We tend to divide business writers into two types. “Hard” writers are the conversion copywriters. The gangsters, the ones who make businesses lots of money, because words are what drive sales on the web.
And content writers, by contrast, too often get identified as soft. As in a “soft skill,” something that’s nice to have as long as budget permits and you’re not feeling too tough-minded this week.
But that’s a dangerous mistake.
Content writers, if we’re doing it right, make businesses lots of money, because words are what drive sales on the web.
If the content on your site is fuzzy, fluffy, and just exists to make you feel good to be in business, I guess soft would be a fair word.
But that’s not what content is great at. And none of us should settle for soft, fluffy content.
Unleash your content badass
Remember, on Copyblogger we caution against falling for the false dichotomy between “killer” and “poet.”
The most effective business writers — whether you’re writing in-house, for clients, or for your own business — combine both.
The “poet” part, the art of crafting words in a pleasing way, is essential if you’re creating writing that’s enjoyable to read.
And in the 21st century, it’s rare to find an audience that will engage with content that isn’t enjoyable to read.
I don’t care if you’re writing a sales page, an email sequence, a white paper, a video tutorial, a podcast script … literally any words that you arrange for a business purpose …
It has to be interesting. It’s 2019, and the number of readers who will put up with boring shit has approached zero.
There also has to be enough strategy to justify the cost of writing the piece.
All writing is expensive.
Good web writers charge fat fees, and they should.
Even if you aren’t paying a writer (yet), if you’re writing for your own project, or you’re an in-house writer, effective writing takes time. And time is the one resource we can never replenish.
That’s why we call it content marketing and not content hobbying. Content serves important business goals — or we shouldn’t be producing it.
Lately, I’ve been using the term conversion content marketer to describe a content creator who knows how to drive measurable business results with content.
(Tipping my hat to our friends over at Copyhackers, who popularized the term conversion copywriter for writers who focus on measurable business results. Not all conversion copywriters write content, but in my definition, all conversion content marketers would also be conversion copywriters.)
Here are three measurable “key performance indicators” (KPIs, to use a little business-speak) that smart writers can drive with the right content.
#1: Content attracts prospect attention
The first letter of most copywriting formulas is “A,” for Attention. Until you can get a prospect’s attention, you can’t deliver any kind of message.
Most advertising focuses here, for just that reason.
And every year, audience attention becomes more fragmented.
Content is still what works to attract the attention of people who might want to do business with you. And as more and more ordinary content piles up, you need to make sure that what you’re creating is extraordinary — and worth the attention you’re asking for.
That doesn’t mean that content (even great content) will automatically attract an audience. You still need to promote it, whether it’s through influencer outreach, paid advertising, or (if you’ve been playing the long game and are ready to reap some of those rewards) search engine optimization.
The folks you’re trying to pull toward your business still read blog posts, they still listen to podcasts, and they still watch videos. It’s your job to put enough art into them that they choose yours, when they’re given the opportunity.
How do you measure it? Measuring traffic and where it comes from is the first analytic task of any website owner. Fire up your Google Analytics account and learn the basics.
If attracting audience attention has been tricky for you, Copyblogger can help you sharpen your attention-getting skills.
#2: Content builds an engaged audience
It’s one thing to get someone’s attention. It’s another thing to keep it.
The most important factor for virtually any business is a “starving crowd” of potential customers or clients who want and need what you’re offering.
Once you’ve done the hard work to attract an audience, it’s your job as a conversion content marketer to keep them close.
No matter what traffic strategy you’re using, a web of interesting, engaging content will help you keep that traffic on your site so you can actually have a conversation about what you offer.
That’s why your content marketing strategy needs to include more than splashy, attention-getting pieces.
You also need thoughtful, well-developed material that lets your audience take the next steps that matter to them.
Encourage web visitors to get better results by connecting with you via email or, potentially, chat.
Advertising-supported sites like BuzzFeed can get away with nearly 100 percent attraction-focused content. Your business probably can’t.
You need to offer a sustained conversation, so your audience starts to see how you can help them reach their goals.
How do you measure it? Entice subscribers to your email list with focused, desirable opt-in incentives. Then keep an eye on the growth of that list.
This is where you start to escape the noise and clutter of “content shock” and begin to build a meaningful relationship with your audience.
#3: Content matures leads
But it’s no joke that it can be really challenging to sustain attention in this distraction-rich climate.
But when people have a problem that they’re trying to solve, they’ll meet you halfway. They’ll give you a greater share of their attention, if you help them do that efficiently, and on a timeline that respects their needs.
This is called lead maturation, and it’s a critical sales function. Not everyone who stumbles across your business is ready to become a customer today. And nothing works better than content to keep that prospect parked and happy until the circumstances make sense for them to move forward.
This is where you’ll use longer-format pieces like white papers, as well as strategic sequences delivered with smart automation.
How do you measure it? Track your downloads for high-value pieces like white papers and content upgrades. A good email marketing solution will let you create sequences and measure their effectiveness as the individual moves toward a purchase.
If this seems intimidating, go with one of the email marketing solutions that make automation user-friendly — we have some recommendations here.
Content can also build desire …
The next step in a traditional copywriting sequence is fanning the flame of a desire that your product or service intends to fulfill.
This is the one many people think of when they think of “copywriting.”
It’s the infomercial that makes you desperately need that new exercise machine at 2:00 a.m.
It’s the sequence of sales emails that has you tearing your credit card out of your wallet to sign up for a course or workshop.
To understand desire, we have to understand buyers’ “stages of awareness” as they move toward a purchase.
And that’s what I’m going to talk about in the next post in this series.
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