Content is only as effective as the audience it speaks to. For content to go viral and drive conversion rates and sales it needs to be directed at the right people. Once an audience has invested their time and built a connection with your content this effect will only extrapolate over time. Here’s how to ensure all the effort that’s put into content marketing yields profits.
Determine Your Audience
The first step to making awesome content is targeting the content. The most important aspect of inbound marketing is determining the target audience. This will provide a direction for all the content ideas that are brewing.
Before creating content, decide whom it’s meant to reach and be very specific. The audience should be as easy to describe as a close friend or family member. Here are some basic questions to kick-start the narrowing process:
· How old are they?
· What type of home do they live in?
· Where do they live?
· Are they single or married?
· What’s their typical income range?
· What are their top three favorite interests and hobbies?
· In their free time are they relaxing or trekking through the wilderness?
· What’s their first pet’s name or at least what kind of pet do they have?
· What’s their fashion style?
· Do they keep up with current events?
This list can extend well into the inconceivable abyss of the human mind, which is a good thing. The more we know about an audience, the more we know what interests them, inspires them, makes their life more enjoyable and, truly, why they should care about your content versus the rest.
Once all the information is gathered and questions answered, create a brief customer profile. Then ask one more question before moving on: Does the product still have an appeal to the target market? The answer must be a resounding yes.
Ensure the Topic is Specifically Geared to the Proper Audience
Once the target audience is confidently established creating content is much easier. Every time there is a proposal for new content simply evaluate its relevance by using the customer profile.
For example, let’s say the goal is to reach conservative urban-based millennials with disposable income to invest. It’s proposed to create content based off a new study published on the effectiveness of an S&P 500 Index Fund. While the topic has an overall connection, the customer profile can be used to determine if that investment follows their values. With the information it’s easy to determine if the audience would prefer to use their income in a higher risk higher reward investment or something fairly risk averse.
Even manipulating content for existing customers plays a large role. Consider a $50 vacuum and a $500 Roomba. They’re both vacuums but the information the owners of each one find valuable are highly distinct. An audience who does their own cleaning compared to an audience that has a robot do it for them won’t have the same interests. The benefits of cleaning versus the benefits of cleaning a certain way may seem trivial and highly specific, but it’s a paramount distinction in reader interest.
To stay true to the product and market, you should always use the customer profile as a standard of content value.
Style To Meet Style
The next step beyond honing in on the target audience is styling the content to their personalities and backgrounds. Tone, grammar and word selection play huge roles here.
The content should be distinct and recognizable. Depending on the reader, they may enjoy content that grips them with a relatable story or prefer a jarring fact to kick things off. The audience should feel it’s written for them. Basically it needs to appeal emotionally to readers in order for them to keep coming back for more.
There are a few general styles to follow, similar to holiday decorations. Some people may prefer a very simplistic traditional layout like white icicle lights. Others might like to see a few bold highlights without the fluff such as a few blow-up characters in the front yard. Finally the extravagant detailed décor that leaves no stone unturned appeals to the critical analytical mind that starves for detail.
How the content is consumed affects the structure and layout of articles as well. Using phones instead of computers and reading at home instead of on the subway are important factors to consider.
Evaluating and Aiming Content Reach
The target market has been well developed, the right content is appropriately styled and now comes spreading the content to make sure potential customers see it. Aside from the home site and search engines, social media has become the most prolific way to spread content.
Knowing the audience plays just as much of a role here. With the profile, determine which are the most appealing platforms, the times to share content and how to grab attention. Using visual and infographic content has been shown to be very effective. Visuals are making up a huge percentage of posts and are more likely to be shared by your target audience to your target audience. Social media also tracks the reach and spread of your content, even breaking down the type of people that engage in it. This makes an excellent tool for constantly evaluating if the content is reaching the right people and engaging them.
Content shouldn’t solely be judged by the amount of people who read it, but by who reads it. Reaching 5,000 readers that fit the target audience and will continue to click through content is much more valuable than 15,000 readers who only spend 20 seconds on a page before closing it.
To make the most of content, you should develop a specific target market, mold the topics and style it to their personality. Then spread the content through specific mediums in a thoughtful manner and watch the fruits of your labor grow.
By Raphael Konforti MS