So how do you decide which food joint to visit when you plan to eat out? "I swear by Zomato," says Pratik Dasgupta, a recent graduate of Asutosh College, Calcutta. "Not only does it give you a rating and the menu but also directions to the restaurant."
Minu Mehra is the person he should thank for that - she is one of those who access the database to which restaurants send their information and write the 'content' that's posted on the website. In fact, she is so good that the company sent her to Japan when it launched the site there.
Priya Mathur needed to buy a bookshelf to accommodate her ever-growing collection of books but this young doctor had no time to visit a store. A friend suggested she look at buying furniture online. Dr Mathur wasn't convinced but she found the time to visit one such site. "The descriptions were so beautifully written that I could visualise the product perfectly. What's more, they had the exact measurements. So I could measure the niche I wanted it to fit and then order it," says the newly converted e-shopper.
Content writers today are expected to market the product and not just describe it. "The recent ad of Pepperfry [a furniture selling website] is the best example," says Sreepurna Ray, a Calcutta-based writer and editor. "It shows a person surrounded by towering piles of books and the tag line goes 'Will you wait till Deewali to buy a new book shelf?' The ad cajoles a person to buy their furniture now." That is the magic of content!
Content writing began to fill the need for web content. Writers usually had to describe a company and its products or services. "We've come a long way since then, with the Internet becoming the medium of choice for youngsters," says Anindita Mehta, an instructional designer at a reputed software company and a former content manager of an IT company. "The way that content is presented on the web has evolved; so has the types of content delivered. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation is a technique which helps search engines rank your site higher than millions of other sites in response to a search query), website content writing, web advertising, blogs, Wikis and promotional web marketing are just a few of the forms."
You have to know which medium you are writing for and write accordingly. Writing for an e-commerce site would involve product description but the kind of writing would change if it were for a mobile-specific site such as Myntra. You have to compress a full article into a 140-character write up if you want to post it on Twitter. For Pinterest and Instagram, the content will have to be turned into infographics - a combination of visuals and texts.
"Customising the content for a Webinar, social media platform or, for that matter, advertising is the chief skill of a content writer," says Kavita Chowkimane, general manager, marketing, Portea Medical, a home healthcare company.
Content can be educational, promotional or informational. A writer should know what kind of content he or she is supposed to create. For example, "On the Portea medical website there are articles that educate you about the kind of posture you should maintain when sitting in office. Then there is promotional content with catchy lines to encourage you into getting services and the third type is informational - a combination of both sales and education," says Chowkimane.
"Creating enough content to share is the most challenging task of a content writer," says Manasi Kamdar Hukku, founder of Sociallyknit, a social media consultancy. "There are two ways of doing this - one is content creation and the other is content curation. Based on my experience as a social media expert, it is difficult to create more that three pieces of good original content a week. Therefore, content curation is a win-win! This process involves discovering other people's good stuff, summarising it and sharing it," she adds. So a content writer must not only have a good command of English grammar, an analytical mind and the creativity to churn out original content but also be a voracious reader.
To generate appropriate content, you need to know who your target customer is. In the case of Portea Medical, for example, the consumer of the product and the buyer is usually not the same person. An elderly patient might be the consumer but the buyer is usually his or her child. That is the person the content should target. "It is extremely important to create the buyer's persona in your mind before writing the content," says Chowkimane.
There are two things that a content writer has to ensure. One is traffic generation and the other is a warm lead. Traffic generation means ensuring that more people-or potential buyers-will visit the site. And how does she know she is doing fine? Her best friend, Google Analytics, is the answer. Google Analytics can tell you what works the best and which things people are responding (or not responding) to. Also, it will point out what the SEO demands - that is, the key words that you need to put in your article to get the maximum number of clicks. The more the number of clicks, the higher the ranking be in the SEO list and hence more traffic would be generated.
"You feed the content monster well to attract consumers and make money, a company's digital dossier shines. So good content creation is the buzzword of the digital marketing industry," says Hukku.
The Content Code
5 key skills for the new age content writer
- Tweak your writing to suit the medium — 140 characters for Twitter; interactive content for Facebook
- Know how to market a product
- Keep in mind the target audience
- Know the purpose of your content — how to lure customers to buy
- Get feedback from the analytics team to learn what works better