You may well have heard of the expression that ‘Content is King’ when it comes to SEO (which is the art form of clambering up those ladders of Google and alike). Yet this phrase can be pretty mystifying for the uninitiated, as well as frequently misunderstood by businesses who go on to create content that simply doesn’t seem to be providing a good ROI.
Writing copy and creating content that sells, and that actually adds value to your business, is no small feat; and too many businesses are actively wasting their time on content creation efforts that are simply doing them a disservice. So here we take a close look at the often confusing world of copy and content, and get to the bottom of how you can write and create content to achieve the ultimate goal: selling your products or services.
Separating out copy writing and content creation
Writing copy and creating content are two wildly different realms, although many lump these two professions together. In actuality, the former should be considered the skill of writing copy that engages and that communicates a message successfully; whilst the latter represents all that surrounds this, including creating topics, sourcing images and media, planning promotional strategy and fitting content progression in with your sales funnel. The latter of which is particularly important where a target market requires much information before forging ahead with a purchase – such as where the item is of high-value or a specialist product.
With a clear split between the two, let’s first cover some tips for writing copy that converts then, and only then, can we set about putting those writing skills into action with a content creation strategy that rocks.
Five quick fire copywriting tips
1. Understand your audience, and write in their language
This is the number one rule of copywriting – there’s little point in creating blog posts if your copy uses language that is too sophisticated (or conversely, too dumbed down) for your audience.
You should also remember that your content is a representation of your business, and it should chime with your brand voice.
2. Write for your reader, not for the search engines
Far too many copywriters and businesses focus on squeezing a set number of keywords into their blog posts and the result is often plain ugly. It can make writing feel unnatural and disjointed – which isn’t only bad for the reader, but bad for you too if the almighty Google picks up on your keyword stuffed content.
Google is interested in content that serves a use to your reader. That’s it. So make it captivating, make it interesting and make it useful.
3. Create content that is of a reasonable and relevant size, rather than writing for word count
Blogs posts do need to be of a certain length in order for Google et al to get to grips with their topic, and so ideally posts should be over 500 words. That said, the same rule applies here as in tip 2: write for the reader, not for the search engine with an unnaturally large word count.
4. Keep your sentences short and as concise as possible
This one’s simple. Don’t shoehorn words in for the sake of sounding authoritative. Be short, be succinct and get to the point.
5. Break down your content into paragraphs that aren’t too lengthy, and place catchy titles throughout
No one likes to read a big block of text – so help your readers in scanning your content by breaking down your articles and posts with headers.
Content Creation: It’s (mostly) about understanding your audience
You’re creating content because you have something to sell. But the relationship between content and conversion isn’t quite that simple.
First, you must think like your consumer. What truly interests them and what will add value to their lives?
So, rather than creating a purely promotional blog post (which should very rarely be used, if ever), or writing something that is so technical no-one outside of your industry will understand it, you should opt for a post that educates, informs or inspires your audience. Here are some examples:
|Business||Bad Promotional Post Idea||Awesome Blog Post Idea|
|Party Supplies||Amazing new balloons have arrived||10 ways to make your party decor unique|
|Stationary||We’ve teamed up with a furniture brand||5 office layouts that boost productivity|
|Web Design||How we use jQuery||5 ways in which our webs designs convert|
|Clothes Retailer||Sale on all of our macs||6 Ways to rock the mac jacket for spring|
Content creation and your sales funnel
A sales funnel is a description of the process your target customer goes through before they purchase. Here’s a great visualisation from Meltwater. Now this will be more relevant to companies where the average consumer enters a longer decision making journey than others (such as when purchasing a car, over purchasing a toothbrush).
For the former of products, content creation serves as a vital tool to move a target consumer along each stage, and can be used to educate the audience as to why your product should be purchased over another. This may be particularly useful when you’re using email marketing, in which case a creation of a series of emails, with each taking a strategical step toward conversion, can be managed (rather than throwing the content up on your blog and catching every customer, wherever they are within your sales funnel).
Attract industry leaders to your blog
Ideally you should aim to attract guest bloggers who are relatively well known within your sphere, and ask them to write a blog for you – this adds an air of authority to your brand (and can bring in fans and followers of the guest poster). It’s wise not to offer payment, however, as the majority of (worthwhile) guest bloggers will only do it because it’s a brand they believe in (which equally protects their reputation).
Make it interactive: the use of media in content
Content isn’t merely about blog posts full of text: images, audio and video all have a vital role to play in creating content that is as enjoyable to read as it is share friendly; and don’t forget to add the ability to leave comments at the end of your blog – you want to open up discussions with potential purchasers, after all.