are two very different things. Engaging content can lead to readers opting into your mailing list, buying a product, using a service, getting in touch, sharing your content on social sites, changing their attitude towards your brand or even becoming a brand advocate.
If your content isn’t engaging, the reader will switch off. Simple. Did you know that the attention span of the average human is now just eight seconds? That makes the job of holding peoples’ attention a particularly difficult challenge, but there are some tips for how to achieve this by writing more engaging content:
Understand what your audience wants
It is essential that your content is appealing to your target audience. The audience browsing your blog and reading your social posts will vary from business to business but now, more than ever, you need to know exactly who your audience is.
Understanding your audience will help you to refine your tone and ensure you know what topics are of most interest to them.
Don’t take it too seriously
When writing their first few blogs, it’s common for writers to get bogged down in the formality of it and this leads to using elaborate words and industry jargon. People are usually more attracted to conversational writing, so be fun and unless it’s necessary, keep your content simple and personable.
Learn the trade
If you read enough, you’ll pick up some elements of great writing and you’ll begin to notice just what bad writing looks like. Read books, magazines, articles; anything you can get your hands on. Guardian news articles and a Harry Potter novel are polar opposites but the fundamentals remain the same: they’re working hard for your engagement.
Use the reading process to learn the principles of writing but don’t let others dictate how your own writing style should be. Your tone, humour, and insight are all yours to share in writing engaging content.
Online, people don’t read every single word, they scan. If you were to click on an article or landing page and see nothing but a big wall of text, I’d be confident in saying that page’s bounce rate is much higher than a page that uses sub-headings. You can learn more about bounce rates here.
Subheadings, lists, and bullet points all help readers on their scanning journey. These tools make it easy for readers to find the information that they need. Think of headings as a contents page.
Write shorter sentences
This is important. The longer the sentence, the harder it is for the reader to digest and the more frustrated they get. This is when you lose their engagement and you’re in danger of losing them. As the old saying goes: less is more.
Short sentences pack a punch and make a point. They particularly work well at the start of a paragraph to grab attention and at the end to summarise. In the Oxford Guide To Plain English, Martin Cutts suggests: “Over the whole document, make the average sentence length 15-20 words.” This is a good average to work to.
But don’t go mad. Too many short sentences disrupt the flow and restrict you from putting across your complex messages, so use them sparingly.
“What on earth is a listicle?” Well, if you’re a reader of BuzzFeed, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. A listicle is a mixture of a list and an article. They are a popular choice for writing articles simply because they are easily digestible, structured and the headlines are often too appealing to ignore.
A quick visit to the BuzzFeed homepage throws up an array of listicles including 7 Pressure Points To Relieve Your Headache and 5 Books (And 1 Podcast) To Check Out If You’re Missing “Black Mirror”. Top marks if you resisted the urge to click those links.
The beauty of a listicle is that once you have the idea and have numbered your headings, it’s easy to fill each point with a few paragraphs. Before you know it, you’ll have an 800-word article completed.
But with listicles being so easy to write, they can be quite common. To stand out from the crowd, be sure to write one that is targeted and unique.
Ingredients that make great content
- Be original
- Captivate the reader with the headline and opening paragraph
- Add images, video and infographics
- Answer questions
- Eliminate the fluff and be concise
Content marketing specialists
Writing good content is an art. If you want to reap the benefits of content marketing but don’t have the time or feel you don’t possess the skills to create engaging content, get in touch with the Ideal Marketing Company.
To find out how content marketing can help your business grow, email us at [email protected] or call us on 01858 44 55 43.
Marketing Assistant Ben is a whirlwind of activity in the office assisting on many key projects. Ben studied marketing at university and has a keen eye for detail and won’t let anything leave his desk without careful checking. He works on creating many different aspects of client projects including press releases, case studies and newsletters.