Having a piece of content that attracts a lot of clicks and page views is sure to drive happy shivers down your spine.
And when those clicks and page views turn into conversion? Euphoria.
Unfortunately, achieving your conversion goals with your content isn’t exactly a walk in the park. Not all content is created equal. And more often than not, it fails to achieve the desired results.
Why? It’s likely because most founders and marketers:
- Focus on quantity for the sake of having “something out there”
- Aren’t good at optimizing content for conversions
- Create content without tying it to their larger marketing goals
All of which mean that a large chunk of their traffic doesn’t translate into sales.
You see, content is like a game of chess. You need to make the right moves to win. But don’t worry. After creating content that has reached hundreds of thousands of people and brought us millions in terms of revenue, we’ve compiled the top tactics for creating pieces that convert.
Here are eight content creation tips to help you turn readers into customers.
1. Know Your Audience
Yes, you’ve already heard this a million times before. However, we’re bringing it up again because many brands still fail to understand what it means to know their audience.
Many marketers base their “target audience” solely on assumptions and guesses. The problem with this is simple: humans are hardwired to think they’re smarter than they actually are. It’s a cognitive bias known as the Dunning-Kruger effect.
What does this mean for you? Don’t trust your assumptions — more often than not, they’re wrong. Instead of playing guessing games with your target audiences and personas, it’s important to base your approach on insights and intelligence.
That’s why creating detailed buyer personas is crucial. A persona is a representation of your customer base. It brings your customers’ pain points, needs, perspectives, and challenges together in the context of a character’s life.
So, how do you build one?
Here are a few questions that can help you get the ball rolling:
- What kind of job do they have?
- How much revenue do they generate?
- What is your ideal customer’s buying process like?
- Where are they located?
- What kind of media do they consume or what influences them?
- Where do they hang out online? Twitter? Instagram? LinkedIn?
- What would lead this ideal customer to buy what you’re selling?
- What main goals are they trying to achieve?
- What’s hindering them from achieving those goals?
You can find answers to these questions by creating a customer survey. After all, it’s best to hear from the horse’s mouth. The information you gather will help you create a realistic persona and put you in a better position to create content that’s more likely to convert.
2. Craft Headlines That Make BuzzFeed Jealous
Copywriting legend David Ogilvy once said that “when you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”
Yes, a headline is that powerful. Great headlines attract more readers, which can lead to more sales. Whether we’re talking about a whitepaper or a blog post — your headline can be the difference-maker between a piece of content being read or not.
A powerful headline is your only leverage in a sea of digital noise. And although there are many effective formulas you can use, the fundamentals never change. Before hitting publish, make sure your headline follows the 4 U’s:
- Useful: Does it solve a problem? Provide an answer? Offer a benefit?
- Urgent: Does it move the reader to act?
- Unique: Is it something counterintuitive or shocking?
- Ultra-specific: Is it detail-oriented? Are you presenting precise figures and facts?
Ideally, your answer should be yes to at least one of the questions above. Easy tips for creating great headlines include incorporating simple, direct language; numbers and lists; keywords that reflect the content and resonate with the reader; and powerful language.
One of the best resources on the topic of headlines is this presentation from the folks at Upworthy that talks about how they craft compelling headlines. The insights and strategies they cover can be easily applied to your own headlines and help you stand out in the noise.
Adam Mordecai, Upworthy’s Editor-at-Large, gave a handful of tips on Quora when asked about their process. Some of my favorites from his post include:
- To optimize shareability, you want to make sure everyone can feel comfortable sharing it. Think to yourself, “Would my mom share this headline?” If not, do something different. Unless you are only targeting a subgroup and don’t care about shareability.
- Don’t make people take positions with which they might be uncomfortable. For example, “I Really Hate All White People” is not going to get shared, whereas, “An Open Letter to Pasty People” is far less hostile and more likely to get shared.
- Always test no matter how clever you think your headline is.
3. Leverage the Power of Emotion
Once you get readers’ eyes on the page, you need to make your readers feel something. Not just any emotion, but an emotion that drives action.
Positive, inspirational, and uplifting content has been shown to always drive more virality than negative stories. People like to feel good. That’s why you see motivational Instagram accounts with thousands and thousands of followers.
When using emotion in your content, focus on eliciting happiness and desire in your audience. It’s this type of content that allows you to create stories worth sharing. Sales professionals have been tapping into techniques that evoke emotional responses for years in an effort to build stronger relationships with clients and ultimately improve their sales.
How do they do it? They leverage specific emotions that drive behaviors. Similar to the research that suggests happiness as an effective driver for social media sharing, joy can also be a driver of sales. Simply put, happiness is a driver of action. What that action is depends on the situation in which the emotion is felt.
Here are three approaches to eliciting happiness and desire in your audience:
- Use storytelling – Tell a story your audience can relate to. People like to feel connected to something and someone else. People like to know that others share their experiences and that they are a part of something larger.
- Create content that helps others self-improve – People want to be the best they can be. They want to succeed. Create content that gives them the tools and information they need to improve their own lives.
- Create FOMO – People don’t like missing out on something awesome. A great way to get people to act is to create content that people won’t want to miss out on. Share secrets, loopholes, tactics for success, or hacks for winners. Use this approach to create a desire in your audience to read on and take action.
4. Use Clear Formatting
Bad content formatting is like a map leading to treasure but written in gibberish — they’re both useless to the reader. If your audience finds it hard to read your content, it won’t be long before they’ll go read something else, eliminating the chances of you converting them.
