Content That Converts: From Idea to Posted [Updated]
December 13, 2016
13 minute read
Creating copy that converts isn’t always easy, especially when you’re just starting out. In fact, when you’re just starting out, creating a piece of content, whether it is blog content or content for your email list, can be really difficult.
Creating Content That Converts: Hook, Line, and Sinker
Just out of the gate, you might be faced with questions like:
- Do you write the same content for each platform or outlet?
- What content ideas do you use?
- How do you write a compelling headline?
- Do you have specific content marketing goals?
Really, the list of questions we could ask you (let alone the number of questions you probably have) is endless. We’re here to tell you that creating amazing content really isn’t that hard.
While creating different forms of content that converts takes time (because you want it to be fantastic and attention-grabbing), amazing content doesn’t need to be an actual painful process. We think it can be, dare we say, enjoyable to create high-performing content.
This blog will teach you more about how to create content that converts. We hope that you’ll be more confident in your content marketing efforts and that your conversion rates will improve as you turn visitors into leads!
Creating Content That Converts: What Does It Take?
First, let’s answer one question. What is conversion? It means you’ve created results-driven content that turned visitors into leads.
You make content. Ideally, people enjoyed whatever type of content you created. Then, they signed up for or purchased whatever it is that you offer.
For example, a first-time visitor may have started at the top of your sales funnel and signed up for your email list. Maybe someone on your email list bought something from your website. It could be that someone who purchased from you before came back and bought from you again.
Regardless of what the conversion does, you’ve created high-converting content that offered them something they wanted or needed. It doesn’t matter if it was a blog post, a newsletter that went out to your email list, or any other part of your content marketing strategy.
So, the real question is: when creating content that converts, what does it take? The simple answer is two-fold:
- What do they need to know? You’re reading this for a reason, right?
- What would really amuse them and keep them engaged? People want to be engaged with something (even if they learn!).
But, let’s be real…if you’re in business, the trick is to be a content marketing magician and combine those two points while creating your editorial calendar or outlining your next set of content clusters. After all, it’s an old-school marketing formula: communication = clarity + curiosity.
By the way, if you’re looking at your old published content and aren’t happy with it, this doesn’t mean you need to trash your old entries. Instead, what you really need is a good audit of your existing marketing effort.
At Bridges, we offer marketing audits. Did we mention it’s free? No? Well, it’s free…and we’ll help you!
Coming Up with Blog Content Ideas
For many people, coming up with blog content ideas is the most challenging step. Good ol’ writer’s block. We get it. We have some great tips from our expert content marketing team to help you develop content ideas.
1. Brainstorm Content Marketing Ideas
Currently, you know what you want your readers to do: sign up for an email list or buy something (or both). It depends on where they are in your sales funnel, right? Wait, not so fast. Put yourself into the shoes of your readers. What do they need from you?
What do they need to know, or what do they want to know from your blog posts? Start by making a list of ideas. Random ideas are okay.
Think back to when you were brand new to your chosen field. What didn’t you know? What did you want to know? Is there something you do differently compared to others?
2. See What Your Competitors Are Writing About
Yes, really. No, we are not telling you to make plagiarism part of your content marketing strategy.
If you are stuck and don’t know what to write about, see what others in your field are doing. Go through a list of these questions about your rivals:
- What topics do they cover with their blog?
- Are they talking about recent events?
- Are they covering main topics associated with the industry in each piece of content?
- Do they offer listicles (you know, X Things You Should Know About [Insert Random Topic Here])?
- What don’t they offer? What don’t they say in their content? Something is probably missing or outdated.
- How can you do what they do and make it better?
We genuinely believe you have what it takes to make amazing content for your email list or blog!
3. Consider Different Content Creation Approaches!
Thanks to the internet, you are never alone when it comes to developing amazing content ideas.
You can create your own editorial content calendars or even find someone for use online. If you decide to use an online content calendar, it won’t necessarily be ready for you to use “as-is.” Not every idea will automatically be high-performing content. Not every idea will help you meet every content marketing goal you’ve set. Your bounce rates won’t automatically drop. They’re not automatically keyword optimized.
