For effective content marketing you must know your audience

Defining Content Marketing Audience

There are three reasons why you publish and market your content: to improve your search engine rankings, to provide useful content to your target audience so that your business or your brand becomes familiar to them, or for both. Whether you want to improve your search engine rankings or increase brand awareness, you need to know what sort of information your target audience seeks (related to your business) and then publish and market that content.

Exactly how much time do you spend understanding your core audience before publishing content on your website or blog? I always ask this question from my clients before starting new projects. I need to understand for whom I’m writing. Sure, I’m writing for my client in terms of my business, but for whom am I actually writing? I’m writing for my client’s customers and clients.

In broad terms everybody knows who should be the target audience. For example, I am publishing content on my blog and website to attract people who would like to hire me as their content writer, preferably for content marketing purposes. I’m not selling content writing books. I’m not trying to earn ad revenue by publishing content writing and content marketing tutorials. No, I’m trying to attract people who would like to hire me as a content writer. This can be a big difference and I need to constantly keep it in mind while writing and marketing my own content.

I gained this experience while trying to promote my web design business (in the early 2000’s) through content marketing – at that time very few people talk about content marketing but I knew publishing content on other websites meant greater visibility for my own website. But a tiny mistake that I committed was that I ended up writing lots of content that drew only those people to my website who wanted to learn web design. It wasn’t attracting clients who would need a web designer.

In order to understand what your core audience wants, you first need to understand what core audience you want to draw. As I mentioned above, I didn’t want to draw people who just like to learn about content writing and content marketing. I wanted to draw people who would like to hire me as a content writer and content marketing consultant. This is a broad category. I can go deeper and deeper – maybe I would like to attract small businesses because they are easier to handle compared to big businesses. I’m comfortable writing about technology, so I may try to draw technology-based small businesses that are looking for a content writer and a content marketer. And so on.

It’s not just about knowing what your core audience wants, it’s also about constantly being aware of what sort of audience you want to attract.

This is also called creating a persona for your content marketing – what sort of person should come to your website? What should be his or her requirements? What is he or she looking for vis-à-vis your website?

In most of the cases even when you know what sort of people you must draw to your website in order to increase your business, it is difficult to know what such people look for. This is the question this Content Marketing Institute blog post answers by interviewing various content marketing experts. Although there are many pearls of wisdom shared by these experts, the advise I can most relate to is given by Rand Fishkin of Moz.

Talk, watch, think

I’m actually not a big fan of personas. But, I do love spending a lot of time with real customers, hearing their frustrations, talking to them about the industry and its challenges, seeing what speakers are talking about on stages, watching the blogosphere and social media to see what’s resonating and being discussed, and generally being part of our customers’ world. I also love doing the work myself – being my own customer and feeling the same pain our customers feel. Those experiences give me a much better sense of the field than a persona

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