At a time when “alternative facts” are gaining more and more traction online, content marketing strategists, particularly bloggers, may want to rethink their use of logical appeals.
If there’s one thing that the last few years of the 2010s taught us, it’s that motivated reasoning is powerful. According to The Conversation, motivated reasoning “is what social scientists call the process of deciding what evidence to accept based on the conclusion one prefers.”
Your company blog is unlikely to be a source of deep controversy, but the point is that appealing to logic may not be as effective as we once thought.
While facts are still an important component of persuasive writing, it’s time to pay more attention to your audience’s emotions. According to Inc., “it’s pathos, which refers to emotional appeals, that moves listeners.”
In this article, we will cover seven crucial content creation tips for writing persuasive blog articles, social media posts and marketing emails.
Before we dive into content creation tips, let’s cover the basics of persuasive writing.
Greek philosopher Aristotle identified three persuasive strategies: logos, pathos and ethos. All three can be used to further arguments and can strengthen content marketing strategies.
According to Purdue University, “Logos or the appeal to reason relies on logic or reason.” An argument using logos may use research, data and statistics to guide the audience to logical conclusions.
Ethos, according to Purdue University, is when “the ethical appeal is based on the character, credibility, or reliability of the writer.” By building credibility, whether by acknowledging the writer’s experience or where their work is published, an audience will find a writer’s argument more persuasive.
Pathos is focused on emotion and, according to Purdue University, “appeals to an audience’s needs, values, and emotional sensibilities.” By evoking certain emotions, such as hope or anger, a writer can better motivate their audience to take a certain action.
Aristotle considered logos to be the superior mode of persuasion. However, he lived in a time without social media and a 24-hour news cycle. While logos is an important component of any persuasive argument, let’s focus on the power of pathos and ethos.
“Aristotle claimed that we are more likely to believe people who we perceive as trustworthy, or those we believe have an appropriate set of moral values,” Inc. explains. “This means if you can successfully convince an audience that you understand their concerns, they’ll be more sympathetic to your views.”
In an era where the truth of a situation is up for debate in the court of public opinion, your content marketing must appeal to your audience’s emotions. By developing a strong emotional appeal, you will also build credibility with your audience. If your brand is perceived as trustworthy, you can grow a loyal, ever-expanding audience.
Whether you’re blogging, writing quippy social media or compelling marketing emails, these content creation tips can help you write more persuasive copy.
How can pathos be used in content marketing? Intuit MintLife recommends “using emotional experiences to relate and convince people.”
If you’re blogging about a social issue or moment in pop culture, take your audience’s side. When writing marketing emails, don’t focus on the product or service you’re selling. Instead, play to your readers’ pain points and explain how your product can improve their lives. Show your audience you understand them and they will be more apt to trust you.
Remember, an emotional appeal will only succeed if you truly know your audience as well as their stance on the issue, event or phenomenon you’re writing about. Before you get started on content creation, Inc. suggests answering the following questions:
Sustainable fashion brand Reformation uses social media to show their young customer base that they sympathize with the climate anxiety Gen Z and Millennials experience. Recently, the brand shared an image of bare feet that read “Shoes suck.” The post, which went on to explain how most shoes contain “a ton of gross stuff,” reflects the anger young people feel about climate change and their frustration with politicians and corporations’ contribution to said concerns.
Reformation uses content marketing to show young people they are on their side, making it easier to win them over.
As mentioned above, your audience will likely see you as an authority figure if you can prove you understand them. However, there are other ways to use your content marketing strategy to establish your authority.
For starters, advertise your experience. What have you achieved in your career? According to Mashable, “If you’ve ever published a book or built a successful company, you are considered an authority. Developed an app? You are an expert.”
Think back on career milestones, your education and any certifications you’ve earned. When creating content for social media, highlight these achievements.
Aside from emotional appeals to climate anxiety, Reformation proves they can walk the walk on sustainability. When the company received a Climate Neutral certification, a label “earned by companies that offset and reduce all of their greenhouse gas emissions,” they celebrated on Instagram. Not only do their climate-conscious followers feel understood by the brand, they know Reformation is truly a leader in the space.
Mashable also suggests fostering ties with prominent organizations: “If any of your articles have been published in popular offline or online publications, display that content on your social media accounts.”
When it comes to blogging, consider including an author’s bio at the beginning or end of your article. TNW recommends using this space to elaborate on your experience in the industry, such as “your educational background, any awards that your business has received and other publications that you write for.” Consider these tactics when writing marketing emails, as well.
3. Use Data To Back Up Your Messaging
Your content marketing strategy can’t rely on just facts and logic to persuade your audience. However, using logic alongside pathos and ethos can strengthen your overall argument.
“Logical claims that are supported by data are much more persuasive compared to opinion pieces,” says TNW. “Including solid evidence supporting your claims will help to persuade the reader about the validity of your arguments.”
