By now you realize that the old method of marketing doesn’t work. Buyers now hold all the power. Chasing them down and begging them to buy is a waste of time and money. They want to find you—and your main job is to be found. You need to switch from an outbound approach to an inbound one. That means sharing content—blog posts, white papers, newsletters, social media posts—and plenty of it.
“When your content is consistently helpful, relevant and compelling, people will connect with you and your business,” says Justin Champion, author of “Inbound Content: A Step-by-Step Guide to Doing Content Marketing the Inbound Way.” “They’ll come to trust you, and from there you can convert them to leads and close them into customers.”
To get to this point, of course, you must be able to write content that’s engaging and persuasive enough to pull readers in and keep them hooked. That’s easier said than done. In his new book, Champion—HubSpot Academy’s content marketing professor—offers a wealth of information to help readers get started.
Here, excerpted from the book, are 10 ways to write more effective content:
Start with an attention-grabbing headline. This is one of the best ways to improve the performance of your content. Great headlines are specific, make a promise, and prompt the reader to read the piece now. You might try the how-to format (“How to Use Excel: 14 Excel Tips, Tricks, and Shortcuts“), or the list format (“30 Call-to-Action Examples You Can’t Help But Click“), or the negative-angle format (“Why You Should Never Email a Proposal“).
Make sure the tone is relevant to your readers. Ask yourself if it should be serious, fun and personable, uplifting, quirky, humorous or authoritative. Simple, a company reinventing online banking, has a blog on finance and money. The writing is human, inspiring and warm, which perfectly aligns with its goal of taking the frustration and difficulty out of dealing with a bank.
Educate the reader. Your blog posts, ebooks, white papers and other content formats should be made with the purpose of teaching your audiences to do something better or better understand a topic. This is why it’s crucial to create a detailed buyer persona; it helps you better understand the challenges your reader faces, their pain points, how they learn and their goals.
Add to the conversation; don’t rehash it. To cut through the clutter, your content should add something new, be of higher quality or more comprehensive than what already exists, answer all the reader’s questions about the subject, and include the most recent and relevant data for support. Before you write, research what already exists on the subject and ask yourself, “What’s missing?”
Write the way people search. What words do people actually use to search and communicate? If your target reader searches for financial planning rather than wealth management, you’ll naturally want to use the former in your headline and content. Use keyword research to guide you, but always default to what sounds natural and interesting to your audience.
Settle on one core idea. A clear piece of writing should have one main idea, and everything else should tie back to it. When you begin, identify the main object and how the reader will benefit, and add it to the top of your draft.
Support your brand messaging, values and strategy. In every piece of content you create and distribute, think carefully about the words you use, the tone, the subject matter and the details you provide. Every aspect should reinforce the reader’s view of who your brand is and why they should want to know you better.
Give it a relevant call to action. You might ask them to share the content or leave a comment, to subscribe to your newsletter, or to download a related piece of content to take with them. This encourages people to keep interacting with your company. Ask for it directly and make the conversion process as seamless as possible. (Don’t make them jump through too many hoops.)
Comb through it for errors and poor grammar. The final stage of writing—the editing process—is often rushed. Take time to refine your content pieces. This will ensure that you correct any errors that could damage your credibility and the trust you’ve built with the reader.
Use contractions. Contractions help you sound more conversational and more human in your writing, so be sure to change words like “do not” to “don’t” and “would not” to “wouldn’t.”
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