In this age of inbound marketing, content is king. And all content, regardless of format—text, video, audio, presentation—begins with the written word. The ability to arrange words and phrases in ways that capture interest and compel action is a skill at a premium.
But good writing isn’t easy. As Eric Siu noted recently in Is Blogging Dying?, blogging is declining among Fortune 500 companies because “Most people don’t like hard work. Blogging (or any type of sustained writing for that matter) takes time and effort.” These companies are shifting efforts to “newer social media platforms.” But without a blog—a core place to create, store and curate in-depth thought leadership content—what exactly will these companies be tweeting about or sharing on Facebook or with LinkedIn groups?
Effective writing—crafting text that is easy on the eyes and stimulating to the brain—isn’t easy, but it is an extremely valuable skill that can be learned and honed over time, and a craft worth the time and effort required to master.
How can you write copy that keeps visitors engaged on your site? How can you measure the effectiveness of business copywriting? Which over-used (or often improperly used) words should you try to avoid in your writing? Find the answers to these questions and more here in some of the best guides to better copywriting of the past year.
Gaming the system with skim-proof content by iMedia Connection
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Madhuri Shekar shows content creators how to take advantage of the “F” pattern that web users most commonly use to skim, rather than actually read, content. How does the pattern work? “Readers will focus first (and often only) on the top paragraph of your content. They will then skip to the top of your second paragraph to see if content retains their interest. Then they will quickly skim through the rest of your content, not reading, but barely glancing at the beginnings of your sections and sentences.”
Adam Singer contends that it’s no longer enough for copywriters to have a strong grasp of their subject matter and a flair for language; they now also need to understand and be able to apply analytics to their writing. “You are no longer a great copywriter so much because you’ve written for popular media brand X or esteemed company Y. You are a great copywriter because your content improved conversions on a client website by 52% or because you helped a blog boost its subscriber numbers from 2,367 to 10,464 in one year.”
10 Ideas for Crafting a Better ‘About’ Page by Baymard Institute
Noting that the “About Us” page is critical (“New visitors want to know who you are and why they should care”) but often under-prioritized, Christian Holst supplies 10 ideas to craft a better page telling readers about your organization, from making contact information prominent and easy to find to using real photos of your people (not boring stock photography—blegh) to explaining what your organization does—in plain English.
10 Super Easy SEO Copywriting Tips for Improved Link Building by The Daily SEO Blog
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Cyrus Shepard entertainingly shares 10 “secrets” to using copywriting for content organization, to attract more inbound links and more readers (and keep them on your site longer). Among the tips: write for skimmers (see Madhuri Shekar’s post above); use headline formulas, subheads and bulleted lists; and my favorite “Get 20% more with numbers. I made that number up. Why? (Because) numbers grab our attention.”
Words You Don’t Say by The New York Times
Rachel Nolan lists the words that New York Times readers have advised the publication to avoid, either because they are overused or just rarely used correctly. For example, “From RHayes of New York: ‘Proximity’ because no one uses it correctly — proximity means ‘closeness’ but is invariably (inexplicably) preceded by ‘close.’” Also on the list: actionable, addicting (when “addictive” would be correct), and words like “architect” or “champion” as verbs.
Five Strategies for Speaking to B2B Buyers’ Pain Points by MarketingProfs
Dan McDade details “five strategies that build stronger, more powerful offers that will help your sales team close more deals,” such as “WIIFM (what’s in it for me?). People buy things for their companies for business reasons, but also for personal reasons, such as…recognition, security (or) compensation…When marketing and selling to a buyer, you should understand not only why she might buy on behalf of the company but also what might motivate her to buy for personal reasons.”
Daniel Ford offers five tips for improving one’s writing skills, such as writing often, reading voraciously, and getting social: “Engage with people on social media as much as possible. These conversation or debates will generate new ideas for you, as well as making you better connected to this new age of media.”