What Does It Mean to "Write Like a Marketer?"
Writing is writing is writing, right? Wrong. Just like every conversation you have, every word you write should have a specific purpose. There's content and copy, SEO and UX. If you're scratching your head, never fear. With this quick break down you'll be writing like a marketer in no time.
I’ve shared before about how the way we communicate is changing. Now, I refuse to call the current state of the world our “new normal” because, well ew. But that doesn’t mean that more of our professional conversations aren’t happening remotely right now—via video and, you guessed it, the written word. For word nerds like me, this is exciting. There is something really powerful about the ability to write something that changes the way people think and feel, or that encourages them to know, like, and trust you. But writing is writing is writing, right?
Negative, Ghost Rider. Just like every conversation you have, every word you write should have a specific purpose, even if that purpose is just to get to know someone. From a digital marketing perspective, there’s content and copy, SEO, and UX. If you’re thinking, “what the what, now?” never fear. With this quick break down you’ll be speaking (and writing!) like a marketer in no time.
Content marketing and writing are all about building awareness about your brand in the context of delivering valuable insights and information. More specifically, according to the Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is a strategic approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive consumer action.” Thanks guys, nailed it.
Examples of content writing are things like blog posts, website articles, eBooks, and white papers. Each of these types of content plugs into the buyer’s journey in very strategic ways. I’m not going to get into those weeds here, but suffice it to say that if you can show up online with the answers to all of your potential customers’ questions, you stand a much better chance of winning their business than by blindsiding them with cold requests for calls, meetings, or (even worse), the dreaded video chat. (Am I making it too clear that I don’t love video meetings? I think it’s because being confronted with my bitchy resting face is supremely distracting, but I digress.)
Where content is aimed at educating your target audience and aiding them in their decision-making process, the goal of your marketing copy should be to get them to take a specific action. Note that I didn’t say to buy from you. Although good copy can come in handy for your final sales pitch, it doesn’t have to be salesy and isn’t reserved exclusively for that last big ask. Good copy can promote content in addition to driving sales, sign-ups, etc. Meta, amiright?
"Think of copy as a call to action, just on a larger scale."
Think of copy as a call to action, just on a larger scale. It’s clear, concise (and usually brief) writing that hypes your readers up to take a desired action. It should be the primary method of communicating in your ads, emails, website content, video scripts, sales letters, and landing pages—really anywhere you’re trying to schmooze someone into doing something.
We marketers do love our acronyms. Writing for SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of writing, planning, creating, and optimizing your content to make it more attractive to search engines. The goal is to boost traffic to your site by getting your stuff ranked high in SERPs (see?), aka search engine results pages.
The process of writing for SEO is a fluid one, mostly because Google keeps getting smarter and requiring us marketers to do better. Not a bad thing, just a lot of work. Just like with all good content, writing for SEO must, first and foremost, be relevant and valuable. But if you can also strategically incorporate the keywords you want to rank for, then you’ve struck marketing gold my friend. The key, and I cannot stress this enough, is to write for your readers first. Then, where possible, go back in and make some minor adjustments to flirt with Googlebot. I warn you, she likes to play hard to get.
I’ve referred to content a lot in this section – and that was on purpose. SEO is to content as UX is to copy. Stay with me.
Last acronym for this post, pinkie swear. UX writing, or user experience writing, is the copy that people encounter when they interact with apps or other software. It’s the instructions, questions and calls to action that you interact with when you arrive on a site that help you achieve whatever goal it is you (thanks to the savvy marketer behind it) are there to achieve. Think: the series of selections, drop downs and pin drops Uber walks you through to request a ride, or that Starbucks prompts you for when placing a mobile order.
"Where the purpose of SEO is to optimize content for Google, the purpose of UX is to optimize copy for your users and to create a conversation with them when them arrive on your platform."
Where the purpose of SEO is to optimize content for Google, the purpose of UX is to optimize copy for your users and to create a conversation with them when them arrive on your platform. The keys to great UX copy are the same that make all other copy and content successful—clarity, consistency, and attention to your audience.
Understanding the basics of the myriad different ways you’re expected to converse with your audience online is the first step toward crafting a more complete and effective digital marketing strategy. You need to approach writing like any other campaign—start by choosing the right tool, then use it target your readers at the appropriate stage in the buyer’s journey. Once you get em’ hooked, you need to reel them in with optimized content and copy to walk them through making a decision. Which is picking you, obviously.