I have a confession: sometimes, I'm a real know-it-all.
Back in the day, I was a highly competitive journalism student. Not only was I super ambitious with worldly dreams of becoming a foreign correspondent; I was also a very boastful, smarty-pants student reporter. I was majoring in both English literature and journalism, and loved to show of my flair for big, fancy words that the average person wouldn't understand.
Understandably, my tutors and editors would hand back my writing assignments with big, red strikes through my cherished prose. It seemed not everyone appreciated my "wordiness". I was very confused, and couldn't stand the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) rule. I was educated university student, dammit, and I wanted to show off.
I asked my tutors what the deal was. Why didn't they like my writing? Why couldn't I use words like 'utilisation' rather than 'used'? Was it really so bad that I kept going over the word limit? What was wrong with a bit of vocabulary building?
Their answer? People would stop reading what I was writing if I didn't stop writing for my ego. If you don't appeal to your reader's interest, you're going to end up in the bin.
And I'd wager that if you're reading this, then you might be having the same problem with your blog engagement.
The key to increased blog engagement? Write for your audience, not your ego or the critics.
As a journalism major, I was committing a major news reporting no-no. I was supposed to be reporting on a local council meeting, but would get carried away and cover the bickering of parliamentary opponents as a way to display by humorous pizzazz.
As a copywriter, some of the same rules apply. And this big no-no? It's stuck with me since.
As an enthusiastic writer with a love for the richness of the English language, it was easy for me to get caught up in my thesaurus. But what I was actually doing was writing to please myself and to impress other smarty-pants, and not to inform and entertain my audience.
The inverted style of journalism reporting.
Why should you blog for your customers?
Creating content is fun. It's part of our daily routine to document our day-to-day business: a smoothie on Instagram there, a passive-aggressive update here, and where would we be without the cats of YouTube?
In 2016, engaging content marketing (of which blogging is a huge part) is today's #1 form of marketing. Why?
- 200 million people use ad blockers. (PageFair, 2015)
- Content marketing leaders see 7.8x more site traffic than those who don't. (KaPost, 2015)
- Content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing and it generates more than three times as many leads. (Demand Metric, 2015)
The goal behind content marketing is to attract, engage and retain customers by creating content that is useful to them. To you, your social media posts (content) are valuable. They’re funny, they’re insightful, and they give you a creative outlet.
But what if you're blogging for your business in the hopes to attract and connect with more potential customers, like 74% of Australian B2Cs are?
The key to creating shareable, quality content that your customers (audience) will share is by creating something that has a laser-like focus on their needs, wants and concerns. Roman philosopher Cicero once said,
More than 2050 years later, this golden nugget is more relevant than ever.
How to create champion content that gets outstanding blog engagement
When writing for your particular audience, consider:
Where does it hurt?
What problems does your ideal customer face, and how would you solve them? If you're a personal shopper/stylist, you could write a how-to post for the fashion-curious about incorporating formal black pants for a number of occasions, like
Stalk them (i.e. research)
Not sure how you can help them? Hang out with them online. Check out forums like Whirlpool, Facebook groups, 24/7 support communities, or even read Amazon book reviews. For example, whenever I'm trying to figure out the benefits of a technical product, I'll Google something like, "Problems with email hosting", and viola! With a bit of scrolling, I can see the problems people having with email hosting.
Learn to speak their language
Would they prefer a straightforward, short and simple blog post? Or a lively, engaging and highly anecdotal story?
Consider what they already know
What does your audience already know about the subject you're writing about? Do you need to avoid using specialist terminology, or can you assume a certain level of knowledge?
Dive deep instead of throwing spaghetti at the wall. It's hard to always reinvent the wheel, but you should aim to uncover fresh and exciting angles, insights and ideas. compare these two blogs posts:
"A single girl's guide to buying a house",
"A single girl's guide to negotiating house prices"
Whereas the first blog post is quite general and could see the writer waffling on for a bit, the second blog post is more specific and actually address a huge problem for single women in the property market.
Let your freak flag fly
As my university lectureres would say, "If you're offending someone, you're doing your job wrong." While it might be on-brand for you to upset your audience, you do need to think about how you'd make them sit up and pay attention. Steer clear of the same old pop culture references and human interest tear jerkers. If the creative concept is making your nervous, I say go for it. It could be the best idea you ever executed.
These are just some of the way that you can begin to create content that's more aligned with what your audience is after. Because after all, your content needs to serve a purpose. This includes delivering an ROI for you, yes. But by proving your value and authority through useful, engagement and compelling content, you'll then be able to watch that blog engagement soar, and turn clicks into converted customers.