Have you ever wished that you could crawl inside your readers’ heads, see what they’re thinking, and provide them with the content that will wow them, excite them, and convert them to satisfied customers who appreciate everything your brand has to offer?
While there’s no way you can take a peek into the workings of every customer’s mind individually, there are a few basic principles of psychology that will help enhance your business blog and better reach your readers.
Ready to get started? It’s time to revisit a few lessons in psychology to understand exactly what your readers are thinking—and how to tailor your content accordingly.
Psychology Lesson #1: Learning Builds On Other Learning
The Theory of Prior Knowledge states that new learning can’t occur without also building on prior knowledge. It doesn’t mean that you can’t learn something new without the foundational principles that come before it (for example, your reader is perfectly capable of understanding that a drink is refreshing on a summer afternoon without comprehending the concepts of “cool” and “hot”), but it does mean that any prior knowledge about the subject will influence a reader’s views of the content.
Putting It Into Practice
When you write, you have to assume that a reader’s prior knowledge about the subject will inform and affect their reactions to your content. If you’re writing about a current event that’s hot news in your industry, you can’t pretend that other articles about the subject don’t exist, and further, you need to assume that your reader has seen and read at least some of them. If you’re taking a controversial stance, acknowledge the rebuttal, then support your opinion. If you’re introducing a new advancement in your field, don’t ignore your competitor; instead, address it head-on and showcase why yours is better.
You don’t necessarily want to assume that your reader has prior knowledge of the topic, but you definitely don’t want to ignore their frame of reference, either. Find that happy medium between over-explaining and ignoring the obvious, then address your reader from that perspective.
Psychology Lesson #2: The Power Of Feedback
Providing feedback leaves room for growth and allows higher levels of success. This is true both of students (or, in your case, readers) and of teachers (or writers).
Systematic feedback is the best way to create effective learning.
Putting It Into Practice
When was the last time you really looked at your blog metrics? Have you taken the time to see what type of content generates the most search engine hits? What about that content that brings in the most readers from your social media pages? What type of content is most likely to create conversions instead of just bringing in casual readers who are interested in what you have to say?
Page views, conversions, and commentary are all feedback from your readers. Listening to them, engaging with them, and making changes according to what they have to say—whether it’s through actual comments or based on what they’re reading—is the best way to improve your blog.
Feedback also applies to what you provide to your readers. Some of the best types of evergreen content are generated when you provide tutorials, how-to guides, and FAQ sections to your readers.
Simply providing the content, however, might not be enough. Make the time to provide feedback to your readers: answering their questions, troubleshooting when they have problems, and acknowledging their efforts. Not only will it increase their ability to effectively use your product or services, it will improve their opinion of your company—and that means they’ll be more likely to continue bringing their business to you.
Psychology Lesson #3: Social Context
Just like everything your readers learn from you is filtered through the lens of their prior knowledge, it’s also filtered through social context. Individuals read and react to content based on their community. An individual from Latin America might respond to a post in a very different way from one who is European, not because of a difference of race, but because of a unique social context.
Putting It Into Practice
Social context defines every aspect of your readers’ expectations. They aren’t able to read your work in a vacuum because that social context is all any of us know. This is why it’s especially critical to develop buyer personas and target audience profiles for your business.
The social context of your reader defines the behaviors that they consider normal, the ideals that they acknowledge as normal (regardless of whether or not they agree with them), and the way they interact with various social structures including their church, their business, and their families. Understanding your readers’ social context enables you to write specifically to them and convey you understand their experience and can tailor your content to their unique perspective.
Consider this. The way you would write to a sixty-year-old grandfather who has worked with his hands his entire life is very different from the way you would write to a thirty-year-old single woman in a fast-paced, technical professional career. They have different contexts for understanding the world. The examples you’d use, the information you’d provide for them and assume they already know, and the way you would explain concepts are all very different.
While the buyer personas for your target audience might not be so varied, you’ll discover that any time you can speak more specifically to your audience, you’re exponentially more likely to be able to make that connection.
Psychology Lesson #4: Freedom Of Choice vs. Paradox Of Choice
People are more likely to feel positively about something if they believe that they have a choice. Offering them options allows them to take ownership of the idea. Offering more than 3-6 choices, however, makes it too overwhelming—many people will then find it impossible to make a decision at all.
Putting It Into Practice
The goal of your blog is often to allow for a specific reaction, or conversion, in the audience: to get them to sign up for an email newsletter, to connect with you on social media, or to make a purchase from your company. When you can make your reader feel as though they have a choice in the matter, they can take ownership of that decision and feel a greater positive connection with your business. You might, for example, offer a comparison between three services that you offer, then invite your reader to choose the one that works best for them. If you sell similar products, a comparison of the three to six best will make it more likely that your audience will choose to buy from you, specifically.
Being aware of the Paradox of Choice issue, however, informs you that it’s critical to limit the choices for the reader, within reason. It can be as simple as offering only two to three social media accounts for them to follow or as complex as limiting your product comparison to three, four, or five instead of going for a full-on top ten list. By acknowledging the Paradox of Choice, you can provide choices to empower your readers without steering into disaster by making them feel paralyzed by overwhelming options.
An understanding of these four psychological principles won’t automatically transform your business blog. Putting them into practice, however, will allow you to gradually view improvements in your marketing campaigns as you build deeper understandings, and thus relationships, with your readers, get them the content they need to choose your business, and build a stronger, more valuable blog that is a key part of your marketing.