Saturday, 22 August 2015

Why making your readers cry will improve your content marketing

The role of content marketing is to elicit a response from the reader - we want them to behave differently - to switch brands; to try a new service; to talk about us with their family and friends.

The first step in encouraging people to behave differently is to challenge them to start thinking differently - to re-educate; view things in a new way; understand a different perspective - and this in itself can be challenging.

This is where understanding the relationship between emotions and behaviour really comes into play.

Emotion drives action

You share a video with your friends because it makes you laugh; scares you; makes you cry; reminds you of a personal experience. Emotions provide us with feedback that tells us how to react in the present, based on our past experiences.

So whether it’s in personal or professional communication, eliciting an emotional response from people will encourage them to share your content.

Just as importantly, it is also proven to help them remember its key messages more vividly - in the same way that listening to a particular song can instantly transport you to a place and time significant in your past.

This approach, of using emotion to drive action, is illustrated well in the recent shift of approach used by social marketers. Success for a social marketer comes not from selling a product or service, but in proving that they have been able to change people’s behaviour by challenging the way they think.

Out is the content instructing people to stop smoking; drink less; and exercise more - in is the content which encourages people to change by eliciting a ‘what’s in it for me’ emotional response. This advert by Sussex Safer Roads being a powerful example:

Eliciting the right emotional response

Psychologist Robert Plutchik identified eight primary emotions which content marketing professionals can use as a guide when considering the appropriate emotion to elicit from the reader: Joy, Trust, Fear, Surprise, Sadness, Anticipation, Anger, and Disgust.

Image source:

The appropriate emotion to target will depend heavily on the product or service being promoted, and the demographics of the target audience. Look at this example from our social marketing friends, encouraging smokers to quit, not by tapping into the fear emotion, but the trust a child places in adults to care for their physical and emotional wellbeing:

Emotional responses can be tapped at different points within your content, and to varying degrees, for example in:

  • an emotive email subject line
  • unexpected video content
  • social media conversation starters.

So, at the start of your next marketing campaign, remember to ask yourself how your reader should feel before, during, and after accessing your content.

About the author

Claire Cresswell-Lane is a UK based, CIM Chartered Marketer specialising in digital marketing strategy and communications. You can contact her via LinkedIn or Twitter.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Catering for a range of learning styles with your content marketing

Buyers conduct extensive online research before making large or important purchases, and this is especially true of financial products and services. But understanding financial products and services can be difficult for the lay person.

Financial organisations have role in educating visitors about the range of products and services on offer, and a responsibility to educate as to which is the most likely to suit their personal circumstances.

This post illustrates how financial organisations are starting to present information in formats that cater for a range of learning styles - something that other sectors should sit up and take notice of.

“Don’t create another monotonous, bland and (worst of all) overwhelming financial services product page. Take the time to bring the relevant content above the fold in an innovative way….like videos and iconography.” Maxymiser, 2014

Content marketing that caters for a range of learning styles [Share on Twitter]

Auditory learners enjoy accessing information through listening and like content presented in formats such as checklists. Podcasts are frequently used by reputable publishers such as The Financial Times to cater for this style of learner:

Visual learners, as the name suggests, benefit most from pictures and video. They are likely to want to learn about all the options available before deciding which is right for them. Many financial organisations, such as Skipton Building Society have YouTube channels which they use to educate visitors about a range of topics including help to manage finances; product demonstrations and guides; Corporate Social Responsibility activities, and so on:

Kinaesthetic learners gain understanding by doing, and will prefer interactive online tools such as comparison charts and calculators to help them make purchasing decisions - as seen on the Coventry Building Society website:

Social / emotional learners like to make decisions following discussion with their peers. They will respond well to online communities or live chat facilities. Royal Bank of Scotland have provided a forum where users can share tips and insights with each other regarding the management of finances and investments:

Metacognitive learners like to reflect on a range of information and will seek out knowledge from a range of thought leaders in order to make decisions. These customers are likely to access a number of blogs offering deeper insight into specific issues (for example through white papers and eGuides) before making purchasing decisions.


  • Consumers conduct extensive research before making important buying decisions.
  • Content marketing has an important role in educating your audience.
  • People learn in a range of different ways.
  • Content can be re-purposed to cater for a range of learning styles.

About the author
Claire Cresswell-Lane is a UK based, CIM Chartered Marketer specialising in digital marketing strategy and communications. You can contact her via LinkedIn or Twitter.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Establishing trust and credibility in your marketing campaigns [speed read]

‘Credibility and trust’ are the two most important attributes that online marketers must establish in order to gain the confidence of visitors, according to a 2015 study by KO Marketing Associates.

Why content credibility matters

If the credibility of website content is called into question, it has the potential to affect the reputation of not just the online channel, but also that of the wider organisation.

Content that is credible will result in higher levels of visitor engagement. For example, users will stay on your website for longer, interact with a wider range of features, make repeat visits; and are more likely to convert from visitors into customers.

The more visitors engage with your online content, the higher the 'quality score' attributed to it by Google. This will have a direct impact on reducing the cost of any pay per click (PPC) advertising campaigns you are running.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, a good online experience for visitors to your website matters in the same way that a good face-to-face experience does. It is a touch point that contributes to achieving the strategic goal of achieving and maintaining high customer satisfaction levels.

However, only 33% of people trust online reviews, and just 8% trust online advertisements - so digital marketers have a lot of work to do to establish levels of trust within their content.

Step 1: Know who you want to establish credibility with

Segment your audience. Understand who the decision making units and influencers of decisions are. [click to Tweet]

This can be achieved in a number of ways, for example by analysing your current customers and stakeholders to understand what brought them to you; what their likes and dislikes are; their demographic profiles; and so on.

Step 2: Understand what your audience(s) needs to know

Now you know who your target audience is, understand the content they are actively seeking out; the challenges they are trying to overcome; and the places where they are active online. You could get this information through:

  • social listening exercises (including sentiment analysis)
  • primary research, such as telephone interviews
  • secondary desk-based research.

Step 3: Mirror your audience’s interests with your content

It sounds obvious to make sure that your content is of interest to your audience. The key to establishing credibility with them however, is to do this without trying to sell them anything!

Trust can be gained by offering genuinely useful information that helps your target audience on their decision making journey. [click to Tweet] This may involve talking about products and services that you don’t offer! Remember, each interaction you have with them is a touch-point with your brand.

Step 4: Nurture your relationship

All relationships need to be nurtured if they are to mature - and this is true of online relationships. The more genuinely useful and transparent your content, the more likely your reader is to regard you as the go-to source of information on their topic of interest.

In order to nurture relations, it is important that your content speaks the language of your target personas - which is often different to the terminology used by internal stakeholders. The right language to use can be identified through techniques such as:

  • analysing the interviews you carried out in step 2
  • studying correspondence into your call centre
  • assessing the terminology in online forums and social networks used by your target audiences.

Step 5: Listen, learn, and react

Creating your marketing materials is the start of your process, not the end. Test content with members of your target audience to:

  • ensure the message received is the one you think has been delivered
  • understand what key messages can be recalled
  • learn about how your content made the reader feel.

Amend your content to reflect what you have learnt. Keep a record of the changes you have made, to inform future content production.

"The greatest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place" -  
George Bernard Shaw

About the author
Claire Cresswell-Lane is a UK based, CIM Chartered Marketer specialising in digital marketing strategy and communications. You can contact her via LinkedIn or Twitter.

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