As part of your digital marketing strategy, you need to be writing great content. But if you don’t have content creation, a content marketer or a content writer on your CV this can be a scary thought. Here are some writing tips to help you get started when you’re creating content or web pages for your business.
What are your goals?
All good web content has a goal.
- Do you want to attract more leads?
- Encourage people to download your eBook?
- Persuade readers to come to your workshop?
Once you know your goal, all the content you produce should be written to help you achieve it.
Think about your target audience.
Writing content for a website is easier when you write with your target audience in mind.
So, before you start writing, think:
- Who am I writing this for?
- What’s their problem?
- What’s stopping them get what they want?
- How can I help them solve their problem?
- How are they feeling when they read my content?
- What would they see as important information?
- How do they want to feel?
- What words would they use to search for my products or service?
- What tone of voice do they want me to use?
When you know a lot about a subject it’s easy to write thousands of words on it. But it’s a better idea to spread that knowledge over several pieces of content. Each should have one topic, one key idea or one argument or line of thought. That way, you’re making it easier for your target audience to find the information they need.
It’s all about the headline.
Make sure your headline is relevant and interesting to your target market. Does it answer a question they would ask? Does it sound useful? And does it make them want to read on? If not, that’s as far as they will get.
Your headline and first paragraph should show what the rest of the article is going to be about. It can sometimes be easier to write the headline and first paragraph once you’ve written the rest of your content.
Is your content easy to read?
If not, split up your content into headings and subheadings. Use bullet points where relevant, as well as short sentences, infographics and more. Do everything you can to make it easy for your reader to scan your content. When you write for the web, think bite-sized morsels.
Write with purpose.
The aim of each sentence is to get your target audience to read the next sentence. This is true both if you’re trying to provide information and encourage your audience to do your call to action.
To get off to the best start, always use the headline to grab attention.
Is the goal of your content, blog post or landing page to get someone to download, read or sign up for something?
If so, use the body copy to give them enough information to make them want to do the call to action.
For longer copy make sure you have the call to action throughout. Here’s how:
- Have bullet points of key benefits at the top of the page for people who make decisions quickly. Then a call to action
- Include more information underneath for people who need more evidence that you can help them. Then a call to action
- Then a testimonial or case study for social proof. And a call to action. You get the idea.
It’s important your content is written in your tone of voice. Your content should sound like you talking, so be true to yourself and your brand when you write. Put your spin on things.
Give your opinions. Don’t just regurgitate thoughts you’ve read elsewhere.
Research is your friend here. Include relevant statistics, data and quotes from trusted industry bodies or organisations to back up your points. You want to establish yourself as being an expert – this will help.
When is an audience not an audience?
You know you’re writing content for thousands of readers, but each one needs to think you’re writing just for them. Never write “some of you…”.
You should also write in the first person and use the active voice. Writing in an active voice make for a faster-moving and more engaging read. It’s snappier, easier to read, and more interesting. Do you agree?
One way of encouraging people to read the next sentence is by asking questions which
make them think.
After all, “Are you dreaming of Mediterranean cruises?” is more immediate and emotional
than “Here’s some information about your pension”.
Questions often come in threes and that’s powerful as it has rhythm, flair and drama.
Keep it simple.
According to research, 83% more people will finish reading your content if its readability is
targeted to the average 10-year-old rather than the average 16-year-old.
That’s why you should use simple language to help your target market quickly and easily
understand your point.
Writing your website and content is not about vanity. It’s not about showing off your vocabulary or turn of phrase. It is about getting your target market to scan through your copy, learn and do the call to action. If there’s a choice between sounding clever and communicating clearly, choose clear communication every time.
You’re aiming to communicate clearly with your target market, so make sure you are not hiding what you want to say behind meaningless waffle. Use words you would use in normal conversation with your friends, partner or children.
It’s not all about you.
Remember to speak directly to your customer by using YOU far more often than I or WE. For example, “Are you struggling to get into your jeans?” rather than “I’m a personal trainer”.
When you’re writing about your product or service, make sure that you are writing about the benefits to your target market of using the product or service, rather than just telling them about yourself.
“We love creating our 20-minute personal training videos” becomes “Our 20-minute training videos mean you can get fit and lose the flab even when you’ve got a packed diary”.
Write quickly, edit s l o w l y.
If you’re nervous about creating content for a website, just get started. Time yourself for 10 minutes and just get something down. Then go for a quick walk around the room, do another 10 – and so on.
Save previous versions so you can go back to them, and always check your copy several times before uploading it; after a sleep or walk is a good plan. You’ll need fresh eyes to spot errors, and a working brain to make sure your strategy is right. Maybe get someone else to look it over too if you can?
A quick note about SEO.
It’s worth investing in using an SEO agency so your content is professionally optimised for search. Your SEO agency can help you with all elements of your content optimisation. They can also make sure that your copywriter (if you have one) or you know exactly what to write about to make sure as many people as possible read your content. Go with an agency who can show you case studies and have been recommended by someone you trust.
Once you’ve finished writing and editing your content, don’t be shy. Be brave and remember to share it on your social media channels. Now you have some writing tips on how to create great content for your website, why not start thinking about your content goals and target audience and set that timer for your first 10 minutes!
Fiona Mocatta is a freelance copywriter and content writer. She’s been running her business since 2003. For more information on Fiona, what she does and who she does it for, check out www.mocatta.org.