How to Make Sure Your Content, Tone and Vocabulary Engage Your Target Audience?

You’ve got a good business. Your network is strong and supportive. You want to reach more people, but when you put your thoughts out into the world they don’t seem to make much impression.

Whether it’s on your website, blogs, emails or social media, I’ve put together some steps to help you create content that gets people clicking on your offers, commenting on your posts or signing up for your newsletter. Messages that help you build your business.

Where do we start?

Your tone and vocabulary are how you talk to people, your content is what you talk about. You can see, then, why these three elements are essential.

Imagine you walk into a room, people are already talking, and you see a group you would like to catch up with. How you enter that conversation will make all the difference to how people react to you. Do you:
a) Walk up to the group, introduce yourself and start talking about you?
b) Stand on the edge of the group listening, waiting for an opportunity to start talking about you?
c) Join the group, enter their conversation, and give your perspective when it is relevant to the topic?

I hope you went for C…

When you’re putting content in the world, you’re hoping to be part of someone’s conversation. It may be a topic you know your audience is already asking about, or it may be something new that you want to tell them – in which case you’ll need to show them why they should be interested.

You see, it’s not about shouting at people – that won’t normally get you the kind of attention you want. It’s about engaging your audience with conversational writing that resonates. So, here’s what we’ll do…

Understand Your Target Audience

This is where we always start, I know. Think about who you want to talk to and what is on their mind. Who are you helping with this post? It’s only when you understand who you are talking to and what they’re thinking about that you can create relevant content that will engage them.

  • Define your audience
    I’ve written about who you are helping in this post – Why it’s important to focus on your reader. By understanding what differentiates your offering and who needs that, you can define your target audience. Hopefully, you’re already working with people who fit in this category – this will really help as you can use their experiences to guide your message.
  • Do your research
    Whether you have a chat with your existing clients or engage in thorough market research, exploring the wants and needs of the people you want to work with is key to creating messages that work.

Consider Your Tone

How do you want to come across?

Your tone of voice will lead your reader to feel interested, excited, amused or bored. I looked at this in my recent post 6 Examples of Effective Brand Voice and How to Establish Your Own, a blog that looks at how your tone of voice reflects your brand personality.

Of course, what you say is important, but you mustn’t neglect how you say it.

  • What’s right for your audience?
    Thinking about your target audience and what they need right now, how will you approach them? Do they need support and guidance, authority and confidence, or to be surprised and entertained?
  • What’s right for your brand?
    Your brand needs to create a feeling that reflects the experience people have working with you. If the way you work is structured and defined, your message shouldn’t be woolly. If the way you work is flexible and customer-focused, your communication should reflect that.

Choose the Right Vocabulary

Just like with your tone, there are things to consider about the actual words you use too. Again, consider your language from the perspective of your audience – how do they talk about their situation? And how your language reflects your brand – are you irreverent? calm? formal?

  • Avoid jargon?
    The advice when communicating is often to keep it simple, but simple is different for different people. If your audience is experts, you don’t need to speak to them like 10-year-olds. Industry-specific terms are alright when you’re talking to those who are established in the industry. While you don’t want to make your content difficult for people to engage with, you also don’t want them rejecting it on the assumption it’s too basic. Use the language your people are using – if that’s jargon, swearing, or emoji strings, they’ll be happy for you to do that too.
  • Effective language
    Choose powerful words that evoke emotion, speaking to your audience in their space with their concerns. Choose active language rather than passive – this essentially means that ‘things’ don’t just happen – someone took action.
    Ex 1. The store is now open… passive…meh.
    Ex 2. We’ve opened our new flagship store… active…more interesting.
    (You can find out how zombies can help you identify passive language here on adweek.com.)
    Finally, your language should focus on the reader with ‘You’ appearing in your content twice as often as ‘I’ or ‘we’. Let’s go back to…
    Ex 3. You can see for yourself at the new flagship store with a free coffee on us!

Create Engaging Content

All of this work will only take you so far – now you need to write about things that your people are interested in and write in a way that engages them.

  • What to talk about…
    Think about the experiences of your reader and what conversations they are having, how can you usefully be part of that? This post – 4 Steps to Show Them What You Know – looks at the kinds of things your audience might want to hear about and how you can present that, maybe keeping it simple in a list or developing empathy with storytelling.
  • Encouraging engagement
    There are also specific elements of your piece which can increase its impact.
    The Headline – needs to tell someone quickly why they want to read on.
    The Introduction – takes this further and explains why you’re the expert.
    The Call-To-Action – tells your reader what to do next, how to engage further.

Test and Review

It can be frustrating to create content and feel it’s not achieving what you’d like, but that may just be a feeling.

  • Analyse your engagement
    Whether that’s on your website, social media or mailing list. As long as you’re publishing consistently, you can use the data to see what is popular and even ask questions to understand what people are looking for.
  • Adjust and test
    You might test different formats/ headlines/ timings. Following the data and insights you have, make changes and see how that affects engagement. A/B testing can be really useful – changing one element of the piece and putting both versions out to see which performs better.

Reaching your people – effectively

Hopefully this post will have shown you why tone, vocabulary and interesting content are essential to reach your target audience. However frustrating it can be to put time into work that doesn’t seem to do anything, it’s important to keep going.

A solid content strategy, clear brand voice, and consistency in your creation will help your people find you and – more importantly – recognise how you can help them.

If this is something you’re struggling with, let’s have a chat – free discovery call.