Content marketing is an excellent tool to get your brand the attention it deserves. Along with engaging your audience in the products and services you offer, it provides a platform for your customers to interact with each other. While blog posts are a great place to start for content marketing, having bland and uninspired entries can backfire in terms of audience impression as prospective customers might walk away feeling cheated by conveyor belt content. With that in mind, here are a few tips and strategies to grab readers’ attention and keep them engaged and interested in your articles, no matter the topic of your content.
1. Know your audience. A mistake that many marketers and brand spokespeople make is writing to an audience that either has no interest in the topic being presented or one that will not be drawn to engage with the content. It is important for audiences to be understood and profiled prior to generating content so that your work has the best opportunity to land with them. Regardless of whether you are casting your net wide or trying to capture a more niche audience, you should know at least a few things about who you are hoping to engage with, such as:
• Basic demographics
• Education level/base of knowledge
Start with these and expand based on the specificity of what you are writing about and the goal of your post.
2. Step outside the box by brainstorming. Research different topics or areas on what you are planning on writing about. Keep in mind that you are probably not the first to write about whatever it is you are writing about! Try approaching the subject matter from different angles or providing an insight that only you or your brand would be able to provide. Before writing, ask yourself questions like:
• Is my topic current/interesting/relevant to my company and its goals?
• Will this content drive dialogue with my target audience?
• Is this content accessible and/or interactive?
• Am I bringing a fresh/unique perspective to the topic?
• Is this content memorable?
3. Write to engage, not to impress. If you are writing to an audience with a marketing background, using industry keywords and concepts probably will not pose a communication challenge. However, when projecting your brand’s voice towards a general audience, jargon and other “fancy talk” should only be included if there is a brief description of the term(s) being used. Often times, impactful ideas are best communicated in simpler terms, and this strategy opens up the floor for a wider variety of readers to engage with your brand and each other.
4. Get the explanations out of the way in the beginning. Describe the most difficult or complicated concepts in detail before rushing into the meat of your content. Instead of briefly and inadequately touching on the technicalities throughout the article, let the start of your post function as a road sign to let the reader know what is coming before they start stumbling in the middle of your article. Once basic understanding is established, readers will be able to flow more easily through your article and grasp the original ideas and insights free from distraction. Remember, no matter the audience, people want to be engaged rather than lectured at.
5. Keep it simple. Using bullet points or lists to break down ideas makes reading easier, and embedding links in your articles will take your readers on a virtual field trip. In addition, using short sentences that are direct and to the point rather than long, drawn out ones makes the article easier to dissect. Here are some other simple ways to communicate information in simple and strong ways:
• Inserting images, GIFs, or memes (when appropriate)
• Creating or linking videos
• Organizing data in graphs, tables, and infographics
• Strategically implementing white space
6. Write efficiently. The key to making meaningful impressions is not found in simply writing more. In fact, dialogue between you and your audiences is created when you give your audience a jumping off point for them to continue the conversation. With this said, it is important to communicate your ideas as succinctly as possible and to stay on topic so that there is room for your ideas to grow with your audience. The most successful content allows readers to take ownership of what is being presented and then to export it to other platforms, which will garner attention for your brand and grow your audience.
These last strategies represent two important categories of content marketing: content creation and thought leadership.
Content creation is a great way to add value to your brand. Churning out powerful thought leadership on a relatively regular basis ensures that your content is fresh, helpful, and insightful. Also, it goes without saying that quality always trumps quantity. While it is true that publishing more posts tends to generate more impressions, writing quality articles as they come beats consistently average content any day of the week. It is great to have regular content but if you have to choose one, have great content above all else.
Here are some starting points for developing your own content:
• Develop a strong FAQ database
• Write out some product use tips
• Create some industry-relevant opinion pieces
In his book, “The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Social Media, Blogs, News Releases, Online Video, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly,” David Meerman Scott explains: “Instead of just directly selling something, a great site, blog, or video series tells the world that you are smart, that you understand the market very well, and that you might be a person or organization that would be valuable to do business with.” Our last strategy, thought leadership, ensures your customers can rely on you for their support. Writing blog posts about healthy living and including healthy recipes would be an excellent example for a company like Whole Foods. It proves to their customers that not only do they sell great products, their products can actually help improve their customers’ standard of living and habits. By providing products, services, and ideas and then demonstrating their value, you are able to show rather than tell consumers why your brand is worth listening to and developing a mutually beneficial relationship with.