Writing content for an online audience is telling a story that people would want to hear, and communicating something that could help someone else.
But how do I know what to say? Who am I actually writing for? What’s the difference between content for B2B and B2C markets?
At GHI Internet Services, we’ve been writing content for an online audience for more than 15 years now. Here are a few tips that we’ve used to help us help others.
Part 1: How to write good content: make it easy to read.
- Be conversational – Use the words “I” and “you.”
- Keep it simple, stupid – Don’t try to impress with big vocabulary words. Write at a level a fifth-grader could understand.
- Get to the point – People read for a point. The quicker you get to it, the better. No one likes reading fluff.
- Write small paragraphs – No longer than 5 to 7 lines.
- Dress up the text – Use the bold, h2, italics, and underline functions to make your content easily accessible and easily skimmable.
- Write catchy headlines and sub-headlines – Communicate urgency. Generate curiosity. Make a promise. Offer tips to help fix people’s problems. People read headlines to figure out if they’ll read the rest of the content. If your headlines are boring — or worse yet, you don’t use sub-headlines — very few people will read the rest of what you have to say.
- A picture says a thousand words
- Let your personality shine – You’re an interesting person. Be vulnerable. Tell a joke. Let your readers get to know you.
- Tell a story – Stories hook readers and keep them entertained. In any event, that’s what our lives are: stories. Tell a good one.
Part 2: Writing Good B2C Content:
- Be trendy – Trendy content tends to do better than evergreen content in a B2C market. In general, consumers want to be entertained. Be relevant.
- Be quick – The faster you break a story, the more readers you’ll get. Stay on top of Twitter and Google Trends to see what’s hot. Watch the news like a hawk. And then pounce! (er… strike!)
- Visuals > text – This one is simple and commonsensical: consumers want images and videos, not text.
- Incorporate pop culture – You will get more interest, visits, and social shares if you can incorporate what’s happening in the world into your content. (On an unrelated note, did you see that Peyton Manning has passed for 510 touchdowns, passing Brett Favre’s previous record of 508?)
- Use emotional visuals – The three most popular emotions to evoke are: awe, laughter, and amusement.
- Generate lots of content – In the B2B world, you can get away with posting only once a week. In the consumer world, you need to post multiple times a day if you want to generate a large audience.
- Consumers want to participate – Did you know that 8 out of the 10 most shared articles on the web in 2013 were quizzes? Why quizzes? They’re fun and competitive.
- Keep it light – Typically, consumers read B2C content during their downtime: breaks, lunch-time, and while watching TV (and yes, even in the restroom). Don’t overwhelm. Keep it light.
Part 3: Writing Good B2B Content:
- Justify your argument with stats, stats, and more stats. Not only are they typically short (and easy to read). They are also compelling. Using relevant statistics from credible sources helps you build trust with your audience.
- Highlight your successes – Have you done this before, and if so, are you good at it? Showcasing your accomplishments makes it more likely that people will listen to what you say — and more likely to purchase from you.
- Ask for action –
- Question #1: What do you want your readers to do when they’re done reading? Fill out a form? Leave a comment? Visit your products page? Call your 1-800 number?
- Question #2: Do they know what to do next? If you don’t ask them, they won’t know.
- Write evergreen content – Blog posts that respond to recent events in the news can be beneficial, but evergreen content — content that doesn’t get old after a year or two — tends to do better in the B2B world.
- Update your content – your evergreen content won’t stay evergreen unless you keep it up-to-date. This will also allow you to redistribute your content every time you update it.
- Solve your customers’ problems – What problems prevent your customers from increasing their bottom line? Writing good, instructional content to fix a bug or two — even if it is not 100% related to your products or services — will increase the likelihood of your customers coming back. Note: a great way to solve a problem is through an instructional video or infographic.
- Transform your text into visuals – B2B content is often overloaded with stats and data. Words, words, words: they’re harder to digest than a well laid-out infographic.
There’s no sure-fire way to writing — no formula to make your blog post go viral. And that’s good news. Because good writing is simply this: telling a story and helping others. Stories aren’t formulaic. And assisting others isn’t mechanical.
However, using these tips to tell your story will help increase interest, traffic, and conversions.
Visit our site to learn more about our content development processes.