What is content writing?

by Gill Fernley

What is content writing?

Content writing can be a very powerful part of any business’s marketing plan, with many benefits for companies, including the ability to attract their ideal customers and better rankings in the search engines.

If you needed any more proof of the value of quality content, DemandMetric states that “Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads.”

Definition: What is content writing?

Content writing is a particular form of writing online, which has very specific aims. As part of an overall content marketing strategy, content writing is web writing which is focused on engaging an audience and retaining their attention to sell or raise awareness about a product or service.

Well-written content will almost always involve search engine optimisation (SEO), with the writer adding keywords and phrases that the company wants to rank for in the search engines. And it will usually be written to fit the client’s brief, which defines the aims of the content, the target audience, suitable keywords and other information the writer will need to produce a successful piece of copy.

What content writing can do for your business

Let’s start with some statistics:

According to Social Media Examiner, “58% of marketers said, ‘original written content’ is the most important type of content, outdoing visuals and videos.”

KEY Difference Media, meanwhile, affirms that “78% of consumers will trust your brand if you create more customised content”.

Well-written, properly targeted content can be the difference between a business getting the exposure it deserves, being found easily within its niche market, and not even registering a blip on the radar of Google.

Here’s how you can ensure you fall into the former camp:

1. SEO

Excellent content that contains your keywords and phrases will always do well in the search engines and get your business found. The point of content writing, though, is that it must be engaging – written for people, not for search bots. Natural, entertaining writing will get people reading, keep them on your website for longer, AND build your search engine rankings.

2. Traffic

Following on from optimising your content for the search engines, well-keyworded content can also drive traffic to your site and increase your visitors over time, allowing new audiences to find you who wouldn’t otherwise have heard of you, and bring repeat readers back over and over again.

3. Social sharing

Good content on your site is ripe for sharing, and that solves one of the biggest problems businesses have with doing social media well – what on earth do you post? If you always have fresh content on your site, you’ll never run out of things to say on social media. You can share your posts regularly using HootsuiteBuffer or similar apps, take quotes out of your posts and make memes to share, use Canva to create infographics, and much more.

4. Gain expert status

If your blog is always full of brilliant content that’s really useful to your target market, over time, you’ll become known as an expert in your field. And what could be better when you’re trying to make your company distinctive and unique, compared to the competition, than to be seen as the go-to expert?

That’s guaranteed to get you more customers.

5. Build your tribe

Another excellent way to stand out from the competition is to build a community around your blog and your social media. Good content writing is a vital part of community building, engaging and entertaining your viewers and allowing them to feel a part of something. If they can interact with you and feel heard, enjoy your posts and feel that you really care about them as customers, why would they shop anywhere else?

Types of content writing

Content writing doesn’t have to be used just for blog posts on your site. There are so many possibilities that can build your business in different ways:

1. Lead magnets

If you’re trying to build your email list (and you should be – it’s one of the best ways to market to your audience), having an enticing lead magnet to get people to sign up is essential.

Write something with an eye-catching headline that people can’t resist and outstanding content that makes your readers wonder how amazing your paid services must be if your free content is this good!

2. Case studies

What better way to show people what you can do before they buy than to put together a case study showing off your testimonials from actual clients, with the juicy details of all the results you got for them.

Highlight the benefits and the bottom line results, talk about how you work and your quality systems to reassure potential clients that you know exactly what you are doing, and you could have them queuing around the virtual block for you.

3. Ebooks and printed books

It’s easier than ever to self-publish a book. Still, ‘author of…’ still holds a certain cachet that you can’t get from anything else.

Having a book out can take your business to the next level, establish your reputation and even get you speaking gigs. Who do you think potential customers are going to pick? ‘Joe Who Knows What’ over there, with no content on his blog, no reputation and no reasons why his business stands out, or you with your thriving blog and your published book?

4. Reports and how-to guides

Well-written guides can educate your clients on how to make the most of your services, what you actually do for them, why they need you in particular, and why they should buy.

A good report can also demonstrate your knowledge, build trust and give your readers a reason to stick around and sign up to your newsletter, so you can continue to market to them.

A high-quality, targeted content marketing plan ensures that your content writing is always on point, hits your specific aims for your business and contains enough variety on a consistent schedule to keep your ideal customers coming back for more and keep the search engines happy.

There’s no doubt that content writing can make all the difference for your business, but it is a lot of work. Perhaps you simply don’t have the time to continuously generate good content for your site, and you certainly might not have the time to write a whole book. Or maybe writing simply isn’t your strong suit?

Main image credit: Nathan Oakley, ‘Typewriter’

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Gill Fernley

Gill Fernley

The director of her own copywriting firm, Gill writes B2B and B2C content for SMEs and digital marketing agencies. She has a background in performing arts and writes conversational, direct sales copy for businesses on a range of topics. She’s also a keen writer of chick lit.