10 tips for writing more engaging online content
“We tried writing content for our site but stopped because it wasn’t paying off.” As a content producer, I hear this from my clients all the time!
Most organizations understand the value of using online content to achieve their business objectives. However, some of them have trouble creating content that engages their target audience. Sound familiar?
If so, don’t despair! There are methods you can use to optimize your content and achieve goals like the following:
- Convert customers
- Generate leads
- Talk about a new product
- Demonstrate your expertise
- Elevate your brand image
- Improve your employer brand
- Boost your company’s visibility
Here are 10 tips for writing more engaging online content.
1) Get to the point
According to a study by Microsoft, the average attention span of web users is about 8 seconds (that’s one second less than a goldfish’s!). In other words, you need to grab (and hold) your reader’s attention from the very first sentence. To do so, you need to help them quickly understand that your content is relevant to them.
Whether they’re aware of it our not, almost every person who views your content will ask themself the same question: “What’s in it for me?” Your content should answer that question—and fast.
In addition, if you’re writing sales texts for a product, you need to identify the unique selling proposition that sets that product apart from the competition. Put yourself in the shoes of potential buyers and ask yourself the following question: why would I choose this product over a competitor’s?
2) Write eye-catching headlines
The headline is the first thing someone sees when they open an article and determines whether they’ll keep reading.
Did you know? According to Copyblogger, about 8 in 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 in 10 people will read the rest. A snappy, attention-grabbing headline will increase the likelihood that readers stick around. So, it’s worth taking the extra time to write a good one!
Tips for writing compelling headlines:
- Use numbers.
- Make your headline a question when relevant.
- Vary the wording and syntax.
- Mention a benefit or a solution to a problem.
- Aim for no more than 60 to 100 characters.
3) Stick to one audience and one message
How well do you know your target audience? This is the most important question to ask yourself, as your content needs to be interesting and relevant to your customers’ needs.
The more relevant your information is to your target audience, the easier it will be to tailor your message and get their attention. La collecte de données clients et la création de fiches de personas vous seront particulièrement utiles dans cet objectif.
Before you start writing, think about someone you know who falls within your target audience. Then, write as if you were speaking directly to them.
Avoid addressing the general public and focus on a single key message or differentiating factor per piece of content. You’ll have an easier time attracting leads or customers by identifying a need, a question, or a challenge that resonates with them.
4) Focus on benefits, not features
If I tell you that the sleeping bag I’m selling has two layers of insulation, you’re probably not going to stick around to hear more. But if I say that this same sleeping bag will keep you warm and help you get a good night’s sleep so you wake up fresh and ready to hit the slopes in the morning, you’ll probably be more interested.
Why? It’s simple: the first message focuses on a feature of the product, while the second associates that feature with a concrete benefit for potential buyers. Focusing on the customer benefits will help you connect with your audience and promote engagement and conversion.
Here are a few other examples to illustrate my point:
- This phone is equipped with a fingerprint reader (feature). Unlock your phone faster and easier (benefit).
- This MP3 player has 8 GB of storage (feature). Carry over 2,000 songs in your pocket (benefit).
- This car is equipped with a 6-cylinder engine (feature). Enjoy the drive and pay less at the pump (benefit).
Ask yourself “So what?” after every argument you write. This will help you relate every feature back to its added value for the consumer.
However, there are exceptions: if your target audience is looking for more expert, technical, and informative content, it’s best to focus on features. In the end, it all depends on the profile of your audience!
5) Back up your claims
Do you believe everything you read on the internet? Probably not—and for good reasons. Your potential readers are probably as skeptical as you are. They need evidence to trust your claims and to view you as a credible source of information in your field.
Whether you’re drafting informational content or sales copy, it’s important to back up all of your arguments with:
- Credible sources
- Testimonials from customers or employees
- Your personal experience
And don’t hesitate to incorporate content linking via internal links (leading to other pages on your site) or external links (leading to pages on other sites) to support your argument. Adding links is also a best practice for improving your SEO (as long as they’re relevant to your topic).
6) Optimize readability
At some point in the past, you probably did an online search, clicked on a link, and found yourself staring at a solid wall of text. I’m no mind reader, but I bet you didn’t stay on that page very long! That’s why it’s so important to pare down your content. Your audience will thank you—especially users reading it on their phone!
