In the world of web content, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Of course, innovation and market value are essential — there isn’t much to talk about if you don’t have those. But leadership, influence, and uniqueness are built on delivery and context.
Language is an essential component of that delivery, and it’s vital to establishing your brand, nurturing customer relationships, and fostering long-term, profitable partnerships. Being conscious about your language informs what you blog about and how it is presented to your readers. Just as your content depends on your industry and what your customers expect from you, your language must consistently match your bottom line and encourage the actions you seek from your customers.
Free-for-all blogging advice guides tell authors to write “conversationally”, start sentences with “and”, and use informal phrases like “Hell no!” as liberally as possible. But these factors depend entirely on who you’re writing for, and the response you want from that person.
Despite the disparities from blog to blog and brand to brand, one principle remains the same: an engaged, satisfied reader is one that is more likely to do what you want.
So without further ado, here a few guideposts to writing for your audience and ensuring they’re interacting with, sharing, and benefiting from your content on a regular basis.
1) Who’s your ideal customer?
Invisioning the neds and habits of hundreds of thousands of customers? Extremely chalenging. Envisioning the needs and habits of a single ideal customer Much more manageable
Your ideal customer encompasses dominant traits of your entire audience, so writing to suit her tendencies means that you’ll satisfy the majority of your audience. Once you’ve determined your ideal customer, write every post as if it’s addressed to them specifically. This tactic results in writing that is more personal, effective, charismatic, and accessible. Of course, your writing style should vary drastically if your ideal customer is a celebrity-obsessed teenage girl or a conservative male banking professional. But it’s the nuances of these differences that are integral
Imagine the tone that your customer will respond to, what sort of slang they’ll find clever or endearing (avoid the slang they’d likely consider inappropriate, ineffectual, or out-of-date), and keep in mind how sophisticated their vocabulary will typically be. Should you feel free to use “insider” language, or will your customer be confused by industry slang? Are you writing about a topic that’s hotly debated among your target customer’s demographic? Is this post an opportunity for statistics or for storytelling? And remeber to be realistic: write for the audience you have, not the audience you hope to one day attain
2) How much do they know about this topic?
If you’re writing for a general audience, it’s esential to remember that your reader isn’t an expert; they’re looking to learn, grow, improve, or be inspired. A clear, concise overview of the context and history of your topic will be necessary. Specific details that may seem excessive to you are most likely essential for your general reader. Try having someone removed from the topic give your post a read before you publish. Ask them some basic questions: Is the context clear? Are there enough specific details? Does the post inspire imediate action, or do you need more information? If so, is it clear where further information can be found
Other times, your post may be geared towards industry peers or other topic experts. Keep in mind that superfluous context or backstory will bog down this reader, and could prompt them to consider your writing simplistic or pedestrian. Industry-speak that cuts down rambling and a knowledgeable, conversational tone are both essential in this case. Treat this post like a chat around the water cooler: casual with a maintained air of professionalism, but assertive and informative in regards to the topic at hand. Note that where a general reader may respond better to anecdotal evidence from existing customers or from the writer himself, industry insiders may prefer a more generous helping of statistics and numbers to prove your point.
3) What do you want them to do next?
In most cases, you’re not writing briliant blog posts for the sake of writing brilliant blog posts. Incorporate the main goal of your post into the tone, language, and structure of your writing. Perhaps your brand provides a solution to the problem you’ve presented — plant keywords and subtle calls to action throughout the text that point to the solution you have. Maybe you’d like for the reader to follow you on Twitter or like you on Facebok — stress the benefits of engaging with brands on social media, and point out why folowing your brand in particular is an opportunity the reader can’t afford to miss. Maybe you want them to coment on the post — ask open-ended questions that facilitate discussion. Infuse your post with specific language and calls to action that gracefuly hint at your desired outcome.
Do you write with your audience in mind? Share your tips and tactics in the coments below!