Writing Engaging Content and it’s Role in Content Marketing

Engaging writing is the lifeblood of content marketing. Without it the content falls flat, drained of its driving force; and without good content your message may just lose the wind in its sails or worse never pick up any traction to begin with. You don’t necessarily have to be a brilliant writer in order to create engaging content, it isn’t about producing university-level copy or poetic prose.

What is important is that you consider and nurture your audience: entice them, entertain them, and most of all, inform them. This can be achieved in a number of ways, and when these techniques are mastered, the key to engaging content will manifest itself, ripe for the reaping.

William Saroyan typing

William Saroyan at work on his typewriter, 1953. Photo: Dan Weiner.

There is a key to writing engaging content, and it isn’t that you have to be an incredible writer! You just need to be concise and considered and passionate about your subject matter.

Picking the Perfect Title and why that’s so Important

In the online world, ‘content’ is everything. It’s everything you click on, everything you watch and everything you read. But how did you find this content? Why did you click on that post? What made you want to read that article? The initial draw is often an alluring title, something snappy, attention-grabbing, seductive and informative. It’s often all too easy to disregard a title as something superfluous, the thin layer of icing on top of the all-important cake. But in many ways, the title is everything. It’s the first thing people see, and will usually be what draws in a reader, or pushes them away.

The perfect title is often conceived through repetition. It’s like doing push ups: the more you do, the better the outcome will be; but, you don’t to wear yourself out. Writing anywhere between 5 and 10 different titles can be an extremely effective way to refine what is it you are really trying to say, while simultaneously coming up with the best way to say it. Take Upworthy for example, they ask their writers to write a whopping 25 titles as a standard, and the impact is clear. You want to read everything.

upworthy titles

This allows you to write poor titles and be totally comfortable with doing so because it doesn’t really matter, you’re probably not going to use them anyway. In the end there will be one that is incredible, even if there are five that are absolutely terrible, and that’s all that matters. Writing out multiple titles is also an effective way of identifying key words, and finding the most efficient way to summarise your piece using different, attention-grabbing terms. In the end there is no point writing a brilliant piece of content if the title is sub-par.

Considered Content Doesn’t Mean You Need to Hire an Expert

Now that you have your audience’s attention, you need to satisfy the hunger that your tantalising title has spawned. The body needs to be carefully considered, crafted so that it reflects everything that needs to be said in a concise way. This may mean reigning in your excitement to spill everything in your head onto the screen, taking a breath and taking your time. Content needs to have a point, it needs to have a purpose – if it doesn’t there is no way it can gain traction. Buzzfeed are the kings and queens of purposeful, considered content that is brilliant at gaining traction through targeted titles and alluring content.

Think about what you’re going to write, how it’s going to be structured, and how to best to give the post meaning, without being overly lengthy. This means choosing your topic, writing down key points that need to be covered, fleshing those points out, and thoroughly editing your own work. The writing style is up to you and will be dictated by your audience and what you are writing about.

‘Content’ can entail of variety of different categories, from long-form articles like this one to list-pieces, how-to’s, news pieces or case studies. Each different type of content will need to adopt a slightly different writing style, however there are some key points that need to be kept consistent in order to create the most engaging material.

Break it up and Create a Journey

A study has found that only 16% of web readers actually read new pages word for word, whereas 79% scan the pages for key words, subheadings and eye-catching phrases. In order to create the most engaging content, making sure it’s ‘scannable’ is crucial. This means doing a few things. Highlighting keywords is an effective way to draw the eye, making sure the reader makes it all the way to the bottom of the content while also keeping focused on the points that you want them to notice. One good way of doing this is hyper-linking keywords which can also feed the reader more information, creating a greater bond with the original post and its material. Another is to reference and quote other sources, which is both extremely eye catching.

Informative sub-headings are also an effective way to break up the content, making it easier to scan and digest in smaller pieces. Keeping the ideas expressed within the post contained within separate paragraphs is also effective in this respect. Finally, keeping the content short and concise, while still covering all the necessary points, is the best way to keep your audience engaged. The reality of the modern age is that many people using the internet have a short attention span, and you need to cater for this majority. Without forsaking vital information that is.

content writing techniques

Image courtesy http://simpledesks.net/

Writing engaging content is not as daunting as it may first appear. No, you don’t have to be a stellar writer, you just need to be smart about it. You need to put yourself in the shoes of your audience, consider what will grab their attention and hold it for enough time for you to get your message across. Writing a great title is paramount, as is taking your time, mapping out what needs to be written and steadily making your way through it. Be your own editor. Finally, remember that the internet is a trove of people with lots of time and very short attention spans – nurture them. Create content that is easy for them to ingest and digest, you’ll be a much better writer for it.

by Radi Safi

Radi Safi is the Creative Director at IYBI. In 2012 he launched Happy, a music blog and media company.
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