How to write better marketing content and avoid the clickbait trap

Posted by Rob Kendal on 02-Sep-2016 15:32:54

If you've spent any time exploring marketing these days you'll no doubt be on the look out for any ways to improve the quality of your content; how to make your content more appealing to your audience and, in short, how to write better content.

Well, we've got some great tips in this article especially when it comes to avoiding producing content that puts your customers off. That's right, we're talking about you, Mr. Clickbait!

Article header image for how to write better marketing content

The rise of the hollow content promise

We've all been there, surfing the web or checking in with Facebook and stumbled upon an article or link that appears to offer some really juicy video, set of pictures to make you say 'wow' or some other absorbing bit of content and we've clicked. 

When you hit the site though, what you're presented with just falls short of what you were promised. Typically you'll find yourself on a website that falls into one of these categories:

  • An image gallery that's split into one image per page and those pages are rammed to the brim with completely irrelevant ads and other links to spammy sites;
  • An article that barely relates to the link title or subject, or worse barely covers the topic before bombarding you with ads or links to more empty content;
  • Videos that you have to wade through tons of ads and lookalike videos that are, yep you guessed it, more ads...

What you're ultimately left with, of course, is a very empty, hollow experience that never lives up to what you were promised in the first place. 

Clickbait and murky content are on the rise

There is a lot of content out there on the Internet and more and more of it is becoming a tool to purely gain traffic and shift advertising. One of the big problems facing Facebook, for example, is the social media giant's problem with fake news hoaxsters publishing made up content to gain notoriety. 

The problem is this sort of content, however briefly popular, leads to a huge undermining in trust between genuine publishers and new audiences. It breeds an inherent suspicion that you're going to be sold something, or your details captured for other nefarious purposes.

How can you write better marketing content

Now I'm confident that as a marketing professional or business owner, you're probably not in the habit of writing and promoting empty content that is just designed to win clicks and push adverts, or is in anyway clickbaity. So it follows that it's probably quite an obvious and easy thing to just not produce this sort of content for your target audience.

However, it can be all too easy to look at current trends of writing and publishing marketing content and see some of the less ideal ones creeping into your own work, thus driving you away from the ideal inbound marketing practice of always being that helpful, respectable advisor that you want to be.

So, whether you're writing a business blog, or looking to promote a particular piece of content we've got some tips to follow to make sure your work will have the maximum impact.

Tip 1 - Make it about your audience

Picture of an audience at a theatre representing marketing content about your audience

We talk a lot about starting any marketing campaign with S.M.A.R.T goals and by tying everything back to one or more of your buyer personas. This is key for producing quality content. 

Choose a topic that will appeal to your intended audience and explore it in some depth. It doesn't have to be 1000's of words, but enough to be able to firmly cover whatever it is that you want to talk about. Allow your readers to easily consume and share whatever content it is you produce.

Tip 2 - Deliver the goods

One of the big complaints with anything in life, content, products, lunch, shopping, is when the end result doesn't live up to the expectations. You can't please everyone all the time and everyone's experience is very personal and subjective, but you can do your best to manage expectations and try to meet or exceed them.

This is the same with content; if you write an article about the 5 best websites to find free photos, then you'd better make sure you find some great websites that offer free photos and explore them, put links in the article and give readers some recommendations.

Deliver on what you promise in your social media promotion and article titles!

Tip 3 - Avoid vague or hollow contenthollow marketing content represented by a hollow apple

It's very easy to get stuck in a content rut where you're going through the motions, or just producing something, anything because it's Tuesday and that's blogging day, or video time.

However, pumping out content that you're just making for the sake of it means you're missing out on the entire point: to create and promote helpful resources that will grow a following, generate some interest from new customers, and help people solve problems.

Tip 4 - Keep extraneous advertising to a minimum

Whilst the idea with business blogging or producing marketing content in an inbound way is to help your buyer personas solve their problems and meet their goals, the overarching plan does aim to help your own business generate more interest,

This doesn't mean, though, that you have to bombard your prospective clients and partners with over the top advertising. 

There's nothing wrong with adding some strong calls to action to your articles or website (in fact, that's rather key to marketing in an inbound way), but keep them as relevant as possible and whilst they need to be prominent, this doesn't mean constantly in your face. Avoid tools like popups, or loads of random affiliate adverts, and keep calls to action to 3 at most. 

Tip 5 - Better content boosts your search engine rankings!

UAF missile to represent skyrocketing your search engine optimisationUp to this point you'd be forgiven for thinking that the worst thing here is that you'll annoy your potential readers. Whilst that's true (and it's a good idea to avoid that), there are very solid reasons to make sure your content is the best it can be. One of the more unplayed reasons is the positive effect it has on your search engine rankings

Great content leads to improvements in your search engine rankings in a number of ways:

  • It gets shared and linked to. A lot!
    The more relevant, helpful, and down right interesting your content, the more it's likely it is to be shared on social media and linked to via other websites. Both of these activities are a strong signal to search engines that this content is worth being served to searchers above other, similar content.
  • It is more valuable and relevant
    There is more than enough evidence to suggest that Google measures the time spent looking at a particular web page, and the amount of bouncing back and forth between search results and particular pages from those search results. This is one of the ways in which it judges one piece of content to be more relevant to a searcher than another. 

Moz, a leading authority on search engine optimisation, talk about long-clicks and this practice amongst search engines in some detail.

Promote your marketing content without clickbait

When it comes to promoting and shouting about your new piece of content, there's nothing wrong with playing things a little coy, or being enticing when it comes to marketing and advertising. After all, the idea here is to pique people's interest enough to have them read your articles or watch your videos. 

Megaphone speakers talking about promoting your content on social mediaThe trick is to make things enticing enough without leading people astray, saying you'll give them something you actually won't, or just straight up lying to your readers.

For example, you've probably come across these sorts of links on social media:

  • The XYZ product that's angering parents
  • She stood in the rain, but then THIS happened...
  • The crowd went silent because they saw THIS

These sorts of links are rooted in psychology; they gnaw at that little voice of our human curiosity that taps us on the shoulder and says 'hey, look at me, look at me'. That's all good and well, but they easily set your reader up for a fall - mainly because the 'THIS' that she saw is something completely underwhelming...

Instead, aim to make your blog article titles a little more indicative of what's contained in the article and make your social media posts a little more descriptive as to the contents of what's on the other end.

For instance, our most recent blog post is called 8 basic social media mistakes to avoid. You can see that there, right in the title, you're getting a pretty good picture of what to expect: a list of mistakes to avoid making on social media. A title's never going to give you all the details of course, but it should at least give you a good idea.

When it comes to social media promotion, keep things interesting and intriguing without being misleading or potentially wasting people's time. 

Instead of writing something like this:

"That one product that's really angering parents"

Try tweaking to something more like this:

"The controversial baby seat that's got parents talking"

The second one still has enough curiosity pull to make people click, but it will reduce visitors who don't care about baby seats clicking through and wasting their time, but it also allows people to glean a little insight into the contents of the article without having to click first. 

Go forth and create some great marketing content

It's easy to not produce spammy content and vague click-farm style links and web pages. However it's all too easy to let some of the more popular, yet less ideal, trends and marketing practices creep in. 

Follow our tips and ask yourself "is this content worth sharing?" and "do I deliver on what I promise from the outset?" and your content will be better than ever!


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Topics: Inbound Marketing Business Blogging

Written by Rob Kendal

Rob has enjoyed a rewarding career in technology, from IT infrastructure through to software development, working with clients such as Virgin Holidays and the NHS. He understands the needs, challenges and logistics involved in making technology work for business and how to market it effectively.
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