Brain Dump


11 Ways to Improve your Content in an Hour (or Less)

Is your website, social or blog content failing to gain traction? If you’re tired of writing marketing content that no one appears to be reading, don’t despair. Instead, take a look at these 11 suggestions for quality content writing. Then, put 60 minutes on the clock to see how quickly you can take your writing from hum-drum to home run.

  1. Are you educating or selling? If your blog content reads more like a brochure, then you’re missing the point of content marketing. Your goal is to share valuable, actionable information and leave readers thinking, “Wow, these guys know their stuff.”
  2. Count the “we”s. Examine your content with a critical eye. Is it all about how wonderful your organization is, with little to no mention of how customers might benefit from doing business with you? Pull up your website’s home page and use the search tool to highlight how many times the word “we” is used. Then do the same for “you” and compare the results.
  3. Channel your favorite English teacher. Knowing the difference between passive and active voice is an easy way to rev up your copy’s energy. Instead of saying, “Your house will be cleaned by our team every Monday,” try “We’ll clean your house every Friday.” While you’re at it, throw in some colorful adjectives and benefits that bring the action to life. “Our hard-working team of experts will have your house spotless, sparkling and ready for a weekend’s worth of guests — and you don’t have to lift a finger.”
  4. Ban bland headlines and subject lines. Straightforward copy has its rightful place. But in blog posts and promotional emails, the headline or subject line is not that place. Compare “Making better business decisions for long-term growth” to “Three ways obsessing over your competition is a major distraction.” Or “XYZ Company weekly newsletter” to “This week: Where to go when your bank says no.” No need to venture into clickbait territory here, just creatively tease some details to improve your open and click-through rates.
  5. Ask yourself: Is it scannable? Attention spans are laughably brief these days. Add in eye fatigue from staring at screens all day, and your dense copy doesn’t stand a chance. Tip the odds in your favor by using brief, benefit-oriented subheads to give readers the big picture, plus bulleted sections and varied paragraph lengths to add white space and encourage a closer look.
  6. Let the visual do the talking. An AdobeStock account or other image service is one of the wisest content investments you’ll make. But rather than simply slapping up a randomly illustrative photo, consider using Canva or another free tool to add some high-impact copy and make your graphic even more of an eye-catcher. And remember that brief attention span we mentioned? Make sure every image is sized correctly to speed web page load times.
  7. Grab every chance to boost SEO. Speaking of images, you’re missing both an SEO and a UX opportunity if you only include keywords in your blog or web page text. Descriptive, keyword-rich alt text file names are crucial for image optimization, as well as being a service to your readers. Why waste space on Stock4815162342.jpg when you can name your image LOST_cast_reveals_all.jpg?
  8. Do your research. Don’t have any quantifiable proof points to include in your copy — for example, “We cut payroll processing time in half”? That’s OK, because you can use related third-party research to give weight and credibility to your content. “According to the Small Business Administration, small business owners spend up to 240 days annually working on administrative tasks, including their payroll.” One caveat: Be sure you’re not inadvertently quoting research conducted by your competitor.
  9. Loop in other voices. Just like third-party research, including wisdom from experts outside your company boosts your street cred. Call on a colleague for a pertinent quote in your next blog post, and link to their website, related content or LinkedIn profile, if they prefer. According to digital media & book publishing pro Jane Tabachnick, “These implied endorsements help position you as an industry thought leader. Plus, very often the colleague you quote will return the favor, sharing your content with their audience because they’re excited that they’re featured, or inviting you to contribute to their content — both of which amplify your exposure even further.”
  10. Use links to lure visitors into staying longer. Grab opportunities to add value by cross-linking to related content on your site. Writing a blog post about the ramifications of NJ’s FY2019 budget for Garden State businesses? Include a brief acknowledgement of what’s happening at the federal level, along with a link to that content.
  11. Repurpose. To us, content used just once is a mortal sin. You’ve invested time and energy, so make that content work as hard as you do. A few ideas to get you thinking: Turn chapters from your e-book into individual blog posts; transform pithy quotes from a white paper into shareable graphic tiles; transcribe your latest podcast for downloading, or use written how-to content as the script for an explainer video.

There’s no doubt that content strategy, writing and distribution are time-consuming beasts. But there’s also no doubt that content marketing generates 3x more leads than outbound marketing and costs 62% less, according to the Content Marketing Institute. By investing some time and creativity into improving your content — or hiring a pro to do it for you — your organization can start to reap the substantial benefits great content can deliver.

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