Grab Your Reader’s Attention
Relevant, engaging content now plays a critical role in nurturing prospects into the purchase funnel to become customers. How can marketers produce, distribute and optimize well-defined content assets — including blogs, email, infographics, landing pages and videos — to create deeper prospect engagement and contribute to business goals and bottom-line results?
Open with questions that get the reader to say “yes.”
Inertia, be it mental or physical, is a powerful force. In other words, whether it’s a long-term relationship or a boulder rolling down a hill, the longer it’s in motion the harder inertia makes it to stop. That’s why writers love using it, especially in their introductions.
The idea is that the longer you can get the reader to say “yes” to your honest, accurate statements, the more likely they are to keep saying “yes” and, ultimately, harmonize with your message. Why? Because they’ll feel like you understand them; like you know exactly what they’re going through.
Make them say “yes” enough and they’ll get the feeling that your product or service can help solve their problem. Hopefully, it can.
Bold your key benefits.
Bolding the benefits will quickly point readers to the information you absolutely need them to know. (See how that works???) In fact, in-text formatting of any kind — italicizing, underlining, capitalizing, back-linking — will help you capture and maintain a reader’s attention. That happens because our minds are hardwired to notice change.
Imagine watching a play go from a monologue to a dialogue in the same scene. Or a movie fade to a perfectly white screen. It gets your attention, right?
Something new, thinks your subconscious. Something that stands out. Let’s focus.
Use Convert sentences to active voice.
Nothing kills writing quite like the overuse of passive voice. A simple way to combat this? Convert sentences to active voice.
Active voice means the subject of each sentence is doing the action rather than receiving it. The latter would be passive voice. For example:
- Active: Usain Bolt broke the world record.
- Passive: The world record was broken by Usain Bolt.
See how much stronger and more confident the active voice is? Its counterpart is comparatively weak and deflated. Passive voice is just, kinda … meh. It can make you sound like you’re playing a round of Clue. You can do better.
To passive-proof your text, start by doing a CTRL-F for the word “by.” That’ll quickly highlight sentences in which the subject may be receiving the action rather than doing it. Or you can let Hemingway Editor find them for you.
Count your adverbs and then cut that number in half.
Or, better yet, quarter it. In his memoir, On Writing, Stephen King wrote, “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” Why so harsh? Because adverbs are very, very good at weakening your writing. See?
If you want your writing to grab people by the collar, replace that mediocre adverb-verb combo with a single punchy, potent verb. For example, instead of writing “she’s very mad” you could write “she’s irate.” Or instead of writing “adverbs are very, very good at weakening your writing” you can write “adverbs sabotage compelling sentences.”
Amend your call-to-action to be a call-to-value.
Before you publish that landing page or send out that email, you should double-check your call-to-action (you know, the essential end-piece that tells your reader what to do next). Make sure it’s clear and concise, bold and visible, urgent and compelling. Most importantly, make sure it communicates benefits (i.e., the value that awaits those who do what you’re asking).
For example, if you’re a travel agent, don’t let your copy read “Call now for a free quote” or something equally typical and uninspiring. Instead, drive them to take action with a sneak peak: “Call now and let the anticipation begin” or “Click today and be gone tomorrow.”
Let your prospects see themselves in the action and they’ll be more likely to take it.
Use bullet points.
As Kurt Vonnegut once wrote, “Pity the readers.” That means go easy on them when you write. Consider that they have to focus on and instantly make sense of every word and every little mark you put in front of them. And they have to do it all online, where attention is at a premium. So help them out.
Bullets and numbered lists will:
- Organize your text, making it more scannable and digestible.
- Highlight your key points and other important bits of information.
- Draw the most attention after your headline and subheads, making them an ideal vessel for benefits.
Promote Your Content To “Earn” Links
Most novice marketers buy into this erroneous notion of “if you build it, they will come.” Unfortunately, this is seldom the case. If you want to enhance your brand awareness, then you need to heavily promote your content.
If you don’t have an inbound marketing strategy that will help you “earn” links, then it will be difficult to build a sustainable source of organic traffic. My first piece of advice is to figure out who your audience is (through polls, surveys and cold calls) and what problems or needs those prospects are looking to solve or fulfill.
Your content should directly address these needs, and you should create a social media content promotion regimen that gets your content out in front of your audience on a regular basis (which social media avenues you use will also depend on your audience).
You might be asking, What are “earned” links?
They reflect the value that you deliver to your market. For instance, if you get a backlink to your website from guest posting on another site, that’s technically not an “earned” link. It’s a result of your time and effort. But when another credible source in your niche links to your website, then you have “earned” a link.
This idea of pursuing earned links has essentially forced marketers to step up their game. If you aren’t creating useful content, then don’t expect anyone to link to it.
There are no shortcut strategies to increase the number of earned links to your website. The best advice is to focus on creating thoughtful, useful content that meets the objectives of your audience.
Select Content that is Relevant to your Audience
Relevance is important because it affects how shareable the piece will be within your niche. For example, if you’re a bespoke shoemaker, your followers on social may be people interested in fashion, members of the leather industry, or hikers. But it’s unlikely that many of them would be interested in a post about video games, for example.
Simply put, influencer marketing is the practice of targeting well-known and influential brands or people with the aim of reaching their audiences for your own marketing needs. It’s useful for gaining exposure for new blogs or authors, and for establishing their own following or audience.
The challenge with this tactic is to choose the right influencers and to target them in the correct way. They need to be relevant to your audience and likely to engage with your brand. Generally, the more influential the target, the more effort you need to put into getting noticed.
Shares are important because they’re one of the most important ranking factors that influence Google’s algorithm to feature your post higher up in search rankings. The idea is that if a post is shared more by people, it’s more valuable and engaging, and should therefore be served to searchers before other pages are.
Bottom line: There are many “little” things you can do to improve the content you write. Take these tips and work them into your content writing.