You’re probably already aware that when it comes to crafting your inbound marketing strategy, you need to build it around an effective content plan: one that tracks the buyer’s journey from awareness to decision. However, an effective content marketing strategy isn’t merely about serving up content at the right time, it’s about serving up effective and compelling content that will move a prospect closer to a conversion.
The content has to serve a purpose; no matter how beautiful your design is or how flawless your grammar, if the content doesn’t do what it was put out to do, it’s just a waste of both cost and time resources.
We’re all familiar with the three C’s of writing: Be clear, concise and compelling. Let’s try to put that into the context of inbound marketing, shall we?
- Clear content, that is easy to understand and provides the answers that your readers are looking for.
- Concise content, that is brief and to-the-point, that your readers can consume quickly, but effectively.
- Compelling content, that convinces your user to take an action that furthers their engagement and relationship with you.
Short Guide to Writing Content that Converts
1. Persona-Centric Content
By writing content around your personas, you’ll essentially be able to answer three major questions that most customers are looking to answer: Does this website/brand help me understand my problem clearly, and will it give me the answers I’m looking on how to address it? Is the solution the best one that also solves the problem effectively? Is the solution worth the money it will cost?
2. Keying Up
The awareness stage of the inbound cycle, in particular, is largely contingent on people being able to find your content. This means, your content needs to appear on the first, or at most the second page of the SERPs. Furthermore, your ranking needs to be high enough for popular search phrases.
You can do this with a variety of tools including Google’s Keyword Tool
- Make a list of both short-tail and long-tail keywords associated with your niche
- Score each of those keywords for relevance and search volume.
- Pick the best keywords that scored high in both relevance and volume.
3. Exclusivity Begets Conversions
It’s ingrained in human psychology: we all rely on human gratification and validation; we love to feel important. Use your content, especially, in email campaigns and landing pages to make your prospects feel singled out and special. Tell them they’ve been “randomly picked” or ‘specially chosen’ for your special offers.
4. Emotional Context: It’s All About Them Feels!
Every buying decision has context, and emotions form a huge part of that context. Content that resonates with your prospect’s emotions, especially positive ones like joy, happiness, satisfaction and love, can turn them into a lifelong customer. There’s a reason why Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” and P&G’s “Thank You Mom” campaigns saw such viral success.
5. Paint Some Word Pictures: Metaphors and Allegories
Customers can relate better to you when you craft your message within a context that makes sense to them or gels with their hobbies or interests. So, find out ways in which you can juxtapose your product against those interests, even if they are not directly related to each other. Additionally, it allows you to create micro-targeted content with higher potential for conversions.
6. Keep It Simple
On one hand, while allegory and metaphors are well and fine, don’t devolve into purple prose; on the other hand, sounding extremely stiff and business-like won’t do either. Strike a balance between the two extremes by keeping your language easy to read, simple and free from too much tech-speak and jargon.
7. Address Pain Points
The purpose of content is to answer a question, provide information and resolve a problem. It’s why potential customers are seeking you out: they want to know if your content can do what it promises to do. So, craft your content around their pain points. Don’t focus on why your product is “super-mega awesome!!!”.
8. Avoid Weasel Words
For example, saying: “Studies/research show that…” – What research? What studies?
“Experts recommend that…” – How do we know these vague “experts” you’re referring to? Is it someone of note? Or your own colleagues?
Brands sometimes fall into this trap when they’re wary of making promises they cannot possibly keep, and want to retain a sense of plausible deniability. But, fact and definitive availability of proof are essential to building trust between you and your customer. Do content marketing right, or don’t do it.
9. Call ‘em to Action
If you want your customers to take a meaningful action that gets them closer to conversion, you need to ask them to do it. CTAs add a compelling element to your content, especially if they’re done right. A good CTA is one that stands out from the rest of the copy and clearly states its purpose.
10. Mind your Head(lines)
Headlines or main headings are one of the, if not the most, important elements of your copy. It’s the text that, by definition, has the most attention-grabbing power. It’s what your prospects will see first in a Search result, and if it appeals to their current frame of mind, they will click on it.
11. Sub-headings Matter Too
A study done by the Nielsen Norman Group back in 2008 revealed that most online readers only consume about 20% to 28% of the entire article. Therefore, it is immensely beneficial for them if certain elements of the articles jump out at them. If your sub-headings pack just about enough information that the entire summary of the article is conveyed, you can ensure your users find value in your article.
12. Staying Straight with Bullets
This goes with the previous point: another way to convey more with less, is by using short, bulleted points that users can quickly run through, whenever you can. Furthermore, bullet points also tend to draw immediate attention, so make good use of them by providing the most pertinent information.
13. Establish Your Expertise
In order to build up your prospect’s trust in your brand, you need to establish yourself as the most credible solution available.
- Writing in an authoritative tone that establishes your clout in the field
- Backing up all pertinent information about your brand with data and statistics
14. Picture Me This
Visual content marketing has been shown to have an impact on a brand’s reach, engagement and sales. Inserting multimedia content like pictures, videos or even music can help increase engagement.
15. Keep On Top of Your Internal Links
Linking is an important facet of good SEO. Internal linking can help in user navigation, page authority and ranking distribution, and increase the amount of time a user spends on your site. Therefore, you should ensure that all your internal links are working correctly. For more on how internal linking can be done effectively, check out this article from Kissmetrics.
16. Revamp Your Content Often
As you continue to churn out new content for your marketing plan, any previous content that you’ve create shouldn’t be neglected. HubSpot revealed that 76% of their views still came from old posts. Why? Because old content automatically ranks higher than new content.
Patience and Practice Pay Off
We get it: the competition’s tough, so it might seem like it’s a lot of pressure for a copywriter to buckle under. At first, I did, too. Even to this day, I will encounter days where the pieces just don’t seem to want to fit, like this puzzle from hell.
However, a good bit of practice and experience, supplemented by your analytics, will soon give you a clear idea of what content works well with your audience and what doesn’t. So, keep writing.