The idea behind content marketing is to produce written material that will keep your customers engaged. What exactly does it mean to be engaged in something? You know that feeling that you have when you start watching a movie or reading a book and you feel like you’ve been transported to a different world altogether? That’s what it means to be engaged. It means that you won’t willingly give up what you’re doing and take up something else unless you really have to.
And why would you want to engage your customers? Because you want them to stay on your website rather than going somewhere else. You want them to keep clicking on your tabs, reading your blog or viewing your comments on social media. You want them to feel interested in what they’re doing, interested enough that they might eventually end up buying what you’re selling.
How do you create this kind of interest? How do you get customers to feel engaged? Here are a few tips:
Keep it Moving
One of the main things that people find distracting is when content takes too long to read. In order to avoid this, you can keep it moving along fast.
This can be done by using a conversational tone of voice and avoiding a literary or jargonized style. You need to write as though you’re talking to a friend, not an expert in the field. You’re addressing a layperson—someone intelligent who nonetheless doesn’t have too much information on the topic. You don’t want to talk down to that person but you don’t want to go over their heads either. This is a good way to keep your content moving so that people will keep reading it.
Remember that dividing your content into short paragraphs and using subheadings, lists or bullet points also gives the illusion of moving things along faster. This way, you can end up giving your customer a lot of information without losing their interest. People like the idea of consuming 5, 7 or 10 points relevant to them at one go. So they’ll read a lot of content if you present it to them in this form.
Make Them an Insider
Another thing that people like is when you treat them like an insider and give them information that you wouldn’t necessarily give anyone else. Everyone likes to be part of an exclusive group; they feel more engaged when they’re part of an inner circle. So it helps to give them information that they wouldn’t get anywhere else. As this article from Forbes puts it, “Trust is kinda the secret sauce to content marketing.”
If there are certain trade secrets that your competitors refuse to share, you can engage your customer by sharing them. For example, take them on a simplified tour of your production process, if you’re creating a product. If you’re a digital agency, you can share some of the tips and tricks you use to help your customers in their marketing needs. No matter what your area of expertise, it helps to give some information away because it will keep your customer more engaged.
Many companies like to hoard their trade secrets because they’re afraid of losing customers. However, sharing information goes a long way towards creating trust and customer engagement.
Tell Them a Story
Nothing creates engagement like a good story. This is why so many people feel engaged while watching movies or reading books—because they tell a story.
So what are the elements of a good story? Well, there’s usually some kind of set up where you introduce the key characters and tell the audience what they’re like and what they’re hoping to accomplish. And then you take the audience through the story of how those characters achieve what they want.
This is not the time to tell tragedies, of course. You need to tell upbeat stories about how people got what they wanted. Maybe they were creatively inspired and this helped them achieve what they wanted. Or maybe they fought their way through obstacles to their goals.
And the goals don’t have to be big ones. If you run a gym, tell a story about how one of your customers lost weight. If you sell an innovative product, then write about how you came up with the idea for that product.
It doesn’t matter what kind of story you tell as long as you make it relatable for your customers. And this means that they have to be able to put themselves in the place of the person in the story and sympathize with them.
Know Your Audience
It’s important to know who you’re addressing before you write content for them. Who are you trying to appeal to? Who usually buys your product? Is it geared towards young moms? Teenagers? Senior citizens? As this article from Entrepreneur puts it, “First and foremost, content marketing is about your audience.”
Once you know who’s going to be reading your content, you can write for them. It’s easy to do this. Just imagine that a person belonging to that group is sitting in front of you and you’re trying to explain things to them. We don’t realize it but we automatically change our diction and talking style depending on who we’re speaking to.
But keep in mind that this doesn’t mean that you make false assumptions about that group. Do some research about what people belonging to that demographic are really like. If necessary, hire an expert—someone who belongs to that group themselves or has a lot of experience dealing with it. And then, you can go about creating engaging content.