When you write content for the web, you want to be informative, consultative or authoritative on the subject that you write about. Irrespective of how you want to approach your writing, you have to have an objective in mind to influence your reader. It is worth pausing here to note that readers have objectives too; in particular, the desire to gain something of value in return for their investment of time spent (in reading).
What is the objective of the content? What is the goal intended to be attained? What is the purpose, the benefit or the reason you wrote a piece of content?
For some, it could be to give easy access to information on the product or service you offer to your customers and for some others it could be about convincing your reader about something that you believe in. Every piece of content you write has to have an objective.
Here are a couple of strategies that great content writers use to write content that sticks and works!
ESP also means Extra Sensory Perception, but in the context of content strategy it means- Engage, Stimulate and Persuade.
When you write content, it is recommended that you write for an audience of one. Even though you know that the content is going to be read by a global audience of varying age groups, cultures and dispositions, it is important to address each reader as an individual and not as a member of a specific community.
In the book, ‘Can I change your mind ‘ the author Lindsay Camp, succinctly elaborates and I quote:
“Reading is a solitary activity. It happens in your head and when you read something I have written, you are in effect, allowing me to join you in there. I’m a guest and as such, though I may know next to nothing about you, it is up to me to strike a relationship with you, to find a way of making whatever I have to say engaging, stimulating and persuasive to you.”
That being said, even though you may not know every person that reads your content, you do know that it addresses a target audience. For example, the people who will evaluate and compare your product or service against others in the market before hiring you or making a buying decision. When you write content that engages, stimulates and persuades that group of people, you have a winner!
The aim, put simply, is to write for a reader you have never met which should be similar to writing for one you know well.
Much has been said about being emotive when you converse with your clients on phone. Empathy, your ability to reflect the emotions of the person you communicate with, is crucial to any conversation and I don’t mean spoken alone.
Is it possible to write with empathy too? Understand how the reader of content you write, is likely to feel? Good persuasive writers do this instinctively, says Lindsay Camp:
“They find out what they can about the reader, make reasonable assumptions and intelligent deductions about Why, When and Where the reader will read. They think logically about how she (the reader) is likely to feel towards what they have to say. Then they make an imaginative leap that enables them to tune in to the emotion or set of emotions that will have a bearing on the success or failure of a particular piece of communication.”
Can I learn how to tune in?
Good communicators don’t make a conscious effort to tune in. It comes naturally to them. For the rest of us, the good news is, empathy can be learned! So long as you are involved and intuitive and not objective and detached, you can easily ‘tune in’ to the emotional state of your reader. The process requires not just logical and analytical thinking but also a degree of intuition and empathy.
I know many of you are on your way to becoming superlative writers already. Share what your objectives are when you write content. The next time you write content on your blog use these strategies and tell us how it has changed the way you write.
This post is part of our series on improving communication.