Why Understanding Your Readers Is King (Not Your Content)

Everybody knows great content is a powerful force to drive traffic and revenue.

Is it content that important? Yes for sure, but it’s completely useless without readers. Today, too many people focus on general content. 

It worked, but now, if you can’t understand who you are having a conversation with through your content, results will not follow.

 A lot of content marketers don’t know who’s their audience. Some of them write the persona and forget then about it, to tell themselves they have done it. It’s pointless if you don’t use it when you want to write, review it, change it according to what you learned from your readers.

You should care about your readers

Sharing is caring, as they say.

It’s great to share because it means it’s important to us but… when you know nothing about who you are sharing something to, you can misbehave without noticing because of lack of understanding.

Often people have many things to think about. They don’t want to read another blog article, watch another video, or get interrupted by another tweet. They seek the knowledge of somebody that could help them in their lives.

Many content writers are focused on writing articles about their company, or themselves and forget their readers. Create a list of questions about your Buyer/Reader Persona; it can give you what to write about, how to write it, where to promote it.

You could ask questions like:

  • What issues they regularly face?
  • How could they solve them?
  • What are their goals?
  • What are the mistakes they make?
  • Where they go when they need help?

These are fundamental questions in content marketing, so marketers could better help the lives of their audiences.

It’s the difference between articles that you want to share with your network and frustrating articles that you wished you had never read. It often happens to me, because I love to read new content that could help me grow.

I often get attracted by great headlines, but then I read the content and get so disappointed because I discovered that the writer was more focused on getting me to click but didn’t care as much about how to help me.

Write for today’s readers

Do you think we read content as our parents?

In a blog article from Anne R. Allen, she talked about how to write for a blog and the differences of a 20th-century writer and today.

Yes, 21th century readers are different.

We love to skim web content, and we don’t read everything, we search for sub-headlines, lists, and we sometimes go right to the bottom of the page to see the length of what we should read.

What should we content writers do?

They need to adapt their content to help people digest it. Using a specific format, depending on the kind of content you will write is hugely effective. When I think that my reader wants to get some information fast, Listicles are great. Do they need to get something done? I create a How to or Step By Step guide.

Following a format is about telling people that they can have expectations on how the content will be presented and not waste their already busy time.

Getting more views doesn’t mean that you are more effective

To be clear, getting more views is essential for any website, but…

Getting more viewers when they stay 10 seconds on average on your site is not that useful for the bottom-line of your business. It means that you are focusing more on increasing a number instead of helping people on what they want, so they leave as fast as they came.

Increasing views are good but increasing average time on site tells me that people find value in what you create. If they found value, they might want to share it, and if they share it, you increase your views, that’s the virtuous circle of content marketing.

I didn’t understand that on my previous blog.

There are tactics to make readers stay on your site like writing longer posts, or listicles and many other ways, but it’s all around helping people getting what they want from the content.

People who need complete information about a subject will love the fact that somebody took the time to create a blog post of 2000 words with everything they need to know from the topic.

From a business standpoint, getting more views doesn’t necessarily help the bottom-line. It’s way more useful to have content with a high conversion rate first, then trying to get more views, not the way around.

Give us something of value, and you’ll get more attention

A headline is a contract between you as the writer and your reader. We all know it should grab the attention of the reader very fast, but… 

It also tells them what they should expect. Creating a clickbait title will eventually push people to click, but the value given will make us want more.

Marketers know that giving an ebook or promising something in an email opt-in drives higher conversions. It’s because we only offer our attention to people who give something of value to us. 

Why we give our email, phone numbers, share on social media accounts?

We tell ourselves it’s worth it, believing that the other person will give us something of value in exchange for their attention.

Many content writers break this rule with low content value. Making incredible click baits, but leaving the reader with nothing of value. It creates something similar to the buyer’s remorse but as a reader.

Well, what is something of value means?

Everything that changes the mind of the reader is of value. In a course I followed online by Larry McEnerney, Director of the University of Chicago’s Writing Program, he said: Writing is not about communicating your ideas to your readers, writing is about changing the ideas of your readers.

The course most crucial part was when he talked about the importance to know your readers. To sum it up, if you don’t understand your readers, you can’t create an article of value. 

What people seek in reading a blog article, or any form of content is changing their mind so they can see the world clearly or do what they need to do.

Finding something that could change our mind is rewarding. It can be about your industry, specific domain knowledge, or it can be entertaining.

Writers should never forget that everything is about helping other people through understanding their audience.

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