Online users are hungry for content that satisfies their current dilemma – which restaurant in Toronto has the best Thai food, how to properly lift a canoe, or where to buy Halloween candy in bulk.
They devour websites that solve their problems and then snack on blogs, podcasts, newsletters, and videos relating to their interests. And if your business plates the best dish, it becomes an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Depending on which recipe you use.
The content you offer online is like an appetizer. It’s the first chance for your prospects to get a taste of what it’s like to do business with you. If your copy is bland, it under performs with low conversion rates, bounced traffic, and poor search engine rankings; in other words, your audience is left unsatisfied and disengaged.
Flavourful content, however, is eaten up and leaves your prospects hungry for more.
A perfectly roasted website, blog, or social media post creates trust and encourages viewers to move on to the main course – sharing your content, visiting your storefront, or purchasing from your online shop.
Cook your copy with the right recipe using these five key ingredients.
1. Appeal to Their Figurative Appetites
The first ingredient relates to the specific way you communicate with your prospects: the distribution channel(s), the offers you present, and the ‘dialect’ you use.
Let’s say your target is frequently found on Facebook between 4:00pm – 9:00pm every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Is it wise to market to them using Twitter first thing in the morning on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday?
If you’re customers are peckish for dessert, would you give them a meal instead?
Of course not, so it’s critical to uncover your audience’s online behaviors relating to how and where they consume content. Likewise, what you say should speak directly to their needs in order to be engaging – provide a clear and concise solution to a related problem.
Lastly, speak the language of the dog when it comes to the words, phrases, and tone of your copy. A young, creative artist communicates differently than a retired military veteran, so have your online voice mimic that of your prospect to create authenticity.
2. Immerse Yourself in Their Flavour Palate
In the film, Being John Malkovich, John Cusack’s character finds a secret tunnel leading straight into the head of movie star John Malkovich. Cusack literally inhabits the mind of the actor and is privy to every thought and emotion; he even knew what Malkovich’s favourite food was!
Metaphors aside, the more you know about your audience, the more effective your content becomes. In-depth costumer data is like a secret entrance into their mind.
Along with identifying their figurative appetites, get a clear picture of:
- Your audience’s needs – the problems which your business can solve
- The language spoken – commonly used tone, keywords, and phrases
- The opportunities available – the solutions you offer through your products and services
There are several ways to learn more about your customers and their behaviors such as conducting surveys, digging through relevant product and service reviews, and studying your Google Analytics account.
The experts at Copyblogger recommend building an empathy map – a chart of what your target is thinking, feeling, seeing, and doing – and designing an avatar to better understand your audience and cater your content accordingly.
3. Dress Your Content for Scanning
Previously, I quoted a web usability study done by Jakob Nielsen in 1997, which found that 79% of online content is scanned rather than read thoroughly.
Meaning don’t force-feed your audience long, drawn-out sentences. Get to the point quickly and make use of paragraph breaks.
The oldest writing trick in book, the inverted pyramid, is perfect for this reality.
It’s an age-old formula used in journalism that lists the most important elements of the article first followed by the lesser details. Right away the reader knows the who, what, where, when, and why without having to digest the entire story.
Formatting your web copy this way delivers a succinct summary for your audience and helps them decide if they want to read further.
This approach is also beneficial to your ranking in search engines.
By prioritizing the core information, and combining the next ingredient, your content gets more attention while your web traffic increases.
4. Season with Keywords and Phrases
Speaking of search engine optimization (SEO), peppering your content with the proper keywords and phrases gets rewarded with tasty ratings. More so, when they’re included within the first few sentences.
Selecting your keywords and phrases goes back to understanding your audience and the language they’re using online.
To plate your content in an SEO-friendly way, take advantage of:
- Google Ads keyword planner – suggests terms related to your products, services, industry, and target market parameters
- Mining customer reviews and social media accounts – get it straight out of the oven by delving into your prospects’ conversations
- Website Plugins – software that scans your content, rates its SEO, and recommends improvements
5. Ask if They want Dessert
Lastly, and most importantly, everything you publish online must include a call-to-action. Don’t forget, your content is the appetizer, and the goal is to get the audience eager for the main course.
Without asking if they’re ready eat, they might decide they’ve already had their fill.
Here’s an example, your customer discovers a baby blanket on your Etsy store. She doesn’t really need one right now and the blanket is the most expensive thing in your shop.
She wasn’t prompted to sign up for your newsletter, which offers subscribers 15% off their first purchase, so she decides to leave your site and ends up buying a cheaper alternative from one of your competitors.
Regardless of your content goals, don’t leave your audience starved and confused, give them the next step.
Time to Get Cooking
Success online is achieved when an audience feels safe enough to do business with you. To build that trust, their experiences with your web copy needs to be tasteful.
With these five key ingredients your content becomes flavourful and consumable.
So get in the kitchen and start cooking!
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