Don’t disappoint your readers with sad writing!
It’s no surprise that upwards of 90% of businesses use content as part of their marketing strategy. For Bloggers and Affiliates, content is the core business proposition and producing quality writing is paramount to their success. But how often do marketers produce content that effectively delivers a message, engages readers and converts customers? No matter the nature of your business, if you are looking to market through your content, you must demonstrate that you have the knowledge and skill to do so. Good writing builds trust, authority, and can pave the way for new customers to fall in love with your product or service. Here are some commonly occurring problems that may be preventing you from finding success with your content strategy:
While quality content should stand on its own, it’s always a good idea to visually support your key ideas. Especially now that people are reading content faster, more frequently and in an “on-the-go” capacity, you want to help your readers get to the point faster. Embolden, italicize or insert a quote block within your body content to highlight and reinforce relevant key themes or points. In general, you should try to highlight no more than one word or phrase per paragraph or section. Insert relevant photos, illustrations or links to other relevant articles to break up text-heavy posts. These methods will help to alleviate the “wall of text” woes that lead to dropped readership and high bounce rate.
As a writer, you may cherish every last sentence that you’ve written but often times the best writing comes from stringent editing and simplifying what you’re trying to say. One of the best exercises that an art teacher gave me was to spend two hours sketching a single drawing then, at the end of the two hours, tear it up completely. Practicing the art of letting go, especially when it comes to extraneous content, will serve your readers and your writing well.
One aspect of writing that is often overlooked is grammar. Because each post is an extension of your marketing program, it represents your brand as a whole. Poor grammar can not only turn away readers, but it can make your brand look sloppy, untrustworthy or incapable. People can be judgmental, so be sure to give them nothing but the best by avoiding these key issues:
- Diction – Not everything is “awesome” or “excellent”. Find a thesaurus and diversify the language you use. Be sure that your word choices align with the voice of your brand. Also, while repetition can be effective, if not used properly, it can look sloppy, unimaginative and bog down your content.
- Run-on Sentences – Be sure you know all the rules regarding punctuation. Commas, semi-colons, and periods are your friend in the battle against run-on sentences. Also, always keep in mind if your clauses are dependent or independent. This will make things much easier.
- Passive Voice – Passive voice occurs when you make the noun into the object of the sentence, rather than the subject. “A commission was paid to the affiliate.” Vs. “We paid the affiliate a commission.” Passive voice is used rhetorically to move agency or responsibility. As a part of your marketing platform, avoid the Passive Voice entirely.
This is arguably the number one reason your writing is missing the mark. Poor flow means that the post reads like a stream of consciousness and does not organize the information in a cohesive, logical way. The individual sentences may be strong on their own but do not segue smoothly from one to the next. This leaves the reader struggling to grasp the overall message and to stay engaged on the page.
More reader fallout occurs when you introduce new or tangential topics in the middle or end of the post. Your main idea should be introduced clearly at the beginning of the post and all supporting paragraphs, anecdotes, etc. should reflect the themes you introduced in the beginning.
Nowadays, there is nothing special or unique about most content. In fact, we are currently experiencing a period of content overload. Some media sites go as far as to let you search content by the hour because they are publishing so frequently.
— Stephanie Salomon (@steph_salo) April 27, 2016
Yet, among the mass of content, there are still company blogs and bloggers that stand out and rise to the top. The reason is because they leave a mark on their reader and make their mark on the topic they are writing about. For example, after each Game of Thrones airing, I read through multiple posts to hear various takes on the symbolism, plot points and fan theories. The meat of the content is the same – we all watched the same episode- but the way in which the various writers talk about the episode differs tremendously due to their own unique perspective and approach.
People read content to learn and expand their impression or understanding of a topic. Give your readers concrete takeaways in one of two ways:
- Opinion: How you feel as a result of something or about a specific topic.
- Factual information: Present a new fact or tidbit that you discovered as a result of talking to someone new, researching something further, etc.
Integrating content into your marketing strategy can seem like a massive undertaking but when broken down, it is really quite simple. You build a solid inventory of content one post at a time, and authority is earned over time as readers begin to recognize consistency and quality. The struggle for most content creators is finding their audience. You already have yours. You just have to follow these guidelines, solicit feedback, review your own content with a critical eye and write like the wind!