The purpose of writing web content is usually to invoke emotion and cause someone to take action in one way or another. For you to unlock that level of greatness, you have to ensure that your content is persuasive enough to push the reader to make a choice or decision.
There is no standard way of writing that is better than the other. In all honesty, content marketers have sold a lot of things and ideas online with content that falls in all parts of the rating scale of 0-10. However, we have best practices that differentiate content marketers at the top rating from those at the zero rating.
We do a lot of content production both for our company blog, and for our customers as part of our PR agency services. Over 90% of our sales are channeled through our blog content, so you get the idea – content marketing is a big deal for us. We have learnt what it takes to build out content page by page. Not just content, but great content that drives sales. We would like to share below some of the great tips we use to make our content more persuasive:
1. Add proof to build credibility and trust
Claims that cannot be substantiated do not entice people to action on your content. If you claim something in your article, provide proof. This adds credibility to your content and builds trust with your readers.
There are several ways to add some proof in your content. For instance, you can link to third-party sources that validate your claim. You can also use examples, case studies, or quotes from leading industry experts and influencers.
The idea here is to appear like you are not making things up. If you can back it up you gain one more point in the trust scale. When you do not have proof, avoid mentioning it in your content. You can also source for social proof by asking on your social media channels or running a survey on your blog.
2. Write for scanners
Your blog has the readers who read your articles word for word, and those who just skim through to get important points. According to a research by Jakob Nielsen, only 16% of online readers read articles word for word. 79% of them just skim through to check for important information.
You should provide important information as soon as possible in your articles. Journalists call this the Inverted Pyramid style of writing. It is best illustrated in newspapers.
You will notice that when you first start reading a story in the newspaper, a summary of the first paragraph has been made to ensure that you will get the idea of the full story whether you keep reading or stop at that first paragraph. The journalists want you to get the news either way. The first paragraph will usually have a summary of the whole story.
Content marketers need to write like that as well. When you write for scanners, you ensure that they can get the most important information early in the content. This is then followed by more details and other information. If they do not continue reading past the first paragraph or sentence, they still understand the bigger picture.
Additionally, here are some other things you should do when writing content that suites scanners:
- Use headlines in bigger fonts for highlighting important points
- Use bullet points when possible – don’t overuse. They are not that much fun to have plenty of them in content. Keep them short too.
- Ensure your headline communicates what your story/article is about. Here is how to write better content marketing headlines.
- Use image captions to communicate the marketing message.
- Summarize your key points by using subheadlines.
3. Write for readers
Your content readers are those who read your articles word for word. They are not like scanners who skim through it. You need to find a balance and write for your readers too. Most of the time, if your content is good for readers it will be good for scanners and vice-versa.
Just because these category are people who actually read through all your content does not mean you bore them with unnecessary information. As a best practice, always keep your sentences short. And your paragraphs too. Use simple words, not dictionary-level English. The goal is to make your content not only easy to read but easy to understand too.
Occasionally when you want to stamp on your credibility and knowledge of the industry you are in, you can use some technical words. It is allowed to brag in that sense. However, don’t overdo it. Here are more tips to write well for your readers:
- Avoid the passive tense – be direct
- Avoid unnecessary repetition
- Address your web visitors directly – use the word ‘you’
- Shorten your text and save everyone some time
4. Design your blog pages to draw interest
The visual look of your blog can sometimes dictate whether your articles will draw interest or not. Ideally, you want your articles to look very good visually because it contributes to how people perceive your content, how they read it, and whether they take any action after reading it.
To begin with, always alternate between text and images. According to Search Engine Journal, articles with images received 94% more views than those without. That percentage is huge. It only means that if you are not using images in your content then you are missing out big time in terms of increasing your blog readership.
Highlighting your calls-to-actions (CTAs) on your articles will also increase your blog’s appeal. It brings the CTAs into focus thus persuading people to take action on them.
A blog page that is too populated with content and banners on every side doesn’t make for a very persuasive article. You need to ensure that you have a lot of white space. This creates a good balance between text, images and free space. Avoid clutter like banners and too many CTAs that distract readers from the actual content.
Lastly, to make your article more persuasive you should leverage the use of various font sizes for headlines, subheadlines, titles, and quotes. By interchanging between these font sizes you make your articles visually attractive and more organised.
5. Make it easy to find information
Website visitors always go to read articles when they are looking for information. Your goal as the provider of this information is to make it easy for them to find it. Both the readers and scanners are hunting for information and need to find it quickly.
What happens if they come to your site and realise they are spending too much time finding the information they need? They leave. Simple as that.
To create useful content, ask yourself whether you offer what your readers are looking for and if they can find that information as fast as possible. For you to know what your potential readers are looking for, you need to do keyword research.
We have found Mangool’s keyword finder to be very useful for this. Even without using a keyword research tool, you will find potential readers asking all sorts of questions on your comments or on forums like Quora.
This is also the art of listening before making content. It involves you giving your readers what they want by doing the following:
- Reading their comments and finding out the most troubling issues they have with the topic at hand.
- Doing keyword research to inform your content production – using these keywords and phrases in your content enables readers to easily find you.
- Including links to relevant websites and resources that may help your readers find the information they are looking for.
6. Avoid marketing noise
In content marketing, you need to put real statistics out there. Stay away from ambiguous statements. It is in the same notion of giving data without proof. However, for this you need to be more specific for your content to be more persuasive.
For instance, read the following three statements:
- Our email opt-in plugin helps you increase email sign-ups.
- 125,675 websites use our email opt-in plugin to increase email sign-ups.
- Our email opt-in plugin will increase your email sign-ups by 25% right off the bat.
Which statement is likely to be more persuasive? We think the second and third statements will be persuasive. The first one will not.
Generic statements only make you sound lazy. Specific statements with numbers to back them up boost your credibility and turn your argument into a very tangible proposition.
If you are attempting to promote yourself in your content, it is a perfectly acceptable thing. In fact, it is the reason why companies invest so much in content generation.
However, avoid too much self-promotion in your content because people start to think that you are not honest in your articles, and are only focused on the agenda of selling something. Communicate precisely. Market yourself briefly and in passing.
These tips should help you make your content more persuasive to read. Remember that you can engage us if you are struggling with creating content for your PR campaigns (email pitches, press releases, media kits, blog content, etc). We are always happy to help.
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