Leading up to my wedding, I indulged in one of the most lavish things.
No, I didn’t order doves to be released after the ceremony or commission an intricate ice sculpture.
I hypnotically worked my way through half a tube of $45 lip gloss in just two weeks.
How did it happen?
Simple, subtle, persuasive content.
The power of instruction
I’m not a big makeup person, but before my wedding someone recommended a lip gloss for the big day.
I followed the recommendation, and the instructions that came with the cosmetic stated that in addition to using it as a lip gloss, you could also:
Use morning and night for 15 days for an intensive lip treatment.
With the heady excitement of a bride-to-be, I followed the instructions and then later realized that I was consuming the product much faster than I normally would because I had been told how to use it to get the best results.
Here’s what happened:
- I loved it.
- I wanted to use it more often.
- I raved about it to my friends.
While some might say the instructions are just a cheap ploy to get people to use a product more frequently than they normally would, I disagree.
If you’ve got a quality product, it’s in your best interest — and your customers’ best interests — to get people to try it and experience positive results.
Content marketing can help you do just that.
Since the lip gloss consumption of 2012, I’ve seen other businesses, from cereal brands to online marketing powerhouses, employ similar, subtle types of content that get you hooked on their offers.
Here are three content techniques you can use as well.
1. Content that tempts your readers
Native advertising can be a subtle sidestep away from promoting a product outright. When done properly, you offer valuable information and a clear call to action.
For example, Guinness’s famous adverts teach the reader about cheese and oysters in ways that paint delicious pictures.
The brand tempts you to partner your favorite nibble with Ireland’s famous tipple, and the information is helpful even if you choose not to drink Guinness.
Let’s also look at temptations you can put in place on your own digital media platform.
KISSmetrics provides analytics software for businesses. Many software providers point prospects directly towards a free trial, and the KISSmetrics home page does the same.
However, their smart content marketing strategy includes offering free guides that visitors can use even if they’re not ready to buy or start a free trial.
The guides are targeted towards the pain points of an ideal customer and also dovetail the features offered by the services they provide.
They have tips on color psychology to increase website conversions, how to know what metrics to track in your marketing, conversion optimization case studies, and more.
Each one deals with a specific challenge and shows prospects how to solve them — without making any purchase.
However, KISSmetrics knows that if it can help businesses tackle analytics problems, they can tempt a prospect with the promise of bigger results if the prospect signs up.
Once that temptation is there, promoting a trial or sales conversation is going to be much easier. It’s a clever way of using a low-resistance opt-in to start (and continue) a relationship with a prospect.
2. Content that makes readers hungry for more
We know that it’s easier and more cost-effective to get a current customer to buy again than it is to acquire new customers.
In the UK, the breakfast cereal brand Shredded Wheat had a long-running advertising campaign during the ’70s and ’80s that encouraged customers to eat more of the cereal than they typically would.
The advertising suggested that the cereal was so nourishing, it was impossible to eat three, full-size servings (a standard bowl contained two).
The company displayed celebrity athletes known for their fitness and endurance who were unable to finish a third serving of Shredded Wheat.
As a result, people felt dared to eat three bowls rather than the usual two.
But, of course, your methods have to be ethical. Using more of your product has to actually benefit your customers.
For example, Canva lets you make simple, cost-effective (often free) graphics you can use in your blog posts, presentations, or documents. I love using it for blog illustrations and, because I’m not a designer, I love their tips even more.
Occasionally they’ll send emails telling me how to do new and nifty designs with graphics and text.
The result? I’m encouraged to use the service more regularly, which means I’m more likely to purchase their images for my illustrations.
What’s great about Canva’s content is that their free tutorials are bite-size, specific, and easy to implement.
Instead of providing a tutorial that says “how to get the best from Canva,” they provide niche subjects, such as “how to make pictures look retro” or “how to use text and images effectively.”
You can quickly evaluate whether or not a tutorial is relevant to your needs.
If you can teach your customer specific ways to use your product, you will make them hungry for more information and more inclined to spend money with you.
3. Content that provides upfront results for your readers
With content marketing, people who consume your content should be able to get value and experience some results without having to purchase anything.
This can make certain businesses nervous because they feel customers will just use the free content without making a purchase. In my experience, that doesn’t tend to happen.
Yes, you will encounter people who consume your content and never make a purchase, but you will also attract more people who use your content, experience results, and subsequently:
- Trust you.
- View you as an authority.
- Become more interested in your paid offerings.
Copyblogger is a trendsetter for giving away free content that helps readers get results. The blog built an audience and then turned hundreds of thousands of readers into more than 115,000 unique customers.
Today, consumers demand more proof up front before they buy, and one way you can stand out and provide value is to give them content that produces results they can actually see.
Karen Knowler is another example. She’s one of the UK’s leading raw food coaches, and her free gift is a guide for trying a raw lifestyle for just for 24 hours.
But she also provides a content checklist for readers to assess how they feel before they try her menus and recipes. Then she suggests they fill out the same assessment after 24 hours.
When a potential customer experiences an improvement in how she feels, these concrete notes make a compelling case for sampling more menus and books.
Is there a way you can include a checklist or assessment for your readers that highlights the benefits of your free content?
Wouldn’t that be a persuasive way to encourage people to try your product or hire you?
Over to you …
How do you engage your audience with subtle content techniques?
Are you already using some of these tactics to attract, tempt, and delight your readers?
Do you think one type works better than the others for your specific niche?
Let’s continue the discussion over on LinkedIn.
Editor’s note: If you found this post useful, we recommend you also read Henneke Duistermaat’s article Focus on These 4 Steps to Harness the Addictive Power of Email (And Turn Your Traffic Into Business).
Flickr Creative Commons Image via Giulia van Pelt.