As content marketers, captivating people with words is our bread and butter. But before you can start to entertain any engagement metrics, you need to formulate a clear and concise message that, above everything else, reads well. IN this post, we’ll dive into content readability, why it’s increasingly important, and how to improve yours for better marketing results.
It sounds deceptively simple, especially when you consider how many people think they can write great content. Like any other successful marketing technique, writing is more a science than an art. While there is a creative aspect, the goal of written content is to drive engagement and generate conversions. If that goal is not being met, the first thing that needs to be examined is the content itself and how it’s structured.
Boosting readability doesn’t simply mean eliminating grammatical errors either. Though it’s important to make sure that you know the difference between “its” and “it’s” — that’s only one part of the equation. The real challenge comes in actually getting your words to resonate with your reader on a deeper level. You want to be convincing and compelling enough with your words that the reader will take an actionable response.
This desired result stems from a number of different factors, but it all starts with some key writing fundamentals. In order to ensure your content is truly connecting with your audience, you need to understand how readability can contribute to its success as a marketing vessel.
Always Put the Customer First
Just like the product or service you’re trying to sell to them, your content needs to have the same level of detailed customer focus. There are tons of companies that just think of their content as an opportunity to talk about themselves at great length. Not only does that usually fail to accomplish anything in terms of your marketing goals — it can also come off as somewhat arrogant.
You need to think about how the content you’re writing is helping the reader. Is it answering a question? Is it solving a problem? Is it giving them more context with regard to a particular feature? Find out what kind of content is most useful to your audience and build from there. One helpful way to do this is to look at search intent (you can use tools like Google Analytics, Google Adwords, or SEMRush, Moz or Arefs). Pay really close attention to the types of questions your audience is typing in as a search query, and cross check your content to make sure it answers those queries. Once you’ve figured it out, the focus of your content needs to be established early and repeated often in an informative, entertaining, and educational manner.
Never underestimate the power of relatability either. A great way to establish an immediate connection with your readers is to make them understand that you, representing the company, have experienced similar frustrations. If you’re just dictating a set of instructions or orders to the reader, no rapport is being built which then makes it much more difficult for them to trust you as an authority. You’re essentially trying to get readers to trust you without them knowing that’s exactly what you’re trying to do.
Simplify Your Content
You’ve heard the saying “less is more.” When it comes to the writing process, this is something that every single content writer should live and die by.
First off, you’re not in university writing a thesis. Racking up a tab of ten-dollar words is a great way to turn your readers off almost immediately. This might be acceptable in an academic setting, but there’s simply no room for it in marketing. Your goal is to ensure the real message behind your content is coming through as clearly as possible.
To that effect, if there’s a particularly complicated concept you’re trying to explain — it has to be simplified in an easily digestible way for the reader. As the writer, you need to take those complex ideas and lay them out in a way that any member of your audience can understand. Rest assured, even if you’re creating content for a new English literature app, writing a blog post in the narrative style of Beowulf won’t help customer retention.
Make your content accessible. Replace long run-on sentences with short and sweet ones that pack a punch. Don’t add words at random to hit a magical word count because your audience will see right through it. Every word and sentence you include needs to serve the purpose of helping the reader while simultaneously pushing your marketing message.
Consistency and Criticism Are Your Friends
Once you’ve enjoyed some success with the pieces of content you’re producing, you need to capitalize on it. This isn’t the time to take your foot off the gas and get lazy — give your readers a reason to keep coming back.
Keep track of which pieces have had the highest engagement and been able to spark conversion rates. Knowing the exact kind of content your audience expects will help you craft stronger pieces that have purpose. Remember to cut bad habits and constantly evaluate your writing with a fresh set of eyes.
You can even take it a step further and welcome your readers to share what they would like to read from you. The only sure-fire way to ensure your content is addressing their needs is by including them in the process. Think about it: who better to evaluate the strength of your readability than the people who are actually reading it?
Taking constructive criticism is also crucial part of the writing process and something you shouldn’t be scared of. Embrace it. Take those lessons with you to continue churning out great content at the level your audience expects.
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