As an Inbound Writer for Lean Labs, Melissa writes about high-converting websites and customer-centric marketing. She's an avid traveler, with trips to Iceland, Ukraine, and Portugal under her belt. She currently resides in Wilmington, North Carolina with her dog, Morrie.
Exceptional content is an essential part of any inbound marketing strategy. Using content, you can generate over three times as many leads as outbound efforts while spending around 62% less.
Investing in these assets can even help you outperform paid search efforts, with a lower expense upfront and more customer engagements, resulting in a better return on your investment. However, creating this kind of exceptional work isn't a cakewalk.
Without an in-house resource to write for you, you may consider hiring a website content writer or investing in an agency. With that additional support, you can craft blog posts, ebooks, white papers, and even assist with website and landing page copy. However, not all writers have the skills necessary to help execute marketing initiatives. If you hire a writer that can't deliver what you need, you may find yourself in the same position a few months from now.
12 Skills Every Marketing Content Writer Should Have
If you decide to invest in a marketing content writer, there are crucial skills to look for in a candidate. Aside from more obvious attributes, such as being a reliable writer, or having professional experience, there are a few other characteristics to seek in potential partners.
#1. Can Tell A Story
There are various types of assets you can create, aside from blog posts or ebooks. Search Engine Journal also identifies infographics and videos as some of the best formats out there. LinkedIn’s SlideShare is also proving to be an exceptional opportunity to share and distribute original work, with over 50 million visitors and 3 billion views a month.
To give you the opportunity to create similar work, your marketing content writer should be an energetic storyteller and not only a good writer. The ability to tell stories utilizing a variety of mediums will give you a lot of flexibility with your inbound strategy. You won’t have to stick to blog posts and ebooks and can provide some variety to your customers.
#2. Has Perseverance and Determination
Top marketing influencers like HubSpot are encouraging followers to increase production to 16+ blog posts a month. For writers, this means the need for frequent, high-quality material is only going to grow. And when the demand is high, even the best marketing content writers can hit a wall and get stuck. Sometimes, this can lead to burn out, or a decrease in quality.
However, a writer with experience and resolve will push through it. Highly competent writers are resilient and will communicate with you to overcome their challenges. That's why looking for a writer with a background in content creation is essential, as they've likely been through these spells before.
#3. Experienced in Marketing and Advertising
Writing for marketing and the internet audience is different than any other kind. It requires an ability to conduct efficient research, experience communicating with clients, stick to timelines, and a basic understanding of various types of blog posts and other assets. That's why when you're seeking a writer, it's best to stick with someone who has written for marketing and advertising before.
If you work with someone without a lot of experience in the industry, you'll spend a significant amount of time trying to get your writer up to speed about best practices and existing standards. And seeing that 50% of articles get eight shares or less and even fewer links, there's no time to waste marketing spend on inefficiency.
#4. Has An Understanding of Human Psychology
When we start working with a brand, we use a series of one-page strategy documents to align us with the wants, needs, or desires of our customers. These documents include our buyer personas, as well as other crucial insights, such as the emotional, physical, and social jobs we're looking to fulfill. All of this information helps us identify and tap into emotional triggers that can strengthen our message.
The context about who our customer is, and what makes them tick, helps inform copy on website pages, landing pages, blog posts, and more. Taking this psychological approach is crucial to helping us understand our customer, and what motivates them. A website content writer should also have this skill, either with the use of similar strategy docs or through independent research.
#5. Uses A Variety of Styles
There's a lot of different ways to write content. Not every video, article, or ebook you create should have the same format. A blog post, for instance, can take many forms. A few useful blog post templates include persuasive comparison posts, informative how-tos, and Skyscraper posts. Each one has a different structure and style. To keep your editorial calendar from going stale, your writer should employ at least a few different formats to mix things up.
When assessing potential writers, look for candidates that can offer different samples. Rather than asking for one generic writing sample, request samples that use persuasion, that educate the reader on how to complete a task, or offer an opinion on a topic.
#6. Adapts A Friendly and Conversational Tone
Despite how much people love the pensiveness of Jack Kerouac, the snark of David Sedaris, or the warmth of Elizabeth Gilbert, not all of these writers would be as effective for creating marketing material. Each of these writers has a unique voice that caters to a specific industry and audience and does not focus on converting customers. A marketing content writer must capture and speak through your brand voice, and speak to your customer persuasively. For many of the companies we work with, the brand voice is often friendly and conversational.
