Modern marketing requires the creation of excellent content. It has become one of the key components for success in many organizations. There are so many metrics to grade the “success” of content. Here are just a few:
- Open rates
- Bounce rates
- Click through
- Engagement rates
The one we rarely hear about is the actual process of content creation. George Orwell’s Six Rules to Effective Writing lays out a clear foundation to ensure your content is exceptional. Those six rules? Read on.
1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
Most of us are guilty of doing this in our blogs and emails (myself included). Metaphors such as the “sales funnel” are so commonly used in marketing that it doesn’t trigger any sort of emotional response from people. Spend some time creating your take on the sales process. Chances are you’ll invoke a better response from your audience.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.” This is true for marketers as well. Big emotions don’t come from big words; they come from understanding. After writing something, read everything carefully and see if you can replace it with simpler words.
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
Ever have one of those big ideas that feel like several paragraphs are necessary to get the point across? Odds are it can be trimmed down and equally effective. Marketing language is filled with words that contain little to no value. Find the ones with value and use those. Think about this: your reader takes an average of eight seconds to skim through an email. How are you going to get your message across in such a narrow time frame? By being concise.
4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
It is crucial to understand the difference between active and passive writing. Read the following sentences:
Active: No one commented on my blog.
Passive: My blog was not responded to by anyone.
Active: Matt creates decent content.
Passive: The content is decent that Matt creates.
See the difference? The active voice is concise and powerful. It becomes even more important when marketing teams are describing their product or services. Passive content is easily forgotten. Don’t be afraid of simple, active content creation.
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or jargon if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
This is a tough rule to follow depending on the audience you’re writing to. If your content is geared towards a highly-technical group of people, then scientific words and industry jargon are fitting. For marketers, the goal is to attract and retain your audience by using common, everyday words if possible. If technical terms are needed, include an explanation.
6. Break any of these rules sooner than saying anything outright barbarous.
Use common sense. Content is usually the first interaction that people have with your brand. It needs to be simple, concise, and clear.
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