10 Tips for Writing Digital Content

“The internet is awash with content. It’s white noise that you’re trying to break through with your solid, well-researched content.” Tip #1 from Joanne Dolezal, founder of Dolezal Consulting.

Let me back-track just a second. I, along with CRYSTLSD digital marketing manager Lauren, am at Motel One in Newcastle city centre for the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s (CIM) Best practice for writing digital content event. There is a mixed bag of attendees from legal services marketeers to council employees, and Lauren and I representing the arts.

Dolezal is talking about content saturation – namely, the vast amount of content that is currently available for consumers to read. The idea of solid, well-researched content having the ability to “break through” the noise is one that Dolezal refers back to throughout the session. To back this up, Dolezal notes that publications such as The Guardian, The New York Times, and the Economist have seen their rate of content sharing treble – which suggests that there is still an appetite for quality, long-form content that can be trusted. That’s Tip #2, FYI.

Despite the positive reports from quality publications, we are generally seeing much less engagement. But, why is this? Firstly, says Dolezal, there has been a rise in private sharing. People are engaging, but they’re engaging on mediums that are trickier to track: via Slack; WhatsApp; email. Add to this the new Facebook algorithm, and the growth in competition, and there you have it. 

 Photo by  NeONBRAND  on  Unsplash

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

So, what are we all going to do about it? Enter Tip #3: “Become the expert on what your customers need,” advises Dolezal. Here at CRYSTLSD, we make no qualms about the fact that we operate in the creative industries: creative communications for the creative industries; that’s what we do.  Ask us to come up with a marketing strategy for a shiny, new toothpaste… well, we can do it, but are we passionate about it? Do we eat, breathe and sleep toothpaste? No. So, if you know something inside out, and you’re passionate about it, share it with your audience.

It is widely acknowledged in the marketing community that a customer’s journey has changed. In fact, 70% of decisions are now made online before the customer even makes first contact with a business. Customers look in a multitude of places before making a purchase, and so it is essential to delve much deeper into your customer’s mind. Tip #4? Old-school tactics, such as buyer personas and value propositions still reign supreme. “Think about the values you have as an organisation; that is your value proposition,” Dolezal adds.

For Tip #5, Dolezal advises us that digital content must be optimised for search engines: “You need to be able to be found.” Use services such as BuzzSumo and Moz to research keywords for your product, services and/or industry. Think about what will work for your customer; Listening Tools is great for this.

 Photo by  Agnieszka Boeske  on  Unsplash

The use of keyword-rich copy is important no matter the end format. For your website? You want Google to place you at the top of that search list. Same goes for blog posts. In email marketing? Use keywords in the subject line. On social media? Yep, you guessed it – ensure your copy is keyword-rich, but not at the expense of authenticity; this is important.

So, what is best practice when it comes to each digital content format? There are so many lessons to be learnt, but to keep it short and sweet, I’ll summarise. Tip #6 is concerned with websites. Website copy should be long but scannable; this suits the reading style of both types of reader. “Long copy leaves more space to reach out to the type of customer you are targeting,” explains Dolezal. Tying in with Tip #5, she adds that “calls to action are really important.” Calls to Action encourage people to move around your website and Google likes internal links. (You can thank us later).

When writing content for blogs, the main lesson (Tip #8, if you’re still following) is to front load your message by telling your reader what the content is about before the content begins. As with website content, the longer the better when it comes to blog posts, and calls to action + external links = happy Google. As Chris Brogan once said: ‘Blogs are for Google; your newsletter is for the people you care the most about.’

What a lovely segue into the email marketing format… For Tip #9: Personalisation is key to increasing opens and click-throughs. Only this morning, was my attention grabbed by the subject line: Hand-picked deals for Nicole – take a look! Look, I did. And visit the website. And add items to my shopping cart.

For the last Tip, #10, Dolezal advised that it is “helpful to use a range of metrics” when measuring our marketing tactics. “We’re moving away from volume metrics,” Dolezal adds. Engagement, actions and leads are far superior.

And so, the evening came to an end. We were, of course, encouraged to network and, to my surprise, I bumped into a former CRYSTLSD client ARC Stockton. Conversations were abuzz with tips shared, and insights gained. But, the most important lesson of all? “The only thing you can compete on is quality.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

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To summarise:

1.    Do your research – this will help you to break through the white noise of content saturation.

2.    Be trustworthy – long-form, quality content is trusted. And shared.

3.    Become the expert – but, only on the subject(s) you are passionate about.

4.    Don’t abandon old-school tactics – buyer personas and value propositions? Still worthwhile.

5.    Optimise – SEO is your friend. Use it.

6.    Accommodate both types of reader – by making website copy long and scannable.

7.    Calls to action – these are an important way of improving your Google ranking.

8.    Front load your message – when writing content for blogs.

9.    Personalisation is key – when it comes to crafting newsletter that people will want to open.

10.  Metrics – use a range of them. Engagement, actions and leads? Far superior to volume metrics.

Have we left anything off the list? Let us know @crystlsdteam on Twitter.