If you’ve ever created a brochure, blog post, ebook, or web copy for your business, you’ve dabbled in marketing writing.
However, this type of writing is more than merely cranking out sales collateral or educational blog posts. If you’re handling marketing writing yourself, it helps to be part journalist, part subject matter expert, and part researcher — and even to have a sense of humor when the occasion calls for it.
Let’s take a look at some of the strategies to employ to create writing that persuades audiences to act.
How is marketing writing different from other types of writing?
Marketing writing is designed to create content with a purpose. It provides information customers seek, including actionable resources for a business’s customers and clients.
A business’s marketing writing can take many forms, from entertaining yet educational blog posts and persuasive website copy to product-heavy newsletters and promotional emails.
It can also take the form of a script capturing the audience’s attention by explaining or demonstrating the company’s product through videos.
10 rules for successful marketing writing
1. KISS — keep it simple and succinct
In marketing writing, the KISS principle means using a simple, straightforward three-part structure consisting of the introduction, body copy, and conclusion.
- In the introduction, you need to explain the value being offered to the reader. Failing to do that means a loss of reader engagement and attention. If that happens, it won’t matter what’s in the next three sections.
- The body of your content is where you elaborate on the argument introduced at the beginning. This is where you give evidence to support your point.
- The conclusion reiterates the introduction and also explains how the piece of content has provided a benefit to the reader as a customer.
2. Write to your audience
Writing a good piece of content means understanding who your customer is. Companies should not delude themselves into thinking everyone wants their products because that simply isn’t realistic. Trying to appeal to everyone ends up making the product unappealing.
One effective way to launch an audience identification strategy is to create customer personas. Customer or buyer personas are semi-fictional archetypes based on actual customer research and data that represent the key traits of your target audience.
After conducting interviews, focus groups, and other data collection efforts, marketers consolidate the responses to identify commonalities in the available data.
From there, they work to identify pain points and other psychographics the company’s customers are experiencing. Using this collected and analyzed data, you can develop a profile of a person that combines demographic information and common themes from your data.
This is where the vision of a typical customer takes shape.
3. Make it a story when applicable
Storytelling can be a powerful tool to capture and hold your audience’s attention. Stories are powerful because they touch the emotional core of who we are as human beings. Before there was the written or printed word, there were oral traditions.
A successful story answers three core questions:
- What’s the outcome? This describes the way you want your audience to feel and react after hearing your story.
- What’s the plot? This is the beginning, middle, and end of the story.
- What’s the narrative? This determines how you tie the plot elements together into a cohesive sequence of events.
Once you’ve established the answers to these questions, seek feedback on your story from others. Then you can decide how the story is going to be incorporated into your campaign or brand.
Storytelling has been an exceptionally powerful marketing tool with the advent of socially conscious businesses. Storytelling can convey a company’s commitment to giving back as well as their belief in their product.
A relevant example of this is Warby Parker, the company that took on the mammoth eyeglass industry with low-cost, high-quality alternative eyewear.
Warby Parker’s story is the very definition of the KISS principle in action: As a cash-strapped college student, one of the founders of Warby Parker loses his glasses on a camping trip and is motivated to start the company after having to wait to replace his glasses thanks to the high cost of quality eyeglasses.
4. Include statistics and cite the reference
Making an assertion is easy. Backing up that assertion with evidence may not be quite as simple. Good content marketing often includes statistics derived from market research.
If you’re trying to drive a point home to your audience, back it up with a statistic. It’s an effective way to convince a reader about the accuracy of your assertion.
Phrases like “Lots of people… ” are vague and may seem intuitively true but unproven, such as “Lots of people love our cars!”
However, it’s harder to argue with a phrase like “Mazda is the number one rated car for reliability according to Consumer Reports,” along with a link to Consumer Reports backing up this statement.
5. Craft short paragraphs
There is one very simple reason to use short paragraphs in marketing writing, especially for digital marketing content: Your audience is likely reading the content on a smartphone or tablet.
Short paragraphs are much more likely to keep the reader’s attention and appear less intimidating.
6. Add humor when it makes sense (and fits your brand)
As a marketing strategy, humor can be effective when used properly. It can also be catastrophic when misused. Infusing a marketing campaign with humor can be a tricky proposition.
Success doesn’t rely solely on the humor itself but also on your knowledge of your audience, situational awareness, and emotional intelligence.
Effective humor in marketing is usually self-effacing, as was the case with KFC’s campaign in the UK. Some years ago, KFC was living every fried chicken restaurant’s worst nightmare: a chicken shortage.
It handled this crisis with a brilliantly written, audience-appropriate, and tongue-in-cheek exercise in laughing at itself while addressing the problem. In turn, this allowed the audience to laugh along with the company.
“We’re sorry. A chicken restaurant without any chicken. It’s not ideal. Huge apologies to our customers, especially those who traveled out of their way to find we were closed. And endless thanks to our KFC team members and our franchise partners for working tirelessly to improve the situation. It’s been a hell of a week, but we’re making progress, and every day more and more fresh chicken is being delivered to our restaurants. Thank you for bearing with us.”
7. Use a CTA
Remember earlier when we described simple, concise marketing writing as having an introduction, a body, and a conclusion? This structure culminates with a clear set of instructions designed to drive the potential customer to a call to action.
If a customer invests the time to read your writing and you have invested the time to give them writing worth reading, then the call to action serves as the mutual payoff.
A strong, clear call to action gives the reader the next step to take in order to interact with your business in a way that will solve their problem.
8. Incorporate SEO in a natural way
In order for potential customers to read your content, you either have to make it easy to find, or you have to put it right in front of them. Making it easy to find involves search engines, while the latter typically involves social media promotions aimed at that target audience.
The beauty of the relationship between the two is that one feeds the other. Social media can drive hits to your web content, which can help in boosting organic search engine rankings.
When a person finds your site using a Facebook link, for instance, you can use that web content to drive them to your Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest feeds.
Another key to using these strategies to climb the search engine rankings is regularly refreshed pieces of content that link to each other.
Creating internal links that connect your best and most popular pieces of content, whether that’s through your website, blog, or social media feed, helps increase the shareability of your content as well as the likelihood that other sites will link to it.
9. Sell when appropriate
While your web copy will talk about your product or service directly, a blog post that teaches a consumer how to do something might indirectly promote your business.
Know the difference and when to sell versus not sell in order to attract, convert, and retain customers long-term.
10. Create a distinct voice that represents the brand
When you hear marketers refer to a brand’s “voice,” it might sound a bit abstract. Voice is a hard thing to quantify or measure, unlike other metrics in marketing like SEO, hits on a website, or the number of subscribers to a blog.
Voice refers to the emotion and personality baked into a company’s communications and the desired audience reaction to those communications. The one part of a brand’s voice that can be measured is how consistently that voice is delivered across the brand’s various communications channels.
For example, Mailchimp’s brand voice conveys simplicity, ease of use, and an all-in-one solution for its customers.
This example from the Mailchimp homepage conveys big ideas and definitive solutions using an authoritative voice and few words.
Need help creating marketing content for your brand? From blog posts to newsletters, talk to a content specialist at ClearVoice today to get started.