By William Perry
Founder + Creative Director, EVVUS
Hundreds of emails read -- and deleted -- paired with thousands of words read and typed. It all seemed like a blur for me when getting the dozens of the same press releases, in the same format, using the same wording. Actually clicking on the link for more information and being frustrated to find a difficult to navigate website with poor design and lacking in content.
What made me not click “delete?” What made me stop in my tracks and keep reading, or clicking? The answer is simple: content that was engaging.
As a former digital editor in my early professional days, I’ve had my fair share of reading run-of-the-mill content. The content that stuck out was unique and original. Above all, it was well-written, because quality is priority No. 1, which we touched on in the 9 Steps to Creating a Killer (And Effective) Digital Marketing Strategy + Digital Footprint blog a couple of weeks back.
There is no shortage of material to read online and everyone has their own opinion on what they find compelling, here are some other tips on how you can write compelling content:
Get to know your audience and write for them. Don’t just blast out a generic “one-size-fits-all” press release to every consumer and media outlet. Don’t just post the same content, word-for-word, to every social media outlet your business has. If you cater specifically to your audience, you’ll gain more traction and catch your audience’s eye. It may be more time-consuming, but potential for the better results should outweigh the time spent.
Become A Thought Leader. If you’re not an expert in the content you’re writing, try to become one, if possible. Or know how to relate to the audience you’re trying to reach.
Evaluate your content length. Is it super intricate, chock-full of data and needs to be a long form-style article? Or is it a quick, conversational blogpost? It doesn’t have to be the longest article you’ve ever written every single time. Quality over quantity. A short, well-written blogpost or web article can be more memorable than the one that took 30 minutes to sift through.
Shoot for quality. Speaking of quality, always spell check and proofread. Nothing destroys your credibility more than a giant error. Obviously no one is perfect, but just a quick copy edit can save you the grief that comes with a silly typo, factual errors or poor grammar.
Hook the reader. Pull the reader in with a strong lead and a intriguing headline, but don’t mislead the reader. I always try to put myself in the reader’s virtual shoes. What would make you click on an article when you’re online? The headline and lead are like the cocktails and appetizers of a fancy meal – if those aren’t that great, the overall meal experience is affected. Once you hook in the reader, you tackle the question of “why should I keep reading?” You don’t want to mislead readers, so your content should also deliver what’s promised in the headline.
Take it for a test drive. Have coworkers, friends or family read over your content to see how they infer it before releasing it to the public. Each reader has their own opinion and you may come across in a tone that you weren’t intending to. It’s also always good to have another pair of eyes for proofreading. Hey, I had at least three other people read over this before posting!
Add eye-catching visuals. If all else fails, make your content look good on your website, email blast or social media posts. Display it neatly on your website with an eye-catching picture or graphic. No one wants to buy the dress that’s crumpled up in the corner, they want to buy the dress that’s perfectly placed and accessorized on the mannequin in the front of the store with the uplighting. This again is based on personal opinion of “what looks good,” but the effort alone of trying to can make a difference. Also, make sure your content display also works effectively for mobile users. Most people are scrolling on their phones while online, not at a desktop computer.
It’s nearly impossible to please everyone, and there is no perfect formula to creating compelling content every time. Sometimes, the content lends itself to being compelling without you even having to try. But using the tips above to brainstorm and self-evaluate, while in the content creating process, can help you get on the right track.