Take Aim: Three Steps to Better Content Targeting
When you try to be heard by everyone, you’re heard by no one. It’s an age-old adage that stresses the importance of a defined target audience as part of an effective content marketing strategy. While well-crafted messaging is critical to the success of any campaign, it won’t drive conversions alone.
Truly impactful content must strategically align with your personas. In other words, content must address the needs of your specific audience, or it risks falling flat. You can take three steps to identify the people most likely to engage with your company, become customers, then become advocates — and influence others to do the same.
Remember, people love talking about themselves, so listen!
You have access to analytical and business intelligence tools that can help you get to know your customers, but are you using them to your advantage? In addition to an abundance of high-end tools available on the market, some great free choices can be used in tandem with more sophisticated software to help you leverage customer insights, track prospects, and analyze data. Some options include:
Once you’ve gathered comprehensive demographic data about your target customer’s communication preferences, buying habits, pain points, fears, and aspirations, you can begin to develop customer personas.
Be sure to include as much detailed information in each persona as possible, as the end goal is to assemble a fictionalized character that represents a specific market segment related to your products and services. Remember that when it comes to pain points, fears, and aspirations, the best way to learn about them is to ask. This enables you to effectively align your offerings with customer needs.
Quick ways to uncover pain points
- Conduct online surveys that ask specific questions about prospects’ and customers’ experiences with your brand
- Get your sales team involved by asking them to note why a prospect purchased a product or turned it down
- Read reviews to see what your customers are saying about you and your competitors in relation to their problems
- Converse with customers and prospects through social media
Once the above steps are completed, you can build out your content strategy and begin to identify the best content medium for your customer base. Start by testing different mediums and evolving your strategy based on what is and isn’t resonating with your audience. A good rule of thumb is to follow the data and decide which option is most practical and sustainable for your business.
Communicate solutions first
When it finally comes time to put pen to paper, communicate the ideas worth listening to (i.e., those that solve your customers’ specific problems) in ways your customers want to hear them. It can be tempting to want to start with clever words and phrases, but if you don’t take the time to first answer customer questions and provide solutions, then you’ve failed at one of the essential elements of content marketing.
Some features of solution-oriented content for a specific target audience include:
- Straightforward vocabulary
- Educational ideas presented from an original point of view
- Logically structured sentences that reflect the order in which clients approach problems
- Actionable advice
In communicating solutions, use several relevant types of content (i.e., blog posts, emails, eBooks, case studies, etc.) at different phases of the buyer’s journey. Next, run an analysis to determine which types of content generate the most unique views. Ask yourself:
- Did the content change minds? If so, how?
- Who was most affected?
- Did it drive sales, leads, or new followers?
- What made people want to connect?
- Did it leave readers with any additional questions?
The key to using content to connect to the right audience is remembering that content today should be user-generated. If you listen, the prospects most likely to become customers are telling you their pain points and what questions they want answered. The target audience drives the content, pointing you in the direction your content creation efforts need to go. It’s your job to craft content in a way that resonates with them.
Repeat the process to assess the results
Alas! You’ve determined your audience, crafted messaging that aligns with their needs and desires, and launched it across the best medium for them. Now comes the process of repeating key steps in the content development cycle to assess results and make adjustments in necessary areas.
- Be present where your audience hangs out. Just because you documented your audience’s needs the first time doesn’t mean they won’t change. Social listening platforms can help you monitor mentions of your products/services, company, and competitors. You can then engage with those mentions to attract and retain the right audience.
- Join a free LinkedIn group. LinkedIn is valuable for creating an ongoing dialogue between B2B businesses and their customers. Join a free group within LinkedIn to talk specifically about your products/services, where an audience of people you know will find the information relevant and necessary.
- Look for keywords your audience uses regularly. As customer preferences change, so do the keywords they use to describe their needs or problems. Use a tool like the Google Ads Keyword Planner to see how competitive your words are and to help you think like your audience.
- Communicate consistently. Be consistent in how you talk about solutions to build trust and credibility. Use hashtags and digital ads when possible to boost your social media posts’ organic reach and stay connected to the conversations where your products/services are meaningful.
Beyond words: Aligning content to personas is everything
There will always be people who can benefit from your company’s products or services, but clever words aren’t enough to compel action. Conversions are always the result of content that aligns strategically with personas. Once you understand your customer’s needs at each step of their journey, you can create relevant, optimized content that offers solutions to their challenges. Proper content targeting may take practice, but with the right discovery, communication, and assessment processes in place, you can reach the audience that generates the highest potential for revenue growth.
Learn more about how to create content that converts or see how to use content to leverage the customer-led marketing experience in the eBook Change Agents: The Radical Role of Today’s CMO.