Originally published in The Huffington Post.
If you’re a writer, and you’re trying to get into the world of content marketing, it can be downright confusing. People toss around the word “content” like it’s going out of style. Sometimes, it means writing. Sometimes, it doesn’t.
If you were curious, here is my overview of the “content” from “content marketing” (from a writer’s perspective).
The short answer
Anything the consumer can read (or in some cases, listen to or watch).
The long answer
Anything the consumer can read (or in some cases, listen to or watch), which includes:
- Web copy
- Social media
- Landing pages
- Sell sheets
- Ebooks/white papers
You might know most of these, maybe even all of them. But often times, we forget why these mediums matter as much as they do (or the best format for presenting them).
We’ll get into more info on how to write good content for these mediums across the board later, but here are the basics to get started.
- Blogs – The bread and butter of content writers, blogs (aka articles) are what you’ll likely spend most of your time writing. They are an excellent method of creating brand identity and giving your readers useful (free) information to enrich their lives. They’re also powerful lead magnets. Businesses that blog about four times a week get nearly four times as many leads as businesses who blog only four times a month (citation needed). A well-written blog is a rare and beautiful thing.
- Web copy – Creating a digital brand image means getting the words right, right away. Businesses who fail to deliver a clear value prop on their website suffer from high bounce rate (the customer running away before you even have time to sell them anything). (Citation needed) that’s where you come in, with dynamite messaging that sells their product.
- Social media – Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn will be your biggest cash cows from a writing standpoint. A very different kind of writing, but a lot of the rules in this book still apply. (Facts and Citation needed)
- Advertisements – Good old-fashioned, David Ogilvy-style advertisements. You see them on the side of Google and plastered on buses, subways, and billboards. Creating a messaging campaign for advertisements under ten words can pay in the tens of thousands of dollars, but only if you have a proven track record of ads that sell. (Citation needed)
- Emails – Even with your overly saturated spam folder, email marketing is still one of the most cost-effective tactics for businesses. When you consider the standard ROI for email campaigns is 3,800% (or $38 for every $1 spent), you start to see the value. The writing boils down to seductive subject lines and sexy, simple value props.
- Landing pages – Landing pages are like super-targeted home pages for a specific buyer persona. You get there through ads, social media, and emails catered to your needs and wants, and there’s always a call-to-action, or a CTA. For an example, if you’re Under Armour, you’ll have a different landing page for that female runner in Maine who needs warm clothes to bare the elements than the teenager in Southern California who wants a flat brim hat because that’s what all the cool kids at his middle school are doing.
- Sell sheets – Super sales-y language is a must with sell sheets. You need to build a case for your product or service in about 500 words. Can be super effective, if properly executed.
- Ebooks (White Papers) – The long-form value prop. A downloadable ebook must be value heavy and sales light, but delivers a more comprehensive or complicated message.
- Advertorials – Somewhere between blogs and sell sheets. I find them deceptive so I’m not really a fan.
- Infographics – While it’s more about the pictures, artists tend to be lousy writers (and vise versa). Keep it right to the point and you can’t fail.
- Videos – Video scripts need to be written by someone, and you can even change by the second.