Staying on the Bull: What Makes Content Great?
Jul 17, 2017
As a bull rider, It takes 8 seconds to stay on the bull in order to secure a win or move to the next level. Your content has the same amount of time to make a positive impression in order to keep reading or convert. The question then becomes, what makes content great enough to keep your readers engaged for more than 8 seconds.
So, you’ve been churning out quality content for a while now and you’ve bolstered the success of your campaigns with an effective content strategy.
And while campaigns might come to an end – content marketing continues. You’ll always need to boost engagement and generate leads and it’s great content ideas that help to fuel this.
What makes content readable, shareable and engaging? Let’s have a look at a few instant wins that you can implement to improve your content, freshen it up and keep on consistently delivering value for your audience.
Your content needs to provide value and be relevant to your niche audience. Your content ideation strategy should include gathering research and information about what your readers are talking about and interested in right now. Where are the gaps in the conversation and what can you add?
- Use tools like BuzzSumo and Keyword.io to give you some data and keywords to work with. Where is your audience engaging online? What’s making them tick?
- You can spot trends in long tail search terms and organic traffic. Try to get in your audience/customer’s heads.
- Change the conversation and sidestep away from what mainstream content in your niche is saying. Try to find new angles and offer new perspectives. You can ‘chunk’, which means breaking down topics into smaller sections and really focussing and getting in-depth with one idea.
- Have a go at group-ideation, which is getting lots of people involved to generate content ideas. Look outside the team you’d usually ask and find out what customers are asking for which problems other employees are coming across. This is a really good way to find out FAQs.
2) Rhythm and Readability
First thing’s first – you can have the best ideas in the world, but if you can’t execute them properly then they’ll fall short. Being able to write engaging content is a skill, so acknowledge whether you have the best skillset to do it and take action if you don’t i.e outsource to another team-member, freelancer.
- Writing slick copy can be learned through and shaping the rhythm, pace and readability of a piece can be done in a few ways:
- Sentence structures help to give your post a strong framework. You don’t have long to grab your reader’s attention, so if you start a post with long, complex sentences then you can potentially distract a reader. Use them when your point deserves more explanation.
- Short, snappy sentences can help to get information across in a quick, direct way. Too many can sound abrupt though – so vary and balance your sentence lengths and mix up the frequency to make your content readable.
- A combination of short and longer sentences quickens the pace, slows it down too and gives your content a dynamic rhythm.
The language and terms that you use can really make a difference to how easily people read your content and also for SEO purposes too.
- Create a valuable, searchable headline that tells a reader what question you’ll answer with your content.
- Your brand’s tone of voice is similar to the role of a narrator. You can guide your audience through your content. A great way to do this is to use direct, personable language that connects with a reader such as ‘you’ and ‘your’. Involve your audience and speak to them.
- If you want your content to be relaxed and informal than writing how you speak is a good way to create a strong colloquial tone. Read your content out loud and change it if it doesn’t sound natural.
- Cut out unnecessary words that don’t add anything. Your content will become punchier and much tighter.
- Audiences like humor, but humor is subjective after all, so you won’t please everyone if you go down this route. If you do it well, humor is super effective. Don’t be too over the top, a few jokes here and it is fine.
- Remove technical jargon if it just over complicates things or makes sure you explain what you mean instead of assuming your reader has a base-level of knowledge.
Have you seen this inverted pyramid before? It’s a really basic structure that works:
- The fundamental premise means that you’re always aiming to grab your audience’s attention and pique their interest. This is one of the oldest tricks in the book and is used in traditional print media.
- You have to be able to hook your readers in as soon as possible with your content. Tease them with information. And that means strong headlines, opening paragraphs, subject lines etc.
- Pad out your intros with promises to your reader about what they’ll gain from your post. Help to point your readers in the right direction. You could do this with a contents-style bullet-point list.
5) User Experience
Ideally, you want your audience to enjoy reading your content, so you have to think beyond the words on your page.
- Consider the right formats for your content and enhance your audience’s user experience by using intelligent design and structuring when creating your content.
- Ensure that the way your content is laid out and the visuals included are compatible and optimized across all platforms i.e on mobile.
- Use visuals and infographics to make your content more attractive and eye-catching. You can use great visuals to help add to your narrative. Use free images from sites like Pixabay.com or get a graphic designer to help you out with illustrations, infographics, and vectors.
- Captions are underrated too and can provide humor and extra insight to a visual.
- Guide people through your content with smart sign-posting, so consider the hierarchy of your copy and visuals. You can use H1 tags for major topic changes, H2 sections broken down into H1 tags and H3 sections broken down within H2 tags.
- Info boxes, pull quotes, and bullet-point lists are also good ways to break up the copy and keep your audience engaged.
- Break up your copy with lots of line-breaks and create sections to keep people reading.
The bottom line is that your content must create value for it to be great. And valuable content and messages can be communicated in engaging ways that draw a reader in and keep them satisfied.
Use intelligent structuring and design to give your audience a good user experience and keep coming back to you for relevant content that provides solutions.
Want to learn more about creating better content? Unlock access to our expert MasterClasses, planners, tools and an entire community of active learners like you by becoming a member of our H2H Human Marketing Club.