Getting people to read your content and continue reading it is on every marketers mind. I mean, what good is content if it never gets read? This post gives a quick how-to-guide approach to get people to ready your content and more importantly, continue reading it. Today, most content is displayed in some sort of format online. It is not typical to not produce content for online use; therefore I will focus on writing content for the benefit of online use only. As technology evolves, so must we.
We all know that in today’s marketing world that content needs to be shared via social networks so I will skip over that point in this quick guide. Instead I would like to focus on a few other items I feel will be beneficial to your overall success.
Forget What You Learned in English Class
For starters, you need to throw most of what you learned in English 101 out the window as most of it doesn’t apply to content marketing for an online audience. Don’t get me wrong, you still need to do the basics right; spelling, basic grammar and punctuation. As for the big stuff, not so much. Take these basic tips into consideration when writing online content such as blogs.
- Use Strategic Formatting – it is important for you to show readers the flow of your content and get them to the important parts quickly. People tend to scan information for only what interests them; therefore you have a limited amount of time to impact them. To do this, bold important concepts, yet don’t highlight everything. You can also use other formatting options such as italics and placing text in all caps or underlining it.
- Use Bulleted Lists – bulleted lists are a great way to take a large amount of data and put it into a list to make a point. It makes it easier for your readers to scan the document and it also visually breaks up concepts for your readers.
- Use Relevant Links – linking back to your own content is a great way to get your readers to continue reading your content and to build up trust. Make sure you links are relevant to the topic at hand though; don’t simply place a link for no reason other than your own benefit. It does need to make sense.
- Break Up Your Content – breaking up your content is another great way to create flow throughout your document. Use page breaks and strong heading text to break up your content and make it easier for your readers to stay interested. Titles and subheadings are a great tool to be used for creativity. Create titles and subheads that engage, inform and compel your readers to continue reading.
Keep it Short
Accepting that people go online to get information quickly is your first step in writing content online. You will need to format your paragraphs in a particular way in order to keep your readers attention. State your topic in the beginning with a reasonable conclusion early on and then create supporting subheadings throughout the document to support each. This can help take an overwhelming amount of information and make it easier to look at and want to continue reading.
In addition, the average blog is around 500 – 750 words. This being said, that is not the only thing to go by. If you can, with excellent quality, finish your point in 350 words you should. However, on the other hand you do need to be careful about not always having super short posts. Google does relate length to their overall quality rating. I typically keep my blog posts between 800-1250 words. I believe this is still short enough to keep my readers attention and keep Google happy, yet also get my point across.
Add Design to Your Content
Just like kids, your readers will be attracted to visual content and design. A poorly designed website can take away from your content, which you by no means want. Spend a little extra time and money on design for your templates, websites and all areas that will house your content. In addition to giving your content a design face-lift, you will also want to establish a brand for your content. You want to set your website, blog and all visual content apart from other competitors in your market. There are even cheap and free tools you can use to spice up your design if cost is a huge factor for you. WordPress, Magento and Joomla offer many themes and website designs to enhance your overall look and feel at a reasonable price.
Write for Humans
I know I have really hit this point home already in previous blogs but it is so true. You need to write for humans, not only for the search engines. Keyword stuffing and writing for search engines will prevent you from growing your readership. No one wants to stumble through a document, having to hurdle over words that don’t make sense. In addition to writing for humans, you need to make sure humans are actually reading your content. Don’t always trust your web stats; trust the engagement you receive from your readers. Create a call-to-action and see who responds, if anyone. In addition to testing, this will allow you to build conversations with your readers, getting them engaged and invested in you and your content.
To a certain point, you do want to pay for traffic to your site or online published content. Organic traffic can only get you so far and can take time to grow. There are many applications you can pay for in order to get traffic to your site, StumbleUpon is one that can bring visitors to your site or content for a mere $.10 per visit. If you have a great post you just published and want it to be seen, this may be a good option for you. Companies that are looking for a broader distribution, may look to services like PR Newswire instead. There are many ways to get traffic to your site and online content, paying for a professional (outsourcing) to help you with this might be a good investment if your budget allows.
Lastly, you want to be available to your readers. Allow them access to you and your contact information. This not only builds a level of trust and professionalism, it also creates engagement. Being available also means creating a content schedule and sticking to it. Once you have your readers’ attention, you don’t want to lose them. Once they start to follow you, they will expect a continued amount of content from you in a timely manner along with a certain level of quality.
Final Thoughts on Content Marketing
I hope this simple guide gets you thinking about how you execute your online content and what still can be done to improve upon what you already have in place. I’ll leave you with one final thought:
“Traditional marketing talks at people. Content marketing talks with them.” – Doug Kessler