Copywriting is salesmanship in print. Copy is meant to convince and sell, which means that it has to be compelling. In order to convince people, there are some guidelines that you should follow. For example, your copy has to be concise so that your selling points are easily conveyed.
But that’s not enough to win over prospects – your offer has to convince readers to act.
Compelling content captives readers and pushes them to act by addressing a certain problem they have and providing an effective solution.
A lot of time, research and testing are required before a piece of content becomes compelling.
Let’s go over some of the most effective ways to generate content that sells.
The Importance of Compelling Content
Brands create content in order to give their audience relevant information, which will not only attract prospects, but will also retain existing customers.
Content is the foundation of inbound marketing. Here are the numbers that prove it:
- Content marketing is 3 times more effective than traditional marketing strategies and is 62% less expensive.
- Small and medium sized businesses that rely on content marketing enjoy over 120% more leads over those that don’t employ content marketing.
- Businesses that publish over 16 blog posts monthly attracts 3.5 times more traffic than those that produce 4 or less blogs per month.
So, compelling content plays a vital role in the growth of any successful company.
Know Your Audience
However, you can’t craft an enticing piece of content if you don’t understand your prospects. Once you have a picture of the person with whom you want to communicate, only then can you start with working on your message.
Understanding your prospect helps you with coming up with a tailor-made solution to their problem. And the way marketers structure their research on prospects is by building buyer personas. Your customer buyer persona will contain personal information, job title, income, interests, goal, challenges, buying preferences about your prospect.
Once you have this information down, it is much easier to write copy that will get your audience hooked.
Use the Customer’s Journey as a Roadmap
Prospects go along a buyer’s path, which takes them from awareness and consideration, to decision stages where they finally make a purchase.
If you design content that appeals to each stage of the customer journey, then you will always offer prospects relevant and valuable information.
Think about the last time you searched for something online. Let’s say you want to buy a new laptop. You will want to look for laptops that fall within your budget and meet your desired specifications. You will inevitably come across several models from various brands.
Finally, you’ll compare them and settle on the one that you end up buying.
This is how a customer’s journey plays out. Your prospects will be at the different stages of the journey, so it’s necessary to choose the right content and format for each stage.
For instance, someone at the awareness stage is best served by reading a blog that goes into detail about their problem. On the other hand, a prospect at the decision stage wants to see if the product/service is the right fit. Therefore, a video of a product demonstration is the best way to go in this case.
These are the formats best suited for the following stages:
- Awareness: Blog, Ebook, Whitepaper, Infographic
- Consideration: Webinar, Podcast, Worksheet
- Decision: Product Demo, Trial Offer, Guide
The right type of information delivered at the right time makes for compelling content.
People love to feel special. They also crave to be important. In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, self-worth ranks extremely high. You can use this psychological drive to make your content compelling.
For example, when promoting an offer, inform your prospects that they have been “hand-picked”. You can also describe your offer as “made specifically for them in mind”.
Many successful businesses regular use this psychological tactic: American Express used exclusivity in their slogan “Membership has its privileges”.
When Google introduced their Google + they sent invitations to a smaller number of users to generate interest in the service.
Convey a Sense of Urgency
Another powerful psychological tactic to integrate into your content is FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). When coming up with an offer, you must prevent your prospects/customers from thinking that the offer will stand indefinitely.
If people get this impression, then they might start looking at other options more closely, they might put off converting, or could just not do anything because the offer will always be there.
Therefore, you need to convey a sense of urgency in your content by including phrases like:
- “This is your last chance”
- “Offer ends at midnight”
- “Limited number of seats remaining”
As you can see, the idea is to make the prospect/customer feel anxious about delaying. This way they are more likely to pull the trigger because the offer might be gone tomorrow.
Find the Right Words
Keep people consuming your content by making it intriguing. A proven way of doing so is to ask a question your audience might be interested in and then insinuate that they don’t know the answer.
While creating curiosity gap isn’t a new tactic, it still works well when executed properly.
Some of the words to include are:
- They don’t want you to know
By including an intriguing curiosity gap in your headline you are telling readers/viewers that they can find the answer in your content. That’s why it’s important to only come up with content that can fulfill the promise made in the headline.
Otherwise, you’re producing clickbait and no respectable brand wants to be associated with that cheap marketing tactic.
Study what topics or issues your audience is interested in, and then look for ways to implement the curiosity gap tactic.
There’s one final important point to keep in mind: don’t create content that will give you plausible deniability. It’s surprising just how many marketers generate content that doesn’t make definitive claims.
