I’m guilty of doing all of the above at one point or another. I think a lot of the time it’s the pressure to get up to a certain word count, whether for SEO purposes or because the employer has the idea that more content = better content. I think a lot of this fluff comes about from the quotas that are set. I know I run out of things to say when it comes to pots and pans.
There are a host of metrics to look at when you have a robust analytics solution, but having too many goals to live up to tends to result in prioritization difficulties. I recommend content marketing teams have 2-3 metrics they measure, and perhaps some secondary metrics each sub-team can measure to help understand when there are different levers to pull. Here are my recommendations:
Traditional marketers have long used content to disseminate information about a brand and build a brand's reputation. Taking advantage of technological advances in transportation and communication, business owners started to apply content marketing techniques in the late 19th century. They also attempted to build connections with their customers. For example:
Premium or gated assets are typically longer form, and/or more time-intensive pieces that don't exist on a blog. They might be used to generate leads or contacts, or for brand-building purposes. These are typically created by the dedicated long-form content creator if your team is large enough to have one, but sometimes bloggers get involved too, as blog posts are good testing grounds for what performs well and is thus worth investing in.
You run an accounting firm that specializes in tax preparation, and business was lagging this year. You want to do better next year, so you start a blog on your website and publish posts about some of the common tax-related issues your target customer faces. You write a few posts a week, and eventually those blog posts start to rank in Google and other search engines.
Let’s be honest– copywriting can be scary. Even for seasoned writers with nothing to prove, writing advertisements or marketing content can be daunting and terrifying. Copywriting is the literary equivalent of climbing Mount Everest, if you can imagine Mount Everest covered in junk mail and sales papers. You know it can be done, you’ve seen it done well, but you’ve also seen a lot of people die trying and you don’t want to be one of those fatalities.
Thanks for the great tips, Gregory. I’m going to share a link to this blog with my readers because it’s so informative. Okay, with 2 tips out of the way I’ll relax and get to my point. Recently, a magazine publisher shouted (Australian for “bought”) me a dinner. Over the course of the meal, I mentioned how skeptical I was about claims that copywriting can pay big money. She told me categorically it can and recommended a course to me. The name of the course rang a bell with me, but I couldn’t place it. When I returned home, I looked it up and remembered how I’d been turned off before by its heavy hitting hype. Reading it anew, I had more faith in its claims because she had been so sincere and had nothing personally to gain from recommending the course. I’m still a little skeptical, though, because the copywriting that promoted the copywriting course was so ineffective with me. Then again, maybe my ingrained skepticism is not typical of most readers and I could possibly learn from those who have studied copywriting scientifically and know what works for the majority of readers. Thoughts?
It's important to do regular reporting -- I recommend monthly -- on each of these metrics so you know where your growth levers lie. Regular reporting also helps you identify negative trends or plateaus early-on so you can address them before they become bigger issues. Most importantly, however, tracking the success of your initiatives makes it easy for you to repeat what works, eliminate what doesn't, and promote the success of your content marketing program so you can justify its expansion, and its seat at the modern marketing table.
With enough discipline, solid web content writing skills are within anyone’s reach. Having excellent copy on your website is one of the easiest ways to grab the attention of new visitors (and keep them coming back for more — or better yet, sharing your links). Want more content creation tips and tricks? Check out our Web Content Writing 101 post, or shoot us an e-mail with your questions and we’ll get back to you.
Take a content writing class online. Some professional content writers argue that academic programs may be too basic or general for individuals who already have some writing experience or an existing English degree. If you feel you are already a skillful writer, you will likely need technical writing skills that you can gain through a content writing class online.
Lack of creative license. Though you may think content writing will give you a chance to showcase your creativity and rousing ability with words, in fact, most content writing is seen as a way to sell a product or simply inform a reader of the facts. In a content writer role, you will likely be writing about dry or dull topics, though you may get a chance to also write copy for more engaging projects on occasion. Your employer will dictate the topics you write about, and you will need to learn to be flexible and engaged on even the most obscure or boring subjects, regardless of your personal preference.
Take it from someone who writes for a living: Just start writing. Your first idea is probably not going to be a winner, and that’s why you should get it out of the way as soon as possible. Write out all of the ideas you have for your copy, no matter how silly– you may be surprised at what gems come out of a brainstorming session where you don’t edit or criticize your creativity.