You work hard creating, curating, collecting, and sharing content to market your business.
But, are you missing critical elements when it comes to your content marketing strategy?
In other words, is your content optimized to turn viewers into buyers?
If not, you’ll get tons of people to read, share, and comment on your content… but it won’t add profit to your bottom line.
If you’re serious about using content to grow your business, you must combine entertaining content with content that converts.
What do I mean by “content that converts”?
Simply put, I mean content that takes website visitors from “just looking” to “sold” (often with time-proven principles from direct-response copywriting).
Don’t worry, we won’t be changing your whole content strategy. Instead, we’ll incorporate just a few direct-response techniques to make sure you get better conversions and more sales.
Let’s get started…
1. Write better headlines
You probably already know a compelling headline can attract more readers (and therefore more customers). But, did you know experts believe you have five seconds (or less) to capture your reader’s attention when they land on your site?
If you don’t grab their attention, you risk them leaving, wandering around the Internet, finding someone else, and completely forgetting about your business.
Luckily this problem has an easy solution:
Whenever you have a headline you know could be better, try testing out the 4 U’s. The 4 U’s (coined by AWAIOnline.com) are urgency, usefulness, uniqueness, and ultra specific.
For example, check out this blog post headline from 37signals:
This post is one of their most popular and it could be because of the headline. However, we could improve this headline with one or more of the 4 U’s.
First of all, the headline isn’t very urgent. In fact, it says, “There’s always time.” This article could be more effective with some urgency in the headline. Such as, “The One Thing You Must Do Today to Eventually Launch Your Dream.”
It could also be more specific by pinpointing the reader’s dream. Based on the article, the reader probably wants to build his or her own business. The headline could get more specific by saying, “entrepreneurial dream” instead of just “dream.”
If the 4 U’s fail to inspire you, here are “10 Killer Blog Post Headlines You Should Be Using Right Now.”
2. Write conversationally
What does that mean? Writing conversationally means that you research your target market to learn how they speak. Then, incorporate what you learn into your copy.
Also, forget how you learned to write in English class and write like you’re talking to a friend instead. Specifically don’t write like a corporation or lawyer. You want to be your readers’ ally and friend—someone who is there to help them.
Here’s a great example of a conversational headline that grabs your attention:
Finally, when writing conversationally, write like you’re talking to one person at a time. Use the word “you” naturally to connect with readers.
3. Always include a call to action
A call to action is simply asking your reader to do something. Basically, they came to your website, your headline grabbed their attention, they read through your conversational copy, and now they’re at the end…
What should they do?
Well, if you don’t make a suggestion, they probably won’t do anything. Most readers won’t sign up for your e-newsletter, follow you on Facebook, or “comment below” on their own. You must take the initiative and ask them for what you want.
But, keep in mind, calls to action in your content should not be hard sells. Save the “Buy Now” pitches for your sales pages.
In content, like articles and blog posts, here are some call to action ideas:
- What’s your opinion about X? Comment below to join the discussion.
- If you liked this, you’ll love this. (With a link to a sales page.)
- Did you enjoy this article? If so, please share it with your friends. (With social sharing options.)
Here’s an example clipped from Ambit Energy’s blog, “The Spark”:
This blog shares energy efficiency information and is a critical part of Ambit’s content marketing. Notice how they provide information and then add a call to action.
4. Format your writing for readability
Online users are busier than ever. If your copy isn’t easy to read, they’ll easily get distracted and leave. After all, they have everything from social media to work-related emails crossing their screen (and mind).
Sadly, only 16 percent of website visitors read word-for-word, according to the Nielson Norman Group. And, 79% of website visitors scan each new page they come across to see if it’s relevant to them.
To get the most out of the copy you put on the web, make it easy to read and scan by following these “web copy” suggestions:
- Break your content up with subheads that attract the reader’s attention and portray relevance immediately.
- Write in short blocks of text (1-2 sentences per paragraph).
- Use simple, easy-to-read language.
- Keep your colors and design simple and easy on the eyes. For instance, black text on white is easier to read than red text on a yellow background.
Here’s an example of a block of text that is not formatted properly for the web:
Here is another example from Social Triggers. This one is properly formatted for the web:
See the difference?
For more advice on writing for the web, be sure to check out, “20 tips on how to write for the Web.”
I’m personally guilty of getting off on a tangent, both in real conversations and in my writing. Luckily, when writing, I have the opportunity to delete anything “extra” before I hit “Publish.” You should too or your audience will lose interest.
For each piece of content you write, be sure to stick to only ONE point, ONE position, and ONE idea for each piece of content you create. For instance, in the example below, the main focus seems to be teamwork:
American Writers & Artists Inc (AWAI) calls sticking to one idea, “The Power Of One.” Learn more about it here: The Power of One – One Big Idea.
If you’re having trouble sticking to just one idea, try making an outline of your article before you write. Here’s a great article about article outlining from Psychotactics.com: When Outlines Behave Like Cats: How To Keep An Outline From Going Off At A Tangent
Now it’s your turn… did I leave anything out? What other direct response principles have you used in your content strategy?
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