Is It Just That People Read Differently Online?
Read Part 1 of this article, All Writers Are Not Equal, which explains why you need the right kind of writer for your agency.
Just like there are different types of writers for different kinds of online writing tasks, you need different types of articles to fulfill those tasks. You wouldn’t — or at least, you shouldn’t — use a blog post to sell your products or services. That’s not the purpose of a blog post. Each kind of online writing has a specific purpose. For example:
- A blog post is an informative or entertaining marketing article that aims to attract a large audience to your website.
- A press release announces exciting news regarding your company or your place in the industry, delivered to interested media for publication.
- An email newsletter is an infrequent (e.g., monthly) communication to your customers and other interested parties, with the goal to maintain brand awareness, provide relevant tips and offer special deals.
- A white paper is a document that states, in detail, your company’s position on a specific issue or proposes a solution to a particular problem. Its goal is to educate readers and influence decision-makers. These are also called long-form blog posts.
- A page on your company website explains a specific product or service. It also can:
- Establish your reputation
- Identify your target audience
- Build your brand
- Generate trust
- State your unique value proposition
- Push your advantages
- Sell your products or services
Do People Really Read Online Writing Differently?
When you sit down to read the newspaper or a magazine, you likely flip pages until you find a story that’s worth your time. You skim the advertisements, probably pass by the table of contents and focus on only what interests you. Unless you’re reading a book, you rarely read any hard-copy publication cover-to-cover.
The same is true, actually, when people read content online, except instead of flipping pages, they scan online writing to find what they’re looking for. They’ve arrived at your blog, your website or white paper for a reason: to learn something, find specific information or be entertained. They’ve opened your newsletter or your press release to find out what you have to say. Don’t disappoint them.
Big Blocks of Text Kill Reader Interest
When you open a book, you expect to find pages upon pages of writing. Maybe there’s an occasional illustration, table or graphic, but it’s mostly just words. Reading a book, in other words, takes a commitment to stick with it to the end. Online, with your competition just a click away, you can’t afford to hope for a commitment that readers will stick with the text until the end; you have to deliver the goods right away. There are two ways online writing differs from other writing:
- Formatting: it’s formatted in a way to enable easy scanning.
- Writing style: it’s written in a way to deliver value right from the start.
Formatting means breaking up your content into small paragraphs, short sentences and simple words. It means using lots of white space and subheadings every couple paragraphs. It means using graphical elements that add to your story or reinforce your point. It means using bold, italic and all-caps to effectively guide the readers’ eyes to the information you have to share.
The writing style has to answer questions and capture interest from the very first sentence. People read online writing, especially on business platforms like your website, to find information. Give them what they seek, and they’ll be back when they’re ready to buy. Influence their decision with value-added information like tips, tricks or news, and they’ll remember your business as a trusted resource.