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August 21, 2017

How To Pick The Right Words For Your Content Marketing

Learn the words that draw readers into content marketing.

Have you ever read two different articles on the same thing but found one far more interesting? Word choice is vital to good content marketing. This week, Digital Firefly Marketing breaks down words and phrases that you should work into your content and, more importantly, words and phrases to avoid. We’ve even compiled a handy chart to get you from the wrong words to the right ones.

Words That Draw Readers Into Your Content

We mentioned this last week, but we’ll say it again: just inserting these words and phrases into your writing will not make it better. They must be used with intention. We’ll show you what we mean in each example.

Words That Get Readers’ Attention

Discover

Sure, it’s a lot like find, but find sounds passive as if you stumbled upon something. Discover, on the other hand, invokes action. Invite your user in to learn something. It sounds like you’re going on an adventure and uncovering something of value. Just think about context:

  • I discovered that I liked nutmeg after inquiring into the unique flavor of her lasagna.
  • I found something in my lasagna.

In the first statement something positive came from the process. We’re not sure what was found in the lasagna and we’re not sure we want to find out.

The

This one might sound crazy but it’s true. The word “the” implies something proven. Would you rather try a method to lose weight or the method to lose weight? Personally, we prefer the method. Your writing will sound more authoritative when you offer readers: the answer, the method, the foolproof way.

More

Everyone has something to be proud of. Do your research and show your potential clients where you have more to offer than your competitors. More years of experience, more awards. Including your accolades is great but also include how your brand goes above and beyond. One tip is to be descriptive about experience.

How To

In addition to being show a link between things, users want to know the process. Include step-by-step instructions in your area of expertise to get readers flocking to your page.

Numbers

Including how many of something you will be talking about is a great hook for readers. They know what to expect. “5 Foolproof Tricks To Potty Train Your Puppy” works because it is quick and your readers are looking for a quick solution. “The 207 Funniest Memes” means endless entertainment for scrolling through on the long commute home. Users love an idea of what they are getting. Also, see that number? Unusual numbers (not multiples of 5) get readers’ attention and are more likely to get clicked.

Why & Because

We went into this last week and can’t stress it enough. Users want to know the reason. Why should they buy your product, take your webinar, sign up for your email? Tell them.

You

Remember writing term papers? And not being allowed to use personal pronouns? Instead you had to use “one.” Ugh. No one cares about one. Get personal and write to your audience. Let them know that they can be a part of something great — a community, a success — by ditching “one” or “people” for “you”.

Grab Your Red Pen!

Here are words to immediately cross out in drafts. Believe it or not, our content writers use find/replace as one of their favorite tools to make sure that they leave out certain words that kill content marketing. Some words just naturally fly from our fingers and that’s great for getting your ideas down. But there are words that either communicate the wrong idea, are jargon or waste valuable space. Those should be replaced before hitting publish. Another reason to be picky about word choice? Higher end (higher paying!) clients look for excellent writing and are less likely to seek information if content is poorly crafted or jargony.

As promised, we’ve put these into a handy chart that shows the phrase to kill, why, and some great alternatives that will kick your content marketing up a notch.

Words to Avoid, Why and How To Replace Them

Kill It!

Because

What About…?

Impactful Illogical, unnecessary jargon. As Sassy Librarian puts it, ““When some advertising dolt was groping for the word ‘effective’ or ‘influential,’ ‘impactful’ popped into her/his head then tumbled out of her/his mouth.” WHY do you have such a powerful effect on people? Tell them that instead! Influential

Effective

Professional Duh! If you are a business, you are by nature professional. You would never say you were unprofessional. Save space and don’t bore users with what they know. Cut this one altogether and instead focus on showing off your professionalism and expertise rather than telling your users about it.
Results-Oriented It’s another obvious one. You’re offering a service or product to get results. It’s good to be results-oriented but it’s better to show HOW you are results oriented. Show how you use data or, show actual data. Instead of saying, “We are results oriented…” say, “Our clients see a 110% increase in traffic.” Those are the results that are impactful influential.
Core Competency Another bit of overused jargon that takes up space and can easily be replaced with simpler terms. Strength
Specialty
As such This is a phrase people use to sound like experts but it is rarely necessary. Cut it and see if the sentence stands on its own. 99% of the time it will!
Utilize This word has a specific meaning and higher end clients will catch it and run. Use
Employ (if you must)
Verbiage This one is popping up everywhere but look at the definition! “speech or writing that uses too many words or excessively technical expressions.” That’s not good. Language
Content
Wording
Verbage “Verbage” is not a word and actually a play on verbiage to classify it as garbage. Language
Content
Wording

 Kick Your Content Up A Notch!

While many people scoff at the grammar police and try to write impactful verbiage to sound like results-oriented out of the box thinking professionals, Digital Firefly Marketing uses data on what words work and don’t work and crafts language to meet the need of today’s digital audience.

Curious if your content is turning users off? We offer free content audits to help you deepen your understanding of how your content is being perceived by the average internet user.

About the expert: Nancy Koziol

Nancy Koziol is Director of Content at Digital Firefly Marketing. She has an extensive background in education, law and advocacy and on top of that she knows more about grammar than anyone should. This comes in handy when creating content and working with the other content creators at DFM. Her favorite thing about working at DFM is structuring content to have a voice that matches the client’s aesthetic while also staying on top of content best practices. It’s also working with some of the most fun, talented people on earth.

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