You’re getting your name out there on social media and traffic to your website is growing steadily.
But no one is buying your stuff.
Content is pointless if you’re not converting leads and sales. If you can’t do this, all the traffic in the world won’t help you.
If you want to create content that converts like crazy, you need to use a little marketing psychology.
Know the mind of your audience, truly engage them with your content, and they’ll be eager to click that button.
Know your audience
All successful businesses are based on their ability to meet the needs of their audience. If you can do this, you will succeed. If you can’t, it’s going to be a struggle.
Any business strategy must start and end with your audience. Content marketing is no different. If you want to boost your conversions you need to know who you’re trying to convert.
Many marketers make the mistake of creating content for their peers. For example, as a freelance writer, I could create content on the art of writing. However, this would not win me any new clients. My clients are not interested in learning how to write better. But they would be interested in how to use content marketing to grow their business.
Create content for your audience, not your peers.
But how well do you know your audience?
Get to know everything you can about your audience:
- Their demographics
- Where they hang out
- What their needs are
- What their values are
- What words and phrases they like to use
- What makes them happy
- What makes them frustrated
You can find out what you need to know using the following methods.
- Go to forums relevant to your niche
- Search under your keywords in Quora and Yahoo Answers
- Search under your keywords on social media
- Invite visitors to your website to fill in a survey
- Study the blogs and magazines they read
- Meet them in real life by attending relevant events
Choose a topic which is relevant and useful
The secret of effective content marketing lies in creating content which is relevant and useful to your audience.3
The more relevant and useful your content is, the more engaged your audience is and the more they will trust you.
To optimize your conversions you should pick interesting topics that address your audience’s pain points and allow you to demonstrate your expertise.
This is where your knowledge of your audience comes in. After doing your research, you should have a clear idea of what their needs are.
Which of those needs can you fulfill? Those would make great topics for your content.
It’s often effective to be highly targeted with your content. For example, an article about social media strategies will have a broad appeal, but the topic is too general to really engage people. Now an article about social media strategies for solo entrepreneurs might turn off a section of readers, but the ones to whom it applies will be highly engaged.1
Remember, engagement leads to conversions.
Write a captivating headline1
In content marketing, the headline is king. No matter how amazing your content is, no one is going to read it if they’re not immediately captivated by your headline.
According to Peter Koechley of Upworthy, switching from a bad headline to a good headline can produce as much as a 500% increase in traffic.
Headline writing is as much a science as it is an art. The attention-grabbing headlines you see on the covers of Cosmopolitan Magazine or Buzzfeed are based on established formulas. These formulas were thought up by old-school copywriting legends like Eugene Schwartz and David Ogilvy. They have proven their worth time and time again for more than 50 years.
Remember, your headline has one purpose: to capture your reader’s attention so that they want to read your content.
So how can you get your reader hooked?
Simple. Promise them a benefit.
“The headlines which work best are those that promise the reader a benefit.”
— David Ogilvy, Ogilvy on Advertising1
Now going back to Buzzfeed. This website lives or dies by its headlines. So why not use it for inspiration.
Now let’s say you run a website that offers social media marketing services. Can you repurpose some of these Buzzfeed headlines to write an attention-grabbing headline that promises a benefit?
You certainly can.
“8 Brilliant Ideas for Throwing An Autumn Barbecue” becomes “8 Brilliant Ideas for Social Media Marketing”.
“21 Hilarious Tweets That Perfectly Capture Your Feelings About Dating” becomes “21 Inspirational Tweets That Perfectly Capture How You Should be Using Twitter”.
“24 Secrets River Island Staff Will Never Tell You” becomes “24 Secrets Social Media Experts Will Never Tell You”.
Hook them with your opening
Ok, you’ve captured your reader’s attention with your headline. You’re not home and dry yet. Not by a long shot.
People’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. According to scientists, our average attention span is now 8 seconds. For goldfish, it’s 9 seconds.
What does that mean to you?
It means you need to hook your reader from your first sentence. You need to make them interested in what you have to say. If you don’t they’ll just wander off and watch some videos of skateboarding dogs. Or something.
Here are some great ways of starting your blog posts with a bang;
- Ask a question. If you ask a question, you’ll get your reader thinking. Thinking means engagement. That’s a good thing.
- Drop a shocking statistic. Don’t use a statistic that your audience will be familiar with. Hit them from left field. Make them go “Wow, I didn’t know that!”
- Describe a problem. Go straight to the problem your content will be addressed. Don’t just define the problem. Go deep. Lay out the pain that the problem is causing. More about this later.
Build a Connection
Content marketing is about relationship building. You produce content to build a connection with your audience, which in time leads to a sale.
