When people find out I’m a writer and that I write content for the Internet, their first question is usually: How is writing for an online audience so different from traditional writing?
Well, it is … and it isn’t. Your number-one concern should always be your audience. But no matter where your content is going, your words should be written to engage your audience at the proper venue. For instance, if you’re writing for a mobile site, your content and calls-to-action are much different than for a full website. The scope of a social media post varies greatly from a blog post. And so on and so on.
Our job as content marketers is to get into the minds of the readers and determine what they need to see, when they need to see it, and ultimately, what can turn that reader into a customer. I guess you could say we’re a mix of a writer, a marketer, and a psychologist, all wrapped in one.
Today, our team of writers offers you a mishmash of Content Marketing tips. And please, feel free to post your questions in the Comments section for this post.
Daiv Whaley, Senior Content Strategist
Tip: Make blog posts informative and authoritative, NOT promotional.
It’s okay to want to promote your goods or services on your company blog – in fact, it’s perfectly natural. But you must remember that you’re writing for existing and prospective customers alike, and to connect with readers you need to provide factual information or opinion. Content marketing using a blog is all about building a “fan base” per se – providing helpful, entertaining, enlightening or insightful content your readers will enjoy. By doing so, you establish yourself or your company as thought leaders in your industry, and they return to your blog again and again for news and commentary that helps them to better understand your world. For example, a blog on a pizza company’s website could feature recipes, the history of pizza, what exactly is pepperoni, or even spotlights on their employees. You can link to relevant pages on your site in the posts, but your goal while blogging is to get readers “hooked” on your ongoing content. Some of them will naturally become customers in the process, and many others will discover your site due to the fresh content generated that search engines love to index.
Karen Cover, Copywriter
Tip: Fully understand your client’s brand to write in the correct style and voice.
Writing in the correct voice makes your client happy, but more importantly it helps you target the correct audience. Developing the ability to write effectively in a variety of styles can also help you become a more versatile and effective writer. Studying the company, their product or service, and their target market are necessary first steps, but as a writer you can dive deeper by studying the language. What are the words and phrases they use to address their audience and describe their product? How do those words convey the style and tone of the brand? If a company has an established brand and style, read the existing copy on their website along with other marketing materials. Make a list of verbs, adjectives and adverbs they often use and refer to this list later when you start writing. Always ask the company if they have branding or style guidelines to share with you, and if they don’t, create your own style guide. Record what the company likes and doesn’t like in their copy and include examples. Once you have a solid draft, ask the company to approve the guide to make sure you’re both on the same page.
Rob Hosler, Technical Writer
Tip: Give your readers what they are looking for; edit everything else.
What are your readers looking for when they visit your website? They want information. While adverbs, unnecessary adjectives and lengthy paragraphs are great for college essays, they don’t translate well to the Internet where attention spans are limited. Instead, your message needs to be clear. Don’t hide it amidst a pool of adverbs, clauses, lead-in sentences, and introductory paragraphs. That will only cloud your messaging and scare away your readers. So keep your sentences and paragraphs short. Give away the most important information within the first three sentences of your post. Don’t use four words when one will do. And if a word, phrase, or paragraph is unnecessary, get rid of it.
Angela Verlei, Senior Content Strategist
Tip: Don’t make more work for yourself; repurpose what you’ve already written.
Don’t waste time duplicating your efforts. Have a whitepaper that performed really well? Break it up into infobytes that you can post through social. Or, use it as a blog series that eventually links to the full whitepaper. Taking your successful pieces of content and repurposing them is essential to reaching a broader audience. Remember that not everyone in your target demographic absorbs information the same way. The more ways you can display your important information, the more likely you will be to reach your entire target audience.
Jennifer Daddario, Copywriter
Tip: Include important keywords in a natural way.
It’s important to include keywords to drive organic traffic to your blog post, but don’t just jam them into random sentences. Do research and decide which keywords to focus on, and include them in your content naturally. “Content writing tips” could be a keyword phrase for this blog post, and content writing tips are important for content writers looking for top tips. Make sense? No? Exactly. Readers and search engines alike will be able to tell if you are including keywords in awkward ways just for search engine optimization.
Caroline Bogart, Content Onboarding & Training Leader
Tip: Communicate WIIFM (what’s in it for me) to your audience.
No matter what products or services you’re selling, everyone will always want to know “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM). To communicate WIIFM, think about the challenges that your audience has and how your product or service solves those challenges. Don’t just list the features of your product or service; make sure you write about the benefits, too. The benefit of what you’re selling is what helps a customer understand WIIFM.
Tip #2: Use the most effective content mediums for your industry.
Although you might want to jump on the bandwagon of every hot new content marketing trend, it might not always be best for your company. Instead, think about where your audience plays and where you can have the most influence. Resist the urge to engage in every social media platform out there and limit yourself to the ones that will provide your company and your customers with the most valuable experiences.
Haley Hite, Healthcare Writer
Tip: Know your audience and write for them … NOT the search engines.
By knowing the target demographics of your company/client, you can be better suited to create content your audience is searching for, is interested in and will find valuable. This gives your content more purpose – it enables you to create content that will play a valuable role in your overall goal of funneling readers through the buying cycle. It’s also important, when creating content with strategic keywords for SEO purposes, to keep your audience in mind so the content makes sense and comes across as personable and understandable for real readers, not just search engines.