If there’s one place to start to ensure content marketing success, it’s learning how to create awesome content for your target audience.
Content that ranks, gets traffic, converts, and contributes to the customer lifecycle.
So, instead of spending hours trying to craft your next viral blog post or marketing video, let’s focus on slow-and-steady strategic methods that can help you create content that truly speaks to your target audience. Here are 8 top tips to get you started:
1. Identify Your Precise Target Audience
This should be fairly obvious but it’s surprising how many marketers forget to think about their target readers.
Writing generalized content with the hope of attracting someone of interest from a broad audience is not a particularly good strategy – in other words, hope is not a strategy.
Instead, focus the content on a specific niche, or even better, a sub-niche of the niche. The more specialized and expert your content is, the more likely you will be ‘talking’ to the customers who really care about what you have to offer.
True, this will narrow down your wider reach as the content will only be appealing to a smaller group of interested readers. But hey, that’s the price to be paid for focusing on a highly-targeted audience. And it will pay off. According to McKinsey, 72% of consumers say that they expect brands they buy from to know their interests and see them as individuals. A powerful way to do that is by hyper-segmenting your audience and providing content they really want to read.
Another way to get really precise about your content is to tailor it according to where the customer is right now in the marketing funnel. Some customers have never heard of your brand or product before – they are ‘unaware’ – so the best content will speak to their pain point and let them know that you understand their needs. Once they are further down the funnel, you can deliver content that introduces or familiarizes them with your brand, and show them why you offer the perfect solution for their problem.
2. Identify Places Where Your Target Audiences Hang Out
Once you’ve identified the readers you want to consume your content, you need to start hanging around the places they frequent to better understand their needs.
Of course, being physically present is somewhat limiting, but there are real people behind the user data, and they frequent other places online besides your site, depending on their needs, interests, and preferences.
Thankfully, target audiences are often associated with specific keywords. You can find or connect with other like-minded people in most places just by leveraging those target keywords or personas.
Run searches on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media networks with your target keywords and key phrases. Find communities, groups, and conversations that are bubbling with activity, engagement, and value.
Your users may be on forums such as Reddit, Quora, or a combination of several. Even better, use a social listening tool like Mention to monitor trending discussions and topics around your niche or brand.
Beyond social media, your target audience has their favorite websites on the open web where they spend a lot of time too. News, entertainment, sports, and other editorial content sites are even getting higher preference among online users than social media. Seventy-five percent of online readers trust ads on editorial sites compared to 54% on social media. Targeting audiences with native ads on the open web is a smart strategy to get your landing pages and content seen by the right people.
3. Silently Monitor or Actively Participate in Discussions
Once you’ve discovered where your audiences are, how do you root out ideas for content creation?
After you’ve spent some time listening and paying attention, you’ll get a feel for the types of questions users ask, and the pain points or issues they are facing. Notice which content is most popular, generating interest, comments, shares, views, and likes.
Build a spreadsheet of interesting conversations to help you pinpoint relevant information and detect patterns in your audience’s sentiments. Track information such as:
- The question/ query asked
- The topic
- The target demographic or keyword it may hit
- The interest the question generated (low | medium | high | very high)
- The group/site where the question was asked
- Frequency – have you seen this or a similar question asked before
- Notes/ observations
- Upvotes/ Likes
Having this information in one place will help you quickly decipher what content is worth writing about.
Observe, participate, and build up a reputation by adding your expertise to relevant conversations and through targeted responses, surface even deeper layers of audience insights for repurposing.
4. Figure Out Exactly What the User Needs to Know
Now that you’ve observed a specific pattern of conversations taking place and questions being asked, you need to figure out exactly what the user needs.
For example, say your audience consists of small business marketers. They might be asking why their social media content is not getting enough reach. When you monitor what they are doing, you might see them posting links to their content but with little engagement.
So, realistically, they want to convert social media activity into traffic to their website.
The trick is in recognizing their problem is either deeper than what they are asking at face value, or they don’t know what “reach” means as a part of the overall marketing funnel.
From there, you can come up with a content strategy that explores the buyer journey: what it is, how it works, and the different stages it includes. This will educate your target audience about the concepts of reach and engagement, and how they can craft social media posts that will appeal more to their prospective customers. You could also create content around how to apply relevant metrics to optimize social media marketing.
The crux of writing awesome content is in developing a full-blown strategy around problem-solving for the customer, instead of writing about single issues in isolation.
5. Speak to Customers and Put Yourself in Their Shoes
There’s nothing as powerful as actually speaking to your customers.
You can surf the forums and social media for hours on end, but you’ll never glean as much information as you can get from a single phone call, Zoom, or face-to-face meeting.
By speaking to your customers, you can steer the conversation where necessary, so it will be much more focused and effective.
Start with existing and past clients. With these, you’ve got enough confidence to just give them a call or shoot them an email invite for a larger conversation about how things are going.
You could do this once a quarter or even just once a year. Think of it as an account management call – you might even get some return business, or better yet, referrals.
For new clients – make it a standard part of your procedure.
All you have to do is ask them, “What frustrates you the most in your line of work?” or “What is your biggest challenge or difficulty right now?”
You’ll uncover plenty of specific examples of problems encountered, including what they are afraid of and how they wish they could do better.
True, horror stories will emerge, ones you might not have discovered through online means. However, this is a good thing, providing you with the opportunity to address common issues that could have potentially plagued new users.
You’ll also be able to ask for particular use cases or stories of how your company or product has helped clients. Repurposing these interactions in customer success stories is a great way to create content that resonates with potential customers and shows them what you have to offer.
6. Research Competitors and Find What Content is Working for Them
It’s time to see what and who you are up against.
You’ll need to research the topic you’ve invested in even further to see what your competitors are doing and then learn how to do it better.
In the best-case scenario, your content needs to fully answer the customer’s query and provide added value, whether it be a fresh opinion, a new perspective, or an authoritative take on the subject. Without following E-E-A-T principles, you’re going to have a harder time ranking in the SERPs.
Use a tool like BuzzSumo or Ahrefs to grasp what content other companies are producing and how well they are ranking. Enter the web address of your competitors (especially the ones who rank ahead of you in search engines) and see which content is generating the most shares, backlinks, traffic, and more than likely, sales.
If these content topics are working for them, given the right treatment, it can work for you, too.
Be mindful of competing with sites at the same level or a bit higher than you. Trying to outrank the behemoths in your industry will only end in frustration.
7. Create Better Content Than Your Competitor
After deeply analyzing the content of your competitors, you’ll be able to identify gaps that they don’t cover, or don’t cover comprehensively enough. Provide ancillary content to theirs and develop fresh angles that audiences can’t find anywhere else.
By delivering superior content, you can captivate and engage your audience in ways that your rivals cannot. This entails comprehensive research, honing your unique voice, and providing valuable insights or entertainment that resonates deeply with your target audience.
Careful attention to quality, originality, and relevance allows you to stand out amidst the sea of content. It’s essential to adapt to evolving trends, use effective storytelling techniques, and leverage innovative formats to maintain a competitive edge. Ultimately, crafting better content establishes your brand as a trusted source and fosters enduring connections with your audience.
8. Do Lots of Outreach and Get Links to that Content
Once you’ve assembled your masterpieces of content, you’ll need to get it to rank.
You’ll also need to give the correct signals to search engines with plenty of authoritative incoming links.
Link building is still an essential pillar of getting content to rank well in search engines, so you’ll have to do lots of outreach and get links. Of course, successful outreach is a bit of a fine art as there are things you must not do, and some things you must do.
The advantage here is that the exceptional content you’ve created is going to make your outreach efforts much easier.