Published on March 28th, 2012 | by Colleen Corkery5
Content Marketing’s No Joke – How to Keep it Sweet & Succinct
How effective do you think 140 characters are? I once came across a brilliant job application in which the cover letter had a 140 character or less requirement. Do you think you could uniquely sell and set yourself apart from thousands of other applicants in the 5-8 seconds it takes to read those 140 characters? This is the mindset we should also take into account for our own content marketing practices. Can we effectively sell our product/services, yet rise above the masses in the blink of an eye?
Now I’m not saying all of your messaging should remain shorter than a tweet (I’m already 5 tweets deep), but the concept of keeping things sweet and succinct still applies. In a world where most of us are on information-overload and the average email read time is just 15-20 seconds, learning to get our message across quickly is key.
But what does this really tell us? People have short attention spans, they’re stretched for attention, Twitter’s taking over the world, etc. According to a study by Baydin, the average person receives 147 emails every day. Of those emails, 71 of them are deleted in less than 5 minutes. Should we even try anymore? Absolutely. According to Content+, “Content Marketing is the heart of online success… quality content is at the heart of an integrated, targeted approach to marketing.” And without a heart, guess what? You’re dead…or a jellyfish. Either way, that stings!
In this infographic, The Content Marketing Explosion by BlueGlass Interactive, you’ll see how even big brands are changing the way they market their businesses by “focusing primarily on content for the first time.”
In The Anatomy of Content Marketing, a study by the Content Marketing Institute reveals how content marketing is one of the top growing fields, with an “increasing number of marketers relying on content strategy for overall success.”
Content+ also states that messaging does the marketing legwork for you. “Social media content boosts sales: 61% of companies find customers via LinkedIn, 67% via Facebook and 53% via Twitter… 63% of companies said posting content on social media has increased marketing effectiveness.”
So we know content marketing’s no joke, and the more succinct we are, the better. But how do we put some pow and wow into our messaging while still keeping things short and sweet?
Let’s ask ourselves these questions first:
- What is the purpose of this message? Am I educating, selling, informing, etc?
- What do I want my audience to do? Is it action-oriented?
- Will my audience care?/Is this message meaningful?/Have people asked for this information?
- Is this message timely or relevant?
- Do I even care? (If not, you might want to re-think/re-write your message!)
Now onto structure and style:
- Be concise, think less is more & cut unnecessary clutter
- Put key points up front
- Use bullet points & lists to break up content
- Be ultra-specific
- Make an offer
- Provide a sense of urgency
- Be personable & have personality
- Use verbs, not adjectives
- Tell a story
Remember, every audience is different. To determine the effectiveness of your copywriting efforts, consistently conduct tests:
- Run A/B split tests on your messaging including subject lines, calls-to-action, splash pages, buttons & promotions.
- Track your most popular blog and social media posts. What were the topics? Which ones ignited the most engagement? Which ones received the most shares, likes or retweets? Hone in on those topics, the wordage and their purpose.
I also challenge you to the 140 character cover letter test. Practice getting your message across in just the size of a tweet. Can you do it? Try! It’ll help you filter out unnecessary verbiage and get to the good stuff (i.e., your most important information), and it’ll put your writing, editing and vocabulary skills to the test!
© 2012 – 2013, Colleen Corkery. All rights reserved.