Yesterday we looked at the 5 mistakes of bad terrible awful content, the things you should avoid when creating content to market your own business. Today it’s all about the things you should do – how to write great content that helps move your potential customers closer to doing business with you.

1. Great effective compelling headline/subject line

Don’t skip this step. This is what gets people to click or flip through your content in the first place. Legendary Madison Avenue ad man David Ogilvy said “When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” So spend a good amount of time crafting something that’s not just passable, but great.

Headlines and subject lines need to:

  • Be specific about what’s inside and then deliver on that promise (you must say what you say you’re going to say)
  • Hint at what the reader will get out of reading/watching/listening to it (your promise is to change their lives in some way, even if it’s very small)
  • Give you a reason to read further (don’t give away everything in the headline or subject line)

If you’re struggling with this, make a list of the features that your content has, and a list of the benefits it promises, and then put on a timer for 10 or 20 minutes and write as many headlines/subject lines incorporating those items as you can. At the end, you should have one solid sample you’re happy to use. (And it will likely be near the end.)

2. Great effective compelling writing

You already know what to do when you write copy. This includes focusing on benefits and not features, writing readable copy, and proofreading for clean, error-free copy. Keep it on point and keep it conversational.

3. Great effective compelling information

Related to the point above. In addition to be good writing in general, every sentence in your marketing copy must have a purpose. It may be to educate, to build rapport, or to induce someone to do something. But this isn’t the place for long, rambling paragraphs that are nowhere near the point. Go through your writing line by line to see what can be deleted.

4. Great effective compelling call to action

Your call to action should be specific. Call this, visit this page, come to this event, etc. Don’t leave any room for error in the mind of your prospective client.

Take it a step further and use some tricks of internet marketers by including copy nearby that reminds your prospects of what they’ll get if they take you up on their offer and how their lives will improve.

(For a fantastic look at the words you should use and the words you should avoid in your CTA, and tips on crafting them, check out this video from Flint McGlaughlin speaking at the Web Optimization Summit earlier this year.)

5. Great effective compelling reason to get people to want your free stuff

I can’t remember where I first heard this, but it’s stuck with me: “you’ve got to sell free!” With so much free material available on the internet, being free isn’t enough of an incentive to download/read/watch/listen anymore. You have to sell your free content as if people were paying for it. Don’t overhype, but do let people know what they’ll learn from what you’re offering, and how their lives will be better.

There you go, the five keys to how to write great content. In future posts we’ll look at the what and why, and more about the how, of content marketing. In the meantime, please get in touch with any questions or comments!

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