When it comes to content marketing such as blog posts, web pages, landing pages or email marketing campaigns, many companies fall flat on their faces. And it’s not always because of the quality of the writing, the subject matter or even the content strategy. Perhaps the biggest offender when it comes to writing content that doesn’t get the job done is ego.
More specifically, it’s injecting healthy doses of ego into your content that inevitably ends up turning off your readers and ruining the engagement factor. Imagine if you were on a first date or met a new business contact and the other person only talked about himself or herself. How engaged would you be? What is your impression of the other person? Pompous? Arrogant? Self-absorbed?
That’s exactly how people feel when they click to read one of your posts or end up on a web page that reads more like a long-form promotional letter than something useful and valuable to them. Ego-driven content contains lots of “we”, “me” and “I” and usually offers little of value to the person reading it.
Luckily, removing the ego from your content so it is engaging and keeps readers interested in what you are saying can be accomplished by following some simple tips. Here are five that will point you in the right direction:
1. No One Cares About You
Sounds a little harsh? Don’t despair, your spouse, your kids and your Mom still care about you. But if you want to take the ego out of your content, you need to analyze why people are reading it in the first place. Here’s a hint: it isn’t to hear about how great your latest product is, or how wonderful you are.
People don’t care about you when they choose to engage with your content; they care about themselves. They want a problem solved, they want quick instructions, they want a recipe, they want a solution, etc. So, when they start reading about you, there is an immediate disconnect that breaks the trance, and their escape is only a mouse click away.
2. Create an Engaging Title
As with any worthwhile task, it’s always best to begin at the beginning. And for your online content that is the title, headline or subject line. That is the first point of contact and often the only chance you have to attract attention and draw someone in. Adding your ego to your title will usually ensure no one even gets into the body of the content.
Some effective ways to create an ego-free title include:
- Rounding up your audience – ‘Attention SEO Experts!’
- Promising benefits inside – ‘Get Your Clients to Page One with These SEO Tips’
- Numbered lists – ‘5 Ways to Create Blog Posts for Maximum Engagement’
- Making it a ‘how-to’ – ‘How to Write Email Subject Lines that Get Opened Every Time’
- Asking an intriguing question – ‘Do You Make These Common Content Writing Mistakes?’
3. Focus on Adding Value Through Your Content Marketing
In the book ‘Hypnotic Writing’, author Joe Vitale says you need to get out of your ego and into your readers’ ego. Once you do that, you will only be writing in a way that engages your readers and adds value to their lives. Right from the very start, you should consider how you are going to add value to your prospects or customers and not how many sales you’re going to make. The old Google rule of “useful and relevant” content still holds true.
Adding value to every piece of content you create also builds trust. And as you already know, building trust is one of the key components of healthy leads, sign-ups, and conversions. If you can keep your focus on adding value to the lives of the people that will be reading the content, you should be in the clear as far as ego is concerned.
4. Speak Directly to Your Readers
I touched on removing the “we”, “me” and “I” kind of stuff earlier in the post, and that’s a big element of ego-free content. In the vast majority of cases, you should write in the 2nd person, speaking directly to your readers like you were having a conversation. Replace the “we”, “me” and “I” with “you” and “your” and people will feel as if you are speaking directly to them.
Just envision that one ideal customer or prospect in your mind and have a conversation with them. And once you take care of their ego by presenting benefits and adding value, then you can back it all up with features about your products, services, processes, etc. If you can remember the power of “you” when writing content, everything will start to fall into place.
5. Take Your Time
Trying to rush to the finish line and get a sale before you have created and nurtured a relationship has signs of ego all over it. All competent digital marketers are familiar with sales funnels and gradually bringing prospects through a process, but it’s important to take your time within posts and pages, as well.
There is always a natural place to wrap up any piece of content, and word counts will vary depending on when that is. Just don’t take your readers by the arm and rush them through to the end of the post so you can finally say what you wanted to say from the beginning. Take your time, follow the guidelines above and you’ll be left with content marketing that is engaging, informative and helps you reach your goals.
Do you have any tips that have worked for you? Let us know in the comments or chime in on Twitter, we’re always discussing this stuff @wsiworld.