How Your Audience Influences Content

There’s a lot of talk about content marketing lately. Content is now king! Everyone is spewing out blog posts, articles, tweets, Instragram images, and Facebook posts in an unending stream of words. The trouble is, very few people seem to be tailoring that content to the audience they are trying to reach. Unfortunately for them, the audience can (and should) influence the content. I have even seen posts on Google Plus that were copy/pasted from Facebook (even down to asking for “likes”).

The trouble with that is that each audience is different. Aside from silly mistakes such as forgetting to substitute +1 for “like” savvy content marketers need to adjust their pitches and their messages to fit each specific audience.

Here’s why that matters

This is my friend Pat Ferdinandi. Her face is a bit swollen in these pictures because she fell (she’s OK, just bruised). When she fell, she broke her glasses and went to get new ones.

At the optometrist, she took two pictures, one with green glasses and one with red. Then she asked her friends on Facebook and on Google Plus which style they liked better (without telling them which pair she’d bought).

You might think that since the two groups were both connected to Pat that they would have quite a lot in common and share similar opinions.

Here’s the interesting part.

She got different answers.

Her friends on Google Plus liked the green glasses. Her followers on Facebook preferred the red ones.

Same question, two audiences, two different results.

What does this mean for marketing?

If you’re using social marketing (or any marketing), adjust your message, your style, and your content to fit your audience. Different groups will have different problems and concerns, and one size (message) might not be right for all.

This holds true both online and offline.

How your audience influences content

Let’s suppose Pat was selling tips on making videos (which she does), and she had two speaking engagements for audiences who wanted to learn more about creating videos.

The first one is at a community center in town, for talk to an audience of home computer users.  They want to learn the basics of making videos so that they can put videos on Youtube and send messages to their kids and grandkids. They’re not terribly computer savvy, and want easy, quick, solutions, that aren’t too technically oriented.

Change your message to fit your audience

The second event is a Chamber of Commerce meeting for small business owners. They want to know how to use videos for online classes, a business channel on Youtube, and promotional videos on their sites or blogs. This group has no interest (or time) in do-it-yourself; they’re more focused on marketing, presentation skills, and looking good on camera.

Even if Pat sells them the same information/help (how to make videos), she’d talk about different specific topics, and use different language (more tech-oriented for the businesses, less so for the grandmas) — changing her message to fit her audience.

Oh, and she bought the green ones.

(photos by Pat Ferdinandi; used with permission)

Email Writing Tips from Spammers

email spam

Image by Sean MacEntee via Flickr

We all hate spam.  It fills up our inboxes, it takes time to delete, and it’s irritating to plow through it all to get rid of it.

Surprisingly, you can learn quite a few email writing tips from a spammer.

They may be slimy, but they are good at marketing.  And you can adapt their strategies for much less nefarious purposes.

What are spammers good at?

Heart-pounding subject lines

They write subject lines that immediately grab your attention and elevate your pulse rate.   I recently got one purportedly from Paypal.  It said, “Receipt for your payment to Avira.”  I’d made no such payment.

It was a trick to get me to open the email.  They wanted me to login to Paypal, through their fake link. This would give the spammer my password information and likely enable them to clean out my account.

I didn’t do it, but it certainly got my attention! And getting attention is the first rule of marketing.

Relevant and immediate messages

The message was relevant and important, since I do have a Paypal account and certainly want to keep track of any payments.

It had a cleverly disguised call for action. The idea was to look at it, think payment?! What payment?! And then click the link in a panic to run and check. Because who wants unauthorized payments? Nobody.


The email looked trustworthy at first glance.  The “from” field said “Paypal.” The subject line was in the same format as legitimate emails from Paypal.  People know and trust Paypal. The spammers were borrowing Paypal’s familiarity and trustworthiness in order to steal.

I certainly don’t recommend that you steal or lie, but you can adapt these tactics for more respectable uses.

  • Use your subject line to get attention.
  • Send relevant messages.
  • Build up your authority
  • Develop your readers’ trust
  • Create a recognizable brand so readers will recognize your name and open your messages

How to Survive the Ezine Crash

Giant panda

Image via Wikipedia

Do you post your articles to Ezine Articles, Article Alley, or other similar sites?

If you’re not familiar with them, they are content sites that allow you to post articles on nearly any subject you choose.  Ezine in particular has standards in place for minimum levels of quality and all articles are reviewed before they go live on the site.

