23 Tricks Every Copywriter Needs to Master Inbound Marketing

I’ll be honest, I get bored easily.

Whether I’m reading a book, a blog, a magazine, or even a 140 character tweet, if the subject doesn’t pander to my hyperactive brain, I’m out.

But it turns out I’m not alone. According to this infographic, the human attention span is actually shorter than a goldfish!

As content marketers, we need to be able to hold a person’s attention, at least long enough so that they make it through to the next stage of the buyer’s journey.

So forget about the great designers, the strategic growth hackers, or the savvy sales team, I’m going to put my neck on the line and say that in order to be effective at content marketing, it’s the copywriters that hold the most weight.

A copywriter needs to be able to craft the most enticing message possible, but to pull this off, a copywriter also needs to understand the core principles of inbound marketing.

Take a look at these tips to make sure you’re being the best content writer that you can possibly be…

Structure Tips

#1. Break some of those rules you learned in school

The writing that you create for inbound marketing, is a little different to what you would create for a fiction novel, or an essay at school.

In digital marketing, your web visitors aren’t looking to read; they’re looking for actionable advice.

Which is why the best writing is easy. It’s so painfully easy, because that ‘stuffy’ writing you learned in school doesn’t actually matter, it’s the lesson learned that’s truly the key to great writing.

So remember to break the rules a little:

  • Start your sentences with ‘And’, ‘Because’ or ‘But’
  • Write in your speaking voice
  • Don’t use any filler or fluff

And try not to use ‘clever’ words that leave readers trying to crack a morse code, rather than focusing on the subject in question.

#2. Make white space your new best friend

It always baffles me when I click on a post and see reams and reams of text, especially when the content is so good.

If those writers were to just break up their sentences a little, it would strengthen their piece because people are more likely to read through to the end, therefore encouraging more shares and links.

For example, what would you rather read? (I’ve blurred it so I don’t offend anyone!)

This block of text.…

Or this broken up text.…

Breaking up your writing doesn’t mean that the content is lacking, it simply helps the reader digest what you’re trying to say, almost like a digital pause.

So long as the actual content provides value, your white space will be appreciated by your readers.

#3. Remember to PAS

Next tip is to remember your PAS… wait… p..a.. what now?

It stands for:

Pain

Agitate

Solve

And it’s a great little technique to apply to your writing structure.

Whether you’re creating an ebook, a blog article, or even a post on social, I’d recommend using PAS at all times. The idea is to begin your content with the problem that your prospects face, agitate that problem, and then end your content by providing the solution.

Demian Farnworth offers a great example of PAS on Copyblogger.

He starts with the problem:

Agitates that problem to build up an emotional connection with the reader:

And then leads to the solution:

And this rule can be applied for longer forms of content, or snippets on Twitter. Of course, it’s unlikely that you are trying to market bear taming, so find out what your audiences biggest problems are, and start from there.

#4. Never underestimate the power of two dots :

This is a tip I stole from Brian Dean. He likes to call this little thing : a ‘bucket brigade’, but who’s he kidding, it’s a colon.

To follow on from the above tip, if you’re breaking up your writing then a great way to encourage people to read on is by using a colon.

So for example, here you can see how Brian Dean does this within in his posts.

The reason it works?

It encourages more people to read, because it’s almost like a cliff hanger. You have to know what’s coming next, and according to Brianit’s really helped improve his bounce rate.

#5 Relay your readers’ thoughts back to them

When you’re structuring your posts, think about what your readers will be thinking as they go through. If you’re coming to the end of the agitate section of your post, then it’s safe to say they’ll be wondering what the answer is.

By asking a question such as:

“So what’s the solution?”

It’s almost as if you’re relaying what your readers are thinking — they essentially become the writer — and this will help guide them through the post.

#6. Ask questions to encourage interaction

The whole point of inbound marketing is to move people to the next stage in the sales cycle. If you encourage your readers to join in with the conversation of your post, you’ll be far more likely to see them continue to interact with your brand further down the line.

Make sure your content management system has a comments section, and always leave your post asking what the reader thinks so that you can build a growing community of potential prospects.

Here’s an example of this in action on the Ahref’s blog:

#7. Use bullets/numbers to summarise

Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try, some people just won’t read your content. That’s why every piece you write should have a summary, a takeaway, or a lesson learned.

