Writing involves a lot of work. Getting your message across with the impact you want means lots of time researching, re-reading, tweaking, reordering, cutting – and sometimes starting over because, well, that idea just didn’t work.
In the age of content marketing, where informative, journalistic content makes up the vast majority of your overall content production, it is important for you to know what makes for great writing – whether you personally contribute to the writing efforts or not.
There is a ton of digital marketing content out there that is pretty low in quality, partly due to the rush to get it out without having the infrastructure in place to do it properly. Many companies rely on senior staff to contribute articles alongside their regular job, with the result that a good deal of the content produced lacks focus and depth and reads like an afterthought that was knocked out in a hurry – which it often is.
This is a problem because the association between your content and your company offering is direct. If you’re producing content that is of mediocre quality, your audience may subconsciously come to the conclusion that your products and services must also be mediocre.
The converse, however, gives us plenty to smile about. Good content is good for your sales and for your personal reputation.
So how can you make sure your digital marketing is delivering great content every time? Here are five hallmarks of great content:
1. Great writing is relevant to your audience: For B2B in particular, relevance comes from producing content that will help your audience do their job better, reduce costs for their company, increase revenue, improve efficiencies and so on. So to ensure your content is consistently relevant, you need to have the right frameworks in place for generating strong content ideas. At Silx we use a few different frameworks during our content idea generation workshops, including problem-solution, sales cycle, and past content review.
2. Great writing illuminates: There is a difference between simply passing on information and illuminating it in a way that readers understand. Good writers anticipate what information their readers want and what questions they are likely to ask. As you write, you introduce concepts that may prompt more questions; make sure you give that complete story by ensuring all the essential questions are answered.
3. Great writing is well-researched: In the digital age we have incredible resources at our disposal, some of them more reliable than others. Once you become familiar with your subject area you will know which sources to trust and which to approach with caution. Whatever the length of the article, your work should be grounded in strong intelligence and data.
4. Great writing is logical: A good piece of content presents its argument in a way that flows and builds. To ensure this logical flow, there is usually a lot of restructuring and cutting. Think about the order in which you present your concepts and the flow of logic from one point to the next. The entire article should move from title to last word in a manner that takes the reader on a clear journey.
5. Great writing is a great read: This is something that is often overlooked. You can put all the facts, stats and logic into your piece but if it’s dull to read then it won’t hit home. The ability to hold an audience develops with practice but it is also governed by your attitude. Allow your personality to show through, offer personal insights and opinion, but always make sure that any claims are accurate.
Great writing is a collective effort
While the writing process may seem like a one-person show, that is far from the truth when it comes to content marketing. Finding good writers who can cover your industry topics at an expert level is just the start. Add to that an infrastructure of content planners/strategists as well as editors who together ensure each piece is on message and contributes to your overall content marketing strategy.
Cutting corners on any part of the writing process will weaken the final article. Yes, it is a lot of work – and sometimes underappreciated by others inside the company – but if your focus is on giving your audience the quality they deserve, your satisfaction will come directly from them in the form of positive feedback and the money they ultimately spend on your products and services.