Not only is content marketing an incredibly effective way to connect with customers, it can result in higher conversion rates at a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing.
What does this mean for your business? No matter what industry you’re in, competition is fierce, and you must be able to cut through the chatter. And the best way to ensure your content reaches your target audience is to create a brand voice that speaks to your customers and support this with masterful content marketing.
Customers pay for an experience
According to our Director of Marketing Strategy Jeff Baker, customers aren’t just paying for goods and services anymore. They’re paying for an idea or a story, and they’re making decisions to do business with a company based on the experience the brand offers.
“It’s like buying a Cadillac – you’re paying for the prestige and elegance and the whole Cadillac brand story,” Jeff explained. “You want to be a part of that story, and be treated accordingly. When you drive down the street, you want to be seen as the guy living a Cadillac lifestyle.”
This idea that’s representative of your brand is created and supported by your brand voice. Through this voice, your company is telling your story and painting a particular experience for customers. It should be something that not only provides an image of your brand, but also resonates with your loyal customers and prospective buyers.
Consistency is key
Because your brand’s story should be present and intertwined in every piece of customer-facing content and advertising you create, it’s absolutely essential that this voice doesn’t deviate.
“In everything you do, in the way you speak at conferences, in the content you create, in the advertisements you make – it all has to be consistent,” Jeff said. “Otherwise it’s not a story, it’s just fragmented jargon. Your brand voice is the narrator for the story and experience you create for the customer.”
Consistency can really strike a chord with customers, as Senior Manager of Editorial Development Tressa Sloane explained recently.
In everything you do, in the way you speak at conferences, in the content you create, in the advertisements you make – it all has to be consistent.
Step one: Understand your audience
Before you can ingrain your brand voice across your content marketing strategy, you have to actually create one. Because this voice should not only be representative of your brand, but reverberate with your audience, the first step is to understand the readers you’re looking to target. And, as with many things these days, data holds the key.
“Who are the people that I’m talking to? You have to understand this,” Jeff said. “First, look to demographic data and Google Analytics. That will tell you exactly who your audience is. You have to use your data – the numbers don’t lie.”
You shouldn’t make any assumptions about who your audience is, and should trust the numbers to tell you which groups to appeal to.
“This process is science and math and psychology combined and sometimes it completely proves you wrong when you look at the numbers,” Jeff said. “Data can change everything.”
Step two: Create personas
Once you understand the wider audience your brand voice should appeal to, you can drill down further with specific personas, and, trust us, there should definitely be more than one. Too many companies simply focus their efforts around buyer personas, or the individuals currently buying their products or services. Businesses that take this singular approach are basically shooting themselves in the foot.
You have to use your data – the numbers don’t lie.
Jeff explained that marketers should also pay close attention to other subsets of their audience, particularly those that fall into the visitor persona. In this way, the business can create a voice that not only resonates with buyers, but those seeking out information about the company via its website as well.
“Sometimes you have to create two stories – one for influencer visitors, and one for buyers,” Jeff said.
Step three: Ingrain your voice throughout your content
Specific personas help you better understand the attributes of your audience, enabling you to create a voice that speaks to your readers in particular. This ensures your organization is able to capture the attention of readers, spark their interest and make a connection.
Once you’ve created your brand story and the voice to support it, it’s time to intertwine this voice throughout every piece of content you push out to the public. This includes each and every blog, social media post, landing page, video and piece of marketing collateral.
Sometimes you won’t hit the mark right out of the gate – and that’s okay.
It’s important to find a voice that truly speaks to your audience, and the only way to find out whether or not the voice you’ve established resonates is by producing content ingrained with your voice. Jeff recommended starting with a blog post – this type of content is more flexible and has a shorter shelf life than, say, a landing page that could end up living on your site for months, or even years.
Blogs are the best sandbox for truly crafting that voice.
This is another time that you should look to your data to help direct your efforts.
“Check out your traffic to see if your voice is resonating with people or not,” Jeff suggested. “You can experiment a little more with a blog – try out your voice and see how it goes, and if it doesn’t work out, you can always change it. Blogs are the best sandbox for truly crafting that voice.”
A blog post that sees more clicks and increased social shares represents a green light – you’re doing something right with the voice you’ve created. Keep it up! Dipping traffic levels, on the other hand, are a blatant red flag – readers are being turned off, and it’s time to tweak your voice so that it better appeals to the personas you’ve created.
Follow these three steps, and you’ll be able to craft a voice that is representative of the story your brand is looking to tell.