This recipe assumes you’ve prepped and set aside your target market research. You can write a piece of really great content, but if it isn’t relevant to your target market, it’s not going to be engaging content – and that’s the goal! Once you’re confident you know what topics a segment of your target audience is interested in, these steps will help guide your content creation.
Start with a headline.
Here’s the deal: 8 of 10 people will read your headline, but only 2 of 10 will read the rest of your content. The reality is if people aren’t intrigued or enticed by your headline, they aren’t going to read it. Think of the headline as the gatekeeper to your content.
It’s easy to finish writing a piece of content and just slap a headline on it, but easy doesn’t make good content. Put some thought into it and do some homework on what headline will be most captivating for your audience. It doesn’t matter if you do it first, last, or in the middle, as long as it’s effective.
Sprinkle some keywords.
Assuming that this piece of content is going to be served online, do yourself a favor and plug in keywords and/or keyword phrases. Take the time, do the keyword research to find the specific words and phrases that people are searching for and plug them in. You can start finding keywords related to your topic with Moz’s Keyword Explorer or Google Adwords Keyword Planner.
Don’t overstuff your keywords – it’s possible to have too much of a good thing in this case. Try not to make it awkward by forcing a keyword into copy that may not make sense or that makes you stumble when you read it out loud. Use the ones you can, ditch the ones you can’t, and move on (bonus points if you can somehow combine an effective headline with a keyword phrase!).
Demonstrate a need.
People may care about what you’re writing about – which is awesome. Other people don’t care, so you have to make the case for them to care. Why is this piece of content relevant? How is it going to change their life? It’s like all of a sudden discovering you need something you never even knew you needed. I like to demonstrate a need with an impressive, cited statistic (better yet, make it visual!).
You can also do some research into when your consumers need your product or service and think of ways to frame your content for those moments. Check out micro-moments by Google to learn more about consumer behavior.
Form a solution.
Demonstrating a need becomes easier if you write an answer to a question or solve a problem. Think about how many times you’ve Googled something because you’re searching for an answer. The Internet is often the first place people go for answers, which makes this aspect of your piece important. For example, perhaps your content will be some sort of “how to” guide, or answers another type of question.
Mix in some emotion.
There is a correlation between the emotional responses to content and the amount of times it is shared. Make people angry or excited, and you’re likely to get the most engagement. Surprising people and making them happy seems to lead to more social shares.
Add a pinch of visual.
Whether it’s including images that are relevant to your piece, or creating an image out of a quote or statistic, visual content rules. It also needs to resonate with your audience. How do you find out what they prefer? Try a couple of different images in the promotion of your content and see what gets the most engagement.
What types of images should you try? It depends on your business, but often for products you can try an image of the product vs. an image of the product being used – more of a lifestyle shot. Work with your photographer and graphic designer to brainstorm and develop some ideas for imagery that you can test.
If you aren’t a photographer or a graphic designer, have no fear, there are plenty of tools available to help you. Stock images are available for purchase through websites like Thinkstock and Canva is a tool that makes design fool proof. If you’re feeling really ambitious – try creating an infographic that summarizes your piece with Piktochart.
Add a dash of links.
Links are helpful for two big reasons. First of all, it’s essential to cite a source. If you’ve included a statistic or a direct quote, linking it to the source is best practice. You can also link additional information you’ve found and included in your content. It makes you more credible.
For example, rather than simply referencing a study that proves your point, link the mention of the study so that people can do their own research. While you want to avoid linking everything (it’s called “dash” of links for a reason), it’s definitely good sure to include them where applicable.
Once you’ve combined all of your ingredients, you’ll have a good piece of content. But remember, good content is nothing without knowing your target audience. In addition to needing to make the topic relevant to them, you also need to choose the channels you use to share this content based on what they prefer.
Will it be a blog post? Downloadable guide? Does your audience engage with you through social media? If so, do they prefer Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc.? These are just a few of the questions you have to answer as you determine the best way to share and promote this content.
We can help! Contact us to learn more about the content strategy services we offer to our clients.