In high school, I once received a love letter from a boy. “You get me through the school day,” it read, “You are the gleam in my eye.” While I now understand that to be a mildly sinister sort of phrasing, at the time, it made my heart pound. I drafted and crumpled endless replies. I showed all my friends. “I’m the gleam in his eye,” I declared proudly, thrilled.
Whether you’re a reader or not, words are what move you. If you’ve ever had chills run down your spine during a speech, you know the power of words. If your eyes have ever watered at that thrice-cursed Sarah McLachlan ASPCA commercial, you know the power of words. If you’ve ever become incensed by accidentally reading a comment on a YouTube video, even that shows the power of words, though likely misspelled and barely recognizable as such.
Google’s algorithmic changes are moving closer and closer to results that reflect an understanding of the content they search. This is momentous for the future of content marketing; it means that, as time goes by, the meaning and relevancy of your content will be increasingly key to reaching your audience. But the fact is, you don’t want to simply reach your audience. Bland-yet-relevant content is going the way of keyword-stuffing and the dodo. When your audience reads content that is honest, elicits emotion, and builds their trust, they are far more likely to engage, share, and convert.
How, you might ask, does one achieve such a lofty ideal? It seems daunting, but creating the kind of content that feels like a love letter isn’t difficult when you follow a few simple rules.
Keep Your Promises
“Are you a happy blog? Because you’ve got ‘content’ written all over you!”
Pickup lines are terrible. They rarely ever work, and when they do, it’s clear about five minutes into a date that there’s no substance behind the jokester. Outrageous headlines are like the pickup lines of content marketing. Slapping a catchy, attention-grabbing headline can work for some articles, but most of the time, the results are just a big disappointment. If you want to have a long-lasting and lucrative relationship with your audience, you need to start by being honest. Crafting an intriguing, thought-provoking headline is encouraged, by all means; you just need to make sure that your content meets and exceeds the expectations set by the title. If you can’t come up with twelve reasons why watching this puppy video will change your life, ditch the title and try again. Disappointing content, even if it’s relevant, will bore a reader and turn them against you.
Try a Little Understanding
Creating content that appeals to every demographic is neither feasible nor good marketing. You can’t Xerox a generalized love letter and send it to fifty different people—each and every one will see right through you, and instead of fifty dates, you’re stuck at home on Saturday night playing a game of Settlers of Catan with your mom. The same is true for content marketing. Knowing your audience and focusing on their interests and emotional vulnerabilities is exactly what will earn their trust and loyalty. Do some research and outreach to discover what your tactic should be, then use that information the best way you can: to create content that makes your reader’s heart pound.
Inspire Action and Reaction
There are plenty of fish in the sea. Reaching your audience is actually the easiest part of this process; getting them to react is the difficulty. When your audience reads your content, you want them to get excited. If you can elicit some strong emotion—be it excitement, surprise, even (in appropriate instances) outrage—you have a much higher chance of a reaction by or interaction with your reader. The Internet is full of links to click and sites to visit. You can have the highest click-through rate in the world, but if your content doesn’t speak to someone, they simply will not engage. Gaining a click and then losing a potential customer because your content is uninteresting or mediocre is worse than no clicks at all. The reader is a real person with a memory; if you expect them to come back after they’ve been disappointed or unenthused, you’re in for a disappointment yourself.
A Little Trust Goes a Long Way
You’ve followed all the rules of SEO and your content is gaining higher rankings; in other words, you’ve written your letter and shoved it in your audience’s locker. The power is in their hands, and it’s nerve-wracking. What if they don’t respond? What if they’re not ready for this kind of commitment—what if they don’t convert?
Instantaneous results are rarely satisfying ones. In the microcosm of a high school romance, an instant result may mean a single date and no call the next day. In content marketing, instant results can mean a surge of activity at once, only to peter off and leave you back at square one. To retain your audience and encourage higher levels of engagement and conversion, you need to provide high-quality content on a regular basis. As in any relationship, your interactions with your audience grow as their trust in you builds.
It may seem slow-going, but every post you make, every email you send, every action you take for the reader’s benefit reminds them that you’re here for them, and that you’ll always be here for them. You may have to slip another letter or three into that locker, but the results are worth the extra effort. By providing high-quality, interesting, emotionally reactive content on a regular basis, you will gain a following of people who return through conscious choice. And when your brand is the one being chosen, well, that’s more valuable than all the random clicks in the world. It means that what you’re doing is working, that your content is being shared and thought about, and that your reach is stronger than ever.
Sound Intimidating? Try a Writing Service!
Writing a love letter to your audience isn’t always easy, especially when your reputation is on the line. If you don’t feel up to the task yourself, try some of the amazing writing talent we have right here at Content Runner. You can lay out all your ideas and goals, and one of our wonderful writers will craft the kind of marketing correspondence target audiences dream of.
As we move further and further into the uncertain future of content marketing and the changing strategies that go with it, one thing will always be true: you won’t be penalized for content that’s honest, relevant, and optimized for the thinking, feeling person behind the screen. If anything, you can expect the algorithms to accommodate this kind of content more and more, because this is what people are really searching for.
Like a teenager excited about a new romance, your readers will interact with you based on how you make them feel, and they’ll share your content when their emotions are triggered. Their hearts will pound, they’ll reply and engage, and they’ll show all their friends. Let them know you want them, that they’re important to you. Give them a reason to come back. Use the power in words to create a relationship with your audience that will last beyond a click or two.