The data is clear: nearly 79 percent of web users scan a text before deciding whether or not to read it. I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn't read this article from start to finish. I don’t blame you—we’re bombarded with so much information on a daily basis that many of us have developed the habit of skimming online content.
Improving the readability of your content also improves its usability and accessibility, which in turn can boost natural referencing and reduce your bounce rate. That’s why it’s important to catch your reader’s eye with visually striking elements, like the following:
- Headings (it’s good practice to add a heading for every 300 words)
- Bulleted lists (especially for long lists)
- Short paragraphs (about 2–4 sentences per paragraph)
- Important elements in bold
- A table of contents, if your article is particularly long
Other tips to improve readability:
- Use short sentences (no more than 20 words per sentence).
- Use the active voice rather than the passive voice.
- Use simple language and a conversational tone.
Experience has taught me that the time you take to proofread is never wasted. The proof? A British study found that nearly three quarters (74 percent) of web users pay attention to the quality of the writing on company websites.
No matter how good a writer is, no one is immune to mistakes. So, always set aside time to proofread! After all, the credibility of your content (and your brand!) is at stake.
A few tips to help you up your proofreading game:
- Set your work aside and come back to it later with fresh eyes.
- Read your text backwards—from the last sentence to the first.
- Ask a colleague to proofread and give you feedback.
Of course, if you don’t have the time or resources to write and edit content in-house, you can always hire an outside firm to take care of it for you.
8) Add visuals
Question: When presented with two pieces of content of equal quality, which one are you more likely to read in depth?
Answer: The one that grabs your attention with attractive, relevant visuals!
Visuals are crucial for helping any type of online content stand out. And the more varied the visuals (videos, infographics, etc.), the better!
By adding visuals to support your text, you can increase the potential number of web users who will see and remember important information.
The numbers speak for themselves:
- Articles with images get 94 percent more views than text-only articles.
- Using colourful visuals in online content increases users’ desire to read it by 80 percent.
- 91 percent of people prefer visual or interactive content to text-only content.
By synthesizing your key message in visuals and integrating them into your text, you get the best of both worlds. Plus, it helps your SEO!
9) Post frequently
If you haven’t updated your blog since 2016 or you only post on social media a few times a month, it stands to reason that no one is going to be scrambling to read your latest publication.
The best way to keep people coming back for more is to find—and stick to—the right posting frequency.
Running out of ideas for new content? You can always revisit old articles and update them with new information, then repost them on your social media pages!
Why posting content regularly is a good idea:
- It improves your blog’s search engine ranking.
- It creates more opportunities for cross-linking between your content.
- It gives you a chance to cover a wider variety of relevant topics (more possible entry points to your site).
- It encourages your subscribers to keep an eye out for your next post.
- It positions you as a leader in your field who keeps up with new trends.
It’s also a good idea to post “day-in-the-life” content to showcase your business. This will improve your employer brand!
10) Don’t forget a call to action!
Want to boost your online conversion rate? First, you need to map out the customer journey for web users.
Then, add a call to action (CTA) button or banner to your content to guide users to the next step in your conversion funnel. It’s estimated that adding CTAs to your landing page can increase your conversion rate by 80 percent!
You can use a CTA to encourage users to do the following:
- Buy a product
- Get a free consultation
- Read an article
- Subscribe to a newsletter
- Download a document
Here area few best practices for CTAs:
- Create personalized calls to action (different CTAs for different users and journeys): personalized CTAs are 202 percent more effective at converting than basic CTAs.
- Use first-person possessive determiners in your CTAs to give readers a sense of ownership over your offer (these types of CTAs significantly increase conversions).
- Offer added value, such as an extra discount or access to exclusive content.
- Create a sense of urgency (state that an offer is valid for a limited time to encourage the user to act now).
- If possible, limit yourself to one CTA per piece of content (using too many can confuse web users).
Call in the experts
While these 10 tips will help you produce more engaging content, the most important success factor is still practice, practice, practice!
Writing regularly and getting to know your target audience will help you improve your content over time. But if you don’t have time to spare, your best move is to call in the experts. Hiring an outside firm is often a wise investment that will help you reach your online sales or conversion goals.
Contact us for content tailored to you and your target audience!