Examples include editorial content calendars, content clusters, or creating content based on the personas found within your industry. As an example, take editorial content calendars.
Instead, you’ll just get some ideas to get you started!
4. Keyword Research…of Your Competitors!
Keyword research isn’t just a tool you use to improve your content marketing strategy. Oh no, no, no. It’s a tool you use on your competitors.
Take their links, determine which keywords they rank for, and create amazing content that turns visitors into leads for yourself! There are all kinds of SEO tools that allow you to peek at what your competitors are doing. And, no, it isn’t wrong.
By the way, if your competitors aren’t looking at what you’re doing, you’re not a threat to them. (Psssttt, you have pretty much zero way of knowing if someone is doing this to your site via third-party integrations, no matter how many metrics they collect …)
Attention-Grabbing Headlines: The Hook for High-Converting Content
Attention-grabbing headlines are important. We aren’t necessarily talking about click-bait…or not talking about it. While it is important to entertain, you can’t be so sensational that your readers roll their eyes and scroll on by. That’s how you lose the content game.
Think about it: you clicked this headline for a reason. Did you think it was a compelling headline or an attention-grabbing headline? We offered you something: how to teach you the basic steps of creating content that converts.
Then, we took a fishing reference: hook, line, and sinker (which is also a general cliché that most people understand) to finish it out. It isn’t necessarily clickbait since we are delivering on our headline.
So, how do you take your content ideas and turn them into a great headline? Well, first, we have to give you the cold, hard fact about headlines.
The bounce rate is 80% if you don’t have an attention-grabbing headline or compelling headline.
We know, we know…it isn’t always easy to come up with a cool headline
For starters, Google will cut off your blog title (headline) if it has more than 60 characters. This includes spaces. For the nerds in the audience, Google allows 600 pixels for title tags displayed in a SERP, which typically (but not always) amounts to 60 characters.
HOT TIP: Checking character count in your word processor is a great start, but can sometimes still yield truncated headlines.
Try using tools like the Pixel Width Checker to get an accurate picture of your headline’s readability.
Here are some additional things you can do to better understand how to make the entire process easier for you and more engaging for visitors.
- As you read blogs you love, make a note of blog titles that catch your eye. No, you are not going to plagiarize them. However, you will begin to notice a pattern. You’ll learn to write better headlines. By recognizing what you do and don’t click on, you’ll have a bit of a lightbulb moment as a reader.
- Want more action for your post on Twitter? A study by HubSpot showed that bold, shorter headlines with 8-12 words were shared more often. After all, Twitter is a microblogging site.
- Want more Facebook action? The same study showed headlines between 12-14 words got more shares.
- Really don’t know where to start with a catchy title? Here’s a fun attention-grabbing headline tool. It’s not the only one out there. All you have to do is look up “blog post title generator” on Google.
In all reality, when you’re planning titles for blog posts, even though the best practice is 60 characters because of Google, the real rule is to think about your reader. If the best title has 70 characters, use it.
Writing Amazing Content to Turn Visitors into Leads
Here in the US, we aren’t exactly known for our attention spans. A large portion of our lack of attention is due to the Internet age. We have access to more information now than ever…and within seconds.
While this is amazing, it’s done a number on our ability to pay attention. So, unfortunately, you have around seven very crucial minutes to keep someone’s attention. Seven minutes is the optimal read time.
And if you really want to make the most of it? Short paragraphs, lists, and images are ideal. This type of visual content keeps your readers' attention — especially when you’re offering a valuable resource that gives them something they can use (you know, like how to create high-performing content).
You should change up the types of content you offer. In other words, all of your blog posts shouldn’t be list-based or long, drawn-out monologues (we’re looking at you, recipe sites…you should be ashamed! We just wanted to know how to make that pie…not about your trip in second grade to the zoo that wasn’t even related!). Change up your content game to keep your people coming back for more!
As you change up your content marketing, your content marketing goals should always be supported. So, you’re keeping your readers engaged, you’re positioned as an authority, your website is exciting, and you’re not boring.
This does not mean that all of your readers will love every piece of content. It means that you could convert more visitors into leads because you appeal to a more significant number of visitors.
