How much content do people read online?
That’s a tough question.
There’s a lot of content on any topic you could imagine; that’s for sure. But not all of it is successful.
Slate, a pretty popular online magazine, published the results of an interesting case study back in 2013. As it turned out, 5% of readers never went beyond the very top of the page. They immediately bounced off. Most of the remaining visitors only read up to 60% of the content.
Screenshot 1. Source
What does this tell us?
Slate is a high-quality online source, and people still don’t read everything it serves. When you’re just launching your content marketing campaign, the levels of engagement will probably be lower. So you have to work really hard to get visitors at your website and keep them there.
With proper content, everything is possible.
We’ll share a few important tips on how you can write engaging content that will get the attention of your target audience.
What Does Engaging Content Mean, Anyway?
The definition is obvious: it’s the kind of content that your audience wants to read. It’s the kind of content that gets their attention from the very first second and holds it until they finish reading/viewing it.
And if we’re talking about really engaging content, it will still keep them at the website. The visitor will like what the information they just got, so they will explore the other pages to dig a bit deeper.
If you’re selling products or services, engaging content will trigger a buying decision. And if the purpose of this content is to get you likes, shares and comments, that’s exactly what you’ll get.
How Do You Write This Engaging Content?
1. Never Start Without a Plan
Superb content requires detailed planning.
Before you start writing something, you need to decide:
- What topic are you going to choose?
- What keywords are you going to target?
- How will you tackle that topic; what’s your main point?
- What’s the main factor of engagement? What will make your content different from what your competitors offer?
- What kind of solution will you offer?
- How will you support your claims with facts?
- What format will you choose for this content?
You see? Pretty simple questions that require direct answers.
Those answers will help you craft an outline for your content. In case this is textual content, you’ll plan what you’ll write in the introduction, body, and conclusion. You’ll plan your arguments, so you won’t get distracted into digressions when you start writing.
If it’s video content, you’ll plan the script. If it’s an infographic, you’ll plan everything from text to colors to design.
Planning is more complex than most content marketers assume. It involves analytics. You need to dig into the analytics of your website, so you’ll understand what type of content your audience likes the most. You’ll see what topics got their interest, and you’ll see how they reacted to different lengths. That’s what Google Analytics is for.
In addition, you need to check what your competitors deliver, and you’ll analyze the reaction your audience has to their content.
Planning is a very complex process. It’s also essential to the success of your content marketing campaign.
2. Develop Your Buyer Persona and Write for Them
Your content will be engaging when it’s specifically written for a certain category of people.
When someone lands at your webpage and reads the content, you want them to be thinking it was personally written for them. It should identify the real issues they face, and it should provide solutions that work.
That’s why you need to create your buyer persona.
This is a fictive person that encompasses the average features of your target audience. You’ll be writing for a person of a specific age, profession, wealth, and interests. If, for example, you’re trying to sell fitness leggings that aim to a young audience, you’ll be writing content for a woman in her mid-twenties, with average income and with a thing for fashion.
How can you create this buyer persona?
It’s all about analyzing your target audience. You may even conduct a survey to get the average measures for age, income, spending capacity, and more.
When you have this buyer persona, you’ll be writing content to directly address them. You’ll write in a conversational tone and you’ll suggest specific actions to help them solve problems.
So if you consider hiring freelance or college paper writers to help you with content development, make sure to specify the buyer persona for them.
3. Write According to the Inverted Pyramid Model
When you plan the outline for your content, it’s best to use the so-called “inverted pyramid” model. In other words, you’ll provide the essential information at the top of the page. You’ll explain what the point of the article is, and you’ll promise a great solution.
Then, you’ll gradually start providing the specifics.
Think of the essays you used to write as a college student. In the introduction, you didn’t waste space with fillers. You went straight to the point and delivered a thesis statement. Then, in the body of the paper, you tackled that thesis statement with specifics.
Engaging website content should come in a similar (although much looser) format. You won’t write in the academic language, but you’ll still deliver the most important facts right at the top.
Remember: your audience doesn’t have an impressive attention span. If you don’t capture their interest right at the start, you can’t expect them to read further.
4. Write Clearly
Have you ever watched a TED talk?
That’s a great example of engaging content.
You start watching and you get consumed by the speech in a matter of seconds.
That’s because these people are experts in their niches, but they speak in a way that anyone can understand. That doesn’t mean they are talking down to you. Yes; they know much more than the average member of their audience, but they are still very respectful in the way they explain things. However, they use plain terms to explain even the most complex concepts.
Let’s take a talk as an example and see how it’s written. We’ll choose Dana Kanze’s The real reason female entrepreneurs get less funding. You’ll see that she starts with personal experience, and she quickly relates it to the topic. Then she digs into the complex matter without overwhelming the audience with advanced terminology.
That’s what engaging content is all about: a clear explanation of complex issues.
In terms of simplicity, active voice is an essential requirement. Sure; passive voice is not a grammar sin. It’s part of English grammar and it’s perfectly fine for you to use it when it belongs in your sentences.
But when you write for the online audience, it’s an active voice that will have their attention. It’s much clearer. Passive is boring.
5. Pay Attention to Proper Formatting
Let’s make an experiment, shall we?
Take any article from a popular website. For example, let’s take 7 Money-Saving Steps to Take Before Year’s End from HuffPost.
Copy all the content from that article and paste it into a blank document. Then, get rid of the subheadings, visuals, and blank spaces. Just leave it as a chunk of text.
Try to read it.
It’s hard, isn’t it?
Then, read it as it’s provided at the webpage. It’s better, right?
Engagement has a lot to do with formatting.
So make sure to use headers and subheaders. Keep your paragraphs below four lines. A big chunk of text is overwhelming to the reader’s eyes.
In addition, don’t forget to add visuals. Charts, videos, images, or graphs will capture the point of your text and will make it clearer. However, they will also allow the reader to rest their eyes from the text. They break up the content, so it seems less challenging to read.
6. Keep them at The Website
Of course, you want your website visitors to read the content you prepared for them. However, you also want to keep them at the website.
Even if you’re not selling anything and we’re talking about a website full of articles, you still want them there. You want them to check out other content, which they could also engage with.
At websites like HuffPost, you’ll notice that most articles contain internal links. They guide you to other pages at the same website.
That’s a great strategy that takes engagement to the next level. When you keep people browsing through your website, their activity will affect your SEO rankings. Google will recognize your website as a useful one, so it will move it higher in the search results. It takes a lot of work for you to get there, but it’s possible.
The Ultimate Tip: Always Write for Your Audience
That’s the main rule to remember.
Even if you’re using keywords for the sake of search engine optimization, it doesn’t mean you’re writing for the search engine. You’re writing for the person who’s supposed to read this content. That’s why you have to deliver content that people like reading.
You’ll understand what that content is if you invest a lot of time and effort in research and planning. When you have your parameters, it will be easier for you to deliver engaging content to your audience.