I have been a writer all my life. I studied for an MA in Creative Writing but nothing prepared me for Internet content writing.
I’m adamant content writing should be very special
That’s because the Internet is nothing like we’ve ever known. Yet at the same time it’s something even Dickens would recognise as an extraordinary story telling platform. He was a master storyteller after all. As an author and PR expert he understood how narratives resonated and impacted tangibly on the reader.
Dickens actually had content writing in his veins
Yes, his style is anachronistic for today’s ‘chew it up and spit it out’ 7 second attention-span audience. But he told incredible stories that hooked people and actually affected their lives. He understood the power of the ‘hook’ he was the equivalent of a soap opera scriptwriter. The real key point for content marketers now is: ‘How can my brand compete with others, get read and then acted upon?
Hold tight I am going to write a sentence I never ever expected to write:
‘You need data to write effective content’
OMG not numbers! Yup, precisely. But it’s not just numbers that will create the appropriate content marketing strategy. This is where every English graduate in the land should prick up their ears: it’s about insights and context. Data analysis is not about finding facts to present. People’s minds are rarely changed by facts. It’s the story that really conveys meaning. After all we make decisions through both reason and emotion. If you brain clocks a fact it engages the language element. It’s an intellectual exercise alone. But a story connects left and right brain and your emotions are also stimulated.
Google Analytics should underpin your content writing
There is of coursemassive difference between observations and insight. Anyone can read Google Analytics and say: ‘Oh dear 78% bounce rate, 100 000 hits from Vietnam and 2 conversions and everyone searched for you on an i-pad! These reports form just a small part of the analysis your business needs to undertake. The stories we tell based on them give meaning to the data; it’s a symbiotic experience.
So, what’s next for content writing?
This is where Eng. Lit students come into their own! (there had to be a use for them, let’s face it!). Just like every poem I have critiqued, looking at Google Analytics is about searching for motivation and effect, use, meaning, intent and personalization. ‘Publish and be damned is still true’ but it has a slightly different skew. Now it’s more: ‘publish and be totally damned by complete indifference!’
Are you producing content that’s like the elusive orgasm?
I read somewhere that an MA in Creative Writing produces thousands of writers who produce creativity that is ‘not quite’ there. For me, much of the content created shares the same attribute. For all you content calendar slaves tell me what the bloody point is about writing an Easter post about kitchen design. Who wants to read it? Honestly?
Exactly! We start from the wrong premise. Of course we do. No one has ever been 20+ years into a digital revolution before. We were all seduced by the opportunity for world domination. You can sell to Asia, the US, Russia and Europe. Whoopee!
So what’s the problem with that?
Well, strange as it may seem, different cultures, perspectives, beliefs affect how we view the world and what we want. Therefore it stands to reason that unless you prepare unique content for different segments then you are wasting your efforts. But you knew that, didn’t you?
Talking to Emma Whitehead, CEO of Graphic Agency, London she underscored these beliefs. ‘The problem for business and communication is SEO, web design and content writing happen at different times.’
What’s the upshot of using data? Who do you hire?
None of it joins up and SEO seems divorced from content, and design is just, well, design! It’s very difficult finding exceptional writers who understand the wire framing that should be behind the words. You might think by having a report jam packed full of recommendations it would be easy to scaffold a blog post and get a ‘content’ farm writer to compose it. Nope, wrong again. You need a writer who can magically make that ‘scaffold’ vanish. No one should know they are being manipulated. It should just feel very natural that a visitor has been convinced to buy a £5000 holiday when they thought they were just browsing!
Don’t ask me to blog for you unless you have the data!
So having studied this carefully over the past 6 months, having argued and been difficult I have made up my mind that I am no longer accepting blogging gigs unless the commissioner knows why they want an article written. They must also show me the data. Yeah, I know it sounds stroppy and feisty but you know what? I want repeat business. I want my writing to convert into sales. Without insights from analytics that’s not likely is it?
Raw data doesn’t give us very much in terms of insight. Sometimes tolerances and missing values are omitted. Therefore this is where enrichment is required or something called data munging or wrangling but I digress.
Yes, this agency will write you a full report writing service offering insights and recommendations based on your data. But we will not write articles like Why Game of Thrones is just like your domestic plumbing (I just made that up, panic not!’)
If you want to overhaul your content marketing strategy for 2015 I suggest you contact the Vivienne K Neale Agency right here, right now before our belligerence finishes us off!
Data-driven storytelling: The next step in automated marketing
Image attribution Roy Lichtenstein Wham 1963