Know! Your! Audience!

Long gone are the days when online content was written for the benefit of Google alone. Packed with keywords and soullessly written simply to trick the bots into pushing the website up in search rankings, it didn’t make for enjoyable reading for real people. Thankfully, the online content of today is a whole different ball game. Original, engaging, juicy content that answers questions, enlightens or inspires online readers is the name of the game.

The key however, is delivering the right content to the right people. On these pages, you’ll find all kinds of advice on creating high quality travel content, from considering article length and structure, to using imagery to inspire your copy, to ensuring content works for mobile. Yet none of it matters if you don’t know who the content is for.

Knowing your audience is one of the foundation blocks of travel writing. It affects not just the subject matter, but the tone of voice, the language used, and even the style of the content. So read on to discover why you should be providing your content writing team with as much information about your target audience as you possibly can.

Why You Should Include Audience Demographics in Your Brief

When a brief comes into us for tantalising new travel content, one of the first things we look for is the audience demographics. Who are we writing this for? Is it a broad audience spanning multiple age groups and interest levels? Is it a very specific group within a defined age band, with very particular interests and style of travelling? It gives us our first clue as to how to approach the piece, long before we start digging into the content subject itself.

Knowing your audience is marketing 101, and travel writing is no exception. By providing your content writing team with this information – the more detailed the better – you are giving them the tools to engage your audience. There is no point in publishing superb travel copy to find that the results aren’t what you expected because the tone or subject wasn’t what your audience was looking for.

No doubt your approach to your business model will rely heavily on your target audience research, and content is no less crucial. What do you want to tell your customers? How will the content help them? Work with your writers to pinpoint the exact title and subject matter for your articles or blogs, and tell them why you need this writing.

Honing the Language and Tone of Voice to Suit your Audience

Without realising it, we adapt our tone of voice and language constantly in daily life. If you pick up the phone at work you will speak to the caller with a different language and tone of voice than you would with friends. From a formal, business-like tone to an informal, friendly one, our language choices affect the message we get across and familiarity we want to convey. The same goes for the written word. ‘Hey, how you doing?’ wouldn’t be well-received in a formal setting in daily life, and the same is true for the written word.

Consider the following two examples. Firstly, we have a bespoke travel agency offering small group tours to exotic destinations such as South America or India. They have an audience of educated travellers interested in deeper cultural experiences who are aged predominantly between 55 and 70, usually travel in couples and prefer and four-star experience. Our second example is for an adventure company in Australia who offer excursions such as swimming with dolphins, exploring the outback and bungee jumping. Their demographic is mostly single travellers or friendship couples from a variety of different countries, with a thirst for adventure and excitement, and an average age of 20 to 35. How would we address and engage these audiences?

With the first demographic we wouldn’t shy away from a more descriptive tone, using a vocabulary which speaks to the audience’s educated background. Friendly but not informal would work well here, and we would steer clear of modern slang words. Using words or phrases which transport the reader to the destination and allowing them to envision themselves enjoying the experiences is also a powerful tool in connecting with your audience.

With the second example we would opt for an informal and light-hearted tone, focusing on how the experiences and destinations will make the readers feel. Humour works well for this demographic, with short, punchy sentences, round-up style articles and plenty of imagery. We want to build a friendly rapport between the readers and the brand, but not bombard them with too much description.

How to Engage Your Readers Emotionally

You don’t want you readers simply clicking through your content, or worse, skimming past it. You want them to engage and feel something when they read it. An emotional response will trigger an action, or further engagement with your brand. So how do we achieve this with the tone and language we use?

Imagine telling our hypothetical cultural travellers ‘With the sun dipping dramatically behind the Andes, you take your first sip of chilled white wine, created with the fresh, plump grapes which spread before you in rows of immaculate vines.’ They can imagine themselves in that moment. It is the emotional connection you’re seeking.

Irrelevant of the content, this tone wouldn’t connect with the readers in our second example, although the same emotional connection is still the goal. A better way of addressing this audience might be, ‘Grab your Go Pro and take a deep breath, because Australia’s highest and most adrenaline-pumping bungee jump is going to leave more than a bit breathless’. This more informal, friendly, jovial and yet still inspiring approach will resonate better with that particular audience.

Ultimately, the more your travel writer knows about your target demographics, the better they will be able to hone the content to speak directly to them. Ensure that your brief includes as much information as you can gather, about their interest levels, their ages, their education, their likes and dislikes, and the places they like to visit. Let’s give the audience what they want.

Looking for more great travel content writing advice, covering everything from social media to briefs? Check out this section of the World Words blog. And for loads more helpful content writing tips, follow us on Twitter.

A version of this blog was first published in January 2020 on the World Words website. Read the original article.

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