Creating content for a business blog or website is a large part of an effective marketing strategy for businesses big and small. Rather than writing for the nameless masses, creating content for your audience’s specific wants and needs is critical. Through creating a focused strategy that accurately targets your readers, you can engage and connect with them on a meaningful level, and rise above the noise of “me too” content that your customers are tuning out.
Measuring reader engagement will be important for knowing if your content is truly resonating with your audience, an important first step for ultimately achieving ROI and creating lifelong customers.
Creating focused content requires deliberation and determination; strategy and method. The following 4 steps will guide you to focus your content in the right way. While the advice may seem high-level, none of these steps can be ignored if you’re going to win with content marketing.
Before you can begin to create content for a target audience, you have to know who your target audience is and what makes them tick. Your research should collect data about your target audience’s age, gender, education level, marital status, industry of employment, and socioeconomic status.
It’s also a good idea to discover things such as what your audience likes to do in their free time, what other companies and products they’re loyal to, religious and political views, what topics they like to read about, etc. The more you know about your target audience, the better.
While not all audience members will fall into the same categories (it’s unlikely that all of your readers will be women, married, with two children, with an income level of $80,000 - $100,000 per year, and with a Master’s degree), gathering information about your audience will help you to separate them into distinct groups with distinct needs, therefore giving you the knowledge you need to create more effective content.
As you start to gather information about your audience, there are a few critical questions that you should answer about your audience. Make sure that you identify their most pressing problems and desires, where they get their information from, who they trust, and how your business can give them what they want.
You can gather information about your audience using online tools, looking at census information (for a general overview of the location you’re marketing in), conducting interviews, or using marketing surveys that ask questions about your audience. Conducting audience research is a crucial step that must be taken before moving forward with creating content for a target audience. For more tips click here.
Your business is your business, and no one knows it better than you do. However, just because you know your business, you may not have spent a lot of time in recent years or months really taking the time to define and develop your brand. But, just as you conducted audience research to better target your audience, you also need to conduct brand research – or serious brand refinement – in order to create content that’s truly focused. Knowing your brand’s identity is a critical part of writing content that you audience can really connect with.
The first thing that you should think about when defining and refining your brand is your brand’s unique selling point. When you conducted audience research, you identified your audience’s needs, problems, and desires. Now, you need to identify why your brand is the definitive answer and solution to those needs, problems, and desires. Thinking about your product, your business goals, your brand’s story, your brand’s ideologies and purpose will all help you to identify your unique selling point.
Another way to think about your unique selling point is to think about your business’s niche. Because a niche is, by definition, focused and narrowed, creating a niche for yourself that’s based on your audience’s needs and wants can be a perfect way to identify your unique selling point and refine your brand.
Creating focused content isn’t just about the content itself; rather, it’s about everything that goes along with the content, ranging from the color of the page, the font of the text, the links you include, the language you use, and the style in which you write. If you change all of the above from post to post, you’ll confuse your readers, and stray from your initial intention of creating focused content.
Instead of varying from post to post, establish your style from the get go. Are you a business that uses bright colors, big eye-catching graphics, funky text, colloquial usages, and humor? Or, are you a business that identifies more with a neutral color scheme, sincere and focused language, straight lines, standard spelling, and more fact-based content?
Your style should be based on your audience’s needs and your brand definition. Creating a style guide for your business blog/content can be a very useful tool in establishing, and sticking to, your chosen style.
After you’ve conducted audience research, defined your brand, and established your style, you’re almost ready to start writing – but not without thorough planning, first.
First, decide how often you plan to post new content, and the place where it’s going to be posted. The frequency with which you post might be dependent upon your audience. For example, some readers will expect a new blog daily, while others are satisfied with bi-weekly posts.
Additionally, the forum on which your content is created matters, too. While most businesses will opt to have content posted to a blog or website, others might use newsletters, for example. Your business may choose to use a combination of different methods. Regardless of how often you choose to post or where you choose to post, make sure that you’re consistent in your efforts.
The next thing you should do is to create an editorial calendar, or a schedule of when you’re going to post and what type of content you want each post to focus on. For example, will your posts be educational, entertaining, persuasive, or a combination of all three? You can also use an editorial calendar to keep track of your writers, different departments, future content needs, and more.
Finally, start brainstorming topics based on all the information you’ve gathered up to this point. Remember, topics should fit within your niche, should meet audience needs, and should be consistent in writing style. Once you’ve chosen your topics, it’s time to start writing! Plan each post in advance, thinking about the headings, introduction, body, conclusion, and overall goals of each place of content created.
If you want to prevent readers from leaving your site, and build a long-term relationship with your readers, you need to start thinking about creating focused content for your business.
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Will Fleiss, Online Customer Acquisition Manager at Outbrain.
Will leads content marketing at Outbrain. He's been doing online marketing for 10+ years, spending time on the agency-side at BKV, Ogilvy, and Converseon and then moving on to startups Knewton and Startup Institute. He lives in NYC with his wife and their cavalier, Luna.
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