Guidelines for Writing Your Best Blog Posts, Video Scripts, White Papers, and More
If you’re new to or considering inbound marketing—a proven business methodology for attracting customers and closing sales—it’s easy to get caught up in the workflows, automations, and tools you might deploy to help your organization get found online. But those are just part of the bigger inbound picture. Incredible content constitutes the rest, and most organizations aren’t producing it.
For inbound marketing to work—or any content marketing effort, for that matter—the content you put out into the world has to engage and delight your ideal customers, position you as a trusted authority, and share the right message at the right stage of the buyer’s journey. That requires an investment of time, attention, and specialized skill. Most internal teams are short on at least one, resulting in content that fails to convert prospects to customers.
In our experience auditing clients’ content portfolios, we’ve found that most content falls short in similar ways. To enhance the lead-nurturing ability of our clients’ existing content and create new, high-performing content on their behalf, we rely on the following guidelines:
Make it relevant.
First and foremost, incredible content is valuable to your ideal customers. It achieves value by helping them either:
- Identify or solve a problem
- Pursue an opportunity
- Form an emotional or practical connection
- Learn more about something they care about
Too often, we see brands using content as a one-way mouthpiece for their own whims, opinions, and goings-on without considering what their ideal customers need and want to know more about. To break away from that tendency, you need to investigate what concerns your ideal customers and what questions they are asking relative to your product, service, or industry, and then use that research to extrapolate thoughtful, useful content topics.
For more information on developing audience-relevant content, check out our guides to creating content for the buyer’s journey and social listening to inform a content strategy.
Make it reflective.
It’s not enough to be relevant to your audience; your content also has to be reflective of the brand it’s promoting. Otherwise, you risk producing content so generic that your audience fails to associate your brand with the value it provides. Alternatively, your content could be so far removed from your purpose, values, and mission that it misrepresents you entirely.
To make it work, you have to start with a clear idea of who you are as a brand and what you stand for. Only then can you effectively stamp content with your brand identity via mechanisms like messaging, personality, voice, and tone. It also requires identifying the ways in which your interests align with your ideal customers’. That will help ensure that you are creating content that simultaneously serves your brand identity and the interests of those you are trying to reach.
Make sure it’s well written.
This may seem obvious, but it’s worth repeating: Incredible content needs to be clear, concise, rationally organized, and grammatically correct. Too often, individuals without writing expertise are charged with creating content, resulting in content that’s some amalgamation of sloppy, rambling, incoherent, overly information packed, or disappointingly thin. Your authority suffers as a consequence.
To best represent your brand and resonate with your audience, we recommend that every piece of content you produce is written (or heavily copyedited) by a mature, talented writer with a knack for distilling complex information in a way your ideal customer can understand and appreciate.
Make it digestible.
In our digital era, human eyes and attention spans lack the capacity and/or will to consume dense blocks of copy. If that’s what you’re presenting to your audience, expect it to be glossed over and abandoned, no matter how good the information.
Instead, you should format your written content so that it can be quickly mined for the most useful information. That means:
- Baking lots of negative space into your layout
- Organizing your text into short paragraphs
- Leveraging subheadlines to break up your argument or narrative into bite-size, scannable sections
- Using layout options like bulleted and numbered lists when appropriate
Make it look good.
Aside from functional formatting, you want to consider aesthetics. Whether you’re creating something as simple as a blog post or more complex like an online flipbook, know that bad stock imagery or clipart, haphazard justification, and inconsistent margins and spacing can come across as amateurish. On the other hand, sophisticated design can make even average copy appear highly authoritative. In short, tapping into the talents of a good graphic designer, one who can professionally asses the best way to present your content, will pay dividends.
Make it actionable.
The epitome of valuable content is content that can be consumed and put into action by your ideal customer. That could mean offering a step-by-step checklist, how-to manual, or a guided exercise. Or it could take the form of something highly interactive like a calculator or quiz.
Of course, not every content topic lends itself to action or actionable formats. Think pieces and case studies, for example, can be highly engaging but don’t generally provide readers with a mechanism for doing. In these cases, just be sure to incorporate a strong call to action that compels your audience to further engage with your brand.
And really, that is the whole point: keeping your audience engaged and connected so that when they are ready to make a purchase, your product or service is top of mind. Incredible content is a mechanism to that end. By addressing the wants and needs of your ideal customers and presenting it optimally, you will be able to attract qualified prospects, earn their trust, and nurture them toward a sale.
Feel free to borrow from the guidelines above to produce incredible content of your own, or reach out to us directly to ask your content-related questions.