Like attracts like.
Get to know this phrase. It’s at the core of everything that we do, everything we are and everything we ever will be.
For centuries, our most revered historical figures (ranging from Buddha, Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King Jr, to Winston Churchill and even those men and women in the Bible) have echoed similar words. There’s plenty of quotes here.
If you apply the law of attraction to your content marketing efforts, in everything you do (copywriting, outreach, social strategy, content partnerships, etc.), then you can expect to receive “what you put out” in return. For marketers, this will help you achieve your bottom line in more ways than you can count, just as your body will benefit in more ways than you can measure from a healthy lifestyle. Connect your message with positive emotions, and you will receive positive reactions in return.
Put into the context of your website and online reputation, it explains what type of customers you attract. Do you attract happy customers? Frustrated customers? Inspired customers? Uninspired customers?
The Law of Attraction at Work in Content Marketing
Let’s put this understanding into the context of content marketing. As Kelsey Libert (of Fractl) explains in her post titled, “Research: The Emotions that Make Marketing Campaigns Go Viral,” the Dove brand garnered nearly 30 million views in 10 days and 15,000 YouTube subscribers in two months from their Real Beauty Sketches campaign by connecting with their audience on a positive and personal level. How did they do it? As Kelsey points out in her article, detailing the Dove campaign example:
“The goal is to find the link to an issue that plagues your consumers and relates directly or even tangentially to your brand or product. At the same time, you must make sure that the topic you choose also positively reflects the position of your brand.” – Kelsey Libert
Does your content marketing strategy focus on topics that also positively reflect the position of your brand? Hmm. Think about that for a moment.
In her Mozinar titled, “The Emotional Drivers of Highly Successful Viral Content,” Kristin Tynski offers internal research (from the same digital marketing agency, Fractl) into “the emotional activators that are at the heart of viral content.” Knowing how to tap into your customer’s emotions will empower your campaigns with the fuel it needs to attract the buyers you want.
Ask yourself, “What is the perceived motive within my content?” Whether you are attempting to educate your customers, or put down a competitor, your readers will pick up on this. Are you building trust and attracting other positive emotions, or disgust and attracting other negative emotions?
Whoever it is that you attract, search engines are also taking notice in more ways than you might realize. Residual effects of customer experience such as “CTR and dwell time,” social signals (direct impact is debatable), links and so much more are having a long-term impact on where you rank in search engines.
Search engines aside, quality content experiences create immediate trust, interest and credibility which lead to so many of the wonderful things that your online business is after: conversations with friends and family, remembering your brand in the future when a buying decision is ready to be made, spending more time on your website investigating your brand, contacting you, etc. This is the power of successful content marketing.
But I Heard Content Marketing Doesn’t Work?
For various reasons, but especially the difficulty in building links the (ahem) “old fashioned way,” the focus on content marketing has increased exponentially in recent years. However, a recent report from the Content Marketing Institute suggest that only 23 percent of companies are tracking a (perceived) successful ROI from B2C content marketing efforts. The report is even more grim for B2B content marketers.
So, why would an endeavor with such a (perceived) low success rate continue to gain so much momentum, budget and effort? Why not just focus all of those efforts on paid search campaigns with clear linear ROI paths that are easily measurable (and explainable) to company executives?
Perhaps there’s something beneficial that we can’t quite put our finger on. Maybe this endeavor, despite not being measurable in a linear manner, is having more impact than we can quantify in a spreadsheet to our friends in the C-suite (or clients). Take this 2014 study from Consumer Barometer with Google, showing that 52% of purchasers conducted research online prior to making the purchase.
With all of this research that customers are performing prior to making purchases, maybe our content marketing efforts are acting as catalysts that positively impact the conversion path of other channels in the customer’s purchasing journey in exponential and sometimes immeasurable fashion. Could that be what’s happening?
I’m here to tell you that this is exactly what is happening. Marketing is all about connections, and it’s a reflection of society and how we influence each other. It’s a lot like life, and there’s a secret to life: like attracts like. You may have heard of it called the “law of attraction.” We’re going to spin it as the Content Marketing Law of Attraction for the purpose of understanding how content marketing really works.
What is the Law of Attraction?
According to Wikipedia’s contributing editors (people like you):
“The law of attraction is the name given to the belief that “like attracts like” and that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts, one can bring about positive or negative results.” (source)
To take it a step further, Napoleon Hill states that “thoughts are things.” Taking this very literally, it means that human thoughts and intentions are energy, and energy (as we know) is what comprises mass. So, what you think is a physical part of the universe. Hmm…how could that translate to someone doing research and looking for consumer opinions?
Now, let’s get even more advanced in our understanding of how the universe works. Studies have proven that human thoughts and intentions are capable of being transmitted (and received) across great distances (source). The very act of our “being” in the world as observers affects whether the observed manifests as a wave or a particle (source).
Remember, thoughts are things. All “things” seem to be made up of smaller things until you get down to sub-quantum scales, at which point things become possibilities. And the universe is full of them. Thus, it’s plausible to suggest that the transmission of human thoughts and feelings knows no bounds. It also further proves how incredibly interconnected the universe is.
