Circle Insights

Getting the message: the art of communicating content that will connect with your audience

Anna Letouze

More than ever customers expect brands to speak to them, not just literally, but with content that they relate to. It’s not enough to have a phenomenal product, a killer strategy and an arsenal of digital tools – if the messaging is off, it could all be for nothing. Your content is the most direct route to connecting with your audience on an individual level, so using techniques including emotion and narrative, as well as making sure the message fits the channel, is vital to maximising every valuable opportunity.

Sorry, do I know you?

The key to on-target messaging is knowing your audience, and it all starts with the data. Once you’ve collected profile data and created meaningful segments through Tealium and CACI’s consumer segmentation tool, Acorn, you will have a deeper level understanding of who you’re talking to. You can personalise content effectively, far beyond first names, using their last interaction or other details to bring a conversation to life, effectively mimicking one-on-one communication. Knowing a customer inside out means you can signal the values that align with theirs or share their vision for a better life. And the more data captured, the more sophisticated and creative the personal touch can become.

Once upon a time…

Once you have an idea of your audience, how can you effectively capture and hold their attention? Evolved over thousands of years, storytelling is the most powerful tool you can use to compel the brain. It has the ability to communicate so much, including, by using the brand as the personality at the centre of the story, who the brand is. Good storytelling uses the power of language and, where possible, causes you to pause and reflect, making it more likely to stick in the memory.

But storytelling doesn’t need words, visual narratives are equally effective and better suited to social media. Videos can prompt a stronger emotional response and are more likely to be shared, whilst imagery can solidify feel and focus. User-generated content can help tell stories whilst having the added benefit of generating trust in the brand. Storytelling in this way isn’t a hard sell. It takes the approach of content marketing, that is, nudging behaviour through being thoughtful, relevant and engaging.

Once more with feeling

Humans are fuelled by emotion – we feel first and think second. Using language that triggers emotions we are hard-wired to respond to can be very effective. Love, fear, anger and guilt are all primitive drivers of behaviour. By knowing your audience, you can speak directly to their individual joys, fears and pain points, and ultimately inspire them to take action. For example, a car’s anti-lock braking system may help you have more control whilst driving, but if you say it helps keep your family safe, it taps into a desire to protect your loved ones and is more likely to resonate.

After the turmoil of Covid, most people feel the need for connection more than ever. The global pandemic has reminded us that we all crave the very human experience of bonding.

Using emotion to cultivate a sense of belonging can establish a connection which is more impactful and longer lasting. It goes beyond selling, it’s a way of bringing authenticity to a brand’s identity and helps the reader buy into the brand values and ethos.

Mixed messages – making the message work for the channel

Increasingly consumers take different pathways to making a purchase, having different touchpoints along the way. Whilst it’s important messaging is consistent, it doesn’t have to be adhered to rigidly. With an awareness of which audience uses each channel, the message can be creatively tailored using a tool such as Spirable to have the most impact on the target audience.

For example, Instagram is more likely to be used by Millennials or Generation Z, so messaging needs to align with their interests and needs, and the tone will be more assertive and dynamic. Email marketing provides an opportunity to pique interest through weaving more narrative, focusing on messaging that resonates with the demographic, whilst push notifications can use real-time content to engage and visuals to bring a message to life.

There’s no one quick fix to creating a message that connects with your audience. But a combination of personalisation, focus on tapping into an emotion and telling a story are more likely to make your reader sit up and take notice, and make sure your message doesn’t get lost in the noise.

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Anna Letouze