How to write more engaging content
Tuesday, October 8, 2019
Like me, you’ll be bombarded. Daily. Whilst you’ll glaze over many emails, websites and social media posts, some will grab your full attention. Ever wondered why? And what you can learn to help your own business? My post shows you how to increase the odds of engaging your reader with your words.
Who are they?
Most of the population has no interest in what you want to say. Your target audience is likely to have a minor interest. If you understand them fully, that interest might be a bit higher.
Think about your face-to-face discussions. If it’s someone new, you’ll ask questions, find common interests, get to know them. And once you do, the conversation flows.
It’s just the same when you write. Engaging content is written with the audience in mind. You’ll understand who they are, where they are, what language they use and what frustrates them.
And from knowing them better, what you say (or write) will be more relevant to them. So, you increase the odds of them paying attention.
Keep it short
And I mean short. Shorter words. Shorter sentences. Shorter paragraphs.
Cut the waffle, get to the point and take out the jargon.
All these things just delay your reader’s comprehension. And there’s no time for delay in such a busy world.
I appreciate there’ll be times when industry terms are necessary, or when sentences get a little lengthy. But make it the exception, not the norm.
Got a lengthy download or technical article? Invite them to read it with short and simple language first. Perhaps create a brief synopsis at the outset.
One big idea
Got a lot to say? Well, don’t say it all at once. Nobody will hear you.
Break it down. One big idea at a time.
The second you start to confuse (or bore) your reader, they’ll be long gone.
I know this point can be a challenge for many businesses. I have countless stories of companies that simply stuffed too many messages into their advert copy. Or couldn’t help themselves in their web copy.
Break it down. And let the biggest ideas lead. If that grabs them, they’ll want to learn more.
Look ‘em in the eye
I know you can’t see me (*checks webcam*), but you might feel I’m talking directly to you.
Why do I think this?
Because you’ll notice I write my posts in the second person. I use “you and “your”. Not “them” and “they”. It’s far more engaging for content.
Can all businesses use the second person? Well, I think so. There are a few exceptions, but in most instances, you can take full advantage of this style.
You’ll still sound professional. You’ll appear more personable. And you’ll certainly be more engaging.
Tell a good story
We all love a good story, don’t we? Brought up on them from a young age, they stick. Even when we’re adults.
And it’s one reason why case studies are so powerful (read my post about case studies here).
But it doesn’t have to be a full-blown adventure. You might be able to demonstrate key points with a brief story. Or you might be able to draw them in at the start with a story.
Perhaps there’s a story to create around your brand?
However you’re able to pick up on this point, be clear that storytelling in marketing is a growing trend (and probably something I need to write a dedicated post on).
Hang on their emotions
Ever read something that made you feel sad? Or worried, or happy, or excited?
Copy that captures emotions helps to prompt reactions. It might be a copy from a charity. The reader feels sad and decides to instantly donate. Or it might be a software company. They feel vulnerable and so decide to purchase the product to do a better job.
Appealing to emotions makes for engaging content. When your opportunity to do this arises, do it. In a natural way though. Never forced.
Choose your headlines wisely
Skimmers. That’s what I call people who read an article by its headlines. And if the headlines seem relevant, they read more. I know, because I’m often a skimmer.
Your headlines (and sub-headings) are valuable. They should be relevant and easy to understand. They should also explain the content of the article concisely.
Yes, they might need to be keyword optimised.
Yes, you might be able to play to curiosity sometimes.
Always make them relevant, not too long and eye-catching.
Make it visual
Every brain needs a break from copy. That’s why images, charts, and graphics become so important.
You might choose an image to catch their eye in the first place. You might also choose further images to sit within your copy.
Got a pile of figures to explain? Create an easy-to-read chart and use that instead. It might be a bit more effort, but it does wonders for making your content more engaging.
Leave them knowing what to do next
And so, they’ve got to the end of your content. Fantastic!
But surely, you want more than that…
Don’t you want them to do something?
Make this clear. It might be a suggestion to get in touch or to buy something.
If you don’t say this, they’ll never know. And your engagement will remain limited.
So, ditch the telepathy and get into the habit of always including a sensible call to action:
Browse our products
Please get in touch
Why not read this next?
And without further ado, I’ll suggest what you could do next, having read to the end…
Would you like me to create engaging content for your business? Please get in touch and, with no obligation, tell me more about your needs.