Put into the context of marketing, it becomes clear that both the quantity and quality of messages that marketers put out into the universe will have a clear impact on the “connections” made with other human beings in our universe at some point in time, present or future (and maybe even past, if we want to expand our accepted understanding of the time space continuum in that past, present and future are all relatively the same thing as suggested by Albert Einstein and Buddhism).
So, back to marketing. Your message is a thing. You will attract what you put out (and no, we’re not talking about dating). When you put out high quality, you will attract high quality. When you put out low quality, you will attract low quality, or nothing at all…or maybe some bad press (which can be a good thing, but I digress). Positively affirming words and phrases (“glass is half full” approach) will help you attract positively interested customers. Just like the Dove campaign referenced earlier, you can build your audience by connecting with potential customers on a positive emotional level.
Being Aware of the Content Marketing Law of Attraction
Let’s put this into context of a recent example that I experienced just over the holidays. I was walking around the neighborhood with my sister-in-law (she works for Google, yay!) who was offering baby advice. She had signed up for a “new mom” newsletter of sorts, and received advice about replacing baby mattress covers to help prevent newborns from coming into contact with germs unnecessarily. She did not buy directly at that moment, but she told her family member (me) about it and I Googled the website, signed up for the newsletter and ready-and-waiting to get advice for our own newborn (plus Lucie got a link in this article for giving awesome advice, yay!).
Who knows how she found out about the newsletter in the first place, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that this website has the newsletter and is putting out great advice that people find valuable enough to share with their family members (the golden inner circle of trust), which creates new connections, which can create exponentially more new connections. How do you measure that? Is it not valuable if you cannot?
Situations like these happen every day, and you will start to notice them more and more as you become aware of this central truth to both marketing and life in general. It will make you a better marketer, and improve your life in many other (seemingly immeasurable) ways.
Using the Content Marketing Law of Attraction
Now that we’re aware of it, let’s talk about how to harness this new profound secret to marketing, but we need to stop talking (and thinking) about ourselves. It all starts with your target audience–who you want to ATTRACT.
Before we get into details, take a look at your website experience. Is it focused on you or your customers? If your navigation, main pages, blog posts and utility pages are focused on (the benefits to) your target customer, then you’re ahead of the game. If you aren’t quite sure, then there’s a good chance that your website experience is focused on the wrong person. Here’s how we change that.
Create Audience Profiles/Personas
In order to attract the right customers for you business, you need to identify and understand them. You do this by creating audience profiles (aka personas). Mike King wrote an authoritative article on this topic on the Moz blog, and we have a great article here that explains how we create Audience Profiles for our clients. It all starts with a human understanding of the audience as people with problems, needs, desires, goals and lives of their own. This is your first step. Don’t overlook it.
Assess the Quality of Your Customer Experience
Before we go any further on your side of the street, let’s ensure you’re putting your best foot forward. Do you have quality control issues that need to be resolved? Have customer service experience issues that are continuing to happen? Can you confidently show your website design to your peers and receive mostly positive feedback? If not, then you need to fix these now before any of the following steps can work to their full potential.
Align Your Content Needs with Customer Needs
At a minimum, you need as much content for your website as is needed to answer all of your target customers’ questions (as suggested by Jay Baer in this article). This can be done in the form of foundational content (which is closely aligned to your products/services) or strategic content (which can be directly or indirectly related to your products/services, but focused on educating and nurturing with much less of a sales focus). If you have an eCommerce site, I offer loads of eCommerce content strategy advice here. Let’s dive into each of these types of content a bit more.
Cover Your Bases with Foundational Content. It’s important to understand the difference between foundational content and strategic content at this point. Foundational content is the type of content that later buying-cycle customers are interested–content that is about specific products and services that you offer (category pages, product pages, service pages, blog posts offering reviews of products, etc.).
We should really go further, however, and realize that there might not be a limit (although marginal returns) since you always have the ability to answer questions that your customers don’t have yet, and the ability to generate interest in something that he/she doesn’t yet realize could positively benefit him or her by means of your product or service.
Men’s Wearhouse is great at this. They prominently feature their famous slogan, “We Guarantee It: You’re Going to Like the Way You Look” on their About page.
One of our clients, CB World, sells CB Radios. We’ve been helping them improve their category pages by making the pages more descriptive (adding helpful, unique content to introduce the products) and also refer earlier-buying cycle customers to helpful articles that can help them make the best product decision. Here is a great example from their Mobile CB Radios page:
Inspire & Attract with Strategic Content. Strategic content, on the other hand, targets earlier buying-cycle customers who are either less educated about your products and services or perhaps not even yet aware that you (or your products or services) exist. Both kinds of content create connections with your target audience, but strategic content is more likely to inspire social sharing (in the real/physical world), and THAT is what’s so hard to measure, but so valuable to building your brand online.
