Lure content: enticing but unwise
We recently had a client who referred to their glossy marketing content as lure content. Large enticing photos, minimal text, clear calls to action. Content designed to get people to bite so they can be reeled in. I have a big problem with the whole concept of lure content.
Oxford Dictionary defines lure as to “tempt (a person or animal) to do something or to go somewhere, especially by offering some form of reward.” The word tempt means to “Entice or try to entice (someone) to do something that they find attractive but know to be wrong or unwise.” So, lure content, by definition, entices people by offering them a reward for doing something they know is probably unwise. Lure content leaves people a bit uneasy — uncertain if they’re actually going to get their needs met on the other side of the click, but willing to take the risk to find out because…. well, because it just looks so good. And it could be just that easy.
We all know the obvious examples created by unscrupulous content farms. A headline like “The bizarre thing Leonardo DiCaprio does every time he walks onto a set” that leads to questionable content about every other Hollywood star, but no golden nugget about Leonardo. Still, you keep clicking through fading star after fading star, with slowly diminishing hope until finally you give up, ashamed of yourself for being duped. Again.
In most businesses, it’s not so obvious or malicious. If your content is intended to grab people’s attention, and entice them to take the next step without providing sufficient context or information to help them know whether or not what you’re offering even remotely useful to them, with the idea that you can persuade them or sell them down the line after they’ve invested their time and energy, then that’s lure content. And it’s just wrong. Yes, it may result in more leads or micro conversions or even, in some industries, sales. But it wastes people’s time and can damage your brand. It’s focused on your internal drivers without a thought given to the poor sap on the other side of your content. Any customers you do convert this way are less likely to be satisfied.
So, what’s discovery content?
Ok, let’s look at the word discover. Oxford defines it as to “find unexpectedly or during a search.” Right off the bat, it puts your audience first. They’re the ones taking the action (of finding), not you. They’re looking for something, either actively or unconsciously, to meet an existing need or interest.
When companies start thinking about how to create discovery content, the obvious starting place is to ask what your audience hopes to discover and where they do their discovering. What are their problems? Their needs? Their interests? Their motivations? Where do they hang out? What do they search for? How can we help them? It’s a world away from lure content that focuses on “What do we want to sell?” and “What do we want people to do?”
Discovery content provides enough context and information at each step to help people feel confident that they’re following a path that’s likely to get them something they’re interested in. If, at any point, they decide that it’s not the right fit for them after all, they don’t feel duped. They feel that they’ve been given the information they need to make an informed decision.
Check your content
Take a look at the content on your website or social media channels from your audience’s point of view. Are you offering enough context and information? Or are you hoping to entice people to take the next step without knowing all the details?
It’s up to you to decide to put your audience first. Choose to keep your potential customers informed and satisfied rather than luring them in and leaving them disappointed.