Nobody wants to gain a reputation for being that person who begins telling a story just for it to peter off without actually going anywhere. Well, the same goes for digital content. A natural impulse when you begin writing is to start at the top – it makes sense, in a traditional sense. But, for content to really deliver the message you want it to, it can be more effective to turn tradition on its head and start by thinking about the end. The rest will simply slot in around it.
Here’s why you should begin your writing with the conclusion in mind and how you can go about doing this effectively.
Good content can achieve a lot of goals, including nurturing prospects, inspiring readers to take action, building brand awareness, earning links or ranking for keywords in the SERPs. And while your content marketing strategy as a whole can target multiple goals, a big mistake you can make is to attempt to hit all of these with one single piece of content.
Instead, choose one or two goals that you want to target - this will give your content much more focus and direction.
If, for example, you want to earn links, you will want to produce “story-first” content that other publications are likely to cover. Surveys, interactive tools, infographics and expert contributions are popular linkable formats.
To rank better in the SERPs and earn traffic from organic search, however, the content must deliver exactly what the audience is searching for. For example, if you’ve conducted keyword research and have identified a longtail query, the content must answer this query as thoroughly as possible. This could be done on the format of a keyword-rich and informative blog or an FAQ piece.
Now that you’ve identified the purpose of the content, you can decide on the story you want to tell and the conclusion you want your audience to take away. This will form the foundation of the content, on which you can build the remaining copy. By planning your content in such a way, it will help you to focus and guide your copy to tell the intended story or inspire the intended action.
Ideally, you’ll have the time to let your first draft rest after you’ve completed it, so you can revisit it the next day with fresh eyes.
When you read it back, consider the goals and takeaways that you identified at the beginning. Does the content have the desired effect? Does it meet its goals? If the answer is no, you have the opportunity to go back and shape it some more. If the answer is yes – fantastic, the job is done!
By defining your goals from the very beginning and following this process, you’ll be able to create content that engages the audience and serves its purpose without drifting off course. Planning makes perfect!