Overall, your goal needs to be translating your audience’s needs (either realized or unrealized) into a vision of “solutions” that will help them achieve their goals. As Ben Hunt suggests in his book, Convert!, you need to sell the benefits, specifically the feeling that the customer is seeking. We are emotional beings, and emotions drive our actions. It’s not that the customer wants to buy the product or service, but rather that the customer is trying to solve a problem in some way and achieve a certain feeling that he/she desires.
One of our clients produced content about staying positive, happy and “merry” when moving during the holiday season. The article, titled “How to Stay ‘Merry’ When Moving Around the Holidays,” was published just before Christmas, so they are prepared to educate and nurture their target audience for years to come through seasonal promotion of this article during the holiday season. This article will help them attract the type of customer they want for many years in the future.
Have a Clear Call to Action Tailored to the User’s Goal
Attracting is one thing, but converting is the name of the game. Take dating for example. You might attract twenty dates in a weekend on Tinder, but who are you attracting? In marketing terms, were those “qualified leads?” It depends on your success metric, I suppose. If you’re looking for true love, probably not. The point is, you get out of it what you put into it and if you haven’t put in the effort to know what your goal is in the first place, don’t expect those you attract to figure it out for themselves. It would make just as much sense for a single guy to attract twenty new dates in a weekend (without finding true love) as it would for a company to attract 1,000 new potential customers to its website without actually converting any of them.
Each page should have a goal, and it does not always have to be your bottom line. In fact, it shouldn’t. Just as your visitors will be in different stages of their purchasing journey, your content should cater to these different stages, and have different goals. What should each goal be? To put it simply, the goal should just be to nudge the visitor to the next step in their journey.
Once that is understood, we can begin to identify specific types of goals that different types of users will have, and align them with different types of content and goals that your business has.
Sometimes, the goal might need to simply be acquiring an email address for nurturing via your email marketing campaigns, and converting this visitor to a customer when the time is right for him or her. One of our clients, Brandwise, collects email addresses from target customers who are in an investigative stage when viewing their sale agency software pages, such as the Brandwise Play page.
Respect the Perspectives
From your customer’s perspective, they are navigating through a process involving discovery, excitement, sharing, validating, purchasing, experiencing, etc. They might already be aware of your product or service due to any number of past interactions with your brand (either direct or indirect).
However, they may not yet be aware of your product and need to go through their own cycle of validation stages in order to convince themselves that they should purchase your product or service. This can come in many forms, such as suggestions from friends, family (and strangers), referral links from bloggers, etc. Speaking of purchases…
From your perspective, you want to drive sales and make money. We know that, and you should absolutely optimize and link to your foundational content pages wherever relevant to help your visitors discover and take that leap to a purchase decision (should they be ready). For the majority of people visiting your site who are aren’t ready to buy your product yet, however, you need to decide how you wish to nurture and further communicate with this target audience. Here are just a few ways that they will most likely engage with your brand online.
- Social – Social shares of compelling content can lead to recurring social shares (retweets, shares of a Facebook post, etc.) making the “message” in your content discoverable to more people, and more people and more people. The resulting customer could very well be 10 degrees away from the original social share, and it’s important to realize that. Very hard to measure.
- Email – Often times, people will email others (or themselves) compelling content that they find on the web (especially via mobile devices), which helps your content get into the golden circle of trust (1:1 recommendations). Not easy at all to track.
- IM conversations – Content is shared daily between colleagues and friends over instant messaging (Google Chat, AIM, etc.) which result in discoverability that is very difficult to track.
- Links – Bloggers and web publishers who link to your content make it discoverable to others who might be interested in your product or service, which can help to increase rankings, offer new relationship opportunities, allow for additional links to be acquired from other bloggers/web publishers finding that link, etc. Beyond the initially acquired link, this is nearly impossible to track.
- Interconnectedness of all of these methods – Someone might share content socially, which passes your message onto their followers, who might be compelled to email it to someone who happens to be a blogger who gives you a link that someone else finds and sends to another friend/colleague via IM who is in need of your product or service, and perhaps a lead or sale is then generated. There is no way to predict how these multi-connections will be made, but simply being aware of the fact that this is how these connections are made is enough to respect the probability.
These are just some of the touch points that you can have (directly or indirectly) with customers. We didn’t even mention the neighborhood walks, poolside conversations, tennis court consultations, barstool confessions or the myriad other ways that we humans interact.
Consider those ways where you (and your customer) are (or aren’t) yet connecting. Consider how your customers are talking about you, especially after they visit your website or become a customer. That’s where the real conversations are, where the trust is built; where the magic in your brand happens. All of this leads to future sales, whether from this person or any other possible degree of separation.
Our online and offline world has become more interconnected than we can fathom. Understanding how the law of attraction works will help us understand the importance of all the various touch points our brands have with our customers (past, present and future). The content that our brands put out will largely determine our success, and quality must be the focus. Every foundational content page, strategic content marketing piece, social media update, phone call and email with our current or prospective customers has an impact on our business. Do it well and you’ll reap the rewards. They may not come right away, but the universe will be at work making the connections to bring you customers. Consistent action is required.