So to give your content a fair chance of conversion, use clear formatting. Here are some best practices for optimizing your content’s formatting:
Use Short Paragraphs Instead of Large Chunks of Text
When a person isn’t committed to reading a piece of content, they do so in an F-shaped pattern.
This pattern of reading is bad for business as it makes people miss important details in your content that could aid conversion.
You’d be shooting yourself in the foot, so to speak, by using large chunks of text, as it encourages people to read in an F-shaped pattern.
So instead of large chunks, break your content into shorter paragraphs and include the most important points at the beginning of each paragraph.
Use a Font Style and Size That the Average Person Can Read Clearly
Not all fonts are created equal, as some are more legible than others.
For instance, fonts like Georgia, Helvetica, Open Sans, QuickSand, and Verdana are easier to recognize and read than others. You can also take the pressure off and use online tools like the Quicktools by Picsart font generator to find the best option.
No matter the font style you choose, ensure the size is big enough for the different screens people will be using to read your content. You can add emphasis to specific areas of your content by bolding appropriate text.
It’s also vital to avoid using decorative and fancy fonts as they are usually difficult to read.
Use Descriptive Subheadings
Structure your content with subheadings to improve the flow and readability. These subheadings give readers context and help them remember the key takeaways from your content.
To test how descriptive your subheadings are, remove the paragraphs under them and check if they still make sense.
Include Visuals to Break up Text and Explain Your Points
Visuals like graphs, pictures, and videos help rest your reader’s eyes and allow them to grab vital information as they scan through your content. You can also use icons to highlight key points or break up large blocks of text—they’re free at Flaticon.
When using visuals, ensure the surrounding paragraphs or text give more context to the visual used. It’s also important to only use visuals that support your copy. Peppering your content with stock videos and photos for the sake of including visuals won’t help your content convert.
5. Collaborate With Influencers
It’s not uncommon for content marketers to collaborate with influencers in order to achieve better results. In fact, we’re huge fans of collaboration.
Influencer outreach is an important tool in content marketing, whether collaborating on content, accepting guest posts to your channels or offering guest posts for others, or co-authoring an ebook or white paper.
Adding a credible voice to your content is a great way to increase readership, build trust, generate new leads, and ultimately acquire new customers. Furthermore, testimonials remain a powerful tool in driving sales.
Identify a few key influencers to use your product/service and provide written testimonials that you can incorporate into your content marketing strategy. Another effective approach is to offer product discounts or free gifts in exchange for new customer testimonials.
For example, if your service is an online video editing tool, offer influencers a free trial in return for a guest post. If you have a business of men’s grooming products, on the other hand, you can provide unique groomsmen gifts to male influencers.
Word-of-mouth marketing still exists and still works, so use it.
6. Add Value Before Selling
No one likes to be the victim of an aggressive sales pitch. Just because you advertise your product everywhere doesn’t mean people will buy it. Instead, people buy from people they like and trust.
Content marketing — and by extension, creating content — is all about nurturing relationships and satisfying consumer needs, not aggressive selling. High converting content informs, advises, and offers solutions; it does not pitch products and services. In fact, in most cases, a company and its products aren’t even mentioned in the content.
The concept of adding value before selling is the reason why content prepared for people at the top of the marketing funnel is mostly educational or informative content. On the other hand, content like demos, case studies, and comparison pages are for folks at the bottom of the marketing funnel since they’ve already gotten value and want to know more about what you’re selling.
An infallible marketing strategy is to give before asking. When your content genuinely helps them solve a problem or improve their lives, they’re more likely to buy from you. It’s an ingrained social standard, known as the principle of reciprocity, in which people want to return in kind what’s been given to them.
7. Include Testimonials and Case Studies
Testimonials and case studies add social proof to your content and make it easier for people to trust you. Readers get to see how you have successfully helped other people who are facing similar problems like them.
However, that is not to say you should plaster your content with these testimonials and make it impossible for visitors to read what you’ve written. Instead, as you create content, look for opportunities to weave in client testimonials and case studies to get visitors to convert.
8. Choose a Strong Call-to-Action
You successfully got your audience’s attention. They’ve read your content. But now they need direction on what to do next.
What do you want your audience to do? Is it to sign up for your monthly newsletter, download your free ebook, request a product demo, or share your content on social media? That’s where the call-to-action (CTA) comes in.
The key to achieving success with your desired CTA is quid pro quo. You must first deliver something of value to earn something in return. Your CTA is expected to contribute to your sales goals, i.e., it should help you move leads farther down the sales funnel.
To show how powerful CTAs can be, HubSpot was able to raise its conversion rates by up to 121% by simply using CTAs as anchor texts in its blog posts.
However, not all CTAs work. Follow these rules to craft effective ones:
- Keep it short and simple.
- Use a strong command verb.
- Surround it with white space.
- Remove friction words like “submit” and “fill”, etc.
- Add the pronoun “my” to instill ownership.
Some effective CTAs include:
- For more information on [subject], download our free guide [title of guide and link].
- What are the top three issues your startup is currently facing? Hit me up to chat. I’d love to help you achieve [subject] success!
- If you liked this post, you should check out [another blog post related to the subject].
- Let’s take this to your inbox. I’m in!
- Sign up and save.
Creating content that converts isn’t easy, but it is definitely worth the effort. Following these eight content creation tips will put you well on your way to creating content that delights your audience and turns them into leads and customers.
Remember that as you create content and get to know your audience more, you’ll uncover more pain points and opportunities to serve them with what they need at the right time.