December 6, 2017 Stephanie Wagle

How Content Marketing Can Change Behavior

The 3 steps to creating content that engages, persuades, and ultimately, changes behavior.

We’re a bunch of endlessly curious word nerds who love to tell a good story backed up by research and a strong point of view.

But more to the point, we love to create content that changes behavior, because we’re suckers for outcomes that drive business metrics.

It’s not easy to do — people don’t exactly change their behavior easily. So when we’re faced with the challenge of creating a white paper, a video series, an infographic, or all of the above, we think about 3 things:

  1. The right story for the moment
  2. The best medium to tell the story
  3. Creating irresistibly shareable content

1. Creating the right story for the moment

Changing behavior is all about appealing to emotion — understanding our audience’s emotional triggers, and framing the content in a way that will resonate with their needs at that moment. This means knowing what content our audience has already consumed; where are they in the funnel, in the email nurture campaign, in a marketing and retargeting campaign? And then, from what we know of their actions to date, what do they need to know to be persuaded to buy? From there, it’s a matter of shaping the data into a compelling story that’s easy to skim, fun to consume, and memorable.

2. Choosing the right medium for the story
We’d love to say we have a preferred content medium — but since every year since 2006 has been the year of video content, I think we can just be straightforward and say, we simply choose the medium that will engage and persuade our target audience. Infographics are popular and shareable, especially among visual learners – as long as they are designed for learning and supported with the right data. Silent videos with simple closed captioning can be the perfect quick hit for a multi-tasking audience. And if the story is a long one, welp, we’re writing a white paper – a ruthlessly succinct and scannable white paper (with a shout-out to our designers who insist on fewer words, every time.)

3. Creating irresistibly shareable content
We’ve got our story, we know our audience, and we’ve got a medium. Now, how do we frame the content to make sharing it a no-brainer? From experience (and lots of research) we know people share things for a few reasons, but in the BtoB world, people usually share content that provokes thought, nourishes their network, or establishes them as thought leaders in their industry. In short: we position the content we create to make our audience feel and *look* smarter, like passionate, engaged experts in their field.

Changing behavior takes time
We get excited about creating content that changes behavior. Because we don’t just want someone to forward an infographic with the note, “Interesting, food for thought.” No, we want them to forward it to the decision-makers and say “READ THIS. We NEED this NOW.” All caps on purpose.

Changing behavior means building trust – and that takes time. We expect our audience to see our marketing campaigns and content offers multiple times before they convert. But even more, we plan our content development around the reasons to believe in a product, offering, or brand. You’ll hear us say, “It’s not features that sell product; it’s the benefits to the audience.” So we are always thinking: how does this content make the audience feel, how does it make their life better?

And then we write.

We’d love to help you with your next content marketing campaign. Contact us.



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