How to Create Content that Matters to your Audience
The worldwide web is overflowing with content as it churns out more than two million blog posts every day. Content writers from all over the world are doing exactly what you’re doing right now – writing a blog post in the hopes that your website will rank higher in search engines. With two million blogs posted every day, you’re probably wondering how to stand out from a crowd of high-caliber writing and then a mass of not-so-good clickbait content.
Don’t lose hope, though. True, it isn’t easy… but it is not far from possible either.
Imagine a person right beside you all the time — from morning till night, maybe even as you sleep (if you could even sleep, that is). This person shouts the same thing over and over again, non-stop. Wouldn’t you feel the least bit uncomfortable? This is how people feel when they’re being bombarded by the same hard-sell advertising repeatedly.
Content writing counters this distressing approach by either being informative or entertaining (or both) all without having to be aggressive and demanding.
Let’s look at the statistics here. According to Demand Metric, 82% of consumers will trust a company after reading their custom content. On the other hand, according to a study by Tony Haile, CEO of Chartbeat, two-thirds of readers have felt betrayed upon realizing that the article they were reading was sponsored by a brand in one way or another.
This only means one thing: Your audience can see right through you and your marketing tactics. They know when a content can be useful and valuable to them and they know when they are just being sold a product or a service
As marketers or business owners, there is a quote by Tom Fishburne I would like you to be familiar with:
The kind of content the worldwide web needs right now is one that helps, not one that keeps slapping product after product right in front of unwilling customers and even potential consumers. The kind of marketing we need right now blurs the line between us and them. The kind of marketing we need is audience-centric.
Having audience-centric content means exactly that — centering on your audience. It means understanding them or as an old idiom says: “putting yourself in their shoes.”
Here are just some things you can do to bring your audience into your content:
Define your audience
There is a question I want you to answer: Do you really know who you’re marketing to?
Audience-centric marketing goes beyond the data from demographic statistics and the familiar answers to buyer persona profiles. It goes well beyond what your audience’s jobs are or how much they earn.
Instead, become a friend and ask conversational and every day questions such as:
- What are your interests?
- What are the challenges you face in their job or in their life in general?
- What do you value most?
- What motivates you?
Initiate an emotional connection with your target audience. Understand how they feel, what they think and do, what they believe in, and what they want and need. Defining your audience not by numbers will eventually empower you to write better content that will resonate with them.
Know the language they speak
It’s important to know how to communicate with your audience. Cut out the jargons or at the very least, minimize them. Jargons will only alienate them and would eventually make them turn away from you.
There is always a better way to say the things you want to express. Keeping it simple and clear would make your audience feel as if they belong. As humans, we all have a basic psychological need to connect and create meaningful relationships with others. So make them feel that connection. Your company or brand and those who will read your content might be far apart, but your writing has the power to bridge that gap.
Also, using jargon doesn’t automatically make you sound smarter. In fact, a jargon-filled article would only imply that you actually don’t know your subject matter all too well because you can’t explain it in plain speech.
Here are just some ways on how you could avoid jargon:
- If you know someone who is not familiar with your industry’s jargon, have them go over your work and ask them to give constructive feedback. This would make you mindful of the words that your audience might find a tad bit too hard to understand.
- Keep your audience in mind. Write as if you are talking with them and not to
- Think of another word for buzzwords unless you want your work to lose meaning. If you can’t think of anything, use a dictionary or a thesaurus. And if all else fails, Google will always have your back.
- If you really can’t avoid it, use anecdotes or highly relatable examples to get your point across.
- Another way to avoid confusion is to put up a glossary of these terms with their proper definitions, especially if they are frequently used on your posts.
Listen and engage
One of the most effective ways to really know your audience is to engage with them. The questions and suggestions from your readers and audience across the web are a gold mine of possible future topics for your blog. As long as your content helps in any way, your audience will trust you and your brand and this would in turn make you an authority in your field of practice.
Here’s how you can interact with them:
- If they comment on your content, acknowledge them. Thank them if they added to your idea and answer their most pressing questions.
- Take time to talk with them on forums and discussion boards or sites like Reddit and Quora. There might just be questions there that only you can answer.
- Sites like Twitter, Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn might just be the places where they share their interests. Listen. Social media listening is when you just sit down and track the conversations around the topics you and your audience similarly care about. Really tune in on their discussions to know what they want, what they need, and what they value.
- Put down the research and drop the phone. Talk with your audience face-to-face. Spend time with them without a screen separating you and listen closely to what they have to say. Be part of their world.
The process of listening and interacting with your audience is not a onetime thing. You have to constantly learn more about your audience as the things they care about will eventually evolve.
Remember that they are just as human as you
Your audience are not robots, they are real people. They have emotions too. Just like you, they desire to be happy and just like you, they desire to feel. If you’re gifted with humor, take that opportunity and crack a joke once in a while. Not only will you be providing valuable information, you might just also make someone else’s day.
Show them that you are human by tapping into their empathy. Get a little personal by sharing an experience or two that they could relate to. Tell them how you resolved the difficulties you have experienced and ask them how they did theirs.
Remember that “emotion is better than logic in advertising.”
Know where they interact the most
The world became closer — thanks to the internet and all the websites we could use to interact with each other. There are tons of social networking sites and apps you can use to market your business. However, when it comes to distributing your content, you have to truly know and understand the right social media channels for your audience.
It is vital to familiarize yourself with the social media networks your audience uses most. From there, you have to build a presence to further establish your authority in your industry. When your current customers and potential consumers see you as an authority figure, they are more likely to trust you and your brand.
When it comes to trust in advertising, people rely on what their colleagues, peers and friends have to say more than anything else, so make sure that your content is easily shareable.
Your website has its own About Us page. As much as possible, that should be the only page where you talk about your products and services and other things related to your business. Other than that, it’s all about your audience… especially in content writing.
The point is that you have to write content for your customers first. Search engines only come at a close second. Audience-centric content is not a new concept but it is often forgotten as new trends arise and as marketers strive to be at the top of SERPs. While it is true that the search engines are the ones ranking us, it is imperative to realize that we wouldn’t even be ranking without our audience.