Hello everyone – welcome to another Digitize Your Firm webinar! Today’s topic? Content Marketing, a personal favorite of mind.
For anyone joining us who is a content specialist or for those who aren’t quite sure what content marketing is, I welcome all comments and questions. simply click the green speech bubble at the top of the screen to open the chat and either type out your comment or ask to speak. If you haven’t already, be sure to click the ‘phone’ icon next to it to ensure your audio is connected.
As with all Digitize Your Firm webinars, this will be recorded for later playback in case you wanted extra time with a certain section or for listening on the go. If you haven’t already, visit the Weekly Webinar Schedule on our Digitize Your Firm page to check out our past webinars.
Now, let’s go over today’s agenda.
Our first topic is going to be an introduction to content marketing, followed up the key tips you need to begin your journey as a content marketer. We’ll be taking a trip back to grade school and going over some common grammatical mistakes you should look out for – some well-known, some not well known. As always, we’ll finish with a review and next week’s topic.
Excited? Let’s begin!
We talked a lot about content writing in our webinars, but this week we’re going to dig deep and uncover some ideas and strategies that are sure to aid in your overall online marketing. Content marketing is a huge factor in inbound marketing and creating ways for leads to find their way to you. Inbound marketing, providing valuable content and information to consumers, is turning into the go-to marketing method for several reasons.
But why? Well, it’s more affordable. Inbound marketing costs 62 percent less than traditional outbound marketing. Yet, inbound marketing creates three times more leads.
Secondly, people are interested in the content that is generated. 46 percent of people read blogs more than once a day.
So, if you’re not using inbound marketing as part of your marketing strategy then you are missing a huge percentage of your potential audience.
Where to start?
A big issue with inbound marketing is that marketers don’t always know how to best approach creating and promoting content. A great way to generate a lot of interest in your content is with a blog.
A blog is a great place to share industry information in short appealing articles. If you are a veterinarian, maybe you could write a 400-word article on how to take care of your dog’s teeth. An automotive dealer could write a short piece on how to pick the right car.
These topics may not seem similar but they have one big thing in common: consumers want to know these things. The dog owner wants to know about the dental care and the car buyer is looking for a guide on purchasing a car.
By being the one to provide this information you gain the trust of the consumer: something not easily done in traditional marketing.
As the industry expert, you know what your customers want to read. But, do you know how they read?
Nielsen Norman Group performed a study where they found that most people skimmed web pages in an F-shaped pattern. This means several things:
Paragraphs should be kept short, bullet points contain easy-to-read information, subheadings draw in your attention, and the first few paragraphs are jam-packed with information to get you engaged. These techniques encourage F-shape reading and present the key points where the reader is more apt to look.
But, where do you find readers in the first place?
Creating the content is only half the battle. Promoting your content is the other half. There are a couple of ways you can generate interest in your blog:
The first two make sense automatically but how does commenting on other blogs help?
Well, by reading other blogs you get a good sense of what are the big issues and trends out there. Commenting is very important, however, because it shows you are engaged with the blogging community.
Commenting also gives you a chance to include your blog URL in your signature. This means you can redirect engaged readers to your blog with your comment.
Speaking of directing readers to your own blog, let’s look at some tips to get your fingers ready to write or type.
Some people out there seem to think that writers are gods that commune with muses and tap into some creative ether that is only available to them. Writing seems intimidating and untouchable.
So, here are some easy steps to begin writing your own content and becoming a true writer.
First off – pick your topic. One of the biggest pitfalls of content writing is that the subject becomes muddled. Without a clear focus, your writing may become distracted and wander in and out of topics. This dilutes your message and may confuse your subscribers. This point may seem obvious to some, but it’s absolutely, without a doubt, critical. By honing in on exactly what you’re trying to push, it’ll make your writing better and more effective.
Now, do your research and thoroughly research both your topic and what other people have been writing about it. Look at facts and figures that could draw your audience in, such as the ones I mentioned at the start of the section – make sure that you cite your sources, and link to the material in case others want to learn more.
Then – just start writing. Maybe your research has shown you that there is a certain angle of a topic that hasn’t been explored, or perhaps there is so little on your topic that you’re beginning to generate interest around it. Either way, just start writing. It’s as simple as that. Don’t worry about what you’re writing, and don’t fall into self-criticism. And, don’t stop writing until you’re satisfied that you made your point.
If you’re having a hard time concentrating – take care of the distractions. Forward your emails, close your office door or block out time for writing. On average, many brilliant writers write continuously for a half an hour and then stop. Trust me, this trick seems daunting at first, but with practice, it’ll help you hone your writing.
When you’re done, read it out loud. Read your piece even before you run it through grammar checker. By reading it aloud, you’ll be able to catch grammatical and spelling mistakes grammar checker often overlooks (say, interchanging “there” for “their”). Also, you’ll get a feel for the flow and whether you’ve covered your topic thoroughly.
If you aren’t sure what I mean by flow, consider interesting books or articles you’ve read. It wasn’t just an assortment of sentences after another, each one the same length, with the same punctuation. Some wrote in small sentences at first. Just statements. Then they start to write a slightly longer sentence.