An offer that doesn’t say something that’s concrete can be interrupted as a red flag by prospects and customers alike; a weak claim provides plausible deniability, which undermines the quality of the product/service.
Some common red flags to avoid are:
- Prices starting from (you’ll spend more than the specified amount)
- Reduce wrinkles with our anti-aging cream (you won’t get rid of them)
- This shampoo fights hair loss (it won’t stop it)
Erase these types of words from your content because they make your offer come across as weak and ineffectual. Compelling copy has to convey confidence and authority. Therefore, avoid words and phrases that downplay the promised results of your offer.
Strike an Emotional Chord
Successful content creators rarely dwell too long on the features of a product/service. While important, they are not the centerpiece of compelling content. This is because they speak to our rational part of the brain.
What’s wrong with that? Well, we typically don’t use reason when we buy things. Instead, we are motivated by our emotions.
Think about the most memorable commercials you’ve watched. Chances are they used some type of emotion in their content. Many good commercials tug at our heartstrings, while ours make us laugh hysterically.
You have an entire range of human emotions to choose from:
You can include several emotions in your content, just like brands that include puppies into their commercials. What these commercials are doing is associating the brands with the various types of emotions; they aren’t selling the product/service, but the associations you make with the brand.
So, study your customer avatars, and then generate content that will speak to them on an emotional level.
Don’t Be Boring
We’ve all had to sit through a boring lecture or presentation more times than we care to remember. No matter how hard we try, boring presentations put us into sleep mode.
They seem like one-sided conversations (especially when the presenter reads from a PowerPoint presentation). Unfortunately, a lot of the content on the web, including blog posts are just uninspiring one-sided conversations.
You need to find creative ways to present your content if you want to maintain your audience’s attention and interest.
There are two main ways to maintaining interest in your content: the content must be exciting and interactive.
Make Exciting Content
Think about the teacher or professor who left a lasting impression on you. They probably didn’t sit behind a desk and read from a sheet. What they probably did was walk around the room, break down concepts into smaller parts, and engage with the students to make sure that they understood the topic.
That’s how you should format your content.
Use short paragraphs and concise sentences that are easy to understand. When you want to underscore a point, make the text italicized or increase the font – whatever will draw the readers’ attention to the text.
Don’t forget that you can include various media formats in your text-based content. Try to include one image or video for every 350 – 400 words.
You can use:
- Custom pictures
Compelling text-based content must include other forms of media so that it isn’t presented as one huge chunk of sentences.
However, things like charts, graphs, or infographics can also help you present your points more clearly. We not only process visual data more quickly than text, but we tend to engage better with visual information also. Also, videos are a perfect choice if you want to show how to use a product or service.
Make Interactive Content
Interactive content draws users in and gives them a reason to stay. The digital space has different content formats designed to engage viewers:
- Social media content
These are only some of the examples of content made to get us to type something or click on something. Interactive content holds our attention and keeps us engaged just like a good teacher or presenter.
However, you need to know when and how to use interactive content. A professor who asks important questions to make sure that the students understand the lecture is doing a good job keeping everyone engaged.
On the other hand, if they constantly pose insignificant questions throughout the lecture, then the whole experience becomes tedious.
Interactive content functions the same way. If you think that your audience will enjoy a quiz, a survey or an interactive infographic then add it into your content.
Don’t forget that interactive content can be both fun and educational. For instance, quizzes with questions about a certain niche or 360 degrees video tours of exciting destinations across the globe.
You Are a Storyteller
Too many creators focus on facts and numbers to the detriment of the story. Obviously, facts are necessary for any piece of compelling content, but they aren’t sufficient.
Think about it this way, if you wanted to learn more about eating healthy, you wouldn’t head over to the Australian Institute of Medical Scientists even though that’s where all the information can be found.
Rarely anyone enjoys reading a textbook or a highly technical academic journal. They tend to be dry.
Instead, we want to read content that is relevant to our experience. That’s why the way you present your content is vital. You need to show how the content you’re presenting will benefit the readers’ lives:
Your audience is the protagonist in your content (or story), and you are showing them how to achieve their goals.
One Final Note
Marketers rely on content to increase their sales – eventually. However, it’s critical that you never lose sight of what makes content attractive effective: its educational nature.
So, focus on providing plenty of relevant content to your prospects before you begin to pitch your offer. Consumers are both tired and wary of brands overwhelming them with various offers.
Ramit Sethi is a personal finance advisor who offers a great deal of educational content to prospects for free without even mentioning his courses. Only after the prospects have been warmed up with an email sequence along with great content does he bring up his course.
Content marketing introduces your brand through compelling content. Only after the audience is educated, should you make an offer.