How to Write Effective Copy for Your Content Marketing Strategy
Smart, skilled content creation is a major factor you must peg if you want ROI from content marketing. Of course, the meat of content creation lies in the physical act of copywriting. This is why many marketers ask themselves a vital question: What does it take to produce mega-successful copy, the type that speaks to your ideal target customer and makes them want to act?
There’s no one who can answer this question better than Julia McCoy, the founder and CEO of Express Writers, one of the most successful content creation agencies out there. Julia is a self-starter who taught herself online copywriting before opening her business at age 19. Today, Express Writers employs over 50 talented writers who create content for businesses all over the world.
Julia also recently published her second book in tandem with launching a thorough, comprehensive online course that covers Practical Content Strategy and Marketing.
She and I talked about what it takes to create amazing copy in the Magnificent Marketing Podcast.
Everything you need to know is right here.
What Does It Take to Write Amazing Modern Copy? 7 Must-Dos to Remember
Modern copywriting is a totally different ballgame than the ad copywriting of yore. Today, to be savvy with words on the internet and win with content, you need to stick to a few key principles:
1. Never Forget Your Audience
Who are you writing for? According to Julia, this should be the first question you ask yourself before you ever dive into copywriting. And no, the answer to that integral question should not be “SEO.”
SEO is necessary to increase your visibility and drive traffic to your site from search, but it should not be first on your mind when you approach copywriting. Instead, you need to remember to write for humans first and search engines second. The beauty of this approach is that search engine algorithms love human-centered content. What’s good for us in terms of quality, readability, value, and usefulness is good for the bots.
Bottom line: Writing content for your audience and their needs is also good for SEO.
Of course, your audience needs to be narrowed down to your ideal targets. Ideally, you’ll come up with one specific persona you can keep in mind while you’re writing copy. This way, you’ll produce content that’s incredibly personal for them.
2. Research Your Targets to Stay Relevant
How do you write relevant content for your audience niche?
Answer: You need to research them and get a good feel for their desires, needs, preferences, and habits. Once you know them inside out, only then can you create truly relevant content for them. This is the stuff that will speak to them on a deeper level.
Julia has two basic research tactics for two scenarios: How to research your current client base, or how to research if you don’t have clients yet.
To research current clients, check out Facebook Audience Insights. To access it, all you need is a regular Facebook account, and it’s free to use. Take advantage of this tool to research and analyze your audience segment’s interests, preferences, and even basic demographics.
- If you don’t have clients yet, think of what your ideal client would look like. Julia suggests looking for that type of person on social media, then checking out all their accounts (LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) to get a feel for their interests and lifestyle.
3. Learn to Write for Social Media
Social media can be one of your best tools for boosting your clients’ engagement, following, and business growth.
Writing great content for social media will help drive people back to the company’s owned domain and content, turning followers into leads and leads into customers. If you don’t know how to write social media posts, including the best practices for posting, you should learn A.S.A.P. – it’s an essential skill for modern copywriters.
4. Focus on Storytelling
Humans have been naturally drawn to stories since language was invented. Stories help us connect to information emotionally, and they suck us into content in a way that plainly stated facts will never match.
In particular, Julia advises you to get personal with your storytelling. For example, relate the story of how you got started in business and the ups and downs you experienced along the way. Whether your tale is one of triumph over adversity, a rags-to-riches story, or a classic hero’s journey, your audience will love having their curiosity sated.
5. Keep Tabs on Content Trends with Audience Appeal
Content trends determine which forms of content (videos, infographics, long-form blogs, etc.) are readily gobbled up by most people. For instance, right now, video content is having a major moment. That said, not every audience is into trends. The key is to discover what content forms your audience prefers, then stick to those.
Use social listening to note the content your audience loves, shares, and talks about. This is a free strategy that simply involves paying close attention to interactions and conversations between your audience members, as well as taking a good look at the overall trends you see on social media.
6. Remember Your Edge Over Robot Content Creators
Yes, technology has advanced to the point where some companies are using A.I. for their content creation. (For example, content creation robots have churned out financial reports for businesses like Forbes and Groupon.)
Here’s the big “but”: These robots can’t string together a creative turn of phrase. They can’t tell stories.
Here’s the other big “but”: You can tell stories.
Remember that intrinsic connection mentioned earlier between humans and storytelling? It’s one of a kind. Robots aren’t equipped for it. Storytelling is uniquely human. This is your edge over A.I. in the content creation world.
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Do Things Differently
You know that common saying, “Well-behaved women [or men] seldom make history”?
It’s true. The people who rigidly follow the rules are not the ones who innovate, invent, discover, and reimagine new ways of doing the same-old, same-old.
Sometimes, you have to color outside the lines, break out of the box, or just do something a little differently to make progress. This goes for copywriting, too. If you want to see success, learn basic copywriting rules inside out, then play with convention. Chart your own territory. Go a bit left of center and see what happens.
Example: How Wendy’s Did Hiring Their Way
Julia recounted a perfect example of success via tiny rebellion: Wendy’s, the fast food chain, did things a little differently when it was time to hire some new people to manage their Twitter feed.
Most businesses approach the hiring process by rote, no matter the role they are trying to fill. You know how it goes: Put out ads for the job, accept applications, do interviews.
Wendy’s pretty much did the opposite. Instead, they only had two qualifications for their social media job: 1.) They wanted millennials, and 2.) They wanted people who knew how to tweet and could do it well.
They hired people based on these criteria, then got out of the way, essentially letting their new employees loose on their corporate Twitter account. As you can probably guess, it worked. Some of the tweets from the new hires even went viral, which we all know is great for business.
It was only possible because Wendy’s decided not to follow all of the unspoken rules for the basic hiring process.
These Copywriting Must-Dos Will Keep You Geared for Content Greatness
To recap, for better content, Julia says you should focus on better copywriting with an eye to these key must-dos:
Focus on your audience
Research their interests, preferences, and habits, and tailor your writing to suit them
Add social media writing to your arsenal of skills
Remember that stories win with ALL audiences
Pinpoint content forms your audience loves right now and add them to your roster
Don’t let A.I. and robot content creators frighten you – you have that creative edge unique to humans
Don’t be hesitant to step outside the box every once in a while, even if it’s just a toe over the line
As you can see, great copywriting and content creation isn’t just about the words you use. The stuff you do along with your skilled writing is what makes all the difference.
Keep your ear to the ground to track your target audience and what they want to see. Tell stories, note trends, and use them judiciously. And remember that social media can be an incredible tool, not just a way to waste 5 minutes or catch up with your second cousin.
Content creation is just one piece of the puzzle, but if you play your cards right, you will set yourself up for wins that can bolster the rest of your content marketing.
For more great content creation insights and the latest copywriting news and trends, make sure you follow Julia’s blog, check out her podcast, or tune into her YouTube channel.
David brings 20 years of sales, marketing, strategy & branding experience to the table. He is the founder of Magnificent Marketing which specializes in content marketing, video marketing & social media advertising (e-commerce, lead-gen, strategic content distribution) and is a lover of marketing, dogs and life!