But the first step to an effective content strategy is identifying your audiences. Your entire content strategy flows from your audience. It’s impossible to identify and address the needs of your clientele without knowing first who they are, and what drives them.
The next time you sit down and develop your content strategy, take a close look at who your audience is, and why they should be interested in the content you’re developing. You may think you’re meeting their needs with your current content strategy — but after a deeper dive, you could come to realize that there’s someone you’re missing.
Develop Customer Personas
For your content strategy to resonate with your audience, you must have a clear idea of who your audience is. Customer personas make your audience real by sketching out important characteristics such as age, gender, location, hobbies, goals and values.
If you haven’t already developed customer personas, now is the time to do it. We have a step-by-step guide to take you from start to finish of developing clear, useful customer personas.
This may seem like a strange exercise, but it’s an important one. When you develop personas, you deepen your understanding of how your customer thinks. This understanding is invaluable when producing content that resonates with them.
Consider how your content will differ for a 40-60-year-old male golf enthusiast and a 24-35-year-old female music lover. The type and tone of content will be entirely different, and that’s why it’s important to develop customer personas and clearly identify your audience.
Consider Where Your Audience Is in Their Journey
When you’ve identified your audience, you can consider where they are in the buyer’s journey. Are they at the awareness stage, where they are getting to know your company and its products? Are they at the stage where they are considering purchasing your products? Or are they at the decision stage, where they want to become a customer?
These are important questions which determine the kind of content you need to include in your content strategy. If you’re looking to speak to the part of your audience in the awareness stage, it may make sense to focus on your blog and social media to get the word out about your company. If your audience is in the consideration stage, it may be a better idea to develop white papers, case studies and testimonials that showcase how your company and its products stand out from the competition.
Whatever stage your audience is at, your content strategy needs to guide them through the buyer’s journey to take them through to the final step where you close the sale.
Create a Content Segmentation Grid for Multiple Audiences
During the first step of developing content personas, your company probably had numerous personas representing multiple audiences. A content strategy alone won’t tell you enough to know whether your content is effectively reaching each audience.
For that reason, it’s worthwhile to create a content segmentation grid. A content segmentation grid maps your personas against the stages of the buyer’s journey to ensure you have content that speaks to each of your audiences.
Your content segmentation grid will look something like this:
Awareness stage Consideration stage Purchasing stage
Joe, 45-year-old golf enthusiast Blog post: using sunscreen on the fairway Case study showing how your sunscreen doesn’t run in outdoor settings. Newsletter with special discount offer
Shannon, 27-year-old music lover Blog post: using our sunscreen at outdoor concerts Interview: musician on their scare with skin cancer and why they use our sunscreen Newsletter with special discount offer
Even in cases where the type of content is the same (such as the newsletter in the purchasing stage), this grid will remind you that the content itself should differ. Different tones and different offers will appeal to different audiences.
By conducting this exercise, you will see if your content marketing is too light or too heavy on a particular stage or a particular audience.
Appeal to Emotions
When you’re developing content for your company, you tend to want to tell your audience about the features that makes it special. This creates a content strategy based solely on communicating facts and rationale. While that may not seem like a bad angle to take, it probably won’t be as successful as using emotions.
Emotions are one of the most effective ways to connect with people, hold their attention, and build lasting relationships. Being able to affect your audience emotionally is what will make your content more engaging and your company more special. That means it’s not just your business benefits your content strategy should be focused on – it’s your emotional benefits, too.
Try to keep in mind the emotions associated with the different interests, values, and goals of your customer personas, as well as the emotions experienced along the buyer’s journey. That way you can create a content strategy to trigger the right feelings, at the right time, for the right audience.
Keeping different audiences in mind will help you develop a better, more robust marketing strategy to appeal to all your markets. Don’t neglect this important first step.
Have questions about your content marketing strategy and whether all of your audiences are being addressed? At RelationEdge Digital Agency, we complete a discovery process that identifies any opportunities in your content marketing strategy. Contact us for a free consultation.