The idea is that you get more visibility, because the site gets lots of traffic.  In return, you can place a resource box at the end, with a link back to your own site.  In addition, readers are allowed to repost your articles on their own sites, as long as they keep all the links and author profile intact.  It’s supposed to help your work spread.

Here comes Google and “Panda”

The panda in the picture may look cute and cuddly, but its Google namesake is giving lots of webmasters and marketers headaches. Google’s Panda update just changed how their algorithm works.   They want unique content, not words that have been repeated all over the web.  This has hit Ezine (and sites like it) pretty hard.

Quantcast estimates that their traffic has dropped by nearly one million readers in the last month. Ouch!

Google’s algorithm can change at any time.  We can’t control it.  What we can do is take a different approach.

Go direct

Use other blogs to gain exposure.  Write guest posts on your topic.  Most bloggers will let you add a resource box (like ezine does) at the end of your article – with a link to your own site.  Don’t write a sales pitch.  Give them something useful.

Sign up for HARO and get free publicity by responding to reporters’ queries in  your area of expertise.  Or, post a query of your own.  This can also be a good source of blog post ideas.  Follow up with the people who answer your question (they might guest post, or even become clients).

Use social media such as Twitter or Facebook or SnapChat to build your own fan base. Posting in different places gives you more exposure and helps insulate you from any one algorithm or site’s idiosyncrasies.

Content Marketing Update

Content mills are hurting even more now than they were when I first wrote this. Some are trying to survive by breaking themselves into pieces with more focused, niche sites.

Content marketing is still an important part of your marketing message though.  Use guest posts, Google Plus, and other tools to expand your audience. Keep your own site clearly focused on your specific market, your specific solutions, and your audience’s needs.  Make your your site uniquely useful and interesting, and the visits will follow.

A word about duplicate content

Panda is still causing some confusion though. The duplicate content Google is worrying about isn’t what many people think it is. Google wants the most authoritative version, and they want to make sure you don’t duplicate the same information on your own site (for example selling red shoes and putting each size on a different page).

5 Simple Ways to Get Your Readers to Love You

Big Heart of Art - 1000 Visual Mashups

Image by qthomasbower via Flickr

When I first started writing this blog, my posts were rather dry.  My newsletter too.  I knew content marketing was important (though we didn’t really use that term then), so I was dutifully writing, without really thinking too much about it and without a real b2b content marketing strategy in mind.

Dull. dull dull. Not quite as bad as sharing what color socks I’d worn for the last five days, but pretty boring.

Since I was doing b2b marketing, I was trying too hard to be professional and formal instead of personable and likable.

Nobody wants to be lectured at, or read a dry recitation of marketing advice. It has to be entertaining. Heck, I didn’t even think to add pictures. Duh. So here are five b2b content marketing tips to make  your newsletters, posts, and email marketing more interesting. Your readers will love you for it.

Make your content marketing interesting

If you want people to read what you write, start with a great headline, like “The Worst Marketing Idea Ever” or “Ten Secrets to Successful Landing Pages.” Talk to them in a conversational way.  Ask some questions about what they are struggling with. Point out your own failings, and how you compensated for them.

Add illustrations to your posts

Don’t just write text, add photos or other images to your blog posts, newsletters (if appropriate) and social media posts.  People like looking at pictures, especially of other people. Use them to draw more attention to your site. There are lots of places to get free images for your blog.

Be personal

That doesn’t mean you have to go back to your sock colors, or write six paragraphs about the terrible headache you had two days ago. It just means sharing what you’re comfortable sharing. Showing that there’s a real person behind the curtain. Talk about dumb things you did, or setbacks, and then how you got over them; like writing boring posts about your socks.

Make connections

If they leave a comment, answer it. Respond to your emails. If someone new leaves a comment, email them and thank them. Go check out their blogs.  Leave them a comment or two. Comments can also be a great source of new blog post ideas.  Either use your own comments or refer back to other blogs or posts you’ve read or commented on.

Promote your readers

If they do something you think your other readers will like, showcase it.  I’ve started writing posts about my readers’ ebooks, videos, and newsletters. If you’ve got something you’d like to share, send me an email.

Have you tried any of these?  What are you doing to make connections?

P.S. And one simple way to confuse them – forget to edit the default post ID number so your title doesn’t show! Oy!

What Every Writer Needs to Know About Editing Copy

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