Three main text objectives
I distinguish three main text objectives. First, your objective could be merely to inform people. A second objective could be to persuade people. You want people to buy your products or to return to your website. The final objective of your text could be entertaining or amusing. You could write a text in order to entertain your audience, for instance by making them laugh or by moving them. These three text objectives are not at all mutually exclusive. A piece could be informative and amusing at the same time!
Long term business aims and text objectives
Apart from the objective of your text, your company or your website will have long term business objectives. You should think about those long term business aims while determining the objectives of the text on your website.
For instance, at Yoast.com, we write blogposts largely to inform people about SEO. So the objective is to inform people. However, we also want people to become return visitors and to gain trust in our brand. Eventually, the long term purpose of our informing blogs is to gain enough trust for people to buy one of our products.
Be aware that if the objective of your post is to generate links from others, you should think about the character of your post as well. If you want your post to attract links from other sites in order to improve your rankings in Google you should focus on writing informative or amusing posts. Persuasive posts, in which the sales arguments are salient, will not receive as many links as purely informative posts will. People are more likely to share an informative or an amusing post than a purely persuasive post, because these posts are more free of ulterior motives.
Tips to use when focussing on one of the three main text objectives
In the following paragraphs we will give some tips you can use when writing either an informative, a persuasive or an amusing post or article.
In an informative text you explain something to your audience. You want them to understand more about a topic or you want them to use your information (put theory to practice). That’s it. You should take some time to clearly formulate the issue you want to address in your post. And an informative text will usually need quite some investigating in order to decide on the exact content of a piece.
The style of an informative text should be clear and professional. You should focus on the message itself. Focussing on content will give your text a professional and reliable character. Your style should not be too amicable. It could even be a bit distant.
The structure of an informative text should be clear. A logical structure could be to address a different topic in each paragraph. In the conclusion you could summarize the information of your entire text.
A persuasive text is a text a reader doesn’t necessarily want to read. The purpose of your text is to persuade your audience to do something (such as buying your product) it wasn’t necessarily planning to do. For that very reason, you will understand that writing persuasive texts is very hard.
The style of a persuasive text should be very bold. Your sentences and paragraphs should be short. You can either focus on convincing your audience with emotions or with logic.
If you choose to persuade with emotions, try to use a lot of positive words (like fun, easy, quality). Make your post personal and write from the perspective of the reader. You could for instance address the reader directly using words as ‘you’ and ‘your’. Anecdotes or stories illustrating the awesomeness of your product are very nice to use if you are trying to convince people by using emotions.
If you want to persuade using logic, you should take some time to write down all of your logical arguments. Make sure you deduce your arguments correctly and make use of examples to illustrate your arguments. Focussing on persuasion using logic calls for a relatively distant and formal style. Of course, you can also choose a strategy in which you combine persuading with emotions and logic.
The structure of a persuasive text should reflect your arguments. Make sure to use separate paragraphs for your arguments (regardless whether you have emotional or logical arguments). Use lots of headings and make sure you use the most important arguments in the titles of your headings.
An amusing text’s main objective is to entertain people. Usually these texts tend to be funny. Amusing texts could also be moving or touching. A column is a very nice example of an amusing text.
Writing solely amusing texts will not be an activity many of you will undertake. Most texts will have both an amusing as well as an informative or a persuasive objective. Blogs on a mom blog often tend to be amusing (at least for women), but usually serve an informative or persuasive objective as well.
Writing in an amusing style is definitely very hard. Some people just have much more talent to be funny, to come up with funny anecdotes or with nice word plays. Perhaps you should not instantly aim for an amusing text, but try to master the informative and persuasive texts first. Using exaggerations and metaphors could be a first attempt to make your text (more) amusing. Amusing texts usually ask for an informal style. These texts are often very personal, containing the words ‘I’ and ‘my’.
Thinking about the objective of your post is something you definitely should take some time for. Take into account the long term aims of your business or your website as well. And make sure the objective of your post and the aims of your business are similar. Finally, use our tips to make sure the style and structure of your post fits your text objective.