Content Marketing: Attract and Engage With Effective Content

Now that you understand why your
content needs to be effective, how can you attract and engage
people with your content? Effective writing has ten core
attributes. Let’s review each in more detail right now. First,
your writing needs an attention-grabbing headline.
According to Copyblogger, 80% of people will read your headline,
but only 20% will read the entire article. So learning how
to create compelling headlines is one of the most important
things you can do to improve the performance of your content
efforts. Headlines should be specific, make a promise to the
reader of how it will benefit them, and if possible, prompt
the viewer to read the piece right now. Begin your writing by
coming up with a working title, something that will guide the
structure and focus the subject of the content. This could be
something like, “How to Get Past Your First Bad Idea.”
Once you finish the piece, you will come back to this title and
refine it to be more aligned with the direction you ended up
taking in the post. I ended up coming up with a long list of
titles that I ran by a colleague to see what she thought was the
best. It’s always a good idea to get another opinion. We
decided on “Why Your First Idea Might Be Your Worst Idea”
for the final title. For almost every piece of content, come up
with at least 5-10 different headlines. Make it a rule that
you spend at minimum five minutes brainstorming titles. It
will pay off in traffic and engagement. You can also rely on
formats for headlines and titles. Let’s take a look at
the most commonly used formats. There’s the “How-To”
format, which teaches the viewer how to do something; the
“List” format, which usually follows the format of X ways to
or examples or tips; the “Question” format, which
piques the interest of a reader, promising to answer a compelling
question; the “Negative” angle format, which accuses the
reader of doing something incorrectly or failing to do
something, but remember that the copy should always provide a
solution or the answer to your question; the “Secret of”
format, which provokes the curiosity of readers; the
“Little Known” advice, tips, or tricks format, which tells
the reader that this advice is unique and different from
what’s already been published online; the “You Should Know
This” format, which reminds the reader that there is still
information they don’t know; the “Interesting Data”
format, which uses a stat to prove the value of the article;
and the “Quick Tip” format, which signals that it’s
something the reader can learn with a small time commitment.
Next, the tone needs to be relevant to your readers. When
writing for your audience, you want to match the attitude of
your readers and the subject matter. Consider if your writing
should be serious, fun and personable, uplifting, quirky
and humorous, or authoritative. Readers might not be able to
point out that the tone is what is off-putting about your
content and therefore your brand, but it’s the little
things that can leave a big impression. Here’s an example
of why tone matters so much: Simple, a company reinventing
online banking, has a blog on finance and money. But the
writing is anything but what you’d expect from a bank. They
publish real stories from people who use money to live their
lives the way they want. 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. Next,
the content should help the reader do something or better
understand a topic. It’s helpful. Your blog posts,
ebooks, whitepapers, and other content formats should be made
with the purpose of teaching your audience how to do
something or do something better. It should be useful.
This is what increases your authority with your readers. To
write from a helpful perspective, you need to first
understand who your ideal reader is, which is also known as your
buyer persona. By creating a detailed buyer persona, you’ll
better understand the key challenges your ideal reader
faces, their pain points, how they learn new information and
skills, and their goals. You can then use this information about
your ideal reader to spur new content ideas or show that you
understand the reader’s needs in your writing. Next, it should
add to the conversation, rather than rehash what’s already out
there. With so much content being produced, shared, and sent
each day, your content shouldn’t simply restate
what’s already been published. It needs to add something new to
the conversation, be of higher quality or more comprehensive
than what already exists, answer any and all questions about the
subject the reader might have, and include the most recent and
relevant data for support. Before you start writing, take a
few minutes to research what already exists on the subject.
Analyze the content that is already out there. Take into
consideration the depth of material, the expertise of the
reader, and the perspective and stance of other writers. Ask
yourself, “What’s missing? What questions do I still have?
How can I expand upon this topic and provide more context,
detail, or even entertainment?” Spend more
time creating in-depth quality content rather than producing
work that is easily ignored. Next, write for the way people
search. This does not mean that you should consider Google your
reader, but you should research the words 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 “financial planning” in your
headline and content. Use keyword research to guide you,
but always default to what sounds natural and would
interest your audience. Next, there is a solid structure.
Effective writing makes it easy for people to follow your
narrative. This all starts with having a solid structure for
your post that readers recognize and therefore know what to
expect. And for many people who skim your posts, make sure to
include interesting subheadings help to draw them into a deeper
reading experience. One easy structure to use is the List
Formula. Start with an intro, and list out the main points of
the article, and then wrap it all up with a strong conclusion.
The How-To Formula is another easy-to-use and logical format.
It begins with an introduction, there’s a section on why this
matters to the reader that provides more context, and then
you provide details on how to do something in a list format. If
you start with a formula for the backbone of your article, it’s
easier to get started. It will be overwhelming to write an
introduction without knowing where the piece is going to go.
Start by filling in the main points and save writing the
introduction and conclusion for after you’ve written the piece
or created a solid architecture for the post. Next, It has one
core idea. A clear piece of writing should have one main
idea, and everything else should tie back to this. But it can be
easy to lose sight of this objective once you start typing
away on your keyboard. Try identifying the main objective
and how the reader will benefit, and add it to the top of your
draft. This should serve as a reminder to focus your content
on one main idea, and it will ensure that you are keeping the
reader’s benefit in mind as you construct your article or
ebook. This also helps if you have an editor or a colleague
editing your work before it goes live. They’ll know exactly
what point you’re trying to get across. Next, it supports
your brand messaging, values, and strategy. Every piece of
content you create and distribute should support your
brand messaging—its vision, values, and the promise you’re
making to your audience. The words you use, the tone of the
writing, the subject matter, and details included in the content
should all reinforce the reader’s view of who your
brand is and why the reader should want to know you better.
To make sure you’re creating content with your buyer personas
in mind, ask yourself how and if this content supports their
journey. If it doesn’t, then you should question why you’re
writing the content in the first place. Next, it has a relevant
call-to-action. Once you’ve gotten the attention of your
reader and impressed them with your inspiring and educational
content, you need to tell them what you want them to do next.
This can be as simple as asking the reader to share the content
or write a comment in response to the post. Or it could be more
direct, such as asking the audience to call a number,
subscribe to your newsletter, or download a checklist. This is
your opportunity to encourage people to continue to interact
with your company, so ask for it directly, and be sure to reward
and delight them with the next step. And finally, it’s free
of errors and poor grammar. Effective writing is the result
of a process, which usually looks like this: You have an
initial idea and a working title. You research and collect
information, data points, and quotes. You perform a brain
dump, writing out your ideas and howtos. You then start to
formulate all that information into a piece of content,
beginning to structure the article and removing extra or
uninteresting information, which further strengthens your main
objective. Finally, it goes through an editing process. This
final stage is often rushed through. However, this time for
refinement and polishing can be the difference between making
and breaking trust. Sloppy and wordy articles will only leave
readers frustrated and feeling like they wasted their time-no
matter how good the core ideas and advice are. Errors distract
from your ideas and what you want to communicate to the
reader. And that’s what we’ll be covering in the next
video: How you can create effective content by improving
the quality of your writing.

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