Most product descriptions on e-commerce websites are full of mumbo jumbo. You’re already doing better than most if not each description is mumbo jumbo. 🙂 Most of us get tired of writing product descriptions after some time, and that’s when the mumbo jumbo sneaks in, because we can’t think of anything else to say anymore. Try not to write one category in one go, but jump around from category to category. That usually helps to keep it fresh. 🙂
I personally prefer things simple, so I think of content marketing technology solutions in terms of "need it" or "nice to have." Nice-to-have technologies are things like competitive intelligence tools, market research tools, or software that clues you in to real-time trends. Experiment with these on a rolling basis -- most will offer a free trial so you can validate it. But first, make sure you're set up with the core technologies every content marketing team needs.
Email lists are marketer's most treasured assets -- and they're a smart way to drive traffic, conversions, and re-conversions on your content. Invest in growing your blog email subscription list for an incredibly valuable distribution arm alongside your sales lists. You can do this, for example, via lead flows that politely ask readers if they'd like to subscribe as they're reading through certain articles on your website.
Webpages. What’s the difference between a normal webpage and a webpage that is content marketing? Consider The Beginner’s Guide to SEO from Moz, a provider of SEO related tools and resources. This resource, offered for free, has been viewed millions of times, bringing in countless customers who otherwise might never have stumbled across Moz and the services they offer. Or take a look at a case study from the design firm Teehan+Lax. Most case studies are boring. Their case studies are fascinating. That’s the difference between simply putting content on your website, and content marketing.
Unlike other forms of online marketing, content marketing relies on anticipating and meeting an existing customer need for information, as opposed to creating demand for a new need. As James O'Brien of Contently wrote on Mashable, "The idea central to content marketing is that a brand must give something valuable to get something valuable in return. Instead of the commercial, be the show. Instead of the banner ad, be the feature story." Content marketing requires continuous delivery of large amounts of content, preferably within a content marketing strategy.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Sell a good night’s sleep, not the mattress”? Think about all of the mattress commercials and advertisements you’ve seen before. Do they lead with coil count or insulation padding details? Nah. They sell you on how comfortable the mattress is, how well you’ll sleep on it, and how much more productive and enjoyable your days will be when you are well-rested. They want you to positively frame their product, envision yourself using it, and negate any potential concerns you may have.
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.
It can help, but other degrees also have content writing value. For instance, the ability to synthesize and relate complex information is key to content writing, but can also be acquired from studies in education or philosophy. Companies that offer content writing positions tend to find it easier to train someone in a complex topic than to train someone to write, however. For example, as a healthcare professional with mediocre writing skills, you're less likely to be hired as a healthcare content writer than a strong writer with no healthcare background (but who can be trained in healthcare topics).
Get familiar with the content writer pay scale. Many content writers starting out in their careers are not sure how much they should be paid per word. Most publications pay by word, or by hour, with a certain word count expectation. On average, content writers should be paid no less than $0.02 per a word, but may not reach more than $1 a word. Salaried positions are different, as you will be paid a yearly rate for a certain amount of work. It can be difficult to get a salaried position fresh out of graduation or when you're just starting out. Most content writers will start out working per word, or per hour.
Great advice, Henneke. I agree that it’s best to avoid using any unnecessary adjectives. When I’m writing about a mediocre topic, I’m often tempted to add a bit more emotive vocabulary to make things sound ‘interesting’. However, as you say, what’s really important in copywriting is knowing what readers want, and making sure they understand how they will benefit from whatever you’re writing about.
That’s only if you, for whatever reason, don’t have another person to edit your work. Even with a great spell check, there will be things you miss. Make sure there’s somebody in your organization with great writing and editing chops who can give your work a second set of eyes. Remember that behind every good writer — whether it’s a best-selling author, a Washington Post journalist or a copywriter for a viral marketing campaign — is a great editor.
As a freelance marketing contractor to the technical game development industry, this post was very useful to me. I never really thought about verbs vs. adjectives before or purposely using power words, but it makes sense. Marketing copy to software developers is often boring, but finding the human side of the story (e.g., “use our tech to make your software more PlaceAdjectiveHere” ) can be challenging, so I often work hard to start my content marketing stories backwards, finding examples of real life use because…
"The best way to help your sales team is to build brand awareness and create content that generates a lot of leads over time. An increase of twice as many leads means twice as many quality leads -- as long as you have software that lets you filter those incoming leads efficiently. That's how you build a successful sales and marketing machine," explains Mike Volpe.
I like #1, “Make em’ feel something” because of what it DIDN’T say. People like to think they’re so sophisticated and rational; “Just the facts, ma’am.” Because, armed with the facts, they will make the perfect decision. “I don’t want to be sold to, just tell me what you do and I’ll make up my own mind.” HAHAHA. The fact is, they don’t. They don’t decide AT ALL. They move on to the next shiny object, procrastinate, and don’t do anything, don’t buy anything. “Make em’ feel something” and you can move them to take ACTION.
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?
Theory #1: The mere act of publishing content on a regular basis does a lot of the "distribution" work for you -- if you consider search engines a distribution channel. (Which I do, considering how often people use them to find content.) If you create content on a regular basis that's informed by keyword research and optimized for search, Google takes care of the rest of your content distribution plan.
By 2014, Forbes Magazine's website had written about the seven most popular ways companies use content marketing. In it, the columnist points out that by 2013, use of content marketing had jumped across corporations from 60% a year or so before, to 93% as part of their overall marketing strategy. Despite the fact that 70% of organizations are creating more content, only 21% of marketers think they are successful at tracking return on investment.
“You know how small airplane seats are. I could barely squeeze into one, and basically I’d spill over both sides. They had to delay the flight, because they didn’t have a seat belt extension that would fit me. There was a gentleman next to me, and he just looked in complete disgust and he goes ‘I’m gonna miss my connection because you’re too fat.’”
No, you shouldn't. Your copy should change depending on the medium where you're using it. For example, if you're writing copy for an outdoor billboard that consumers are likely to have only seconds to view while driving 65 miles per hour on a busy highway during rush hour, your message must be short and to the point with no room for confusion. However, if you're writing copy for a direct-mail piece that will be sent to customers who have requested to receive information about your business, your copy should be far more detailed with messages that explain, answer questions, and create a sense of urgency to boost response rates.
No, that's not a good idea. Different audiences will respond to different messages depending on their demographics, behaviors, experiences and so on. For example, if you're writing copy for a direct-mail piece that will be sent to prior customers, your messages should be very different from those that would appear in a mailing to prospects. One audience is already very familiar with your products and services, while the other has no prior experience to draw from. Clearly, the messages to both audiences must be different to achieve the maximum response rates possible.