Before you publish, keep in mind that you are:
- Writing for people. It’s sometimes easy to forget that humans are reading what you put on your blog. Your proposition statement needs to meet their needs. This isn’t just about keywords. Yes, they are important, but your actual job is to meet the needs of your readers.
- Deliver on your compelling headline and your proposition statement. If you don’t deliver what you promise, your readers won’t come back. Your content strategy will fail. Your bounce rate will increase. You will lose the content game.
- Just say no to actual click-bait. You’re not writing for a trashy tabloid. You can have some fun and show your personality while creating and delivering amazing content no matter what industry you’re in. Just…please…don’t be that guy.
- Grammar is important. Google Docs has a built-in grammar check now. It’s decent. Grammarly has a free version. The Hemingway Editor is another option. Word has an updated grammar tool. Zoho Writer has Zia, which is similar to Grammarly. There are lots of options available for you to use. The occasional typo happens to everyone, but you certainly don’t want a blog post full of them to define you.
It can be hard to figure out just how good your SEO is on a blog post. The good news is that you don’t have to do it on your own. Check out this easy-to-use website grader! Did we mention that it’s free? Because it’s free!
Successful Content Efforts Rely on Visual Content
Visual content (how your blog posts look) is critical. We know you’ve visited a blog that was murderous on your eyes.
You vowed never to return, didn’t you? It didn’t matter how great the content was.
All it took was the site’s awful layout and appearance to make you swear off that blog forever.
White space on your blog site helps with readability. It is very, very important. It is so important that if you don’t have enough of it, you’ll lose readers within 20 seconds. Ouch. We’ve got some great news for you, though. There are some easy ways that you can make sure your blog is readable.
- If you’re using WordPress, you can choose a theme with a great layout that includes plenty of white space. You can also make sure that you use a proper background color and the right text color, and link colors. Make things easy on your readers.
- If you’re using Wix, Weebly, or another drag and drop website builder, you should also have access to various themes with reader-friendly colors and white space.
- If you want something custom or to change up the theme of your HubSpot, WordPress, Wix, Weebly, or other custom website, you can bait your content game hook by using a great website design expert to get you get started.
Because, again, visual content is everything when it comes to turning visitors into leads. Your high-converting content can’t do its job if no one wants to visit your site…
Properly sized and placed images are also crucial for the layout and design of high-converting content. Remember, images help break up the monotony of long pieces. They also help keep the attention of the reader.
For longer pieces of content, a table of contents is crucial. You have noticed the one at the top of this blog post. This helps readers find what they need (and only what they need), which can help blog posts be very well-performing.
Readers trust you more since you provide the answer they want, and they don’t “spend forever” hunting for it.
Paragraph length is also essential. While we were all taught that paragraphs had to be five or more sentences, when creating content that converts, it’s totally fine if a paragraph is three sentences. It helps reduce reader fatigue. In good SEO copywriting, this is known as the bucket brigade technique.
Proper Linking Strategy for Your Content Strategy
Linking strategy must be part of your content strategy. Links are broken down into two types:
- Internal links
- External links
An internal link is a link that points to a location on your website. Each blog post you create should include at least one internal link. Whether you have that internal link open in a new tab (or window) or the same tab (or window) is up to you. However, keep your reader in mind. Ask yourself one question. When you’re reading a blog post and click on an internal link, do you get angry when it takes you away from what you read? If you answer yes, have the link open in a new tab or window.
Internal links are an essential part of your content strategy because they reduce bounce rates. They keep your website visitors on your page.
This helps increase the potential likelihood that you’ll turn visitors into leads since you get to continue showing that you’re an expert in your field.
An external link is a link that points to a location that is not part of your website. Each blog post should include at least one good external link. What’s a good external link? It’s a reputable source that is not from a website that you would consider a competitor. It isn’t a spammy website. Maybe it’s a news story that relates to your topic. Maybe it’s an industry page. Maybe it’s a neat (but related) YouTube video.
External links, when you choose relevant ones that are highly ranked, can help improve your ranking with the search engines over time. If you choose non-relevant, poor-quality, or untrustworthy sites, you will damage your website’s reputation in the robot eyes of the search engines.
