Readers are constantly warned about the pitfalls of judging a book by its cover. But let’s face it: everybody does it. Just like a book needs to sell itself to a customer walking through an isle full of other novels, your content has to do the same thing to someone who is browsing the Web.
You Need a Beginning, Middle and End
When it comes to sound content marketing production, your best bet is to avoid experimental strategies. Your content should be easy to navigate, like a Stephen King novel—not meandering, like Dickens. Set your reader up with a beginning, have a middle to flesh out your ideas and end it by backing up the point you were originally trying to make. Keep it simple, and remember that you are trying to sell a product or service. While content marketing can be edgy and different, it’s not a platform for an existential rant.
Conflict Keeps Your Reader Moving
When a book is full of “dead zones,” a reader typically puts it down and moves on to something else. A common diagnosis for this problem is a lack of conflict. Even the driest, most technical content needs to have a little bit of juice in order to keep someone moving down the page. There must be a problem to solve, or a reason for engaging in the story.
In content marketing, conflict appears in the form of pain points. Include real life examples, and don’t be afraid to put the reader directly in a difficult situation in order to evoke an emotional response with each and every blog post. Then, don’t let the reader off the hook until you are prepared to offer solutions directly tied to your core competencies.
Include Identifiable References
Readers love identifying with characters, places and situations in stories. This lesson applies to your content, too. If your target readers feel lost and can’t identify with your content, it probably isn’t going to lead to action at the end—which is what content marketing is designed to do. Include universal references that transport a reader directly into a situation in order to drive a point home.
It should also be noted that pop culture references are a great way of driving sales. Pop culture will increase your likelihood of being picked up in random Google searches, which will lead to unique viewers on your website.
Don’t Actually Write a Novel
Don’t forget that your content is not actually a novel. Be mindful of your readers’ time and structure your piece accordingly. Readers have short attention spans and most have a set agenda for websites they visit online. If you want your website to remain part of a web user’s ongoing experience, keep your articles long enough to prove a point, but short enough to remain interesting.