Do you dream of being able to write creative content that is persuasive and that inspires your readers? It’s all about structuring your content so that your article is appealing and irresistible!
There are four forms of content…
No matter which medium you’re working on, it’s crucial that your content is valuable and useful to your reader…or they simply won’t read it and it won’t resonate with them. Your articles need to help solve a problem or improve their life in some way. This will also help set you up as an expert in your field.
Create a content strategy
Your content strategy is your why, who and how. Why you are creating it, who is it aimed at and how are you going to get it out there. Businesses use content marketing to build an audience and to either increase their revenue, lower their costs or to get better customers. For me, it’s about engaging with my audience and, almost as a proof point to illustrate that I know what I’m talking about and am experienced in this field.
Publishing content is great, but it also needs to be published consistently. It needs to educate, entertain or inspire your audience. This way you can turn total strangers into followers and then those followers into customers. You do this by building relationships and solving problems.
Know your audience
Once you know what your strategy is, you need to build the content around your audience. What makes them tick? What problems do they have? What do they look like? If you know your audience well and know what they want, you can really deliver.
Now you’re ready to choose which form of content to use. Try and utilise a mixture as this will help keep your audience’s attention.
This is the most popular and most used way to communicate with your audience. There are lots of different ways to communicate using the written word…
- Blogging – Blogging is about writing relevant, useful, informative and entertaining copy. A blog is a regular, consistent post. Your audience can follow your blog, and so get informed automatically every time you publish a new one. Anyone can start up a blog about absolutely any subject you can think of! There are cookery blogs, health and fitness, nutrition, fashion, travel, crafting…you name it, and I can guarantee it’s out there.
A blog post can be as long or as short as you like – you will soon get to know what your audience likes. Use SEO (search engine optimisation) to get ranked higher in search engine results and use categories and tags to make your blog easier to find.
- Email – A direct way to communicate with your followers. If you have a ‘subscribe to email’ button on your website, you can regularly keep in touch with your customers and followers. Just be aware not to overdo it and bombard people with emails every day, or use them solely to sell or push your products/services, or you will find lots of ‘unsubscribes’.
- Newsletters – These used to be hard copy, but most businesses send these out via email nowadays. It is, in effect, an email as in the last point, but this is specifically your newsletter. Again, don’t go mad with the frequency – once a month is great and also more manageable for you too. You can give news on what you’re doing in your business, any new products or services on the horizon or any freebies you might have created. Or, it might be just some interesting information you want to share, or hints and tips. And of course, you can use it to share links to your blog post.
Podcasts are very popular and are growing in numbers every day. There are less podcasts out there, than there are blogs, so it is a good one to try for your business. Like blogs, they can be about absolutely anything…someone out there will be interested in what you have to say. It’s also a great way to reach your audience as they can listen to your podcast whilst driving to work, or working out. Your audience don’t necessarily have to set aside a certain amount of time to catch up with your latest message.
This has been around for a long time now, but it is fast becoming the norm for all sorts of small businesses, as well as the larger corporates. You can ‘go live’ on social media, or record a short message to your customers/followers. It’s versatile, you can say what you like and most importantly, you will reach your audience more quickly. In a few seconds, you can convey a mood, a setting and your message can be received shortly and succinctly in less than a minute. There are lots of ways to use video in your marketing…
- Live stream – in real time on social media accounts. As it’s recorded ‘live’, it will be a ‘warts and all’ recording, so you won’t be able to edit out any mistakes – but this does add to the excitement and appeal. People see you as you are!
- Recorded stream – the same as the ‘live’ stream, but you’ve pre-recorded it before you put it out, so you can edit out anything you don’t like and add in anything that might have forgotten with the ‘live’ version.
- Vlogging – the same as blogging, but using video. This can be longer that the ‘live’ or pre-recorded videos. Your audience love these as they feel they are getting to know you as a person – if you Vlog regularly, they will get used to seeing you and this helps build a relationship and trust.
- Whiteboard videos – these are animated or sketched videos, so the subject matter and scenery is not real.
Using images is also a great form of content marketing. They are usually on your website, on social media or within a blog. Images can be very powerful to help you convey a message and help you create more impact. They say that a picture paints a thousand words, and whilst this can be true, I tend to use them more to enhance my messaging.
The only downside is that search engines don’t necessarily recognise images, so a good tip is to make sure you add a caption to your images, wherever it is relevant. If using in a blog, use keywords to help the search engines find the images.
AND SO, ONTO YOUR ACTUAL CONTENT
Writing your content
Here are a few tips to help you write your content to help make it more persuasive.
