Discover how to write engaging inbound content that leads your readers all the way from new website visitor to loyal customer.
You know your niche like the back of your hand. You’ve set up a detailed content strategy. Your keywords are ready to go.
And then you see that blank page.
You need to fill it with words. But not just any words. They need to hit the right balance between engaging and informative to delight your readers up until that all-important call to action. Then, they need to convert.
And as inbound content increasingly becomes the norm, your readers are getting warier. Convincing them to fill out a form for that free ebook is becoming a greater challenge because they know their information will be used for future marketing communications.
Even seasoned copywriters can feel the pressure when they start a new piece of inbound content, especially when stakes are high to create something that stands out from the billions of offerings already available.
Thankfully, there are some easy and immediately actionable tricks to help you get started. Keep reading, because by the end of this article you’ll feel more confident about putting pen to paper (or, more likely, fingers to keyboard).
Engaging inbound copy starts with the reader
Not all readers are the same. This might seem obvious, but it’s an important point to hold onto in the back of your mind.
It’s also one of the most important keys to creating engaging inbound copy: write for your reader.
Academic papers with huge blocks of text and dozens of citations are like candy for medical professionals looking to solve a diagnostics problem – not so much the buyers of your medical products for whom your forthcoming content series is being written.
That’s why identifying your buyer persona is such an integral part of a content strategy. Once you know who they are, you’ll have a better idea about how your content should look. And if that content delivers what they’ve searched for, they’ll be more likely to give you their email addresses in exchange for more of it.
1. What is their preferred tone of voice?
Read articles and blogs in your niche. Is the tone formal? Or is it more casual?
One way to tell is their use of contractions. Formal content tends to avoid contractions and opt for full words (i.e. “it is,” “they are”, etc.), whereas informal content tends to use them (i.e. “it’s”, “they’re”, etc.)
Formal content also tends to avoid personal pronouns (“we,” “you”, and “I”).
2. What are their challenges?
Inbound copy is all about providing value to the reader. In the B2B space in particular, that often takes the form of problem-solving.
Whatever challenges your target reader is facing, make sure you reiterate how they can solve them throughout your article (whether those are DIY solutions or explainers as to how your product or service will help.)
3. How are they feeling?
On the surface, your reader wants to solve that problem. Underneath the surface, they’re likely a whole mess of different emotions. (It’s the human way.) Usually, that involves them wanting to feel better about something.
For example, you’re reading this article to learn how to write better inbound copy. That’s the surface-level problem. But you’re also maybe feeling insecure, perhaps even nervous about it. Your deeper motivation is to overcome those insecurities or fears. You want to feel confident about writing. (And I may have peppered that emotion throughout this article).
4. How can you persuade them?
The right words can be magic, moving minds and swaying hearts, one syllable at a time.
But not everyone will be convinced by what you say. Some people are naturally sceptical. Others will want to see the hard proof: data and facts. Most of us are reassured to know that other people have made the same decision they’re mulling over and didn’t regret it.
We call this social proofing. It works because regardless of your target audience, we’re all social beings. Links to case studies, quotes or testimonials from past customers, and even a video of a customer unboxing one of your products can boost your copy’s engagement.
5. Where is the reader in their buyer’s journey?
Also important is knowing where your reader is in their buyer journey. This informs not only the content but also your CTA. A reader who has only just come across your brand, for example, will probably need more convincing to hand over their email address than a reader who has gotten to know and value you.
The same reader will react to an article promoting a company’s copywriting services very differently if they are just researching copywriting for the first time — what it is, how it’s used, its benefits — compared to if they are actively looking to improve their copywriting abilities — you might be somewhere around here — compared to someone who is in the market to outsource their company’s copywriting requirements to an external agency.
If you have a content strategy and/or calendar to refer to, it’ll probably include which stage of the buyer journey your target reader will be in for the piece of content you’re about to write.
The buyer journey breaks down into:
- Awareness: your reader knows they have a problem, and they’re just starting to look into it. Educational content that keeps generic search terms in mind works best during the awareness stage.
- Consideration: your reader has identified the problem and is looking into how they might solve it. Informative content with practical takeaways can be valuable, helping them to try and achieve this themselves. This is also an appropriate stage to start to position products or services that can help them, too. Think guides, checklists, and longer-form content that gives the reader more in-depth information.
- Decision: after a great deal of research, your reader has considered all their options and is ready to make a buying decision. They are usually choosing between a few options (including you!). It’s time to show them why they should go with your company/brand. Case studies and product comparisons are key at this stage.
As you can imagine, understanding where your target reader is in their buyer’s journey is key to creating effective inbound copy.
It also links directly to how you approach SEO for inbound copy. Speaking of which…
Optimising your inbound copy for SEO
Inbound copy and SEO go hand in hand. As we’ve just explored, you’re always writing with a specific reader in mind. SEO is important for making sure that, in the search engines at least, your copy attracts that reader in the first place.
We call this search intent, and it’s one of the building blocks of effective inbound copywriting.
Match your keywords with search intent
An awareness-level blog post explaining all about what inbound marketing is and why more businesses than ever are using it needs an appropriate keyword to attract the right reader.
These might include “what is inbound marketing,” “inbound marketing explained,” and “the benefits of inbound marketing”. The search intent matches the blog post’s content.
At the consideration level, “how to do inbound marketing,” “inbound marketing tips,” and “the benefits of using an inbound marketing agency” would attract the kind of reader interested in following your advice, learning from your experience, or considering committing to a service.
Your decision-level keywords are going to sound very transactional, and you might hear them referred to as transactional or commercial keywords. Some examples include, “inbound marketing services,” “inbound marketing help,” and “inbound marketing agencies near me”. These are all indicators that this reader’s intent is geared around buying commercial services to make their life easier.
