An important part of content marketing is identifying and understanding your audience. If part of your content marketing strategy includes ‘educational’ programming through blog posts, white papers and guides, knowing what your audience wants is critical to your long-term success.
Finding and defining your audience doesn’t need to be difficult, if you know where to look and what questions to ask. Effective online marketing is a combination of content, social media, and search, which is where you should focus. As for questions, start with these three:
1. Who is my perfect prospect?
You know your business. You know that your product or service fills a need or solves a problem. So who is your ideal prospect?
What are they hoping to learn from your content marketing? What level of understanding do they have about your business category? What information do they need to increase their knowledge and move into more advanced areas?
What you’re putting together is something very similar to a buyer persona; a profile of one or more audience members so you have something in mind when you’re creating content “for them”.
How to do it: Participate in social networks and other online communities – and listen. Your goal is to understand the worldview of your prospect. Ordinary conversations on the Web can provide incredible insights into what your target audiences wants, what they aspire to, and what frustrates them.
2. What value am I providing?
Focus on providing value with each piece of content that you produce and measure that against your ideal prospect. What will someone who reads your next blog post or attends your webinar learn? If you are developing an educational module or course series, what’s the reward for the participant or prospect?
How to do it: Search engine keyword research is a great way to frame content in a way that provides value. You can’t position your content effectively if you don’t know what your prospects are searching for. Tap your sales staff for ideas based on what they hear in the field, and answer those objections through a blog post or whitepaper.
3. What’s in it for them?
Your audience wants to learn something and it’s your responsibility to deliver on that promise. B2B or B2C alike, prospects are seeking information, evaluating need, and – if you’ve done everything right – moving closer to becoming actual customers.
How to do it: By combining industry keywords with social media listening and engagement, you’re creating an agile content marketing strategy that will continue to adapt. Blog comments and reactions are perfect idea generators for ongoing content delivery, and you’ll be answering specific concerns and questions raised by your audience rather than relying on conjecture.
Image: salmando (Creative Commons)