10 Tips for Writing Effective Content

September 10, 2014

If you’re in charge of marketing for your business, you know how important effective content is to spread your message and engage your audience. For some businesses, though, there isn’t enough time or resources to allocate to producing fresh content on a weekly, or even monthly, basis. Here are a few tips to get your creative juices flowing and to help you write effective content for your business:

1. Always begin with direction and purpose. First, understand why you’re creating content. What specific business goals will the content achieve, or what problems will it help solve? Second, decide which formats will best meet your goals, and draft your content accordingly. A website page, for instance, requires a different style of content than a sales letter or a Facebook post. Lastly, know your audience. Think about who will read your content, what they should get out of it, and what will motivate them to share your work.

2. Optimize for search engines. Effective content isn’t just engaging to read; it must also be easy for viewers to find. Do some research and come up with topics highly relevant to your brand or industry. Try to anticipate keyword phrases your visitors will type in when they search for your product or service within a topic. Then, write each piece of content around one topic using keyword phrases, be it for your website, your blog posts, or your social media status updates. This will keep the content focused on a single idea, and help boost your search engine ranking for that keyword.

3. Use a call-to-action. Whenever appropriate, provide your readers with a clear call-to-action that clarifies the aim of your content and provides context. Once they’ve read it, what should viewers do next? The action can be as simple as “Like us on Facebook,” or it can be something higher-risk, like submitting email information to download an online article. Whatever the context, actions should always be straightforward. A well placed call-to-action helps establish value and trust, and encourages viewers to become more engaged with your business.

4. Don’t let your content get stale. Keep customers and prospects up-to-date about new product or service offerings, unexpected closings or special holiday hours, and anything about your business that will help them stay informed and interested (but without making it seem like a constant slew of self-promotion).

5. Never go silent. Nothing speaks louder than empty space. When you’re dry on original content, fill in the gaps by sharing content from trusted sources – particularly industry-relevant pieces that will help solidify the benefits of doing business with your brand.

6. Be real. Your customers want to know that they are interacting with a real, relatable human being on the other end of the computer. Keep your online interactions professional, but bear in mind that you are writing for people, not web spiders. Don’t overuse keywords or technical jargon. Speak to your audience in a language and tone they understand, with material they find relevant and valuable. Reach out to them with helpful comments, questions, and answers.

7. Mix it up! Content can be presented in a variety of ways, and diversity will help you reach a wider audience. So, be creative. Post blogs, how-to articles, news updates, infographics, project updates, photos, polls, discussion topics, and more. Keep your followers interested by recycling content and constantly re-presenting it in new, exciting formats or different perspectives.

8. Analyze. Find out what works and what doesn’t. Use toos like Google Analytics to figure out what kinds of content your readers best respond to, and try incorporating more of it into your campaigns. Dig into metrics to find out how your content performs, and how much measurable impact it has on your business goals.

9. Plan ahead. Develop an editorial calendar for all of your regular content, including social media posts, blog entries, articles, and press releases. Decide which different kinds of content you want to produce, and how often. Think about common themes that may connect different pieces, or any work released as part of a series. And once you’ve established a timeline, stick with it.

10. Don’t neglect quality control. Even if your content is brilliant, careless mistakes can undermine your credibility as an author. Edit your work carefully; read it out loud if necessary. Better still, have someone else read it and provide feedback. Details can speak volumes, so be sure to cross your “t’s” and dot your “i’s” before you consider your magnum opus done!

Fresh, engaging content goes a long way toward improving SEO, drawing traffic to social media pages and websites, and forging a stronger connection with existing customers. Try keeping these tips in mind as you review your content for next year. It may take time and a little extra effort, but it will pay off in the long run!

photo credit: nahlinse via photopincc

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