Would you like to engage with your readers rather than just talk at them?
By now you’ve probably heard that engaging, well-written content is the key to establishing a memorable, trustworthy brand. Whether you’re writing website copy, a blog post, or case studies, good storytelling builds active readership and, over time, turns those readers into customers.
Here are 7 important tips, adapted from my Blog Writing Checklist, that can put into immediate action to help elevate your content today:
7 Tips to Write Better Content
1. Be clear about your writing goals
Do you want your content to differentiate you as an expert? Of course! But the more important purpose of your writing should be to let your prospects see themselves in your writing. When you achieve that, your readers will feel that you understand them.
Your readers want to be understood. Everyone does! Good content gives readers the feeling that you “get” them, that you know their questions and can provide answers, and that your content has the potential to enhance their lives. Strong writing builds your readers’ trust. When they trust you, they’ll remember you when it comes time for them to make their buying decisions.
2. Write directly to your reader
Isn’t it nice to feel like someone is speaking to you, and not just in vague, general terms? Address your content in the second person using “you” and “your” to help your readers to feel like you’re speaking directly to them.
3. Ask agreeable questions
Just think about how much more engaged your readers will feel when they start off by immediately agreeing with you! When you open your copy with a question that readers will answer “yes” to, it makes them feel like you understand them and that your article is
just what they’re looking for to answer their important questions. And you know something? If they keep saying “yes” consistently, they’ll start to feel that your product or service is for them, too!
4. Engage Readers with Trigger Words
Remember that your purpose is to engage readers. It’s effective to use trigger words that get your readers thinking. Imagine how much more engaged your audience will be if you provoke them to stop, think, and consider. The words “remember” and “imagine” act as triggers for your readers. Other trigger words include, “consider,” “picture this,” and questions like “what if?” These triggers work because they get your readers thinking, which makes for good storytelling and a more engaged audience.
Using the word “because” is an impactful trigger; it tells your readers that they’re about to receive an answer to substantiate your idea. Don’t forget that people read your copy because they want to get something out of it. Using “because” as often as possible gives
them answers that will justify the worth of your content.
5. Use fewer adverbs
You may think that adverbs are emphasizing your point, but they are actually weakening your statements. Words like “very” and “really” don’t make your point stronger. Instead, use more powerful verbs. Consider the difference between:
She really likes ice cream. vs. She adores ice cream.
Using the verb “to adore” instead of “to like” depicts a more powerful emotion and makes for stronger storytelling. There are also other ways to express strong statements that don’t overuse weak, repetitive adverbs: She’s crazy about ice cream. Rather than relying on adverbs, look for stronger ways to emphasize your point.
6. Use Formatting to Stand Out
Reading online is not like reading print. On the internet, your readers are bombarded by information. When they land on your page, they make a split-second decision to stick around or leave. In your website’s analytics, the frequency measurement of how quickly people click, glance, and then leave is called the bounce rate.
If you can capture people’s attention quickly by making your copy feel inviting and easy to digest, people will stay on your website longer and you’ll have a lower bounce rate. You can win over more readers by formatting your content with the online medium in mind:
- Break up ideas with shorter paragraphs
- Use more white space
- Create bulleted and numbered lists
- Include more H1, H2, and H3 headers
- Bold, underline, italicize, and capitalize important words
- Long paragraphs don’t read well on the internet. Hit the enter/return key more often to break up your ideas and create more white space.
Bulleted and numbered lists make your content easier to skim, and it makes your content feel less intimidating. This is also a great way to create more white space.
Clearly written headings highlight your content’s value and break up your copy into digestible chunks that are easy to skim. When you format your headings using H1, H2, and H3, not only do you create a bigger font size, but it’s also good for your SEO. Use bold, underlined, italicized, and CAPITALIZED words to draw the readers’ eyes to key ideas and break up the monotony of the page.
7. Speak with an active voice
Do you know how to recognize an active voice vs. a passive voice?
Active Voice: William Shakespeare wrote many great works of literature.
Passive Voice: Many great works of literature were written by William Shakespeare.
Confident, direct storytelling is more engaging, right? Using an active voice is effective because it gives your writing decisiveness. Learn to recognize passive sentences and change them to an active voice. One of the main ways to spot a passive voice is searching for the word “by”. You can see it in the example above: “Many great works of literature were written by William Shakespeare.”
Positioning your sentences with by is an indication of the passive voice and way can feel overly formal, dated, and just plain dull. Anytime you use that word, stop and consider if there’s a more active way to make your point.
How effective are these writing tips?
According to research, trends, and the analytics behind popular blogs and websites across the internet, these tips work for professional writers and they can work for you, too. So what are you waiting for? Pick an angle that has both a problem and a solution, put on your storytelling hat, and start to engage. With these writing techniques, your readers will be able to see themselves in your writing, helping to establish the trusting reader-writer relationship that you’re looking for.
Mandi Gould is a social media marketer, copywriter, and project manager for Barker Social™. She’s a results-driven planner with an unstoppable ability to churn out quality marketing content. Her creative spirit, project management skills, and copywriting ability make her a marketing dynamo. She is also a bird lover, health foodie, jazz enthusiast, and swing dancer.