Blog posts are powerful engagement tools. They drive organic traffic to your website, demonstrate your expertise, and generate shares and leads. But to do all that, your posts must grab the attention of your target audience, sustain their interest, and fulfill their expectations. Read on for simple strategies to help you compose engaging blog posts that deliver a return on your investment.
Get straight to the point in your opening paragraph
By the time readers finish your first paragraph, they should know what they’ll learn from the article. The introduction is the hook that clarifies the payoff for your reader’s time. For this post, you know you’ll learn strategies for writing effective blog posts. The value proposition of every post will differ, but your readers should know what they’ll learn from the jump. To make sure your opener gets straight to the point:
- Keep your introduction short. Visitors will bounce away from your blog the moment they see a dense copy block above the first header. One or two short paragraphs are all you need. If the introduction runs longer, chances are you’re not getting to the point, and your readers won’t stick around.
- Remember you’re not writing literature. Yes, strong writing matters. But readers who wind up on company blogs are usually trying to solve problems—and they want answers fast. People looking for writing that develops over paragraphs and pages will head to the bookstore or a long-form magazine.
- Have someone read the opener. Give your introduction to a coworker and ask them to tell you what the blog covers. If they can answer with ease, you probably hit the mark.
Know your ideal audience and write directly to them
Whom are you trying to engage with your writing? Depending on your product or service, you may be writing for a specific industry—healthcare or education, for example. Or you may be writing for retail customers interested in fashion or home improvement tips. You may even be writing for decision-makers in departments across industries, such as human resources or internet technology. Getting hyper-specific about your audience can guide topic ideas and ensure every post contains the valuable tips they want.
Understanding your audience also helps you develop the ideal writing voice. Are you writing for a knowledgeable audience in your industry? A professional audience outside of your immediate industry? Young, fashion-savvy shoppers who want fashion tips? Or do-it-yourself homeowners in search of advice? Your writing voice will vary based on your target audience.
ProTip: If you know someone in your target audience, share your writing with them and ask if they find the post helpful and interesting, and whether they trust that the advice is valuable.
Write in plain and professional language
Keep your writing simple and straightforward—even when you’re writing for a professional audience. You are targeting people searching for the keywords in your title, but you shouldn’t assume readers possess your level of expertise. Here are a few strategies that will help keep your writing clear and accessible:
- Write like a professional mentor. For business blog topics, it’s helpful to write as though you’re offering expert advice to an industry peer or coworker. This tactic helps keep your writing voice friendly and supportive.
- Avoid the overuse of jargon or acronyms in business writing. In some cases, this practice is okay because insider terms can demonstrate knowledge of your industry. But use jargon lightly and only when it fits the topic naturally.
- Write like you speak. For the first draft, at least, just share the information conversationally. This strategy can help you stay on topic and simplify the material. After you get all of the important parts into the post, you can then polish your writing.
Write useful headers and bullets for the readers who skim
The majority of readers skim blog posts in search of unique tips or nuggets of information they can use to improve their business or home life. And they don’t have a lot of time to spend on their search.
Your goal should be providing actionable advice your readers can use—whether or not they become clients or customers. A blog post that fails to deliver on the help promised in the title won’t get traction and can even tarnish your company brand.
To give readers valuable information they can spot by skimming:
- Break up your copy with headers and bullets. Avoid long, dense copy blocks with the use of headers and bullets. They help readers absorb information at a glance.
- Use relevant images to support your ideas. Add visual variety to your posts with appealing graphic designs, photos, or graphs. The images should add something of value, and they’re especially helpful in data-driven, fashion, or décor blog posts. At the very least, every blog post should include a featured image at the top.
- Offer actionable advice in the headers. Write headers that are complete thoughts, ideas, or tips. Knowledgeable readers will ‘get it’ right away and be able to use the advice.
- Keep paragraphs short. Similar to headers and bullets, short paragraphs make your writing more accessible and easier to skim for information.
Add high-value details for readers who take a deep dive
Though many people skim, some will have the interest and time to read your post from top to bottom. These visitors are in search of information or tips that go deeper than your headers—it’s essential to give them rich and useful information. Often, however, the copy following headers is simply a long rewording of the header that provides little substance. Tips to make sure your blog writing has depth:
Treat every section as a separate post. Read and reread your headers and ask yourself whether you’ve provided the details a reader needs or answered the question implicit in the header. If not, go deeper.
Put yourself in your readers’ shoes. You spent time developing your customer/reader profile, now put yourself in their place as they read your post. Are you writing for young moms looking for quick style tips? Give them an abundance of ideas they can use today. Are they human resources professionals looking to level up their interview skills? Reread your post with a critical eye to make sure your tips are substantive rather elementary.
End on a positive note and include calls-to-action
You’ve given your readers valuable information, now let them know you’re there to support them whenever needed. That support could be in the form of additional blog posts relevant to their industry or interests. Or, it could be your exceptional products or expert services.
Make it easy for readers to pursue either option with two clear calls-to-action. If you’re a retail company, those will be ‘Shop Now’ with a link to your home page, and ‘Read More’ with links to high-performing blog posts. If you’re a service-based business, your CTAs will be ‘Get In Touch’ with a link to a brief contact form, and ‘Related Posts’ with links to articles on a similar topic. These (or similar CTAs) let readers know you have their backs with information and simple next steps.
Ready to learn more about the business value of a high-quality company blog? Get In Touch.
Eight Oh Two Marketing is a boutique, search-marketing agency for enterprise. Sondra Wolfer is a content strategist, copywriter, and editor with a background in journalism. Her focus is helpful, informative, and engaging writing for both e-commerce and lead generation. Click here to learn more about Eight Oh Two, our methodology and our team.
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