Content marketing has become a significant part of both B2B and B2C strategies. With the evolution of digital platforms, there is a multitude of formats available, such as articles, video, infographics, whitepapers, podcasts, surveys… the list goes on. And no wonder.
Ultimately, the goal of good content is to persuade the audience to do something, like attracting interest to a specific service, getting more users on a free trial, or encouraging a purchase. The aim will be different for different types of channels (website, newsletters, social media posts, media partners, ads, etc.), but there are some great best practices for persuasive writing to drive leads and customers.
1. Write for personas.
Marketing personas represent your desired and actual segments of customers. Writing for them can help you refine your persuasive writing skills. They will vary depending on the nature of services or products you are promoting but can contain a combination of characteristics, including:
- Demographics (age, location, gender)
- Professional information (job title or function, seniority, industry, company size)
- Behavioral information (interests, consumption trends, etc.)
Teenagers have different interests compared to adults, women compared to men, executives compared to managers…you get it. Content can’t be all-encompassing, so choose one segment and write for them.
How has your product helped young moms? Write a case study. What are the trends manufacturing directors envision for the future year, and how can your service help? Write a whitepaper. Create content that is useful and informative for your target market.
2. Write for lead funnels.
At the same time, you will have leads in different stages of your sales funnel. Some will have just found out about your company, some will have already become customers, while others will know about you, but aren’t convinced or ready to buy yet. The type of content you create will be based on the stage they are in.
Leads who are prospecting the market and reach your website for the first time need to have access to what your company offers, how easy your product or service is to use, and the features that make you stand out from competitors. Only then, they will be interested in case studies and testimonials that illustrate your knowledge of your industry – and theirs.
Finally, after they become customers, you want to keep them engaged, so they become advocates and promote your company through content that helps them make the most of your services and/or helps them with troubleshooting.
3. Write for benefits.
“Benefits, not features” is something content marketers should always have at the top of their mind. Look through your inbox at some of the newsletters you’ve received or check social media posts. How many of them are actually talking about the uses of the product or service? How many are just listing features? Probably not very many.
Think about it this way: When the first toaster appeared, you had to say what it does – toasts bread. When the second toaster appeared, it probably compared itself to the first one, saying it does this faster or looks better. It wasn’t until competition really developed when it started to refer to how it saves time for you to be with your family.
You should always be writing for your customer, considering what they want to read, giving them a takeaway – a reason to share it and engage with it. Present how your product or service will enhance their life or activity. Tell them which of their needs it addresses.
4. Write for action.
You want to persuade your audience to do something, so the first step to nudge them in that direction is to include calls to action. Decide on the objective of your content based on your lead funnel and make sure this is clear throughout the material.
For instance: “Register for our newsletter to receive similar pieces” or “Contact us to set a meeting, ask for a quote, or browse our products.” This will be linked to the stage the lead is in. And there are plenty of tools to help drive website conversions.
If the content is purely informational, a call to action to buy now will not fit the purpose. Since the lead is interested in informational or general content, you can redirect them to similar content or to your newsletter.
If the content is a case study, your call to action can be to arrange a meeting or start a free trial of the service being discussed. The action the audience takes after reading your content will tell you how well it performed.
5. Write for performance.
There are steps you can take to set your content up for performance even before writing the first word. Start with researching the most relevant topics for your audience by using keyword research. Look at what competitors and influencers post about. What are the most engaging topics – the ones that have gathered the most comments, shares, or views?
Then, after writing and releasing your content, you will need to understand KPIs that lead to good conversion rates, such as website traffic or views generated by your content, social shares, and comments. While large numbers of website visitors are good, you will still want these to be in your target market. There are tools that will help you review the profile of your visitors, like Google Analytics or LinkedIn’s Website Demographics.
If your content isn’t performing as desired, start again and test. Do you need to improve your SEO? What if you add more pictures? Or create a shorter piece and offer the rest for download? What if you turn the article into a video? Perhaps you could include fewer links? What if you add a quote from a customer or influencer? Test everything you can think of.
If you see your content is performing well, you’ve hit jackpot! Crack open the champagne and celebrate your effective persuasive writing skills… at least until your next piece of content.
After 8 years working in event marketing, Raluca Apostol founded Event Marketing Stars. She’s created campaigns for over 50 events in Europe, Africa and North America, having worked abroad and then remote with international teams. She specializes in strategy and content creation.
Last modified: June 20th, 2019