This friendly and conversational tone is essential for earning the trust of your customer. Depending on your industry, there will be some differences. Virgin Airlines is bold, and Apple is imaginative. Both companies have a friendly demeanor that's inviting to new and existing customers. To help fine-tune brand voice, we use an exercise that pinpoints the brand's personality archetypes, and the other attributes you prefer (such as fun, affordable, innovative, or prestigious.)
#7. Great at Research
Ideally, any writer will have experience in your specific industry. However, depending on how niche your market is, there will be some things that your writer will need to learn. Additionally, they will need to find excellent research, statistics, and facts in your field. Conducting this kind of analysis requires a methodological mind, and the ability to quickly scan through search engines, forums, social feeds, and more.
You want a writer that will rely on reliable sources, and link to relevant, trustworthy sources. Even one false statistic or link to a spammy, or questionable website can result in a loss of trust with your reader. Given all of the things you have on your plate, you won't be able to fact-check every single point a writer includes in their work.
Additionally, there's an advantage to a writer with exceptional researching skills. According to BuzzSumo, original research and reports can acquire links and shares quicker than other assets.
#8. Has A Strong Vocabulary
In addition to speaking in your brand voice, a marketing writer should also have a vocabulary that matches your audience. If your writer has a limited or weak vocabulary, you run the risk of having material that's too difficult to read, or way too simplistic to take seriously. There should be a proper balance between the two. To communicate expectations on vocabulary, determining a set grade level can be useful.
You can use The Flesch-Kincaid readability formula to find the right level, or The Hemingway Editor to determine the reading level of your existing content. Vocabulary issues can also arise when companies outsource too much of their work. While outsourcing isn't always a bad thing, some content farms and low-cost freelance writers can produce assets that neglect proper English, grammar, or spelling. You'll save money this way, but you may end up with articles or ebooks that your audience won't trust.
#9. Experienced With SEO
Optimizing blog posts, website and landing pages for SEO can be the difference between customers discovering your brand, or finding value with a competitor. Because of that, having substantial skills in SEO is an extremely marketable skill for writers to have. If you work with someone with experience in SEO, they'll know exactly how to use your target keyword to help them research and position their work.
As a result, you'll receive more strategic assets that can get you closer to your goals. If you do not prioritize SEO, you will continue to produce work that will fail to drive any significant results.
Some of the most analytical minds in marketing are also incredible writers and content creators. Neil Patel, a New York Times bestselling author and a top 100 entrepreneur, regularly uses data, facts, and statistics to back up his ideas. The team at Moz incorporate a lot of original research into their Whiteboard Friday videos, which generate about 15-20,000 unique views every week.
Analytical thinkers also tend to be more open-minded and curious. They will consider two sides of an argument, will be more comfortable researching topics they're not familiar with and will place a high value in data and logic. These skills can be useful for creating case studies or pulling analytics to add more context and color to a blog post.
#11. Writes Short and Long Form
Every marketer has an opinion about whether you should write short or long form material. The answer? You should write both. Incorporating both short and long form content into your marketing strategy will only provide more variety to your audience, and can provide useful insights. You can compare how both formats perform against each other on various channels, and use that information to improve your strategy.
If you can rely on your writer to master both word counts, you can leverage various mediums. A script for a YouTube video will be shorter, while an ebook can surpass 5,000 or 10,000 words. The ability to do both exceptionally well can provide a real edge over your competition.
#12. Takes Constructive Criticism
Even for marketing, writing is an art form. Writers can be sensitive about their work but should take constructive criticism and apply it to their work. Content needs to serve your customer, and if the language, tone, or topic is off, it won't help you meet your goals. However, there should be a balance. Nit-picking or being overly selective with style may result in irritating your writer, discouraging them from working with you.
Both parties should communicate, and be able to make compromises. If you find someone that can take feedback while reasonably defending their work, they will be a worthwhile partner.
Hiring A Website Content Writer
When you bring a writer in-house, you gain a lot of support. However, in digital marketing, copywriting is only one part of a multi-part engine. A copywriter won't have the design chops of a graphic designer, or the coding experience of a pro-developer. A writer also won't provide the overall strategy that will make additional content creation fruitful. Unless you fill all of these gaps before hiring your copywriter, you shouldn't expect a drastic improvement in marketing or website performance.
If you're seeking that drastic improvement, your needs may extend from needing better website copy or publishing more blog posts. Rather than budgeting for a copywriter, you may need to prioritize different roles to conduct inbound marketing initiatives. With inbound marketing, you can work towards meeting goals such as increasing website traffic or getting more qualified leads. To learn more about tackling inbound, check out our seven must-know tips.
Our free ebook, Conquering the Inbound Marketing Mountain, includes tactics to create personas, build a better marketing team, and more.
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