To build a relationship, you must establish rapport. Now if you’ve done your homework from the “know your audience” section you should have some idea of the values and interests of your audience. Your content should be congruent with those values and interests.
For example, if your target audience is solo entrepreneurs, they may prioritize saving money over saving time. For an audience of marketing executives, saving time may be more important than saving money.
Another key factor is the language that you use. Study the words and phrases that your audience uses when discussing topics related to your business. Use the same words and phrases in your content. You can go further. If your audience demographic is interested in certain aspects of popular culture, you can refer to these to spice up your content.
Once you show your audience that you understand how they think, and how they feel, they will start to trust you. And this is so important in business.
Be genuinely helpful
Building rapport is great. But you need to show you can provide value to your audience. If you can’t, why should they buy your products and services? That’s why your content must be helpful. If a reader finds your content to be helpful, they will be confident that purchasing your products or services will benefit them so much more.
Your content can be helpful in the following ways:
- Solve a problem. You provide a solution to a common problem your audience is facing. To give the most value, you should provide actionable steps that your audience can take. When they act on your advice and it works, they’ll be eager for more. However, you don’t have to tell them everything they need to know. You can hold something back which will be revealed in your paid products and services.
- Educate your readers. As experts in your niche, you’re in a position to teach your audience about niche topics. If you establish a teacher-student relationship with your audience, you’ll be in a position of authority and trust. But remember to use their language. Never use jargon that they won’t understand. And be humble. No one likes arrogance.
- Give an informed opinion. In many niches there’s an abundance of advice, many of it conflicting. Your audience is likely confused as to which option to take. They might be spending hours on the internet trying to find an answer. What WordPress SEO plugin is the best? Is cardio or strength training better for weight loss? Clear up your audience’s confusion and demonstrate your expertise. You’ll win a few new fans in the process.
No matter how rational your audience is, their emotions still exert a huge influence over their decision-making process. Analysis of data from the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising revealed that adverts with emotional content performed almost twice as well as those with purely rational content (31% effectiveness vs 16% effectiveness).
For our purposes emotions can be broadly divided into two categories:
- Positive emotions. Joy, happiness, satisfaction.
- Negative emotions. Fear, frustration, anxiety.
In general, evoking positive emotions is going to reap the greatest rewards in content marketing. As Psychology Today reports, studies show that positive emotions regarding a brand have far greater effect on consumer loyalty than any other factor.
You can evoke positive emotions by:
- Using a lively, optimistic writing voice.
- Encouraging your audience to achieve their goals.
- Sharing inspirational success stories.
Now, this is not to say that evoking negative emotions is necessarily bad. You just need to be strategic about it. Copywriters have long harnessed negative emotions to sell using the Problem-Agitate-Solve (PAS) formula.
It works like this:
- Problem. Identify your audience’s pain point. For example, say your audience wants more traffic to their website.
- Agitate. Rub it in a bit. So your audience has low traffic to their website. Describe their feelings of frustration. Describe their anxiety that they’re never going to succeed.
- Solve. Now you’ve really amped up your audience’s desire to find a solution to their problem. At this point, you reveal that you’re going to share your special marketing strategies that will skyrocket their traffic.
Make a compelling offer
Through using the tactics we’ve outlined, you’ve built a connection with your audience, helped them with their problem, and even got them a little bit emotional.
You have an audience which is highly engaged with your content.
Now it’s time for you to convert them into sales leads.
To do this, make them an offer. This could be:
- Subscribe to your newsletter.
- Download your ebook.
- Sign up to your webinar.
- Purchase your products or services.
The copy that introduces your offer is the call to action. Your call to action should be placed in one or more prominent positions on your website:
- On your homepage.
- At the top of your sidebar.
- At the end of your blog posts.
- On pop-ups.
To make your offer truly compelling, you should try and incorporate the following:
- Outline benefits. Clearly, state the benefits your audience will gain from your offer.
- Emphasise uniqueness. Are you offering something that your competitors aren’t? This could be the nature of your product, or it could be your unique approach.
- Inspire confidence. Use social proof by citing testimonials from satisfied customers.
- Use figures. Figures lend credibility. It could be the number of subscribers you have or statistics that demonstrate the effectiveness of your methods.
It’s all about the journey
Content marketing is all about taking your audience on a journey. You attract their attention, hook them, build a connection, and make your offer.
At every stage of the journey, you should be increasing the audience’s engagement with your brand.
So when you finally make your offer, how can they possibly resist?
Guest author: Clement Lim is a freelance copywriter and content marketer specializing in B2B and legal niches. When he’s not creating thrilling content he enjoys drinking green tea and doing handstand pushups. Find out how he can help your business grow at limwriter.com.