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May 10, 2013

Content Marketing is the New Advertising

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When’s the last time you paid any attention to a banner ad?

Let’s face it — web users have become adept at glossing over ads, no matter how well-placed they may be. These days, if you want to expand your customer base, you’ve got to have a solid content marketing strategy.

Why?

People are tired of the hyped-up, fluffy ads that don’t provide any REAL information. Instead, they’re looking for answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. The only way to give them what they’re looking for is through solid web content.

The main difference between content marketing and advertising? It isn’t good enough to pique people’s interest for a few seconds. Instead, good content grabs their attention and keeps them intrigued for several hundred words (or more!). In the end, readers feel like they’ve actually learned something.

But how exactly do you create web content that does all of that?

Start Strong

If you don’t open with something interesting, you’re never going to get people to stick around. For example, I recently read an article about roofing that was (supposedly) written by an expert roofing professional. However, the very first sentence in the article was, “The roof is an important part of a building.”

Huh?!

That sentence is so blatantly obvious that it insulted my intelligence. More importantly, though, the sentence immediately showed me that the writer had nothing of substance to offer. If he did, he wouldn’t have started with a sentence like that!

So, how SHOULD the article have started?

After doing about a minute’s worth of research, I discovered that most homeowners ignore their roof until a problem pops up. That being the case, isn’t it much more interesting to start the article off by saying something like, “Are you one of the millions of homeowners who doesn’t give a second thought to your roof until it starts to fall apart?” A reader is going to see that question and think one of two things — either, “Yes, I am!” or “I don’t know. I could be!” In either event, the reader is going to keep reading to find out why that’s such a bad habit. Just like that, they’re hooked!

Take Advantage of the Inverted Pyramid

On my first day of Broadcast Writing class, my professor showed us the importance of writing according to the inverted pyramid — or, talking about the most important points first. It’s a technique that every journalist HAS to follow, but it’s equally important for web content writers, too.

Why?

Because it’s crucial to informing people! If, for example, I wrote, “This afternoon, a car was going 60 mph in the snow, when it crashed into a mountain. Police think that speed and weather were responsible for the crash. By the time all was said and done, all five people in the car died. ”

Did you zone out before I got to the main point (that five people had died)?

Here’s how the inverted pyramid gets to the point faster: “Five people were killed this afternoon, when their car crashed into a mountain. Police think that the car’s speed and the snowy conditions were to blame.”

Remember, a good content marketing strategy focuses on informing people. If you bury the most important details, your readers won’t take the time to uncover them!

Make Things Scan-able

Most web readers scan things first to see if the content on their screen is actually worth their time. So, if you have gigantic paragraphs and long, flowing sentences, your content is going to look like it’s too much work to get through.

The solution? Make sure you only discuss one thought per paragraph. And, use lists whenever you can. (Just be warned — not EVERY piece of content can be turned into a list format!)

Use Active Voice

Doing so means your readers will have fewer words to muddle through. Plus, active voice automatically makes your writing more clear and concise. For example, which looks better to you — “Mr. Smith rang the bell,” or “The bell was rung by Mr. Smith”?

Focus on “YOU”

Using the word “you” will make your content more conversational, which is a big plus on the web. It’s also a great way to keep readers interested!

Why?

If your readers start seeing things that can benefit them specifically (instead of content that’s directed at the vague, broad “they”), they’re going to be eager to find out what’s next.

Don’t Cross-Contaminate Your Content

If you’re writing an article, make sure the entire thing is informative. If you make part of it a sales pitch, your readers will think you’re trying to trick them instead of teach them. In a good article, the only place your company name should be found is in the resource box!


Nicole Beckett made it through this entire article without mentioning her company’s name once. If you want web content that’s just as informative, log onto http://premiercontentsource.com.

30 Responses to “Content Marketing is the New Advertising

    Well, it seems I learn to learn to use the “inverted pyramid”, to me the most important details to give readers step tapped.

    avatar ZeroMile says:

    For best SEO contents of websites are very important. More user interesting content, more user visits.

    avatar Mike Ash says:

    Some great tips here. Many thanks to Nicole for jotting them down. But I was sorry to hear that five people had died and, to be honest, I’m a bit worried about my roof now:)

    Thanks for the laugh, Mike! :) Those are the *real* takeaways from the article — to drive slowly in the snow and to keep an eye on your roof! ;)

    Original copy is always going to separate the viable and sustainable internet from the spammy ‘get rich quick” types, and that is why marketers should be using this article format – but only with sites that also follow a unique content strategy.

    It is pointless investing in original articles for marketing if those articles are then going to be used on a site covered in spam and duplicate content, or used repeatedly across the internet.

