Writing great content is quite possibly the quickest and most cost effective way to increase your conversion rates. Great content creates engagement among your followers, generates valuable social shares, and incites readers to heed your call to action. All of these things are an important part of your efforts to increase your online presence. Even more importantly, they are the driving factors behind getting the conversions that you need. So, the question is this: what makes great content? What kind of content gets shared, has the chance to go viral, and gets those prospects into your sales funnel?
Hooking the Reader – That’s Where It’s At
Writing engaging content is a challenge, especially if you are new to it and do not have the budget to hire writing experts. The first thing you need to understand is that writing a great blog post requires a strong hook. Your post will not draw readers unless there is something there to engage them. With that in mind, here are 10 things you can do right now to breathe some life and excitement into your content.
1. Make Your Content Stand Out With Images and Video
If you want to increase conversions, make a commitment, right now, to include at least one image in every post that you publish. It may be the single most beneficial thing that you do when it comes to producing content that is read and shared. According to a post from content marketing guru Jeff Bullas, content with images receives 94% more views than content that is text only.
Obviously, the more interesting the images you use, the better response you will receive.
How about photos of customers using your product(s)? ModCloth does a phenomenal job of this. It sells clothing and accessories geared to millennial women. It openly solicits photos of customers wearing its clothing along with some text that tells their “stories” of how great wearing the item made them feel. This is a perfect testimonial with a picture to prove it is real. They also post pictures of clothing items and hold contests for readers to name the item and thus win it.
Millenials also love photos. Just see how popular Snapchat and Instagram are. By adding a memorable photo, like the hook photo above, you can develop those critical relationships that keep current customers coming back and new ones moving into your sales funnel.
Creating video based content can have an even stronger impact on conversions. Stacksandstacks.com is an online store that sells organizational and storage items. They have found that customers who view a product related video are 144% more likely to add an item to their cart, when compared to customers who do not watch a video. How to use your product in really effective ways motivates viewers to give it a try.
[tweetthis]Customers who view a product video are 144% more likely to add it to their cart[/tweetthis]
2. Use Storytelling
Everyone loves a story. That’s why Geico has that great little lizard running around the country with his adventures. Everyone now knows the product name, and they keep watching the commercials to see what the lizard will do next. Of course, your customers have stories that they may love sharing. Solicit them. You may have stories to tell too.
Tom’s Shoes has a great story to tell. For every pair it sells, it donates a pair to a needy child. Its stories are told on its website, on its blog, and on every social media outlet, complete with photos and videos.
What reader will not be compelled to read these stories and be inspired to make a purchase? Jack Daniels has a great time with its stories and so do its customers. It holds contests for customers to come up with the strangest bar experiences they have had. People check the site all the time for the latest stories. And they are promoted all over social media. The Jack Daniels brand is kept “front and center” all the time. You may not be a Jack Daniels or a Tom’s Shoes, but you can entertain and inspire your readers with stories – stories that they will want to share with their communities. It’s all about brand promotion without a hard sell.
3. Think Small and Short (Attention Span and Screen)
When you write copy, it is a wise idea to assume that the majority of your viewers are accessing your content using mobile devices. It is also safe to assume that your readers want to be able to quickly scan your content in order to get answers to the following questions:
- What is the topic of this post?
- How is it valuable to me?
- What are the main things I will learn if I read this content?
Fortunately, writing content that appeals to shorter attention span and mobile users requires that you follow some easy rules. For example, you want to use short sentences, include numbered lists and bullet points, and use lots of white space. Ideally, paragraphs will also be short. Try setting a ten second goal. You want your reader to decide within ten seconds that reading your post is worthwhile. If you want perfect examples of “small and short,” check out Buzzfeed. This is the most popular blog on the planet because it understands how busy, pre-occupied readers of content actually read today.
Most of the posts at Buzzfeed are in list format, the subheadings are in bold, and there are generally pictures attached to each list’s points. They generally also write in pithy, action-oriented short sentences which get straight to the point. Get on this site and read some of the posts. You’ll get the idea pretty quickly. Model your posts after these.
