There are two types of articles most businesses invest in.
- “SEO articles” to drive traffic
- Well-crafted articles to drive sales
We’re here to talk about driving sales and how to write articles to do just that. But for 30 seconds, let’s switch gears.
No one ever admits to reading the end of a book first, but we’ve all done it. And the last time you Googled a recipe you needed, I’m sure you jumped straight to the end first, right? It’s alright. We all do it.
When I’m looking up “What’s the best sourdough recipe?” I don’t care about your backstory. I need a recipe.
You can argue that “it’s driving traffic.” You need 2000 words of preamble – that readers will sail past looking for the recipe at the end – to win that traffic.
That’s fine if you’re business runs on traffic alone, but ours runs on sales. For the moment, let’s assume yours does too.
The difference between writing an SEO article and one focused on driving sales is subtle yet crucial to your success. The mechanics will feel familiar, but how you approach it needs to change.
It’s been 30 seconds, so let’s get into it.
Step 1. Know Your Audience (Really Well)
If you write it, they will read it.
While it’s a nice thought, that’s not how it works.
Your ideal customer is looking for specific information related to your product or service. But how do you get the knowledge you have in front of the right people?
Answer: You need to understand your target audience.
You probably have a customer persona, or some version of it, to guide your marketing.
Take it a step further. Think of an individual person instead of a loose collection of demographics. Identify a single customer you’ve spoken with or someone you know who would be an ideal client.
Write all of your blog posts for that person.
The best way to do this is to put yourself in their shoes and create a list of questions:
- How can I relate to them?
- What do they want to know?
- What frustrations are they having?
- What problem are they trying to solve?
Once you know the most relevant questions, you just need to write a blog post to deliver the answers.
Easy, right? No, not really.
Creating content your ideal customer wants to read is a bit more complex.
Step 2. Answer What Your Audience Is Asking
Again, something that seems obvious – but a lot of businesses skip this step. This can result in attracting the wrong traffic, so it doesn’t drive sales. On the other hand, it can lead to not getting any traffic because they didn’t do any keyword research.
To write a successful blog post, you need to know what questions your target audience is asking.
What phrases are they typing into search engines? What words come up again and again?
It helps to understand search engine optimization (SEO) and keyword research. But your reader isn’t an algorithm, and you won’t win them over by writing that way.
The goal is to find topics your audience cares about, and ensure they can find your blog post when they’re looking for answers. So you need to know which phrases or questions readers are typing into search engines, and use that information to guide your topic selection.
For example, if someone is looking for recipes for sourdough bread, the questions, phrasing, and volume of terms can vary.
Why does this matter? Because you don’t want to answer general queries. You want to tackle the specific questions your target audience needs answered.
To find the right questions (possible blog topics), you can try the following:
- Google: Type in a general search term and see what pops up under “people also ask,” and “Related searches.”
- AnswerThePublic : To get consumer insight, just go to AnswerThePublic and type in a search phrase, topic, or brand to get a comprehensive analysis of what people are searching for.
- Twitter: Use Twitter search to find words, phrases, or hashtags to find out what people are talking about.
No matter what method(s) you choose, having these keywords and search phrases on hand not only makes your content helpful – it makes it relatable.
This research should guide your topic ideas. As you build up an archive of helpful content, explicitly addressing your reader’s questions and concerns, your blog becomes a valuable resource.
That personal touch will influence your brand voice and can make all the difference between a person continuing with the next steps or moving on to another post. It’s the difference between meaningless traffic and potential sales.
Step 3. Lure Readers in With an Engaging Headline
Your headline is the first (and sometimes last) impression you make on readers. So make it count!
The goal is to let readers know what the topic is – and entice them with something of value.
It’s worth putting in the extra time to make your headline stand out. Just think of all the Google searches you’ve done. You likely skipped thousands of posts because they didn’t catch your attention. They didn’t address your problem. They didn’t offer a solution.
They didn’t lure you in.