Perhaps the words were simple and started to get more sophisticated. Maybe they even created a run-on sentence and went for three lines before stopping. How you want your piece to flow is entirely up to you, but try experimenting with different forms of punctuation, sentence length, and word choice.
Interested in a second opinion on your work? Ask someone to look it over. While it may seem intimidating, and bring up fears of criticism, this trick immediately improve your writing. If your colleague doesn’t understand your point (and they work with you!), how can you expect your subscribers to? You can’t. A pair of fresh eyes will always catch something you’ve accidentally overlooked, such as topic you may have missed or a question you can answer.
Finally – don’t be afraid to put it away. If you have an email marketing strategy, chances are you’re not writing your content at the last minute. (If you’re rushing, then it shows in your writing!) By planning, you’re giving yourself ample time to develop your content.
Everyone becomes bored with something they stared at for hours on end. You’ll begin to hate it and think that everything you wrote is wrong. By setting aside your edited and reviewed content for a day or even a couple of hours, makes your content fresh and engaging. You’ll be able to spot any additional tweaks.
By following these tips, the content in your email marketing newsletters will really start to shine which will lead to more leads, sales, introduction, website visitors, and more!
Now, how do you feel about your grammar?
Any content writer knows that there are innumerable pitfalls to avoid when writing to make sure that content is both grammatically correct and properly spelled. They know they must be super vigilant not to fall into some of the common spelling and grammar traps that will consequently reduce the quality and credibility of their writing.
Even spelling correctors in your word processors can’t save you every time. Sure, you spelled the word correctly, say “your” but what you really meant to write is “you’re.” Without an eagle eye and a figurative red pen, your content may be beautifully spelled but entirely confusing. Not to mention the fact that ISPs use bad spelling as a flag for overall deliverability.
To help ensure your content is of the highest caliber, here are some of the most common misspelled and misused words in content writing to keep an eye out for in your writing.
1. Their, There and They’re: “Their” implies ownership; “there” is a location; and “they’re” is a contraction for “they are.” They’re sitting over there, next to their dog.
2. Fewer and Less: “Fewer” is used when describing countable items, whereas “less” is used for items that are not able to be counted. “I have less free time than my brother, but I also have fewer bills.”
3. Maybe and May be: “Maybe” is like “sure.” Where “may be” implies that something might be something. Your dinner may be late because I’m still working.
4. It’s and Its: This one is counterintuitive. Normally, an “’s” means ownership. But here, “it’s” is a contraction for “it is” and “its” is possessive.
5. Affect and Effect: To make this distinct, think of “side-effect.” The side-effect of your medication you’re on may make writing more difficult. “Affect” implies emotion, like, the music affected me so much that I sang along.
6. Capital and Capitol: One refers to money and the other, government. “Capital” refers to currency and “capitol” is those buildings and monuments that represent the country.
7. Elicit and Illicit: “Elicit” draws out and “illicit” is, well, dirty. “The song elicited deep emotions, but the illicit lyrics
kept it from pop stardom.”
8. Than and Then: “Than” compares more than one thing, where “then” is an result of something. “This rose is redder than the one you have.” For “then,” think like this: “If I take your rose, then you’ll be mad at me.”
9. To and Too: “Too” means also or a lot of something. The couch is too big to fit through the door. If you remember “too,” then “to” becomes easier to distinguish.
10. Anyway and Anyways: Simply, there isn’t an “s” at the end of “anyway.” Those who add the “s” are doing so incorrectly.
It’s also worth mentioning that you need to write for your audience – in both wording and grammar. If you’re a country in the UK writing content for a client base in the States, you’re going to have start dropping the ‘u’ from the word color and switching around the ‘r’ & ‘e’ in Centre. If you find yourself stuck or unsure of a phrase – Google it! Chances are you aren’t the first person to ask the question (and you won’t be the last).
Now, let’s review.
1. When it comes to content marketing, not only is it a budget friendly way to draw in more leads, but can provide you with a chance to contribute to the discourse in your industry. Think about commonly asked questions you get about your service, product, or your industry in general – what do your customers, clients, or colleagues want to know about? Remember that when people read content, they do so in an F shape – meaning that you need to grab them within the first two paragraphs, provide able space and avoid creating a wall of text. A great way to get your original content out there is to share on your website or social media channels and to comment on other blogs while linking back to yours.
2. When it comes writing your own content – consider a topic you want to write about, research it, and go! Try to minimize distractions as you write, and don’t be afraid to blog out chunks of time dedicated to solely getting your thoughts on paper. Experiment with flow and punctuation, and sprinkle in cited figures and facts to back up your opinions and thoughts. When you’re done, considering having someone review it for thoughts and insights. If you have to, don’t be afraid to tuck it away to review again later with a fresh set of eyes.
3. Then we talked grammar, and went over the many faux pas and pitfalls writers can sometimes fall into. Keep your apostrophes close and when it doubt, just write it out. Don’t forget to stay conscious to the audience your writing to, as spelling and grammar that you use may seem flawed to them and vice versa depending on the country and structure.
Next week, we’re going to stay on the content marketing train and talk about every writer’s worst enemy – writer’s block. We’re also going to give you advice on getting your content out into the wild world and a few tips from our own expert marketers how to be a content marketing pro!