Content is a critical component of an effective marketing strategy for your expertise-based business.
But you already know that.
Your email newsletter wouldn’t garner clicks without a thought-leadership-packed white paper. Your company’s Google search rankings would suffer without keyword-rich blog posts. And no one would notice your LinkedIn ad campaign without the comprehensive eBook behind it.
What you may not realize?
It takes a special kind of writing — content marketing writing — to fuel these initiatives.
What Is Content Marketing Writing?
Content marketing is a tool that has the power to connect you with your audience and build trusting, meaningful business relationships with them.
Content marketing writing takes the form of blog articles, eBooks, white papers, case studies, resource pages, and other downloadable assets. These written assets reflect and drive your content marketing strategy, leading your audience along the path to conversion by:
- Demonstrating empathy for your audience’s most pressing challenges.
- Showing you get your audience’s industry and business goals.
- Proving you have the expertise to solve prospects’ problems.
A quick spin around the digital block confirms that not all blogs, eBooks, and white papers meet this criteria. By extension, not all blogs, eBooks, and white papers — even those published by businesses for marketing purposes — can rightly be classified as content marketing writing.
What Isn’t Content Marketing Writing?
Remember, only content marketing writing (writing that meets the above criteria) will predictably drive marketing campaigns and attract leads to your company.
To that end, it helps to consider how this kind of writing differs from other well-known writing disciplines. Content marketing writing is decidedly different from:
- Journalism. Content marketing writing is based in fact, but it’s not “just the facts.” It’s infused with elements of your company’s personality and signature way of solving your prospects’ problems. In addition, while journalism is (theoretically, anyway) unbiased, content marketing writing always has a healthy bias — a bias toward prospects’ needs and your firm’s understanding of how best to meet them.
- Academic writing. You’re not exploring knowledge and expounding on it just for the sake of it. Or for the edification of students. Content marketing writing gives knowledge away generously, but with the hope it’ll lead to a mutually beneficial business partnership.
- Technical writing. Some content marketing writing gets technical, it’s true. But the end goal is to inform, not instruct.
- A heavy-handed sales pitch. Of course you want your content marketing writing to result in new business. But that doesn’t mean the writing should make your audience feel like they’re talking to a used car dealer.
- Your diary, diatribe, or soapbox. Let’s not mince words. Content marketing writing isn’t for you. Or even really about you.The writing should reflect whatever resonates with your audience, explains your business, and espouses your unique business philosophy. Of course, you still need to bake your brand voice into your content. But your brand voice is different from your voice. In fact, your brand voice should be informed by your audience and their needs. Who are the people you aspire to do business with? Let your brand voice speak their language.
5 Ways Content Marketing Writing Marches to the Beat of its Own Drum
Content marketing writing can’t take the form of just any style of writing and boost business effectively. So how does its bespoke style properly fuel your marketing engine?
Consider these five unique characteristics of content marketing writing:
1. It’s written directly to your audience.
Your writing should make prospects and clients think: This company gets it. They understand my pain points, goals, and industry. You have the power to bond with your audience through writing that speaks to them — and gain their trust and business as a result.
Here are three tips to tailor your writing to your audience:
- Use you/your/yours frequently. Your goal is to relate to your audience. Direct your sentences right at them. Try phrases like, “your business, your customers, your challenges,” and so on.
- Be conversational. Remember, this isn’t academic writing. Don’t be afraid to inject your brand’s personality in your prose. Make use of contractions, (tasteful) industry lingo, transitional words as sentence starters, and even sentence fragments to make a point. Yep. We hereby give you permission to break a grammar rule here and there for emphasis. (See what we did there?)
- Select topics that matter to your audience. If you want to be relatable, write about what matters to your ideal customer.
2. It’s useful.
You have insights that help your audience. That’s why your company exists, right? Content marketing is about tapping into your knowledge to meet your readers’ needs.
Some companies worry about “giving away the store.” But that’s the wrong mindset. Your content has to be useful to readers or they won’t be convinced of your expertise. And they won’t want to work with you, either.
How can you create useful content? Start by demonstrating your company’s distinctive point of view. After all, if you say the same things as everyone else, you’re not all that useful.
The fact that some companies are unwilling to reveal how the proverbial sausage gets made is actually an opportunity for you. Convey your expertise on a subject your competitors won’t share or don’t know about. Suddenly you’re the go-to source for actionable info, cultivating a cult following — and new business.
3. It’s about what you can give your prospects.
As mentioned, offering your target audience some of your hard-earned expertise establishes credibility and trust. But beware: Content marketing writing is not digital telemarketing!
Aggressive tactics turn people off. And it’s not about what you can get from your audience anyway. Position your expertise in terms of how it impacts your audience — while avoiding overly salesy and self-promotional language. That’s true even when you craft content geared toward prospects who are deeper in the sales funnel.
4. It’s readable by humans and algorithms.
Everyone’s busy. And honestly, even if we weren’t busy, humans are scanners by nature. No matter how good the nitty-gritty details of your latest eBook are, it has to be readable. Even the most distracted consumer should get something out of it.
Try these tips:
- Keep your sentences and paragraphs short and simple.
- Make frequent use of headings and subheadings.
- Leverage bulleted and numbered lists as often as possible.
- Go with active over passive voice.
- Write like you speak, not like a trial lawyer arguing a case.
Humans are your most important audience. But they aren’t the only ones “reading” your content. Following this advice allows Google’s algorithm to more easily crawl and index your content — which could lead to higher organic search rankings.
5. It’s connected to your business strategy and goals.
You could heed all the advice offered above and still see less-than-stellar results. Why? Because content marketing is designed to thoughtfully lead members of your audience through the sales funnel. It requires intentional strategy that’s aligned with your business’s objectives.
Content marketing strategy is its own can of worms. You’ll need to define personas, map them to topic ideas, analyze your performance, and evolve your approach.
When you get to the writing part (after you’ve defined your strategy), be sure your content is:
- Targeted to a specific persona and their motivations.
- Cognizant of the buy-cycle stage a reader is in (e.g., researcher, evaluator, purchaser).
- Mindful of the persona’s business needs.
- Used in integrated campaigns (e.g., via email marketing, paid media tactics, etc.) that further drive the prospect through the sales funnel.
You Can Produce This Kind of Content — But You Might Need Help
It’s not easy to produce content in line with the five crucial characteristics of content marketing writing. It requires a solid content marketing foundation to inform subject matter experts on which topics to write. Then those subject matter experts actually have to create content — well and often.
If you’re like most firms, you and your colleagues have the knowledge necessary for great content. It’s finding time to produce it regularly and weave it into a larger content marketing machine that proves difficult.