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Writing better content: Beyond the data

Rory Stobo, Chief Copywriter at ​digital marketing agency Sookio, joins us to share tips on writing content that works for humans as well as the algorithm.

Fun fact: 90% of data that exists online has been created since 2016. The internet’s 4.5 billion users churn out exabytes of information daily… which is a lot.

For you, that means flabbergasting opportunity to build your marketing strategy around observable, provable facts. But even the most developed algorithms have limits. Data gets your product in front of the customer… then what?

Yes, the hardest thing in marketing is to grab attention, good start. You then need to make them desire your product and, critically, act on that impulse to buy.

Do I need copywriting services?

Good content, particularly good copy, is your salesperson to get this done. The best copywriters I know have backgrounds in sales and customer service, the very best are psychologists.

Just like data and analytics, professional-standard copy is now essential. 59% of people wouldn’t trust a company with sloppy grammar and spelling in their marketing. That rises to 82% if they detect non-fluent English.

On the other hand, optimised content nets huge results:

Building on analytics with strong content is the recipe for success. If you’re currently writing your own copy, try applying these industry secrets and see what happens for yourself…

Write for humans

Analytics give you demographic data about who’s interested in your product. Age, location, gender, all useful to know but handier in context.

Use these factoids to create a profile of your ideal customer. One person to whom all your marketing is addressed directly. Name them, give them a job title, decide what newspaper they read.

This gives you several advantages:

  • You can envision the desires and drives of one person more clearly than you can for a blob of analytics
  • Influencing a person is much easier than influencing a business. Go in with this mindset and conversions will increase
  • Feedback is a doddle; find a real person who matches your imagined ideal audience and ask them what they think of your copy

A client once asked me to review a Merc C63, a car I had never so much as sat in. I can’t even drive. But I googled some stats and imagined I was writing for, to, and as Jeremy Clarkson. The client and his customers loved the review, the cars got sold.

Be upfront with your message

Your audience is busy. They’re being bombarded by thousands of marketing messages every day. If you have something to say that’s of value to them, say it right away.

This is true for all copy but especially titles. Analytics will furnish you with juicy stats about who’s using your product which you can use as social proof to attract more like them:

  • 3,000 office managers are serving better coffee
  • 76% of new mums are enjoying a better night’s sleep

Likewise, you’ll know the quantifiable impact your product has from testing:

  • Cut your gas bill by 20% with a smarter smart meter
  • Build 15% more muscle in 90 minutes

This is what people want to know immediately: what’s in it for me? You have the data to give them that answer.

Put your most gripping information right at the top of the page, before the reader even has to scroll. Newspapers call this ‘above the fold,’ high-value real estate where readers engage without lifting a finger.

The NHS website is particularly good at this. Their page on stomach aches gives no preamble, no intro on what a stomach ache is, just what you need to know in the immediate moment: it’s probably just wind.

Choose clearer website copywriting

In a marketplace saturated with data, it can be tempting to throw everything you’ve got at the customer and hope something will stick. Surely if one big stat doesn’t wow them, the next three might?

Maybe. Or maybe a wall of numbers will chase them away, into the waiting arms of the competition who played things a little cooler.

Instead, take one or two key insights per message and ease them naturally into the copy.

When laying it all out, keep paragraphs short, no longer than three or four lines max. Use bullet points to break up long lists. Clarity, both in content and structure, makes sure your message sinks more easily into the reader’s mind.

It’s also vital to stress the importance of plain English over technical jargon. Even in cutting-edge industries, the desire for plain language increases in line with the reader’s level of education and expertise.

Don’t be tempted into using every convoluted industry buzzword you know in an attempt to impress the reader. You’re more likely to bore them.

Recap: write to sell

So there you have three things you can immediately do to improve your content marketing:

  • Defining a clear audience profile
  • Front-loading key information
  • Breaking down your message

Above all else, don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and test different approaches.

Only trial and error, backed by analytics and intimate knowledge of your industry, can produce marketing that hits the spot every time.