Content marketing is swiftly becoming a mainstay of education in the digital age.
“But what’s in there for me, a college student?” you may ask.
Clear as noonday:
One of the most popular types of content marketing is educational writing. This can take the form of blogs, articles, social media posts, or infographics. And given that students deal with tons of research, essays, and other types of creative writing in college, your skills are more than enough to join the team of educational content creators.
Are you a future marketer? Great! Then, it can be a good start for your career: you’ll get a portfolio and networking, as a minimum.
Are you training to be anybody but marketers? Awesome! Then, writing educational content for marketing can become a fair way to earn some extra cash. Over half of businesses (53%) are invested in content marketing, and all they need writers that would generate comprehensive content for their marketing needs.
You’ve got the hint, right?
Smart content marketing practices are not solely useful for business practice and are important for most writers.
This quick guide will go over the basics of educational content marketing, including how to choose your audience, keep them interested, and helpful language tricks that engage your reader.
Research and Understand What Motivates Your Target Audience
Writing good content, of any type, requires a good sense of audience.
One of the best ways to make sure that you’re targeting your content correctly is to create buyer personas.
A buyer persona is a fictional representation of the ideal customer for a company. This target person will include traits like age, gender, occupation, interests, education level, and hobbies. Imagining your ideal demographic as an actual person can help turn abstract concepts into something easier to think about and interact with.
Below is a common buyer persona template:
Buyer personas are usually created by combining data from surveys, customer contact information, sales reports, and even interviews with past and potential customers.
Knowing your audience, however, is essential for any type of writing and tailoring your style to a certain group of people can foster more reader engagement and loyalty.
Once you have a better understanding of who your readers are and what makes them tick, you can choose a voice for your pieces that will best suit your target audience. The use of slang, how formal your language is, and even the structure and length of your sentences should change depending on who you expect to be reading your writing.
But if you want to become a successful writer in the market, do your best to find and develop your own style and voice.
Jane Friedman, a writer with 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, refers to author Scott Gloden and says that voice is comparable to how you dance on the page.
Remember These Key Copywriting Techniques
Whatever voice you choose, there are a few techniques that will help to make your writing more interesting and memorable.
Tell a story.
The world is built on narratives. People love stories, even if it’s only a two-page article about the benefits of smart home thermostats. You don’t need an inciting incident, just a little bit of cause and effect is enough to keep the reader’s attention.
Known as brand storytelling, this technique work best for engaging the audience, getting emotional response from them, and influencing their decision-making.
- Use the power of repetition.
- Be clear.
- Use the facts.
- Avoid long paragraphs.
- Integrate images.
Figure out the one or two points you really want to drive home, and try to repeat them, perhaps with slightly different wordings, several times throughout your piece. The repetition is a signal to the reader that those points are the most important, and to pay extra attention to them.
Clarity is essential when education is the goal. You are already presenting new information, don’t make it harder to understand by using overly complex language or dense metaphors. It’s okay to make your language interesting, and your sentence length varied, but make sure that the information takes priority.
Even if you know everything there is to know about smart home thermostats, your article is going to look more like an opinion piece than a genuine source of educational content if you can’t support any of your assertions with facts.
Online writing has a huge advantage over print in that you can include links to outside sources directly in your article. This allows readers to fact check you in seconds, and gives them the confidence to trust you as a source of knowledge.
You may have noticed that many online articles and blogs seem to have a paragraph break almost every other sentence.
This is for a reason:
People, especially those reading more casually, can get intimidated by large blocks of text. Long paragraphs are easy to get lost in, and often indicate that the author is rambling.
This issue is even worse online, where sidebar ads, menus, and phone screens crunch writing together, making paragraphs seem much longer than they otherwise would.
When writing online, it is best to stick to short paragraphs. The same works for email writing. Try to keep your points concise, and start a new paragraph for each one.
Breaking up your writing with pictures or infographics that relate to the subject of your piece is a great way to make it more visually compelling and to keep your readers from getting lost in endless blocks of text.
You can use infographics to explain facts that you want to grab reader’s attention and remember later on. Images are important to maintain reader engagement and highlight important information. And the more it interacts with a reader, the better.
Include These Language Tricks to Influence Readers
There are certain elements of basic human psychology that can be leveraged to make people more likely to engage with your company or brand. These tricks and techniques are not always going to be useful in every situation, but knowing what they are and how to use them will make you a better writer.
- The Scarcity Illusion
- Social Proof
Priming is the brain’s tendency to more readily recognize and seek out information that is closely related to things it has recently seen or heard. Beginning your piece with certain images and careful word choice are all ways to subtly prepare your reader’s mind to be more receptive to your chosen subject.
The scarcity illusion occurs because people tend to place higher value on resources that are limited. If you know that you can get something easily, at any time, you’ll probably wait until you really need it to buy.
But if it looks like the supply of something is limited, or might run out soon, the question changes. It’s no longer, “Do I need this now?” but, “Will I need this at some point in the future?”
Below Amazon uses the scarcity illusion to convince users to complete the buying process:
Changing people’s mindset using the scarcity illusion makes consumers more likely to buy a product and pay a higher price.
Reciprocation is a common rule observed in most societies. If someone does something nice for you, you are much more likely to want to do something nice for them.
In terms of advertising, reciprocity usually means that a company will give something away to potential customers for free in the hopes that they will buy something from the company.
This is especially relevant for educational content writing, as providing useful information and knowledge to anyone who wants to read it qualifies as giving something away for free. The more useful and valuable your writing is to the reader, the stronger the reciprocity effect will be.
Social proof is the phenomenon where people are more likely to do something if they perceive it as a popular thing to do.
Since this effect is only reliant on the perception of popularity, and not an actual demographic analysis, it can be pretty easily fooled by a couple twitter screenshots, statistics from specific groups of people, or even just a famous person supporting a product.
For example, here on Bid4Papers, the social proof is integrated by fair customers feedback:
Popularity is not a new idea, but it remains a powerful one, both for you to use, and to be on the lookout for.
Optimize Your Writing
Done well, educational content writing is good for both the company and the consumer. The reader gets useful knowledge on an important subject, and the company gets someone engaging with their website and brand.
Feel free to use this guide as an assistant in your marketing writing endeavors. Sure enough, it won’t substitute years of experience in the niche, and you may want to fly to digital marketing agencies or hire professional writers for support at the start.
But he who hesitates is lost, right?
After all, the more you read, the more you learn; and the more you practice, the better content creator you become.
In the context of “the more you read,” this bunch of books for mastering the game of sales might come in handy. After all, the reading list is never long enough, right?