In today’s digital landscape, audiences are being inundated with a torrent of content and marketing messaging that’s made engagement more elusive. Consider the fact that in the ad realm alone, the latest projections estimate that the average person encounters 6,000 to 10,000 advertisements every single day.
To capture the attention of fatigued audiences and earn their trust, it’s never been more vital for content marketers to prioritize substance over clickbait. Weakly planned and poorly written and/or executed content sends an immediate red flag to readers. It erodes a brand’s relationship with its customers and audiences, and tarnishes its overall perception, plain and simple.
Never take for granted how easy it is to be ignored. The audience always has the upper hand and the ability to dismiss you and your content completely. That’s why quality is of utmost importance, so that once you catch a reader’s eye, you can deliver the value and substance that keeps them reading till the end, and coming back to your brand for more.
To craft higher quality content, focus on these 5 key areas, assembled from the advice given in our recent webinar by Industry Dive’s newsroom’s editor-in-chief, and the content marketing executives from studioID.
1. Write Better Headlines
Even the world’s most in-depth, educational, and entertaining content will fall flat without a catching headline to hook your reader’s in. To bolster reader trust and engagement, a quality headline needs to be accurate, informative, insightful, and succinct. Without over-hyping or making false promises, it should highlight the most impactful element of the content it’s framing in an attempt to boost traffic and shares. In a few words and a quick glance, audiences should be able to get a sense of the bigger picture — the why behind the what.
Bottom line, an effective headline creates a curiosity gap and compels a reader to take action. And, if the content is relevant and valuable to them, to consume the entire story.
Take a look at the below set of top-performing headlines to get a sense of copy that converts:
Data privacy evolved at a dizzying pace in H1, with more still to come
— Marketing Dive
After years of expansion, HBC has fractured
— Retail Dive
Takeaway: For content that has a newsworthy angle, deliver the key story element with an appropriate dose of drama that creates suspense—leaving your readers wondering, and ready to click in for more.
10 Ideas for Getting More User-Generated Content
15 Types of Content to Post on Social Media to Keep Your Feed Fresh [Infographic]
— Social Media Today
- For pieces with an instructional focus, help your readers see themselves in content by speaking directly to them (“you,” “your,” etc.) and use verbs (“getting,” “keep,”) that illustrate the direct benefit they’ll receive by consuming
- Play into psychology by using numbers in headlines. Numbers give the reader the promise of a measurable, skimmable, and easy-to-digest experience before they even click in.
Also, notice how the headline of this very article leverages a number, a verb, and an easily gleaned benefit proposition? These elements worked together effectively to earn your click.
2. Make the Story More Meaningful
Don’t “dumb down” your content for the sake of shortening attention spans. At every opportunity, it’s important to assume your readers are intelligent and to try and do your subject justice.
Don’t be superficial; invest in deeply researched, long-form content that provides your readers with a thoughtful and valuable analysis of whatever it is you’re writing about.
Readers are discerning, and care about quality. Identify the kinds of content formats that resonate with them, and provide substance and depth across everything you work on.
And speaking of depth, don’t stop at providing it at the individual story level. Zoom out and consider the longevity of key topics you’re covering. If you know a certain trend or concept is going to be important to your audience over the next few months or few years, dedicate yourself to continual coverage that will keep your readers turning to you as developments unfold.
3. Consult Subject Matter Experts
Whether you’re creating customer-facing content or materials for internal resources, a conversation with a subject matter expert can add valuable context and color to any kind of story.
Functioning as brand ambassadors, experts add instant clout and credibility to a piece of content or marketing initiative — whether it’s a blog post, podcast, social media takeover, or beyond.
This kind of networking will also provide future value as you build out a virtual Rolodex of contacts you can regularly tap for updates as the subject evolves. And if you’re lucky, maybe they’ll even come to you with new information first, since they know they can count on your for a top notch write up. It’s symbiotic, really.
4. Be a Thought Leader
As we sing the praises of external subject matter experts, let’s not forget about all of the expertise within your organization that’s waiting to be mined and showcased.
To become a leader in your industry, it’s vital to preach what you practice.
Create content that champions the tactics, theories, and best practices your own employees use every day to lead your organization to success.
Based on your content marketing strategy, choose the topics most relevant to your audience interests and business goals, and aim to lead the conversation to establish yourself at the forefront of the discipline or product offering. Tap into expertise from senior leadership and executives, but don’t forget about your leaders of tomorrow. Your more junior staff have plenty of experimental tactics and future-focused knowledge to bring to the table.
Look for opportunities to bring original, game-changing POVs to light to illustrate your expertise and enhance your brand perception. Whatever you do, make sure to be an active and vocal participant whose content contribution and unique perspective adds real value to readers.
5. Remember: You Can’t Be an Expert on Everything
It can be tempting to look at the sea of topics your audience might find interest in and dive into attempting to cover them all. But soon enough, you’ll find that trying to cover a little bit of everything leaves you with outputs that lack real substance. And superficial, “thin” coverage will actually hurt your brand perception as your audience leaves your content feeling shortchanged.
That’s why it’s important to narrow your focus and become the best at what it is you do and have the expertise to discuss.
This way, you’re bound to boost your authority, credibility, and reputation via in-depth educational and informational pieces that are authentic and powerful.
Always seek to answer both the “Why” and the “How.” For “Why,” or informational content, develop your internal thought leadership stories as well as pieces about trends, unique industry point-of-views, and distinct discussion and debates. And when it comes to the “How,” or educational content, be sure to deliver actionable, digestible content inclusive of resources, templates, guides, and relevant, step-wise “how-tos.”
To learn more about converting audiences with standout, journalistic content, check out our webinar: Why You Need to Operate Like a Newsroom in 2021.