By including a bullet/number point summary at the end of each point you’re making, will help your ‘lazy’ readers still get value from your post.

Another great tip that I’ve picked up is from a blog Bastian Ernst. It included at the top, what the lessons will be before the reader has a chance to read it. That way, the reader can see how relevant the post is to them, which will weed out any time-wasters, and also set the person on track to move through each inbound marketing stage.

#8. Always, always, use visual examples

People need to see visuals in a post, because according to research, we’re built to be visual learners.

In fact, we remember 80% of what we see when compared to 20% of what we read, and we process visuals 60,000x faster than we do text.

I know this is disappointing news for every copywriter to hear, but text still does matter, honest.

It’s just what you do with the text, that counts.

By using visual examples to back up what your text is saying, you’ll have created a much stronger piece of writing that people will be more likely to read until the end!

#9. Create emotional connections

So I mentioned earlier that you should keep your copy simple and get to the point, but within that, you should use your talent to create an emotional connection with your readers, so that they become invested within your brand.

If you want to create copy that sells, then think of the product as a three step process:

  1. Figure out the features
  2. Determine how those features benefit the reader
  3. Attach the feelings that come with those benefits

Let’s look at the game, Jenga, as the perfect example to following the above rules:

  1. Feature: 54 bricks
  2. Benefit: Let’s you play a fun game with your friends
  3. Emotion: Happiness, joy, inclusion

Once a prospect can get emotionally invested, you’ll start to see more sales.

Technical tips

#10. Create list posts to ‘attract’

Trying to convince your audience to come and visit your site isn’t always easy, especially if this is the first time a person has ever heard of you.

List posts are a great option to use here as they touch on the prospects problem without going into too much detail, they gain a lot of traction, and are highly shareable.

That’s not to say that you should rule out creating any other type of content, but a list-style blog post (like the one you’re reading now) is a popular choice because they’re an easy read, and that’s what your prospect is looking for during the attraction stage:

Content that’s helpful, and easy to consume.

#11. Create how-to posts to ‘convert’

So you’ve moved the prospect to the next stage of the marketing funnel, and they’re edging closer to giving you their details.

Now it’s okay to get into the nitty gritty and delve deeper into a topic, because your audience now realises that their ‘problem’ is pretty real, and they are actively looking to learn how to solve it.

I believe there is no better way to do that, than through the power of ‘how-to’ content.

Whether it’s an ebook, webinar, or whitepaper, the content that you produce in this stage has to be highly valuable, and educational, in order to encourage people to swap their content details for it — and that’s how you get people to convert.

Like I discussed earlier in the PAS example, every prospect has a problem — you just have to figure out what that is.

In order to create a valuable piece of ‘how-to’ content, find out their biggest pain problems and show them how you can solve it.

#12. Get out your sales pen to ‘close’

Next it’s time to turn up the heat on the sales tactics. Previously to this, your copy will be focused on the reader’s needs — and that’s still true — but you can finally start to introduce your company and show the reader what you can do for them.

This is the perfect time for you to create a good email marketing campaign.

So for example, video marketing agency, Wyzowl, try and persuade their prospects to buy a video by sending useful content that educates them on the work involved in creating a video:

Reassures the prospects on how much experience the company has with making videos:

And sends out offers to entice:

#13. Use personalised content to ‘delight’

Did you know that it costs 7x more to acquire new customers than it does to retain the ones that you’ve already got?

Your marketing efforts shouldn’t end once you’ve achieved the sale. Now that you’ve got to know your customer, you can begin to create content that is personalised to their needs.

  • Do they need help with the product or service they just bought? Create a demo video.
  • Is there something else that you offer that could enhance their purchase? Educate them with ebooks to up/cross sell.
  • Do they love your product or service? Ask them to review your business using email marketing.

By staying in touch with your customers using content that’s personalised to their needs, you’ll see them coming back for more.

#14. Don’t forget about keywords

As a copywriter you probably hate keywords as much as I do. But in this instance I’m not talking about weaving in a specific word every other sentence, in order to keep Google happy.

I’m talking about semantics, or to use the technical term, Latent Semantic Analysis.

This technique is important as it provides context for Google to understand what your content is about.

Say for example, you sell skips.

Google won’t know whether you’re talking about skip hire, skipping with a rope, or even the crisps, if you don’t provide any context surrounding your product or service.