    It’s important to remember that articles for marketing are only really useful and worth the investment when used in the right places, written for the right audience, and given the status they deserve in a quality environment.

    Great point! I *always* check out a site before I submit anything to it. Even if my piece is good, I don’t want it surrounded by junk. After all, people tend to judge you by the company you keep!

    avatar Mister Being says:

    Perfect article. Useful information. Thanks very much!

    But I have one little note…
    All these correct rules will work if you have unique and interesting content.

    avatar Pete says:

    I assembled a quick website for a friend using most of these important steps. You can see the result at http://www.artmaterials.org.uk

    A really good article.

    avatar Best Player says:

    Thanks for interesting article above. I like using SiteProNews.
    I agree with using the word you, which makes the content more “personal”. It’s really getting tought to market something in today’s online world. One thing is for sure: banners do not work as before, especially inside of content. I use them only on one side of my site and gived up on the second side. Content looks now more “important” for visitors.
    Ehhhh…long life education!

    how do you put “great content” on a product page??

    If people are looking to shop for something they want the product info on the page, not a long article about how great it is! How do you get a product page well ranked if the content is limited to the product???

    No-one seems to be able to answer this question!

    Fantastic question!
    You actually inspired my blog post for today (thanks — I had been scratching my head for a topic!)

    Here’s the answer:
    http://premiercontentsource.com/blog/?p=479

    With everything being on the web these days, the written word rules the world. All of a suddenly we all need to become expert writers and if you failed high school English on more than one occasion (like myself) you know how difficult that could be. And hiring a writer or a SEO professional might not be an option for many small business owners. So it’s back to learning the basics for many of us. Articles like this one help a lot. Thanks.

    Another Great Article Keep Them Coming,I Alwasys Look Forward To Reading Them.And Putting Them In To Practise.
    centurymills
    Thanks

    Thanks for all of the kind words, everyone. Keep those comments coming!:)

    Best Player — thanks for chiming in with your own personal experience. Great point about fewer ads making your content look “important”!

    Hi Nicole,
    I was happy to see that I have followed all of your suggestions on marketing statements on my website. I am definitely on the same page as you are(no pun intended).

    Marketing Page

    Awesome! Glad to hear it :)

    avatar Myhox says:

    Thank you for sharing some important points here. I got the opportunity to learn about content marketing. It’s all about quality. We have to focus our marketing strategy more on high qulaity content.

    avatar Victoria says:

    Great tips! I really think this will help ramp up my writing and hopefully get more traffic as more people stick around to read the whole thing:)
    I have a question for you though. Now that we are armed with the tips to write great articles is it okay to still use directories such as Ezine Articles, Go Articles, etc. I know you don’t want the same article on different sites but is it okay to write one article specifically for, say, EZA?
    I’m glad to hear article marketing is still alive I just want to make sure I do it correctly :)
    Thanks!

    You can publish the same article on different directories (unless their TOS specifically state otherwise!). Even though the article directories aren’t as powerful as they used to be, they can still be beneficial.
    You just have to think about WHY people use them. Site owners use them to find good, free content that they can re-publish on their own sites (with the links and byline intact, of course!). So, publish your articles on some of the bigger directories. Doing so certainly won’t HURT you. Who knows — your content may get discovered by someone who can share it with a brand new audience!

    avatar Conan says:

    I really liked this article, Nicole and I did visit your site afterwards to have a look at your offerings.

    It was a good reminder in making sure we capture readers attention in the first few seconds and not put them off. Again, well done.

    Thanks so much! Hope you liked the site :)

    I agree no one is interested in those big long ads anymore they want short to the point ads which signify the purpose for which they are made. Moreover if you could post some pictures along with it that will turn out to be an extra benefit.

    Great article Nicole. I feel that content is indeed the future of surviving any Google updates and keeping your audience engaged and connected.
    Thanks for your hard work in this post.

    You can never go wrong when you focus on informing people in an interesting way! :)

    This is great and just what I needed…how to write better content. I know we’re supposed to all write great content for our website and blog but it’s hard to do it. So thanks for the tips.

    avatar Jack says:

    This is good article, and giving interesting ideas but I think the content is important first!

    “People are tired of the hyped-up, fluffy ads that don’t provide any REAL information. Instead, they’re looking for answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. The only way to give them what they’re looking for is through solid web content.”

    I agree with this statement 110%. That is why i am going to use http://www.samuru.com/ instead of Google. Once this takes off Google is done forever like excite, altavista, dogpile gone!

    Good job! Thanks very much you have a c=very compelling way of writing!
    Well done

    avatar Francis says:

    Yet again, another great article to bookmark and return to again and again.

    Please keep up the excellent work you’re doing.

    Thanks for the kind words, everyone!! :) Glad you found the article so helpful!

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