December 08, 2021
Effective content writing has become such a subjective term over the past several years, that it can be challenging to know if you're pointed in the right direction or if you're just drifting out at sea. Whether it's blog posts, social media posts, ads, web pages, landing pages, emails or any other type of written content, there are many different opinions on how to do it right.
That being said, there are some tried and true elements of effective content writing that you should follow to get the results you want. By carefully utilizing these different elements in your content writing, you'll have a much greater chance of pleasing both search engines for better search results and your intended human target for real world sales results. Naturally, you'll need to include certain persuasive components in some cases but including the following seven elements will help take you where you need to go.
1 - The Headline
The headline or title of your content is perhaps the most important element to consider and is definitely one of the key elements to your overall success. Just think of it this way, if your headline doesn't do its job then no one is even going to read what comes afterward. You may have the greatest blog post, add, landing page or web page, but if no one ever reads it all of your hard work will be for nothing. The word count of your headline isn't as important as attracting attention and making an impact.
The headline or title is designed to attract attention and get your reader interested enough to take the next step and start consuming the body of the content. If you have a strong headline, more people are going to read your content, it's that simple. Some proven techniques for writing a great title or headline include:
2 - The Intro
The introduction is also an important element of good content writing. You're not going to really need an introduction when it comes to writing ads, landing pages and other types of content where you want the reader to take a definitive action. However, in the case of blog posts, articles and similar pieces of content a good introduction will help draw the reader in and pique their interest enough to keep them reading your message. Your word choice in the intro will help you out for the rest of the post or article.
In traditional sales writing this may be called the hook, and it is important to get people interested at this point, so they're primed and even excited to keep reading. In your introduction, you can give a brief summary of what's to come, you can add some intrigue, hint at certain benefits, induce a state of fear, the possibilities are endless. The key is to make it engaging and conversational without giving away too much but revealing enough to make everyone want to read.
3 - Compelling Subheads
Subheads are the titles of individual sections that you see in a blog post or article. The reason subheads are still important is because they break up your content into digestible pieces and make it appealing to both people who like to read the entire piece and people who prefer to skim. When a reader sees subheads, she has the option of skimming the content and diving into any sections that may appeal to her. It can also give readers an option to figure out what the post is about without having to commit to reading the whole thing.
As an example, a blog post with the title ‘5 Factors to Consider When Throwing a Punch’ may include subheads such as:
In this example, anyone interested in learning how to throw a punch properly will see that there are several different components included, and that it's probably necessary to read through every one of them to get the information you need.
If you do well with your subheads, anyone who likes to skim will end up reading the whole thing anyway. The subheads you use in your content should be short, clear and concise. You should follow the best practices of writing main headlines or titles but also follow the natural trajectory of the blog post, article or sales page. While the headline attracts attention and the introduction draws them in, the subheads take them by the hand and guide them to each subsequent section throughout the rest of the content. Creating your subheads as part of the outline will simplify the writing process.
4 - Having a Strong CTA
High-quality content on any platform should have a goal. That doesn't mean the goal needs to be grandiose or earth shattering, but there does need to be a goal nonetheless. With content such as advertisements, sales pages and landing pages your goal is to get people to take a specific action to create leads or sales. Some other goals may include signing up for a class, educating your audience or providing some other type of value.
And a strong call to action in any piece of content should be tied to your goal. This is what will get you more clicks, leads, sales and conversions. The key is to make it simple and make it easy for people to take the action you want them to take. Typically, you'll only want to have one CTA so people don't get overwhelmed or confused. If you have multiple calls to action on a landing page, blog post, add or social media posts, you may find that your results are not nearly as strong as you want them to be.
Keep each piece of content focused on one topic and make your CTA relevant to what you're writing about. Many good writers include a call to action partway through your content and then again at the bottom. This is usually appropriate for longer pieces of content where readers may have made up their mind at the halfway point and are ready to click that link. Try to make your call to action as basic as possible so there is no way anyone reading it can be confused about what they should do. CTA's such as call now, book your appointment today, click here to join or save your spot in the class tend to work best.
5 - Writing to Your Target Audience
This step needs to be taken before you write even one word of content because if you don't know who you're writing to there is virtually no way your content is going to be effective. The best way to ensure your content is tailored to the correct audience is to create a detailed customer avatar. Some like to call this a buyer persona, and whichever wording you like to use is fine, as long as you take the time to do it properly. Remember, these are your potential customers.
You can go as deep as you want to go when creating a customer avatar. Some marketers stick to just the basics like age, gender, salary, job title and marital status. And while this information will help you craft some good content, going even deeper will help you engage on an even deeper level. To accomplish this, you may want to include information like their hobbies, fears, frustrations, problems, wants, needs, desires, the type of books they like to read, movies they want to watch, career goals, cars they drive and more.
Writing to your audience also means using words, phrases and a sentence structure that resonates with them the most. Effective writers usually write in the second person like they're having a conversation with a friend. But if your audience is highly technical or you're writing educational material, you may want to be more formal. The key is to create your customer avatar before you begin so all of these questions can be answered ahead of time.
6 – Remembering It’s Not About You
One of the main points and biggest mistakes people make when writing content is not focusing on their audience and making it about them. It's important to keep in mind that no one really cares about you or your company, they really want to know what's in it for them. If you start out by writing about how great your company, service or product is, you'll cause an immediate disconnect that threatens the chances of anyone continuing to read what you have to say.
This concept is different from writing to your audience because in that section we were talking more about defining who you are writing to and here we mean how you actually write the content. You can still have a thorough understanding of who you're talking to and mostly talk about yourself. As mentioned above, writing in the second person using the word you as if you're having a conversation with one person makes all the difference in the world. This way, your audience is going to feel as if you're speaking directly to them, which will help you keep it about them.
Think of it like going on a blind date where the other person only talks about themselves. In many cases, your prospective customers are encountering you for the first time online and if your content is very egocentric it will turn them off immediately and they will go elsewhere. The entire reason you're writing content at all should be to add value, entertain, educate and inform, so there's no room for getting into your ego and telling everyone how great you are because it will derail your content marketing efforts fast.
7 - The Layout
How your content is displayed on the page doesn't really have much to do with content writers, but it can make a big difference when it comes to people reading what you have to say. If you've ever encountered a gigantic block of text with no spaces or white space, you know just how mind numbing an intimidating it can be. Seeing words that are tightly packed together creates an unpleasant visual and that will cause most people to avoid your content altogether. That's why the layout should be a part of any good content strategy.
There's just something comfortable and relaxing about words that are evenly spaced with plenty of white space on the page. When everything is jammed together not only does it seem like there is a lot more to digest, but it almost makes you squint immediately and makes it feel like you're doing an assignment rather than reading something valuable. If you are not responsible for the design and layout of your content, make sure that whoever is responsible follows these guidelines to ensure you aren't driving people away simply because of the layout.
Writing great content can be a relatively simple process or it can be horribly complex, depending on a variety of different factors. If you follow the guidelines outlined in this post, without taking shortcuts or cheating, you'll be well on your way to creating a simple process of your own that will enable you to write high impact content over and over again.
If you'd like to find out what the content company can do for you, get in touch with us today for a free consultation.
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