By including words that are related to the product, for example: “Skip hire”, “Builders”, “Waste disposal”, you’ll help the bots understand what the page is all about, and you’re far more likely to appear higher on the search rankings!

#15. Highlight the text surrounding your links

Link building is a highly valuable technique that can help improve your visibility across the web, but how do you make sure your valuable links stand out?

Typically in most content management systems, a link will naturally highlight and underline so that the reader knows it’s there, but there is another trick that can be used:

Highlight the text that surrounds the link within the paragraph.

For example, this excerpt from Social Media Examiner shows the text surrounding the links highlighted, making them stand out to anyone reading it.

#16. Include quotes

Quotes are an excellent way to bring authority to your content, and they also hold a lot of sharing potential.

If you sprinkle your work with quotes from influential people within your niche, and then contact them and tell them about it, they are far more likely to share it with their larger audience.

So that’s more eyeballs on your content, and an authoritative piece all round, like this one from HelpScout:

#17. Survey your audience

This is another great way to add authority to your content.

Statistics will prove to your reader that what you are saying is worth its weight.

If you wanted to take it one step further, then consider conducting your own research. That way, the only person you’ll have to link back to is yourself, and you’ll be setting yourself apart as a leader, rather than a follower.

Tools such as Survey Monkey can help you here — and it’s free too.

And while you’re here, if you fancy entering our survey about just how effective gated content really is, we’d appreciate it!

#18. Use forums to find content ideas

Coming up with content ideas can be tough, believe me, I know.

Rather than putting all your efforts on trying to come up with a clickable piece that tries to attract every man and his dog, create a piece of content that focuses on what your audience cares about, and answers their biggest problems.

And how do you know what your audience wants to consume?

By checking out forums such as Quora, Inbound.org or Growth Hackers.

These tools will let you search, using your keywords, and offer a list of the most frequently asked questions that your audience wants answering.

#19. Make visitors feel silly by not clicking your pop up

A pop up is something that every copywriter needs to know about it, because it holds all the power to converting your web visitors.

There’s a lot of talk about what language should be used on a CTA:

Some opt for the unobtrusive option, where-as other people use language that truly makes the visitor feel stupid for not clicking.

This pop up on Social Triggers offers the perfect example. See the greyed out box with the text “No thanks, I’ll stick to my gut on how to grow on my subscriber base”?

It’s perfectly targeted to the visitor, and plays on their emotions too, making it a highly effective tactic.

Although this may come off as a tad arrogant, according to this research, it does actually improve conversions:

My advice? Test what works for your site.

#20. Include relevant CTA’s

In addition to using the right language, you need to make sure that you’re including relevant CTA’s within your content.

For example, if you’re reading this post, then chances are you want some decent tips on writing to attract more visitors to your site.

So by including a CTA to this eBook — The Inbound Marketing Methodology — you’ll be far more inclined to download it because it’s relevant to how to use this method to attract visitors, turn them into leads, close the sale, and beyond!

#21. Use the right structure on your content landing pages

To follow on from your CTA, your landing page is the place where you’re about to get those conversions.

So again, it needs to be structured in a way that convinces your visitor to download your content.

What does a good landing page look like?

First, start by researching what your keywords will be, so that you can include them in the headline, your URL, meta data, and within a short intro at the top of the page. Typically, your keywords will be taken from the title or subject of your eBook.

Next, bullet point the benefits of downloading the eBook, so that the visitor can understand what’s in it for them. And finally, take away any navigation links so that the visitors can’t go any where else on your site — this is to get a conversion after all!

So your landing page should look a little like this one below:

#22. Promote your little heart out

If you’re not promoting your content then it’s only going to sit there on your site, without getting the views that it truly deserves.

There are plenty of ways to promote your content:

  • Post and promote it on social media
  • Send it out to your email database
  • Outreach to influencers and bloggers with a large audience
  • Post it in relevant forums and communities — like publi.sh!

Do everything that you can to get your content seen by your audience.

#23. Think about the end goal

A copywriter should never start a project, unless they know what goal is.

By assigning a goal to the content that you’re about to create, will help align the message, and make it far easier for you to start writing!

Do you want to raise brand awareness? Do you want more leads? Do you want to make a sale?

By defining your goals and putting the steps together to execute this before you start writing, you can effectively create a piece of content that’s packed with value, and can be used to prove the success of said content..

Thanks for reading, check out publi.sh for expert marketing content!

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