I was meeting with a potential client this morning. They asked a great question about how I would create content that their ideal customer reads; there is so much content on the internet that people just delete emails and stop reading blogs.
I had a few seconds to communicate what makes content stand out. So I told them that my content will provide engaging headlines, scannable content, stories, and quality information.
Everyone hates clickbait.
Everyone reads clickbait.
The goal of engaging copy is creating a clickable headline without making the readers feel like they have been baited into a poor quality presentation. An engaging headline needs to do one of the following things:
- Create curiosity (Like the question I just asked: How? Why? And then? are all legitimate, curiosity invoking questions)
- Show how the content will help your target customer (3 Great Tips That Will Help You Create More Engaging Content might have been another good title for this post)
- Provide a measurable result (One of the posts I suggested was “How A Certain Customer Saved Money By Going From Manual Surveying to Using Drones”)
While these all seem like clickbait tactics, the difference between bait and a full meal is simple: bait promises one thing and delivers another. A full meal is just that: a full meal. When we are creating content, we need to make certain that the content answers the question, provides the information, or shows the results that are promised in the headline.
Everyone scans. You might be doing it right now.
Scanning saves time and helps you know whether you want to take the time to really read the content. Scannable content needs to have:
- Headings – Bold headers break up the flow of your writing, show your thought processes, and give someone an excuse to scroll to the bottom (No, seriously, I always scroll to the last heading on long content).
- Bullet Points – Bullet points rule.
- White Space – If I want to bury myself in a book, I will get a book. When we are looking at content online, we need to be able to see around the content. If I feel buried, I x out of the window.
I introduced this post with a story, and if you are reading this far, it might be because you found the story engaging. Most of my high-performing posts include stories. According to Dan and Chip Heath, in Made to Stick, stories are an important part of creating engaging and memorable content (That’s a great book, you should read it).
For my client this morning, stories are a great part of their content because they are offering a product that has the potential to profoundly improve their clients’ profits and quality; most people don’t think about that improvement without an engaging story to show how.
Content quality is a difficult thing to measure.
Sometimes quality means having no grammatical or spelling errors. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes quality content needs to have engaging photos and video. Sometimes you are a colorblind writer with an old smartphone as your only video recording device (That is why I stick to memes and personal photos in this blog, or none at all).
Quality content delights the user. It is memorable, and it follows the rules that the reader associates with that type of writing. As a content writer, I make certain to use editing software, I reread my content, and I quickly fix any typos that someone points out to me. Jack Kerouac, on the other hand, did not have to write with polished grammar.
So, if you have read to the end of this little post, I thank you.
IF you want to create quality inbound marketing content, make certain it is clickable, it is scannable, it has stories, and it follows the quality your audience expects.