If you’re writing a post about how to make the best sourdough bread, a title like “How to Make the Best Sourdough Bread” is pretty clear about the topic. But will it catch the reader’s attention?
The above examples are okay – but what if we tweaked them a bit?
- The Perfect Sourdough Loaf: The One Recipe to Rule Them All
- A Step-by-Step Guide to Guide to Making Perfect Sourdough Bread
- My Favorite Go-To Sourdough Bread Recipe: And Soon to Be Yours!
All it takes is a bit of time and some imagination. So get creative with your titles to stop scrollers in their digital tracks.
People are far more likely to read a post with a headline that goes a step or three further than the rest. Remember, competition is fierce – you have to stand out, and the title is the first place to do that.
If you need some help, check out these headline formulas that work.
Subheadings Need Attention Too
While drafting your blog post, it’s essential to keep in mind that your subheadings are just as important as your headline.
When scanned, readers should have a solid understanding of what the post is about or actionable tips they can use to start solving their problem.
The world’s best heading won’t save your post from being skipped if your subheadings are dull or useless.
Step 4. Nail Your Intro
You’re here because you want people to actually read your posts, not just click on the headline, right?
(If not, you’re probably wondering why there isn’t a sourdough recipe yet.)
The goal of your intro is to hook the reader and keep their attention.
What’s your angle? Why should your reader care about what you wrote? You get one shot to stop a prospect from leaving your page to find one that’s more interesting, relevant, or useful.
So if you want people to read your blog post (all of it), you need to open strong. Try one of these openings:
- Ask a question (make the reader think)
- Use an analogy or metaphor (relate to the reader)
- Create a mental picture (engage reader’s imagination)
- Cite a persuasive statistic (interesting facts or stats the reader can’t ignore)
- Share a funny story (cause the reader to feel something)
If you do one of the above, you’re on your way to nailing your intro.
What do I mean by on your way?
Simple, there’s another half to the formula for nailing your intro. You also need to let the reader know they’re getting something of value.
I know what you’re thinking – that’s too much pressure for a few paragraphs of introduction to handle – but it can be done. I promise.
If someone lands on your blog, chances are a search got them there. They typed in a question or phrase you researched and strategically used in your post for that very moment.
Now is your time to shine.
Make it clear in your intro that your post will provide answers. You’ll have the rest of the article to give fresh insights and unique takes on the topic. But the intro has to make clear that readers are in the right place to find the answers they need.
Step 5. Don’t Make Your Call to Action an Afterthought
Remember what I said about reading the end first? This is where it comes in handy for writing a successful blog post.
The ending is your chance to remind readers that they came to the right place to find answers – and offer them a path to get more. Don’t make it an afterthought, this is your conversion point.
Here’s how the pieces fit together in your completed article:
- An intro that hooks the reader and offers something
- Body text which contains what was promised in the intro
- A summary that calls back to the beginning and provides a next step for prospects to take
Your summary is just that, a summary. You want to wrap everything up in a few sentences to a couple of paragraphs.
This next step, a.k.a. the Call to Action (CTA), can be whatever you want – newsletter subscription, pdf download, or other action you’d like the reader to take.
For most of our clients, the goal at this stage is to build an email list, so we ask readers to sign up and receive something by email. In other cases, the CTA might link to a service page or another step of engagement, like filling out a contact form.
A good example is this:
Even if you have a prominent visual CTA on the page, like an opt-in box or free offer, leave your readers with a reminder of something more you have to offer.
You can empathize with the reader, and suggest a way for them to further engage with your business. Add relevant internal links, and close with a friendly message.
Writing Successful Blog Posts Is Simple, Not Easy. Maybe We Can Help.
When done right, content marketing can drive targeted organic traffic to your website.
Why is this important? Organic traffic differs from other traffic in one fundamental way – it consists of people actively searching for solutions. They’re actively searching for information related to your business. This search is how they discovered you in the first place.
Check out our content marketing services to see if we might be a good fit for you.