- Write the headline first. Make sure it is compelling and sparks the curiosity of your reader to want to read on.
- Write your subheadings next. This will help you plan your content and split it into readable chunks for your reader.
- Add a few captions. Captions catch the readers’ eye, so add a few in for good measure!
- Opening paragraph – this is what will draw the reader in and help them decide whether they want to, or can be bothered to, read the rest. People spend seconds scanning an article and, if the opening paragraph and headline doesn’t draw them in, you’ll have lost that reader.
- Closing paragraph – Depending on what you’re writing about, this is the end of your article/blog or whatever. Use it well; maybe reiterate the most important take-away from your article and have a CTA (call to action) so they know what to do next.
- Bullet points – these are easier to remember and, if someone is just scanning your article, these are likely to be read. So, make them stand out, make them full of good hints or tips and great advice. Make them totally fascinating!
Now we know what to include, let’s dig a bit deeper…
Why is a headline so important?
On average, only 20% of people read an article beyond the headline. If your headline doesn’t grab attention then of those 20%, even fewer people will read your content. So what can you do?
- Give a benefit in your headline. Give your readers an incentive…’how to’ do something or a recipe. Use numbers…’20 ways to …..’
Let them know that there is something in it for them.
- Absolutely command attention. Not always easy, but remember you only have a few seconds to hook someone in. Use power words or positive words, such as ‘inspiration’, ‘revelation’ or even things like ‘is your business doomed because…..’
- Be specific. Make your headline specific to the article – don’t use a generic headline. For example, if you were writing an article about Mental Health, just having the title ‘Mental Health’ isn’t very inspiring and won’t necessarily pull in your audience, but if you have ‘Mental Health – what does this mean?’ or ‘Mental Health – 10 ways to help yourself’, you’re giving specifics and are more likely to get readers.
- Don’t get cocky. Don’t try to be too clever with a headline, as these are notoriously hard to come up with. And, they can spectacularly fail!
- Use a proven structure…as talked about in previous points. Being original is great, but you can try too hard!
- Keep on, keeping on – practice, practice, practice…makes perfect! Take notice of headlines when you’re reading a newspaper or magazine. Look at headlines on billboards and understand how they capture your attention.
- Action – Know what action you want your readers to take and make sure that is incorporated throughout your article and in your headline.
Write content your readers will remember
Here are a few tricks to help make your content unforgettable.
- Emotion – appeal to your reader’s emotions – this makes them care about something and if they care, they will remember.
- People have short attention spans – use sound bites to grab attention. I’ve heard the term ’60 is the new 40’, referring to the fact that people now live longer…this is a sound bite.
- Surprise your reader – Say something unexpected – the element of surprise always makes people remember
- Use solid details. As well as all the trivial stuff, make sure your content has some real concrete solid details and information that help your readers understand your content.
- Use stories. It could be a case study, or just a little ‘aside’ piece from your personal memory. People love stories, so be a good storyteller.
Using persuasive writing
If you want your readers to buy something, subscribe to your course or newsletter, you need to be persuasive. Here are some of the reasons you can give your readers…
- Tell them why…why they should buy your product. Keep it simple – use the word ‘because’ – that tells them all they need to know.
- Expect objections. If you’re on social media, you’ll know that no matter what you post, there is always someone who objects or who doesn’t agree with you. So, when writing copy, anticipate those objections up front and address them!
- Give an incentive. Most people have endless curiosity. So give incentives to read to the end of your content…. ‘As well as this, you’re going to love…..’, ‘Here is the best bit’…’Here’s the most awesome part…’. You get the picture!
- Use stats – these give credibility to your content. And quote your source if there are lots of specific stats.
- Be passionate about what you do. If you love what you do, it will shine through your work.
- Give the benefits of what you are offering. You might have told readers why to buy your product/service, but also list the benefits – what can it do for them? How can it make their lives easier? How can it save them time and money?
- Write about a subject you know about. It will be obvious if you are just spewing out information. KNOW what you’re writing about as it will be easier to be more persuasive about it. And bear in mind that the person reading might not know anything about the subject you’re writing about, so keep the ‘beginner’ in mind.
- Have a clear call to action. Once they’ve read the article, tell them what to do next and remind them why it’s good, and why they should click or subscribe or buy!
At the end of the day, you know your customers and you know who your ideal customer is. Write for those people. Write as if you’re talking to a friend in a pub over a drink. Use easy to understand language and not jargon.
Entertain your audience, educate them and ultimately you will sell to them. But as with most marketing tactics, it’s important to have that all important engagement first.
If you have any other ideas, please feel free to let me know in the comments.