6 Tips for Writing Effective Content

Posted June 10, 2016

Larry Alton

Written content plays an important part in just about every small business. Whether it's marketing material, product descriptions, blog posts, or educational articles, that content tells potential customers who you are and what you represent as a business; it solidifies and reiterates your brand.

[Related: How to Brand Your Small Business Ecommerce Site]

But it's all too easy to fall into a content-writing rut—especially if you've been writing content for a number of years. If you're producing the same type of material and covering the same topics over and over again, your content may be less effective. Don't worry, though. You can reverse this trend with a few simple tweaks.

In this article, we'll look at six ways that you can improve the quality of your content and keep your readers engaged and interested.

How to write better business content

How to Write Better Business Content

"Quality" is a mighty subjective word—especially when it comes to business content. And while many business owners assume that their definition of quality content is what counts, it isn't. Your audience determines the quality of your content.

These six tangible tips will help you create better content that resonates with your readers.

1. Revisit Your Reader Profiles

Do you write a blog or informational articles for your business? If so, when was the last time you looked at your reader profiles? Do you even have reader profiles? A thorough profile will help control the direction of your content, and that's important. If you don't know who you're writing for, then you can't possibly create quality content.

Reader profiles look different for every business—and you must understand that they may not be identical to your customer profiles. However, the more detailed they are the better. A good reader profile includes basic demographic information, preferences and habits, social habits, financial tendencies, pain points, and more.

2. Make Text Easy to Digest

First impressions count, and you content needs to be visually approachable before it can resonate with readers. Dense articles with massive paragraphs and no subheadings are far too common. You know what people do when they click on a page like that? They immediately hit the back arrow on their browser. They're gone, and they're not coming back.

Content—especially long-form content—must be easy to navigate. You can choose from a number of techniques and see which one works best for your particular needs. This blog post from The Backyard Guys shows what easily navigated content looks like in practice.

Notice how they use a "Jump To" section at the top of the page, multiple subheadings, neat paragraphs, bolded words, and bullet points to organize the content. This lets readers easily scan the article for the information they want.

3. Link to Credible Experts

Just as your peers associate you with your friends in real life, your blog readers will associate your content with the websites and the individuals that you mention and link to in your content. Whenever you pull a quote, mention a statistic, or recommend a link to your readers, make sure you use reliable sources. This increases your reputation and puts readers at ease.

4. Include Multimedia

If there's one thing that grabs readers' attention and pulls them into your content, it's multimedia. Whether you choose videos, images, infographics, or data visualizations, multimedia elements are exponentially more powerful than words.

If you're not sure how to properly integrate multimedia into your content, study how other businesses do it. For example, the Help Scout blog does a wonderful job incorporating striking design and quality visuals without overpowering the written content. Review their techniques and find a way to make them your own.

5. Craft a Killer Intro

The introduction is arguably the most critically important element of any blog post or article. It's your main weapon in the fight against incredibly short attention spans. You need to reel in your readers before they get distracted or lose interest.

You can develop compelling introductions in a number of ways. One tried-and-true strategy involves making a bold or controversial claim that readers don't expect. Curiosity keeps them reading to find out why you're making such a strange statement. You can then slowly reveal the details to keep them engaged throughout the article.

6. Invest in Split Testing

Split testing different elements of your content strategy will help you make solid content decisions. According to marketing expert Peep Laja, "There's no excuse for NOT testing. Testing is easy, fast and actually…fun! You get to test your gut feeling, learn new things all the time, and exercise your creativity."

Test your headlines, images, content length, and more. You'll quickly learn what your readers consider good quality.

Improve Your Business Content Today

Developing content takes a lot of time and effort. Unfortunately, many small businesses waste their resources by consistently creating low-performing content that fails to engage their audience. If you suspect that your content isn't living up to its potential, try giving these six tips a shot. You're sure to see a healthy return on investment.

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter.

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