Reformation’s Instagram bio boasts, “Being naked is the #1 most sustainable option. We’re #2.” Such a bold statement requires some supporting evidence. That’s why they create content that highlights their sustainability measures. For example, a recent Instagram post featured a Reformation dress and the caption “The Immy Dress saves 5,421 gallons of water compared to average dresses.”
Whether you’re blogging, creating social media or writing marketing emails, help the reader draw logical conclusions and provide evidence to bolster your most important or most surprising claims.
To improve the credibility of your own brand, reference reputable, outside sources in your content marketing strategy. When writing a blog article, simply cite information from prominent publications, websites or other blogs that furthers your argument. According to TNW, “the content and opinions of those credible websites [will] improve the reliability of your article.”
Using outside sources to build your credibility is especially important when blogging. By adding outbound links to your content, you can also improve your website’s search engine ranking. Check out this blog post for more information on outbound links.
You should also consider leaning on your existing customers to build your credibility. According to Intuit MintLife, “Humans can be easily persuaded by following the actions of others.” Create content that highlights customer ratings, reviews or testimonials. This technique is called “social proof.”
“Social proof is the concept that people will follow the actions of the masses,” SproutSocial explains. “The idea is that since so many other people behave in a certain way, it must be the correct behavior.”
Kayla Itsines, co-founder of the personal workout app Sweat, frequently uses social proof to promote her products on social media. Recently, Itsines shared Instagram photos of a customer before and after she started her workout program. The now-toned customer also submitted a quote gushing about the effectiveness of Itsines’ products, which the influential trainer shared alongside the photo.
Use social proof in your content marketing strategy to build the credibility of your product, service or brand. Prospective customers will take comfort in knowing you earned the approval of other patrons and will be more persuaded to buy.
Buzzwords are overused and quickly lose their meaning. Jargon puts you at risk of pushing prospective customers away. Both can cloud your writing and distract from your message and call to action.
Many content marketers rely on buzzwords or jargon to impress their audience, but most times they are a failed attempt to build ethos. So, cut the jargon and get to the point. This will force you to write more original and more meaningful content.
If that sounds complicated, Hootsuite recommends “[writing] to an 8th grader.”
“Do the work. Say something real,” Hootsuite continues. “Practice on your kid, mom, or any outsider to tell your important and useful message.”
This content creation tip may sound lackluster, but trust us, it really works.
Comparing the copy on Reformation’s website to that of fitness wear brand Outdoor Voices, the value of straightforward language in content marketing is clear.
Reformation’s home page aims to assert their commitment to sustainability, however they use unclear language like “We’ll be climate positive by 2025” and “Don’t be so neutral.” Their competitor Outdoor Voices, on other hand, clearly states their purpose using claims like “Outdoor Voices is on a mission to get the world moving” and “That’s why we create high quality products for recreation.”
Outdoor Voices’ messaging is easy to understand and feels more transparent than Reformation’s. So, leave the jargon out of your content marketing strategy and aim for transparency. This way, users will be more likely to perceive you as trustworthy.
6. Use Scarcity To Push Users To Act
According to Intuit MintLife, “Scarcity is the idea that limited quantities, expiring time limits, and exclusive offers increase the value of a product.” Scarcity of a product, service or deal creates a sense of urgency to act.
Scarcity can be used in most any content marketing strategy, however, it’s particularly popular on e-commerce sites. Have you ever been browsing an item online and noticed it was marked as “last one left”? Other websites let users know how many other people are viewing a certain item. Tactics like these can lead to quicker conversions.
Scarcity can be applied to many different forms of content marketing, so don’t be afraid to experiment! When blogging, write about upcoming sales and make it clear they are for a limited time only. In social media ads, post about limited-edition products or services. In marketing emails, offer deals to those who sign up for an event or buy a product before a certain time and date.
This content creation tip may seem a little silly, but it’s important to project a warm and friendly persona whether you’re blogging, on social media or sending marketing emails. Intuit MintLife explains, “We’d much rather buy something from a friendly salesperson than a rude one. That’s because likable people are easier to talk to, relate to, and simply more enjoyable.”
So get out there and make some friends! If you’re not sure where to start, Mashable suggests talking “to people how you would interact with them at a cocktail party.” Keep things professional, but don’t be afraid to show off your charismatic side.
It’s also important to be helpful. Mashable states, “Give people things they want – For example, if you know somebody is looking for research studies on mobile app marketing, and you come across some information, share it with that person.”
Reformation also uses their social media to respond to customer service requests. Recently, the brand shared a photo of one of their dresses, to which a customer inquired when they would be restocking the piece in the comments. Reformation promptly replied “We’re working on it, join the waitlist for a restock alert.”
Reformation did more than simply reassure the user the dress would be back soon, they gave them useful information to act on.