Words: Sammy Sadler, account manager
We’ve been hearing for years now that digital is the way forward and nowadays many of us prefer to receive information through video, with HubSpot revealing that 78% of people watch online videos every week and that isn’t set to slow down. It’s the reason that video marketing has soared in popularity and the ‘traditional’ way of doing things may not always be as effective as it once was.
As someone who studied journalism at a relatively traditional level with a huge focus on the written word over anything else, I was naïve when I left university to think that an article packed with paragraphs was enough anymore. We now rely on social media and RSS feeds to share our stories, videos are illustrating much more than an image can and podcasts are delving into topics in a more engaging way than books we find in the library.
We live in a world saturated with content and finding something to say that will set you apart is becoming harder.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should totally disregard written material altogether. In fact, the changes to audience consumption has opened up a whole range of creative ways to showcase your words. News articles, informative blog posts, whitepapers, eBooks, leaflets and all image-led creative assets require copywriting in some form to engage an audience in the first place and will often entice your audience to take some form of action.
Even though the good news is that the need for information is still very much there, the fact that consumer habits have changed means that the way you write content has to adapt. You have to write about things they want to find out, feel or understand.
Below are five tips to consider before you put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, to ensure your copy will create an impact.
What do they want to hear?
Understanding what your customers want to hear is the holy grail of good content marketing. It’s by far the best way to start an editorial calendar by finding out what they are searching for, what they care about and the things they don’t understand. You can do this by talking to or surveying your customers, or by using technologies such as the common search terms people are using on Google or answerthepublic.com.
By planning some key words and topics ahead of starting your copy, you’ll know that your piece or social media post will be directly tailored to the desired audience. A/B testing is great for this, especially with email marketing and advertising to ensure that your messaging is having the best impact.
How long does it have to be?
It’s a simple thing to consider but one that we can forget once we start typing. Before writing anything, consider what format the copy needs to take and create a structure for where you will include things. If you’re pulling together an informative whitepaper, the chances are that the document will be text heavy but blog posts on your website don’t need to be War & Peace. The minimum amount of words for a blog post to be optimised for SEO is 300 words and on social media, posts should be snappy and to the point.
Who are you?
Who do you want to be as a brand? Often when we get into writing copy we’ll forget what we stand for and we end up writing something that could be written by any business. Stick to your brand’s tone of voice and stay true to the topics that you feel matter.
Is it topical?
Everyone wants to read something newsworthy and relevant, so using an editorial calendar will keep you on the right track in terms of things you can use as topical hooks to get your point across.
And don’t’ forget that the best pieces of content are usually quick, insightful, personal and relevant – so there’s nothing wrong with a quickly put together opinion piece or reaction.
What’s the point?
Are you writing something to inform the reader? Maybe you are trying to entice customers to buy something or donate to a cause? By establishing the main message early on and regularly relating back to any call to action, you can avoid going off on tangents that will need to be edited out later on.