Many content marketers and copywriters use little tricks to break up their content, assuming that simply infusing more white space will convince readers to stick around longer. They shorten sentences and paragraphs, sprinkle in bulleted lists, and call it a day.
However, these tactics can only go so far. Once you’ve exhausted the obvious techniques for making your content bite-sized, you should implement more sophisticated strategies to make your content more readable.
Structure is a hot topic among content creators.
The traditional method of writing is to start with an introduction to a topic that lays out vital background information and then dive into the meat of the article. However, this structure delays providing the helpful and actionable substance that readers are looking for, which can scare off anyone looking for instant gratification.
Jumping right into the good stuff, though, risks skipping contextual necessities that are often embedded in the groundwork for an article. Furthermore, it can leave readers confused about the purpose for the piece. And for companies trying to use content to push consumers along the purchase funnel, this more direct approach can thwart the chance to pull in people that are in earlier stages of brand awareness.
The key is finding a balance between the two approaches.
While an introduction is crucial for educating readers and establishing context, it should be kept brief. Only include what’s truly necessary – edit, edit, and edit again to pare it down to the essentials. Then jump into juicy content right away and keep providing golden nuggets of information throughout the article.
Consumers are busy, which means they’re constantly looking for a chance to stop reading and move onto something else. Readers can be lost when:
- They’re distracted
- They’ve found the information they want and perceive upcoming information as superfluous
- They’re confused about where the article is headed next
- The article changes direction or focus without explanation
Even readers that are highly interested in the subject matter can be lost in transitional areas, which makes these sections especially critical. Using precise writing to transition readers smoothly from one topic, idea, or objective to another is essential.
Avoid confusing or frustrating readers with transitions that are jarring. Lay out a roadmap and stick to it by structuring articles in a way that’s logical. Keep readers engaged by offering valuable insight weaved throughout the article and actionable insights that retain reader attention despite outside distractions.
Inspect the beginnings and endings of each section for opportunities to tighten up your writing and strengthen the overall messaging.
The web is full of resources on every topic imaginable, which means that general advice or blasé ideas won’t make your content appealing and readable. Instead, work in specific information and real-world examples. Nothing makes content more engaging than first-hand experience.
Don’t just write, tell a story. Tell your story.
Sharing with readers is the best way to get them through the entirety of your content and keep them coming back for more. Create loyal followers and brand advocates by crafting the kind of content that people can’t put down. If your content doesn’t pass the “bookmark test,” throw it out and start over. Your goal is to make your articles so sticky that readers bookmark them to read and consult again later.
Tell readers why they should care about the topic that you’re writing about – make it important and valuable.
Don’t just ask a colleague to proof-read your content for grammar. Ask for an analysis of whether it answers the question, “So what?” Will readers come away feeling like it was written specifically for them? Will they be glad that you took the time to create it and that they took the time to read it? Would they recommend it to a friend, coworker, or family-member? If your content doesn’t have a purpose equipping and educating readers, revise it until it does.
Like any other page of your website, there should be a next step. After consuming your content, readers should be ready to take further action. Whether that’s signing up for a newsletter, downloading a whitepaper, scheduling a demo, signing up for a free trial, or making a purchase, your content should drive action. Provide next steps for readers and gently push consumers to take them.
Not sure how to make your content more readable? Hire a professional content marketer to lead your content creation and fix up your old content. We’d be happy to discuss your content needs and see if our copywriting services would be a good fit for your business. Contact us today!
Kate Pierce is the owner of LionShark Digital Marketing LLC, a West Michigan internet marketing company. Her areas of expertise include Paid Search, Search Engine Optimization, Business Blogging and Web Copywriting. She lives in the Grand Rapids area with her husband and two children and enjoys cooking, watching sports, and spending time together as a family. Like a true digital marketing expert (i.e. geek), she loves talking about current marketing trends… so don’t say you weren’t warned!