The Seven Slick Secrets to Content Marketing Supremacy: Part 2

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Alex Sudheim 2 Mar 2022 2 min

Adapt or die

As a seasoned copywriter with more kilometres on the clock than I can count, this is not the first time I’ve gone toe-to-toe with content marketing. To be clear, I’m not concerned with print, but writing in the digital medium. Which means the internet, the most extensive, comprehensive interface between the human brain and the information it produces and consumes in the history of, well, everything. And it doesn’t stand still for a nanosecond. To stay up to speed, you need to adapt at eye-watering speeds to escape the fate of the dear old dodo. 

Do the evolution

So then why content? Especially of the written kind? Isn’t language a quaint anachronism, long since defenestrated by memes, emojis, viral videos and every other kind of non-verbal micro-content? The short answer is ‘no’. For one thing, language is an infinitely complex algorithm our brain has mastered to articulate complex and abstract ideas. For another, like every other living being, language evolves. The tldr, fml, fyi, wrt, ttyl et al that splay across our screens is simply the development of a new vernacular in response to the rise of hyper-rapid communications.

In the beginning was the word

Schools around the world have adopted cursive writing once more. This comes after neuroscientists proved that the visceral tactility of writing something down improves cognitive development by several factors more than tapping on a keyboard. The notoriously nihilistic Irish playwright Samuel Beckett once spat ‘words are an unnecessary stain upon nothingness.’ Yet he said it. Using words. The phrase ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ requires precisely seven of them to express that sentiment.

Staying power

So words, whether formed by human mouth, mind or hand; whether written, spoken, sung, shouted or whispered, are here to stay. As are those dedicated practitioners and aficionados of the art and craft of wordsmithing. Before you suspect this of being a cunningly concealed wallow in wistfulness for a bygone era, there is no shortage of empirical evidence to dispel the whiff of romanticism these claims may evoke. 

Digital diction

In the business world, web copy is the most obvious example. If any page of a company’s website contains poorly composed prose, it’s an instant credibility killer. UX designers, using tools like heatmaps, eyeball-tracking software and A/B testing, have proven time and again that sloppy syntax has a direct impact upon crucial analytics such as retention rates, bounce rates and click through rates. If you’re a business owner, this is the equivalent of having a brick lobbed through your showroom window. 

I, robot

It comes as no small surprise that the AI wizards are hard at work at automating the mysterious process whereby thought is captured in words. After all, every great novel is essentially the dictionary in the wrong order. The software process that produces written narrative from data is called NLG (natural language generation). You’ve probably interacted with NLG software in the form of a chat-bot. It is also used to rapidly produce data-heavy content such as economic reports and summaries of sports matches. Yet none have as of yet come close to capturing the nuance, subtlety, style and flair that distinguishes writing from mere verbiage.

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