4. Spend Time Crafting Your Headline
Underestimating the importance of your headline is a major miscalculation. Sure, it’s nice to think that it is the meat of your content that matters, but the truth is, if your title isn’t compelling people aren’t going to click. Only a very small percentage of people who scroll past your article will read it. The best way to maximize that number is to write a title that stands out. Experienced content writers have found that titles written according to the following guidelines are more likely to get readers to view your content:
- Use a number in the first few words of your title
- Keep your titles short so they aren’t truncated in search engine results
- Use vivid adjectives and strong power words in your title
- Write a title that creates a sense of urgency
- Use the title to communicate the value of your content to potential readers
- Appeal to a sense of greed or desire to be part of an elite group
[tweetthis]Only a very small percentage of people who scroll past your article will read it[/tweetthis]
According to a post by Neil Patel, Upworthy has grown much faster than other popular websites, including the Huffington Post, Business Insider, and Buzzfeed. One of the reasons that Patel cites for this growth is the ability of the writers at Upworthy to craft headlines that grab attention.
Another thing to keep in mind when crafting headlines is SEO. However, optimizing should always take a backseat to writing a title that that clearly communicates the topic of your article in an engaging way.
Which of these two titles are you more likely to read?
“Here are Ways that Storytelling Can Increase your Traffic,”
“What a Lizard Taught Me about Storytelling and Conversions”
5. Create a Bond With Your Readers by Writing Content that is Personalized
Many articles on writing copy that drives conversions will advise you to write in the second person. This is very good advice. Using words like you, your, and you’re gives your reader the sense that you are addressing him/her directly. But this is only one small part of crafting personalized content.
The other part of this equation is to know who your audience is, and to write content that is specifically tailored to its needs. Then, when you write your content, let readers know who is going to benefit from reading it. Yes, this does mean that not every post that you publish will be for your entire audience. That’s okay, as long as you are producing written content on a regular basis and you address each segment of your audience every few publishing cycles.
One example of a company that has done a brilliant job of producing audience focused content both on and offline is the Coca Cola Company. Most recently, their #shareacoke campaign went viral on social media. What could be more personalized than producing bottles of cola with your customers’ names on them and then encouraging them to share on social media?
Often, personalization means that you create content that is only indirectly related to your product or service. You might be selling a piece of personal finance software. And you already know that your target market is young professionals who likely have student loan debt. A post on ways in which they can lower, re-finance, and eliminate some of that debt will be wildly appealing and demonstrate that you care about their pain. These are the things that build bonds between you and your readers.
6. Make a Dedicated Effort to Become a Better Writer
Copywriting is hard work. It requires a strong mastery of the rules of spelling and grammar, and the ability to communicate in a way that appeals to the average internet user.
You will need the creativity to write blog posts, articles, emails, social media posts, and web copy that your audience is eager to read. The more copy that you write, the better you will become at it. And the more you read the content of your competitors and non-competitors alike, the better you will become.
However, if you feel as if you have a deficit in your writing skills, you may wish to bone up by looking into an online writing class. As an alternative, you can also use a website such as www.read-able.com that will help you by measuring the readability of your content, by letting you know the grade level of what you have written. A good rule of thumb on writing for a general audience is to aim for about an 8th grade reading level. Of course, this number might vary depending on your niche. And use a tool like Hemingway to analyze your content and make suggestions for improvement. Remember, Hemingway was the master of saying a lot with very few words. You need to do the same.
Which would you prefer to read?
- “We’re going to show you how your content can maximize your readership, engaging your audiences so that they then become interested in what you have to offer and then take the next step toward conversion by visiting your site.”
- “You’re going to find how to make your content work for you. When you use these tips and tricks, you’ll get the results you want – traffic and conversions.”
Your readers are no different. Keep is simple!
