Who hasn’t heard the old adage (well, old in internet time), “content is king”. And indeed, content is a crucial ingredient in any online marketing strategy. But is every content a king? The answer is, of course, no. Quality content is king. Efficient content is king. The vast majority of textual materials out there – not so. In fact, because what matters in content is quality, not quantity, it can hardly be otherwise. So how can you separate your text from the rest? Here are a few tips that will make your copy rule.
Keep It Simple, Keep It Safe
As a very wise bear, called Pooh, once said: “It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like, ‘What about lunch?’” And the little bear is right. More complicated does not necessarily mean smarter or more sophisticated. What is more, when you keep your text simple and clear, you significantly improve its readability online. This is especially true when it comes to technical writing. The more straightforward your text is, the better the chances your designated audience will actually read it, and the less likely will people be to make mistakes. Therefore, keep sentences and arguments short, few and to the point.
The Content Must Flow
Whether it’s a newsletter, a professional blog, or a guide, the best texts are a promise – a promise of a certain level of quality, and of a flow of information; a promise of a certain relationship with the reader/customer. If you play your cards right, your company’s audience will wait for their daily, weekly and monthly dose of your content. If you provide them with guides, they will pay attention to them. Well… more attention. If you don’t send out the awaited materials, or if you suddenly send out inferior materials, you will eventually lose your credibility even among the most loyal of your followers. Therefore, the content must flow and it must be as clear as possible.
Good Things Come to Those Who Plan
As far as marketing is concerned, in order to maintain a long-lasting relationship with customers and establish communication with them through content, it is necessary to plan a publication strategy. This strategy can take many forms: from low to high level of difficulty, towards the launch of a product – narrating and keeping audiences involved with the product even before it becomes available, a series of case studies pertaining to the same or to similar topics, etc. Taking the time and effort to develop a content strategy serves three main goals:
- Once you know in advance everything you plan on sending out, you don’t need to rack your brain for ideas. You can also begin preparing all of your publications in advance. What is more, the extra time which comes with planning ahead, opens the possibility much better and more impressive entries. When a plan is laid out, it enables you to order all the materials you need for the specified time, in advance.
- Giving your content a certain logic and continuity enhances your audience’s trust in you and in your ability to provide them with the solutions the require. Also, even psychologically, if you invite your prospective audience to stand-alone items, they may come, read and move on. But if its apparent that your content has a goal and a direction, the chances are greater that they will join the ride.
- Having a laid out plan allows you to look at “the big picture”, instead of remaining preoccupied with the demands of each individual publication. Ironically, this in turn allows you more flexibility, not less. Plans can be changed when processes alter the arena. But when there is no such preparation, each tremor may cost you a great deal of resources.
Are You Talking to Me?
Choosing the target audience is just as important as producing quality content. Reaching a certain type of audience is difficult enough in and of itself. Reaching multiple types simultaneously? If not impossible, it is certainly not advisable. Targeting everyone, is tantamount to targeting no one. For this reason, it is profoundly better for technical writers (and marketers) to focus on a single type of audience and address it according to its data.
On a related topic, it is also important to focus on a single main message, a subject, so long is there is one. Multiple subjects only make the flow of the text more obscure and difficult to understand. This is not to say, of course, that this is true of any kind of text, but when it comes to a marketing and training, it can be the difference between hitting the mark or altogether missing it.
It is difficult to maintain a strong relationship with customers, today. Even when they do like a brand, their love is tough to earn and fickle when it’s earned. The diminishing of attention span and the immense competition from other businesses makes this kind of relationship nearly impossible. But there is more to this issue than is usually discussed. Even the most well-meaning customers, especially when it comes to business customers, only have so much content they can follow – only a certain amount of articles and newsletters they can read.
Luckily, as we have noted – not all content is king. One can still stand out in the crowd by providing accessible and beneficial materials. Make it easier on your prospective clients, and they will make it easier on you.
Patience is a Virtue
One of the worst mistakes businesses make with regards to content, is to abandon content strategies before they can even come to fruition. Building a customer base or a community takes time. Explaining a new product or service, and why it is the next big thing, takes time. Part of what makes the difference between quality content and content of lesser quality, is the dedication to an idea, a thesis, a value or an argument. The ability to follow those through and over time. Persistence is important to gain the trust of the prospective audience. This trust, in part, is also translated to the trust the audience will invest in the content itself.
Don’t Speculate – Aggregate
There are about as many content strategies as there are content professionals. The fact is, however, that the more information there is, the better one can predict outcomes. Without sufficient data, one cannot formulate a reliable strategy. Therefore, it is important not to speculate about what works best for your prospective audience, and what they have difficulty with. Instead, begin to examine real data, collected from reliable sources.
The more computerized and connected our world becomes, the more data collection tools advance. The more such tools exist the more expertise is required to collect the aggregated data and to analyze it in order to produce actionable conclusions. In that sense, it is our responsibility as content and technical writers to be up to date about all available platforms. It is important to be able to advise our employers/customers about the best tools for their needs, but most importantly, to be able to use the data output to create tailored content for maximum effect.