Not sure about the search intent of a keyword? See for yourself
If it’s not immediately clear what kind of intent is behind a certain keyword, search for it yourself. A quick review of the top-ranking content will show you the kind of inbound copy favoured by Google for (other search engines are available), giving you a really clear steer of whether or not the keyword is appropriate and how to position your content.
On the subject of SERP (search engine results page) analysis, check out what your competitors are targeting with their inbound copy — and how they’re doing it.
- Run a search of each of the keywords you want to rank for and look at the first few results. These are your competing pieces of content (even if they aren’t your actual brand competitors).
- Identify weak points in the higher-ranking pieces. Maybe one of them has a good amount of white space, but it doesn’t include any embedded videos, and there’s virtually no internal linking.
- You can use this to inform your own piece of content by sourcing an informative and relevant video, and making a list of internal pages that you can then link to.
As a copywriter, I’ve found that this simple step not only boosts my confidence in what I’m about to create but also helps me start getting a sense for the structure of my content. Which takes us to…
Structuring your inbound copy to be engaging
Strong inbound content tends to follow a rhythm that helps keep the reader engaged through to the end. Following this universal tempo is helpful not only because it makes things easier for you as the writer but also for your readers, who are subconsciously expecting this structure to begin with.
Whatever you’re writing, consider the following structure:
- Brief introduction
- A hook in the first sentence that ideally includes a keyword (for SEO or simply to show the reader they’re in the right place) and evokes an emotion
- A summary of the reader’s problem. Use long-tail keywords (i.e. short-sentence keywords) to inform you here. Example: How to write an inbound article ;)
- How your piece of content will solve that problem
- Subheadings that separate the main subtopics you’re covering
- These should ideally use your keywords (but only if they make sense and sound natural)
- Each subheading should clearly inform the reader what they can expect to learn in the following section
- Conclusion and a call to action (CTA)
- Bring together everything your reader has learned into one or two paragraphs, demonstrating how the article resolved their problem.
- In the final paragraph, clearly state that there’s more to learn/do/read about/etc
- This last paragraph should naturally lead the reader to the CTA, which should clearly show the reader what to do next and compel them to click (more on this below).
Obviously, your actual structure will change depending on your industry, your target reader, and the kind of content you’re creating, but as a starting point the above provides you with a simple template you can tailor to suit your exact inbound copy needs.
You now have a framework. Things are looking up. You’re probably feeling more confident, and you should. You’ve already done more than the vast majority of content creators.
But there’s one more step, for you and your reader: the CTA.
Create engaging calls to action
A CTA is a short, snappy prompt that compels your reader to take an action.
For such a small amount of words, they need to pack a punch, and there’s a lot of commercial value riding on them. They’re how you generate leads. They’re how you nurture prospects. They’re the dictionary definition of engaging inbound content (if done right).
And as buyers become more discerning about what they download, your CTA needs to be that much more convincing.
Like the rest of your content, the type of CTA depends on the buyer journey stage.
- Awareness-level CTAs tend to take readers to a downloadable infographic, an industry report, or something similarly top-level and educational.
- Consideration-level CTAs take readers to longer form downloadable content like guides, short checklists, how-tos, and product comparisons. This content can usually help readers to solve a challenge. It should be practical and impactful.
- Decision-level CTAs might take the form of product sheets, technical specifications, or guides relating directly to your products or services — for example a pricing guide.
Writing your CTA well is important because it doesn’t just have to “sell” your follow-on content. It needs to persuade the reader to bother to fill out a form to get it, too.
How to write a compelling inbound CTA
If writing the CTA makes you nervous, you might want to consider doing it first.
Hear me out. Getting that call to action out of the way – even if you’re convinced it reads horribly and you know you’ll change it later – can lift some serious pressure off of your shoulders. Not only that, but knowing how the piece of content ends can help inform the rest of your writing.
Even if you aren’t that worried about writing the CTA (and if you’re reading this, you shouldn’t be, because we’ve got you), consider starting there anyway to help you inform the rest of your content.
Here are some quick tips for creating a compelling CTA:
- Make it short and clear. Your reader should know exactly where they’re going, but in as few words as possible.
- Trigger urgency. Show your reader why they need to click right now.
- Design it to stand out. Use formatting elements like contrasting font colours and bright boxes to make your CTA pop.
Tried different CTAs and still not seeing conversions? Click the image below to download your free copy of our Conversion Rate Optimisation Checklist and troubleshoot your CTAs.
Want to learn more?
If you’ve made it this far, your inbound copy is going to be so much more engaging already.
- You’re writing for your reader.
- You’re using intent-driven keywords.
- Your outline is clear (to you and your readers).
- And your CTAs? They’ve never been snappier.
Most importantly, you should be feeling much more confident about that blank page.
If you want to learn more, you can choose from plenty of content and copywriting resources available now on our site. They’re all free and they’ve all been written by people who work in or around content every day, so we know the challenges you’ve faced firsthand.
You might be interested in:
- Using Content to Grow Your Business
- The Beginner’s Guide to Content Strategy and Implementation
- Advanced Content Marketing: 14 Practical Tips on the Art of Business Storytelling [+ Examples]
If you’re like more hands-on support with your copywriting, you can also enquire about our content coaching service.
I’m a copywriting consultant with more than ten years of experience with all kinds of content creation, from medical white papers to snappy video scripts, and I’m excited to share my tips and tricks with you.
Each session is tailored to you and your copywriting, so whatever you’re finding challenging, however you’d like to improve, we’re here to help.
Call us on 01235 313 555 or click the button below to learn more about our copywriting workshops aimed at taking your — or your team’s — business writing to the next level.