7. Don’t Ask Your Readers to do too Much
Your goal is to get your audience to answer your call to action. Ideally that call to action involves them becoming a customer (making a purchase) or taking a step that brings them closer to that purchase. What you don’t want to do is wear them out by making too many demands on them before they answer your call to action.
This is where things get can get complex. Embedding contextual links in your content or adding videos makes it more appealing to your readers, and increases the likelihood of your posts being shared. Doing so also improves your search engine rankings. Another bonus is that if you link to your other posts on your blog, you increase readership of those posts. However, you also must remember that your readers have a limit in the number of clicks or keystrokes they are willing to execute while reading a single post. Your goal is to make sure that you do not reach that limit before they get to your call to action.
[tweetthis]Your goal is to get your audience to answer your call to action.[/tweetthis]
If you are a realtor writing a post about staging a home for a sale, you might want to include a video showing a home perfectly ready to receive prospective buyers. But the important conversion you want is for them to come to your site and download the e-guide you have written on home staging. You are doing this not because a reader has his home on the market right now. You are doing this so that if and when a reader is ready to sell, he calls you. The one video is enough.
8. Make the Most Efficient Use of Social Media
You already know that you have to promote your content on social media. But you also have to use it wisely. Here are some important tips:
- You should have a typical customer persona developed by now. If you do, then you need to know where that persona hangs out on social media. Instead of splattering promotion all over, choose the 2-3 platforms that your target audience uses, and do those well.
- Know the best times to post. There is a lot of great research out there about what times of day and what specific days you are likely to read your audience.
- Engage in multiple postings of the same promotional “teasers” and snippets. There really are some great benefits to posting the same content several times.
- Automate your postings by using any of the free apps to do this – save yourself lots of time and grief.
Suppose you know that your target audience surfs Twitter a lot. You don’t want to miss catching as many followers as possible with the perfect post and hashtag you have crafted. But people who use Twitter do so very randomly when they have a few moments. It only makes sense, then, to post a tweet several times a day for several days in a row. You want your followers to see it, take the bait, and then re-tweet it to others.
9. Learn to Use Power Words in Your Posts and Headlines to Motivate Your Customers
There are certain words and phrases that evoke an emotional response. As an example, here is a brief list of power words and the potential impact that they have:
- Rip-Off – incites anger and indignation
- Top Secret – appeals to the desire to get insider information
- Deep Discount – this is an appeal to greed
- Sexy – Just like the word implies, appealing to lustful tendencies works
- Act Now – Creates a sense of urgency
- Awe Inspiring – Inspires a sense of wonder and anticipation
- Free – Getting something for nothing – always a good thing
According to an article in the Scientific American, content that evokes positive emotions is more likely to be shared, which is something to be kept in mind. It may be best to save power words and phrases that evoke anger to drive people directly to landing pages, and use power words that make people feel good to generate shares.
10. Embrace Curation
Please remember that every bit of content that you publish doesn’t have to be personally created by you. After all, you presumably have responsibilities beyond copywriting. Don’t be afraid to share content, to turn old content into something new, or even to crowd source content.
When you get a topic idea, access Buzzsumo – a site that directs you to the most socially shared articles on any given topic. Then, read those articles, take what most relates to your audience, and re-constitute it. Think about transforming that content into an infographic or a slide share. Focus on taking that content and making it better than it started.
Remember that All of Your Content Matters
If your content shines, that is great. However it does you no good if people come to your Pagewiz created landing page or home page and the quality of your copy drops. This is why you must be vigilant in managing all of your content down to the most atomic level. Your links, your terms of service and other pages, your product descriptions, etc., must all be written in a way that reflects your branding and quality standards. You can’t have a great “come-on” title and then disappoint. You will lose readers quickly. They see no value in your content and they will lose trust in you.
Julie Ellis – writer, marketer and passionate traveler. As a business writer, she’s been featured on such websites as Business2Community, SocialMediaToday, jeffbullas.com and others.
When she’s not engaged in helping her customers and students, you can find her reading articles and books of young writers and attending marketing conferences.