Some external linking websites will link back to you once they realize you’ve linked to them. For relevant, well-trusted, and well-ranking websites, this is a very good thing. If a toxic website links to yours (it happens to everyone) Google makes it easy to disavow those so they don’t tank your rank.
Always remember that link management is a vital piece of the content marketing strategy puzzle. Carefully select your external links so that you can improve your SEO over time.
Results-Driven Content: Are You Providing Opportunities to Turn Visitors into Leads?
Although you want to provide a valuable resource for your readers, you have your blog content or email list for a reason. Your goal is to turn visitors into leads.
You need them to do something to move through the sales funnel: be it sign up for the email list, take that course, buy that product, etc. Otherwise, what’s the point of being in business?
The next question we have for you is: are you providing opportunities throughout your amazing content, which we are sure is valuable and amazing content, to convert visitors into leads?
This doesn’t mean you have to scream BUY! BUY! BUY!
Thanks to your results-driven content, you can be you and still provide opportunities for your readers to move forward in your process. For example, if you offer a free five-day email course as part of your sales funnel, you can provide case studies as part of your blog posts and sprinkle in calls to action for readers to sign up.
You could even make your call to action as simple as inviting your readers to share your blog content to Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Your website really can be your best sales rep. We can show you how. See what we did there?
Optimizing Your Blog Content
Don’t worry! We did not forget about the importance of optimizing your blog posts. How can people find them if they aren’t optimized? Not every piece of content that is part of your content marketing strategy will go viral. Unfortunately, that’s just life.
Search engine optimization (SEO) helps you get more eyeballs on your blog over time. And these are high-quality eyeballs that want to read what you’ve written (provided that you created amazing content).
Choosing the right keywords and implementing them (appropriately, without stuffing them) helps your site rise higher in page rankings on Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
SEO is vital, but it also takes time. You must optimize each blog post and make it read naturally for the keywords that you choose. You can use more than one keyword per blog post. The good news is that if the idea of SEO seems overwhelming, there is help available! There are SEO tools as well as SEO professionals.
With SEO tools, you can go the DIY route. On the plus side, you can also do your own competitor analysis. You learn a lot when you take on SEO. On the downside, there’s a learning curve. It can also be time-consuming on top of everything else you’re doing to run your business.
Tools, Tips, and Tricks to Create Content That Converts
SEO is just one of many tools you should rely on to bring in new readers to your site continuously. While it is essential, one of the biggest tips to keep in mind is that your content marketing strategy must include regular blog posts. Whether that means daily, weekly, biweekly, or monthly is up to you. The key is just to be regular.
Make sure to share your blog posts and other content with your social media accounts. This is not just a “one and done” type of thing. Share, share, and share some more.
You can reshare older, evergreen content (meaning the blog never goes bad because it doesn’t go out of style or trend). Rewrite snippets of text for your social media, add a small image and share it again. While you don’t reshare the exact same post over and over again, you do need to keep sharing. As they say, sharing is caring!
Google is your friend for quick and easy content ideas! Start typing your basic content idea into the search bar. What pops up? Does any of it seem interesting or like something your audience would want? Write the ideas down. Choose one and run the search.
Also look at the People Also Ask questions. What about those? Scroll to the bottom and look at the suggested searches. Do those help? You’ll still need to optimize these ideas, but they’re a good and free way to start your search.
Is High-Performing Content Your Goal? We Can Help Create Valuable Resources
At Bridges, we know that creating high-performing content on your own while you’re wearing all the other hats in your business is often overwhelming.
While it’s awesome to understand the basics of how to create valuable resources your readers want and how to create content that converts, you only have so much time in a day that is already claimed by essential business obligations.
Good news: Bridges is our name, and creative content that converts is our game! Let us help you.
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Ashley Quintana, M.S., B.A.
Ashley Quintana is a co-founder of Bridges. In her role, she develops, leads, and executes digital marketing strategies for the company’s growing client base, including a Fortune 500 subsidiary and an NBA basketball team. Ashley’s work can be found in the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Science, and she is an OKC.biz 40 Under 40 honoree for her leadership in business and community. She frequently speaks at universities, churches, and conferences on marketing, diversity, and business.