As much as we’d all love to think we’re the next James Patterson or Arianna Huffington, the reality is we’re content marketers. We write content to sell stuff. So there’s absolutely no point pouring hours of time and love into writing an article for your company blog if it doesn’t have all the juicy content marketing elements in it. Then it’s just an article.
Is it useful? Yes.
But is it going to help sell whatever it is you’re selling? Probably not.
If you’ve planned your article well (using a handy template like this free article planner) you should have covered all these areas. But if you went in all gung-ho like a kid in a candy shop, don’t worry! There’s still time to fix it.
Here are 5 key questions you must ask yourself before you hit “publish” on your next article. If you answer “no” to any of them, your article probably needs a bit more love before it’s going to bring you in the results you want.
1. Have you answered your reader’s problem?
The fundamental truth of content marketing is identifying pain points and showing ways to solve them. Even when it’s not a direct “how-to” article (e.g. a thought leadership piece on the future of the workplace) you’re still speaking to their problem of uncertainty about the future.
Once they’ve read your article, your reader should feel like they can go out into the world and confidently tackle their problem head-on using the solutions you’ve proposed.
2. Have you linked to a product or service?
The point of content marketing is to sell something. That may seem blunt and un-romantic but it’s the truth.
No matter where in the buying cycle your content comes into play, it should always align to one of your products or services. Otherwise there is zero point putting the time and effort into creating it. That’s not to say your product or service should be the star of the show, it absolutely should not. Your insights and ideas need to remain the focus with your products and serviced subtly weaved in .
3. Have you addressed your reader’s emotion?
You might think that content is a transactional thing: Your readers have a problem, you provide ideas to solve the problem.
But it’s much more visceral than that.
Good content (like good business) is about connecting with people. It’s about identifying what feelings exist around their problem. Whether they’re overwhelmed at the amount of work that needs to be done, confused about the many options to choose from, or nervous about learning a new skill. Your content should build empathy around these problems and then change these negative emotions into positive ones by giving them practical advice and solutions.
4. Are your keywords in all the right places?
If you’ve gone to the trouble of doing some keyword research for your article (and you absolutely should if you want people to find you through Google), you now need to put those keywords into your article.
Where do they go though?
There are 8 key places your keywords need to go to help you rank for them (of course there’s a lot more that goes into SEO than keywords, but I’ll leave that to the SEO experts).
- First 100 words of text
- Image ALT Tags
- Image file names
- Meta title and description
- Internal links
For more details on where and how to include your keywords, check out this article from SEO Queen Kate Toon.
5. Have you told them what you want them to do next?
A clear call to action is a crucial and often missed element of a good content marketing piece. Don’t assume that people know what you want them to do next. Don’t even assume that they know who you are (remember they may have come from Google and landing on your page without any context).
Give them a crystal clear instruction on ONE THING you want them to do next.
- Visit a page on your site
- Download an eBook or whitepaper
- Fill in your contact form
- Sign up for a free demo
Make sure this call to action aligns with where they are in the buyers’ journey. e.g. don’t ask someone who has just become aware of their problem to buy your product. That’s like proposing to someone on Tinder. Not cool.
With that, here comes my call to action…
Drowning in drafts? Consumed by copy? Wallowing in words? I can help.
I help marketing managers and business leaders write high-quality content so they can get back to the big-picture, strategic stuff that matters. Using your company’s unique insights, I write articles, eBooks, thought leadership pieces, whitepapers and case studies that show your prospects why they should become your customers.
Book a free 15 minute discovery call. Tell me about your content woes and together we’ll find a way forward.