Good writing improves many different forms of communication, from brand building to email marketing. It's especially important now businesses are so reliant on digital channels to stay connected to customers. Here are some tips to help your writing stand out.
1. Make your communication easy to digest
A good rule to use to guide the way you structure your writing is to: tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them. This will help the reader to absorb your message.
When you’re writing, it’s important to get to your main idea quickly, ideally in the first paragraph. Don’t forget to make your document easy to scan with clear headings and sub-headings to break up the text.
2. Know your audience
Your content and tone will vary depending on the target of your communication — for example, is your audience an investor, a customer segment or a group of frontline employees?
Think through what this audience wants to hear from you. What is this group worried about? What answers to do they need? Your writing should address these requirements.
You may need to do some research via a survey or interviews to determine where and how your audience consumes content.
Here are a few questions to consider asking:
Would you read an internal blog or e-newsletter?
Which social media channels do you use?
Whose expert advice do you value?
Remember your communication must strike a balance between what you need to say and what your target audience wants to hear. When you’re writing, it often helps to imagine you are talking to one person.
3. Sharpen your message
Different writing objectives call for different tools. Consider using the AIDA approach—Attention, Interest, Desire, Action—to prompt readers to take action as a result of the communication.
The ‘Attention’ step involves using language to catch the person’s eye and make them want to continue reading. For instance, you could use an intriguing email subject line or a startling statistic from your own or third-party research.
In the ‘Interest’ and ‘Desire’ steps, you address the reader’s needs by pointing out the benefits they will receive from reading your message. For example: These exercises will help you get fit at home.
The final step, ‘Action,’ states clearly what the reader should do now. For instance: Email our customer care specialists with any questions.
4. Promote a culture of good writing
There are lots of great tools you can use to support your team to become excellent communicators. Grammarly is a good choice for checking spelling and grammar.
Digital collaboration apps such as Google Docs, Nuclino and Quip are popular options for sharing, commenting on and editing documents.
You might also consider offering your team the chance to do a short writing workshop to review the basics. Another idea is to host a friendly competition online using a quiz tool like Kahoot. Also consider providing copies of classic guides like Strunk's Elements of Style to help your team improve their written communication.
Finally, don’t forget to document and share any writing rules or etiquette with your team. It’s an idea to build a style guide hosted on the intranet to which staff can refer when they have questions about your house style. In it, spell it out if you want written communication to be emoji or acronym-free. Name competitors that should be avoided in your writing. State the appropriate way to refer to colleagues or customers, for instance by their first name or using Mr or Ms. Also be specific about how to use brand elements like colour and font.
Practicing these good habits will help to produce written communication that informs and delights employees and customers alike.