By Heidi Cohen published January 18, 2012

Want to Create Content That Pulls Prospects In? Follow These 7 Tips

According to a recent Content Marketing Institute B2B study, marketers’ biggest content marketing challenge is creating a steady stream of must-read information at every step of the purchase process that stands out amidst the endless messages available on social media, tablets, smartphones, computers, and other devices.

 

How do you consistently develop content that pulls prospects and customers in, meets their needs, and does so right when they’re ready to consume it? To help you in this mission, here are seven easy-to-follow tips:

1. Understand the type of content your prospects and customers need

For your time-crunched readers, your content has to answer the key question, “What’s in it for me?” Therefore, content must help, educate, inform, or entertain in order to convey your value.

  • To start, you will want to go beyond your audience’s basic demographics, psychographics, and past behaviors to create specific marketing personas — a composite of reader attributes. (Here are some tips that will help you get started creating your personas.)
  • Once you have a clear idea of who your customers and prospects are, get a feel for the kinds of information they will want at each step of the purchase process to ensure you are delivering useful, targeted information at the right time.
  • Further, be sure to use your readers’ language — not marketing-speak. Employ your audience’s way of talking, including their vocabulary, to validate your insight. Remember the content doesn’t have to be text! (Here are 13 content format options you might want to consider.)

2. Tell a story that will make your content memorable

People remember narratives with a beginning, middle, and end — not an endless recitation of fact after fact.

  • The easiest formula is to state the issue you’re examining, give evidence to support the problem’s answer, and finish by clearly showing you’ve answered the issue.
  • Use stories about your product, brand, company, employees, or customers to make content relevant to readers and keep them reading.

3. Structure content to guide readers

It’s helpful to make an outline of your content before creating it to ensure you are making a compelling case right from the first paragraph.

  • This initial paragraph must deliver on your title’s promise while keeping readers engaged to discover.
  • Additionally, it must support search optimization by incorporating the keywords upon which the piece is focused.

4. Hook readers with a strong headline

While the headline doesn’t have to be the first thing you write, it’s important to make sure it is composed in a way that will draw readers in.

  • Entice prospects with thought-provoking questions, issues, or arguments, but don’t give away all your information in the headline or they won’t read further.
  • Whenever possible, incorporate relevant keywords.
  • Once you’ve finished writing, review your headline to ensure it’s strong and consistent with the rest of your content — you don’t want readers to feel like you did a bait and switch on them.

5. Give readers evidence

You can’t always expect that readers will take your word for it when it comes to your content’s assertions. They know you’re motivated to gloss over information that might show your offering to be less than stellar, so you need to back up your information with proof.

  • Provide readers with information that illustrates your points with examples.
  • Use photographs, illustrations, and/or videos to make your point.
  • Incorporate customer reviews and testimonies to support your case.

6. Facilitate content consumption

Consumers seek targeted information to answer specific questions at each step of the purchase process, so be sure to make your information as easy-to-read and visually inviting as possible.

For example, many readers are likely consuming your content on a mobile device while they’re on-the-go, reading it in small chunks of time while they are in between other activities or concurrently while they’re doing something else.

  • To keep their focus, remember that less is more, so make your content easy to scan quickly.
  • Use simple language that will be clear to your readers, so they don’t get frustrated and lose interest.
  • Write in short sentences using an active voice.
  • Whenever possible, write three- to five-sentence paragraphs, and avoid long blocks of text.
  • Furthermore, you should highlight important phrases and make lists to help readers quickly scan your content.

7. Edit and revise your content at least once

Don’t hit send as soon as you’ve finished your piece. Rather, check for misspelling and poor grammar first — regardless of how short your turn-around time may be.

  • Poor writing, including foul language, diminishes your content’s credibility.
  • It’s also helpful to have another set of eyes double-check your content.

Creating content that consistently pulls prospects and customers in at every step of the purchase process requires practice. These seven tips will help ensure your content is aligned with your audience’s needs during the buying cycle, and will give it a fighting chance of breaking through the message clutter to get their attention.

Do you have any other tips that help you consistent develop content that lures prospects and customers in?

Photo credit to rzrxtion/chris m. via flickr

 

Author: Heidi Cohen

Heidi Cohen is an actionable marketing expert. As president of Riverside Marketing Strategies, Heidi works with online media companies and e-tailers to increase profitability with innovative marketing programs based on solid analytics. During the course of 20 years, Heidi has obtained deep experience in direct and digital marketing across a broad array of products including soft goods, financial services, entertainment, media entities and crafts-oriented goods. Heidi shares her actionable marketing insights on her blog. Find Heidi Cohen online at Twitter @heidicohen, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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