Three Steps to Creating Better, More Engaging Marketing Content
Every business under the sun is turning to content to help them attract, engage and convert passing interest into buying conviction. But how do you stand out in an absolute ocean of choice?
We recently chatted to Rene about creating engaging content and asked him three big questions occupying the minds of creators.
Q1. What’s the first step in creating more engaging content?
To do that you need to understand who you’re writing for. Focus on know needs/problems. So in your writing, especially in technical articles, blog posts, FAQs, even your news and press content, think about building on what your target customers are actually searching for.
This strategy helps you build an authority website that Google and customers will love and which drives an entire (content) marketing machine.
Creating regularly updated content on your site helps your site’s authority rank to improve and creates “events” in your business. That means it acts like the fuel you need to integrate your marketing (email, social, paid promotion – even your business networking and events) – to maximise opportunities to engage customers.
Writing pages that show up when your target customers are searching for good advice and information is one of the best marketing investments you can make.
Understanding your audience more deeply
To do this you should strive to understand your customer and what they need. I always look to the media and events in a sector – this gives a steer to the right topics and highlights other influencing voices.
But at a base level, ask Google a question and see what appears in results. Refining that question will bring better results. Use SEO tools like Ahrefs and SEMRush to get a better sense of keyword density and frequency and other sites like Ask the Public.
Q2. Once you’ve figured out what to write, what’s the second step in creating more engaging content?
You need to know your role in your content. In Building a Story Brand, Donald Miller stresses the importance of identifying your customer as the hero in any communications.
It’s a super process for structuring marketing content. It means you need to see yourself as a guide. It’s your job to help them identify their problem, show them a way forward and help them achieve success.
His simple 7 step model involves
- Identifying them as the hero
- Recognising a critical problem or need they have
- Showing up as a guide
- Providing a plan they can follow or use to achieve success
- Call them to action
- Pointing out how it has helped others to avoid failure
- Remind them of what success looks like.
Bringing Story Brand to life
In terms of blog posts on your own site, once you’ve done your research, you’ll have a list of potential topics and posts that are ranking well in search. You want to replicate these in your own words so that pages like these are hosted on your own site. Remember this isn’t product promotion, it’s about almost answering customer questions.
At MMC we’ve experimented with problem posts, comparison and review posts, benchmarking our CIM offer against other providers. Offering posts like this that answer the types of questions being asked online brings people looking for answers in order to make purchasing decisions to our site.
And some of this is also relevant to third party press articles for media, the difference being you need to adjust your thinking to the editorial narrative of where it is likely to feature.
Magazines and website publishers like exclusive content that is of interest to their readers. Rooting that in your titles and first sentences and paragraphs will ensure you secure their interest. Make everything about the reader (the hero) and not about you.
Q3. Once you’ve figured out what to write and how to position your writing, what’s the final step in creating more engaging content?
You need to actually get creative. If you checked out Geraint’s thoughts on content strategy, you’ll know he talked about content pillars and topics.
Having a perspective on a relatively fixed group of topics is essential to modern marketing. Creative writing is an artform but it is eminently learnable.
To start, I use mindmaps and Post-it notes to flesh out my content pillars so I can create a huge number of posts around a few key topics.
Make immediate impact – with targeted headlines like those above and opening statements – for these always use questions, provocative statements or the ubiquitous “How to”. It’s what internet search is built on.
Make your content snackable. That means people should be able to easily skim read it. Keep sentences short and for the most part write for a 12 year old’s reading age.
And always include questions.
Topic and structure ideas
I’ve hinted at a few techniques already but here’s a few more to whet your appetite.
- Use existing materials for articles. Don’t create fr