When it comes to writing a piece of content, you can separate your goals into two categories: the headline, and the body content. The headline of your article will decide your topic, and how appealing it seems to potential readers. In effect, it’s how you’ll get people to your site (and your article) in the first place. Your body content, on the other hand, is all about keeping people there—and delivering on what you’ve promised.
Headlines take a lot of work to perfect, and they tend to get a lot of attention from copywriters, but your body copy is just as important. Without a solid body to deliver on your promises and cement readers’ impressions of your brand, your article could end up doing more harm than good.
To make sure your body matches the quality and intrigue of your headline (or if you just want to make your content a little bit better), try these 10 strategies:
Don’t allow your content to become a stagnant lump of material. If a user gets to your web page and sees an impenetrable block of text, he/she might bounce immediately. Instead, break your content down into steps. You don’t have to be formal with a “step one, step two” approach, but you do have to use sub-headers and smaller sections to walk your readers through an idea.
When your audience feels like you truly understand them, they’ll be much more immersed in your content. Take the time to understand what the true pain points for your readers are, and address them as specifically as possible (and early on in the piece). For example, you could start with a brief hypothetical story like “you’ve already done _____, but it didn’t work out. Now, you need _____ and you don’t know what to do.”
This isn’t strictly a writing tip, but it will help you keep your readers happier. Break up all your written text with some visual elements—what those elements are is up to you. They could be photos, memes, embedded videos, or even hand-drawn doodles. As long as the supplement your text in some way, they’ll be an added value to the integrity of your piece.
If you’re explaining something complex to your audience, try using a metaphor to illustrate it in more abstract terms. You’ll have to get creative for this, but I guarantee your metaphor will make almost any idea more understandable and more relatable. If you can frame that metaphor as a brief narrative, the effects will be compounded.
People appreciate trust indicators and third-party verifications. The more you make reference to outside sources, the stronger your material is going to seem. Cite specific authorities on the issue your readers might recognize, or mention the credentials of ones they might not. It’s also valuable to cite sources on different sides of the argument, to show you’ve thoroughly done your research.
This is especially useful for dense technical articles; try to simplify your main points into the bare-bones takeaways. This will help readers more thoroughly understand your points. For example, you could write something like “hold the first chopstick between your thumb and forefinger, resting slightly on your middle finger,” then follow up with “it’s like holding a pencil” to clarify your point.
The stronger and more confident you are in your points, the more interested people are going to be in reading your material. Making a list of neutral facts is uninspiring, and will leave most readers feeling cold or alienated. Instead, pronounce your opinions with fervor and add more energy to your writing.
No matter how professional or “stuffy” your brand strives to be, there’s always room for a little humor. You can crack jokes, make memes, or be more subtle with tongue-in-cheek references; the point is to liven up your text with more playful language. Do this, and your readers will be see your piece as being more approachable and fun to read.
When you’re trying to achieve a certain length or elaborate on your most important points, it’s easy to fall into the “fluff” trap, writing additional words and explanations that don’t have to be there. This material adds volume to your piece without adding value, making the piece inherently weaker, so before you publish any piece, go through and eliminate as many unnecessary words and phrases as you can. It may end up shorter, but it will end up more concise and readable as well.
At the end of each paragraph, or each section, take the time to give your readers a mini-recap—only a sentence long in some cases. This will help your readers follow along with the most important takeaways, and also makes the piece more “skimmable” to readers in a rush or those coming back for a second glance.
Together, these 10 strategies can make almost any article instantly better. Cumulatively, they’ll give your readers a better format, tell a more engaging story, and make the entire reading experience a little more pleasant. Do this enough, and your brand reputation will grow—and you’ll probably get more conversions along the way thanks to the increased customer respect and trust.
Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here: The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.