Content marketing is largely about tapping into your target audience’s emotions to win them over as subscribers, leads and customers. Even in B2B marketing, where the input of several key decision makers can undermine emotional influences, you’re still appealing to your audience’s human side. Most people—3 out of 4 in fact— seek out content as a means of professional growth because of their desire to be better or more useful in their work. Work is an emotional thing, after all. We even take quizzes to confirm who we are and we share content that makes us laugh or think in a different way.
Here are some tips for creating content that makes your buyers feel something and, as a consequence, do something whether it’s sharing, consuming more content or requesting a demo of your product.
- Create content that helps your buyers overcome their fears
Marketing tends to operate behind the scenes, whereas your customer-facing teams (sales and support) are the ones lending customers their ears on a daily basis. One way to ensure that marketing is consistently creating the right content for your audience is to regularly communicate with the reps who know your customers best. This could range from a weekly meeting for Sales and Marketing to touch base to a simple chat in the hallways. Make sure Marketing is always in the loop when it comes to your ever-evolving customers.Here are some questions Marketing should be asking Sales:
- “What’s keeping your prospects up at night?”
- “What objections do you hear the most?”
- “What questions—outside of our product—are customers asking?”
- “What is the biggest pain point we’re solving for them?”
Take those answers and create content that relieves them of their pain and satisfies their curiosity. It’s all about trying to be on the same wavelength as your customers in order to produce content that your customers actually care about.
- Don’t be afraid to delight your audience
Who says B2B marketing has to be boring? Happiness is one of the reasons that people share content, look forward to consuming more and open up to brands. “The more we educate them or entertain them, the more they don’t mind being sold to.”— Joe Pulizzi, Founder of Content Marketing Institute. Somewhere in your content mix consider making room for content that wins your audience over simply by delighting them. It doesn’t have to be entirely off-topic, but it should be something more light-hearted that humanizes your brand and shows a genuine interest in making them smile a little. Every once in a while at Uberflip, we include a fun GIF post in our editorial calendar. The feedback is positive, it gives us a chance to be a little fun here and there, and the shareability helps us reach new audiences. Whether you agree or disagree with the old sales saying “People buy from people they like”, you can be sure that people won’t be likely to do business with a brand they don’t like.
- Speak to your buyer’s identity
A big part of content marketing is crafting targeted content that helps you qualify your audience to include potential customers. This comes from communicating a brand through content that’s inline with your buyers’ own identities. Identity is a huge emotional driver of human behavior. We tend to act in ways that are consistent with how we see ourselves. According to a study by The New York Times, 68% of people share content because it helps them establish their identity to others. This behavioural trend is corroborated by the virality of quizzes, many of which help people understand who they are or how much they know. Quizzes are actually great way for even B2B companies to leverage this emotional trigger. Our attachment to our own identities means you should try to leverage specific labels in your headlines that cater to how your buyer personas likely identify themselves. For example, I identify as a content marketer. Copyblogger is one of my favorite blogs to learn from and headlines like What’s the Difference Between a Professional Writer and a Content Marketer? are really hard for me not to click on. Call out your audience by name in your headlines, make them feel good, give them something to relate to or confirm who they are in their own eyes.
- Create a sense of urgency
Time is always in limited supply and we live in constant fear of missing out. That’s why one way to create relevant, albeit short-lived, content is to create topical or real-time pieces that cover industry trends or hot topics. While the engagement will die out after some time, you can attract clicks this way just by leveraging existing buzz and the universal fear of missing out. Something as simple as tacking the current year onto your headlines (10 Content Marketing Trends to Watch in 2015) can give it the huge boost in relevancy that your content needs.
- Win their trust with social proof
Social proof in content marketing comes in many forms. Content is social by its very nature, after all. No blog post is an island. Encourage more conversations and inspire trust by borrowing from industry leaders and experts who can lend their credibility to your content. If you can get an exclusive interview with a thought leader in your space, even better. Credibility is contagious simply by association. As an added bonus, turn on the social sharing count on your blog to build your social cred with every piece you publish. It doesn’t matter if your content doesn’t go viral every time. People will land on your content and will feel much better knowing they weren’t the first ones there. And when you garner enough engagement, it will start to snowball into even more shares, building both your content’s credibility and your brand’s.
The emotional element of content marketing
Content consumption is an emotional activity that touches different parts of the emotional spectrum—fear, interest, ambition, surprise, laughter and so on. Unlike traditional advertising, which also attempts to involve your target audience at an emotional level, the purpose of content marketing is to win over trust first. Whereas the typical commercial or radio ad might pull at our heartstrings or make us laugh, they’re still pitchy in nature. In a world of “permission marketing” where customers can tune out marketing with ad blockers or simply not hear your message in all the noise, it’s important to do marketing that doesn’t look like marketing to earn the opportunity to nurture their interest in your product.
About the Author:
Braveen is a Content Marketer & Editor at Uberflip, a content marketing system built for marketers to streamline content management, accelerate lead generation and fuel marketing automation. There he applies his background as a writer to help his team develop compelling content, from infographics to eBooks, for Uberflip’s audience of passionate marketers.