From the outside, content marketing might appear simple. Great writers sneeze and create compelling blog posts, right? It’s not that hard.
The reality is, however, that even the best writers in this industry have to build their skills. It’s like becoming a world-class weightlifter: you don’t just go out and do it. You work at it, for years, and you eventually get good.
One of the largest challenges for writers in the content marketing industry is learning to create engaging content readers want to interact with. It’s easy enough to write meaningless fluff, but compelling material? That’s another story.
Luckily, this is a learned skill and, like all learned skills, it just requires practice.
12 Tips for Crafting Audience-Friendly Content
So, you want to create useful content that converts clicks into customers? You’ll need to start planning for it. Here are the steps to take:
1. Start With Curation
One of the very first steps to writing useful content is learning to curate it. The more you understand what your audience likes and dislikes, the better you’ll be able to create it for them.
What’s more, discovering what is hot and trending in your industry plays a crucial role in helping you understand the needs of your audience, which will make you a better writer down the road.
To get started curating content, invest in a streamlined curation tool like Scoop.it. Scoop.it eliminates the manual labor from the curation process and can save you hours of searching for the right content.
Remember: curating content is all about finding the best content in your industry, but you can’t stop there. Give your writing muscles a flex by adding your unique commentary or perspective on the article before posting it for your readers.
2. Poll Your Readers
The next step in discovering what your audience is looking for is going directly to the source. Writing engaging content starts with answering customer questions. Before you can answer those questions, though, you have to know what they are. This is where polling your readers or searching through question-and-answer sites can be invaluable.
If you’ve never polled anyone before, start with social Q&A websites such as Quora. Quora is a popular social platform chock-full of user-generated questions on nearly every topic under the sun. Once you’ve found some questions you think would resonate with your readers, turn them into blog posts.
If you want to poll your readers, turn to your social profiles. If you’ve been considering writing about a particular topic or idea, ask your readers what they think of it. Is there something they’d prefer to read about? Do they have any questions for you? Figuring these things out in advance is a great way to create truly custom content for your readers.
3. Use Industry Tools For More Topic Ideas
Struggling to come up with catchy blog topics? Hubspot offers a free blog topic generator that is great for idea mining and can help you get out of a creative rut.
All you need to do to use the tool is insert three nouns that relate to your industry, and the blog topic generator spits out a list of ideas. As with anything, a little common sense goes a long way with selecting your topics. Not every option will apply to your industry, but the topic generator does a great job of inspiring useful content ideas and can give you a lot to work with.
4. Read Competitor Content
Believe it or not, your competitors are an excellent source for content ideas. If you’re having trouble coming up with topics that will be useful for your audience, comb through the comments of a competitor blog. When you do this, you’re looking for unanswered questions that your competitor’s customers are asking. Once you’ve found them, take these unanswered questions and run with them on your blog.
Want to take your competitor research a bit further? Browse through a competitor website and take note of what you see. What do they have that you don’t? Do you notice anything missing? This is your opportunity to fill in content gaps on your website and, thus, provide more useful and relevant content for your audience.
5. Pay Attention to the News
Another source for locating in-demand topic ideas is news sources. Depending on your industry, news topics can come from a variety of sources. A great starting point for general news is Google News, where nearly every industry has some form of news to report.
Beyond Google News, look into popular industry online magazines and other relevant publications. Reddit also contains a fair amount of news-like material, but use your best judgment with this source, since not all content is fact-checked and verified before publication.
6. Use Your Headlines as a Hook
When it comes to writing engaging content, it all starts with your headline. Even if your piece is well-written, it might never reach its full potential if the headline isn’t on point. So, how exactly do you write compelling headlines that encourage your customers to read your content?
- Think in numbers. According to Moz, 36% of customers prefer “number” headlines over other types of headlines. Take this blog post for example, with X Tips for Useful, Engaging Content. Use numbers to create helpful advice pieces, or to showcase lists in ‘Top X’ format.
- Solve a problem. Offering a solution to a problem in your headline will get customers clicking to find more information.
- Ask a question. A surefire way to write engaging and useful content is to answer questions. In fact, 11% of readers prefer these headlines to other types.
Remember: 80% of readers will never get past your headline, so it pays to make it as useful as possible. To check your headline’s strength, use a tool like AMI’s headline analyzer, which judges your headline based on its intellectual, empathetic, and spiritual word saturation.
7. Go Long
When it comes to writing engaging blog posts, longer is better. Studies have shown that long posts that have at least 1500 words earn a higher ROI than shorter posts.
Long blog posts also keep your audience on your website for an extended period, thus increasing the chance of conversion. Be aware that writing long blog posts takes more time, and you won’t do yourself or your readers any good by rushing it. Instead, leave yourself ample time to edit, adjust, and fine-tune your post before publishing.
8. Format the Post for Maximum Readability
While most people think the writing of a piece is all that matters, it’s also vitally important to format your posts correctly. Today, people scan blog posts more often than they read them line by line, and it’s essential to anticipate this and format your posts accordingly. If you’re not sure how to format your posts, don’t despair. Here are some fast tips:
- Use Short Paragraphs. Readers skip over large blocks of text. In some cases, an impenetrable wall of text can be so alienating to readers that it drives them away.
- Use Bolded Headers And Subheaders. These break up your content and give readers a “road map” by which to scan it.
- Keep Sections Short. As a general rule, you want a subheader every 300-350 words of copy.
- Use Bulleted Or Numbered Lists. These make information easy to digest and improve the skimmability of your content.
- Break Up Content With Images. Images like screenshots and custom graphics make your content more interesting and useful for readers.
The better you get at formatting your content, the easier it is for readers to engage with it.
9. Do Your Research
No matter what you’re writing about, always do your research. Research makes you look much more credible and gives your audience more information to use. Remember always to cite your sources and to link to original studies and findings.
10. Don’t Skip The Visuals
Visuals are some of the most compelling elements of content. At the bare minimum, your posts need “Featured images,” although it’s more ideal that they have screenshots, stock photos, and custom visuals throughout.
Remember: people remember 65% of what they see and only 10% of what they read.
11. Tackle Something New
Are there topics nobody is talking about in your industry? If so, address them head-on. When you dare to write about what your competitors won’t, you become a thought leader in your industry. These hush-hush topics don’t have to be anything crazy: it can be as simple as discussing the variations of price points in your industry or even calling out gimmicky tactics.
12. Write For Your Audience, First and Foremost
Whenever you write a post, keep your audience in mind. In fact, take it as far as imagining that your reader is standing right there in front of your computer, and you’re talking to them directly.
Compelling Content Made Simple
Writing engaging content can be challenging, but it’s a great challenge to undertake. With these twelve tips, you can start crafting high-quality, compelling content your readers will love, rather than fluff they just slog through. And when you do this, your entire brand gets a boost!
Need expert writers to help you overhaul your content? Contact Express Writers today!