Content Marketing: The Importance of Knowing Who You’re Targeting
If you work in the marketing field -- whether it be with online/digital marketing, public relations, advertising, or media relations -- chances are you’ve heard by now that content marketing is all the rage. If you’re not entirely sure exactly what content marketing is, let’s refresh your memory! According to good ol’ Wikipedia, content marketing is simply just “any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire and retain customers.” Sounds about right, huh? Content marketing can come in many different formats, all of which I am sure you have, at some point in your life, consumed. This includes:
Content marketing in a way is a very broad sector of marketing, but it’s also arguably one of the most important when it comes to marketing a business online. In this day and age, with everything going digital and traditional marketing (slowly) dying out, content marketing on the internet is becoming more and more of a necessity for any business.
Strategic, Targeted Content is Key
Here at Coalmarch, we place a huge focus on content. Whether we’re writing website copy, blogs, articles or email newsletters, we always aim to write content that is targeted to a specific target audience. From firsthand experience - as both a user and a person who works in the marketing industry - I’ve noticed the biggest mistake that people make is not taking their audience’s needs or awareness into consideration when writing content. Simply just writing your thoughts and jotting down ideas isn’t enough -- your content has to be way more strategic than that.
Who Are You Writing To?
A few weeks back I was talking to a friend of mine, who also works in the marketing industry, about how he was struggling to write content for one of his clients. The conversation went a little like this:
My friend: “My boss gave us an assignment the other day and we have to write a blog for our client’s site and I’m having so much trouble writing it because it’s so boring."
Me: “It’s boring and it’s supposed to be a blog? That seems counterproductive...what’s it about?”
My friend: “I’m not really sure if it’s a blog or an article or what. It’s just about super boring stuff, like who the company is, what they do, and why their safety equipment is important.”
Me: “That doesn’t really sound like the right subject matter for a blog -- that sounds like it’d be better as an about or resource type page on their site. Do you know where on the site this page is going to be?”
My friend: “No idea.”
Me: “Well if you don’t know where on the website this page is going, how do you know who your audience is?”
My friend: “I don’t know.”
Me: “Well what’s the purpose of the content you’re writing? Like, is it supposed to act as a landing page for users?”
My friend: “I honestly don’t know.”
Me: “Well how are you supposed to even write this if you don’t know these things?!”
My friend: “I don’t know.”
Unfortunately, this type of situation is all too common when it comes to writing content. People don’t even stop to think about who is going to be reading their content and why they’re going to read it -- they just write it. It’s safe to argue that someone doing a long-tail search on Google and landing on your blog or article is going to have a different level of awareness and different needs than someone searching one of the main keywords you’re targeting, and landing on say, one of your main service or offerings pages. It’s important you make that distinction before writing your content, otherwise you’re just wasting your time.
What is Your Audience’s Level of Awareness?
With that being said, when you’re writing content for you or your client’s website, you need to take the audience’s needs and awareness into consideration. Otherwise, your content isn’t going to answer their questions and do its job. We read a book recently called Convert! by Ben Hunt, which discussed what he calls the ‘awareness ladder’. Hunt says that one of the biggest advantages we have of marketing on the Internet is multiplicity - which is being able to market to people at every point of awareness at the same time. Your content strategy should be able to strategically appeal to people at multiple levels of awareness in the buying cycle.
Hunt says the six steps of awareness for a user in the buying cycle are:
0 - Not having a problem or not being aware they have a problem
1 - Being aware that they have a problem
2 - Having a problem and being aware that solutions exist
3 - Knowing solutions exist, and contemplating your solution
4 - Knowing your solution and how it benefits them
5 - Being convinced that your solution is the way to go
To achieve a conversion (whether that means buying your product, signing up your service or filling out a form for a free quote), you must get people from their current level of awareness to the top of the ladder, one step at a time. This can be hard to do, but it’s not impossible.
How to Integrate This Into Your Content Strategy
So you may be asking yourself, “this sounds great, but how can I actually apply this to my content strategy moving forward?” Good question. First things first, before you even start to write content, you need to:
Ask yourself where on the website is this content going. Is it going to be an article or blog post, a service or offerings page, a resource page, an about us page, etc.?
Identify what the purpose of this content is. Is it meant to be engaging and interesting to users and answer their questions, or is it meant to sell your service or product?
Identify how people are going to get on this page. Is it meant to be a landing page targeted towards long-tail searches, or is it meant to be a page that users find when searching one of your main keywords? This is key in determining their level of awareness.
Remember: For service-based companies in particular, the level of awareness for someone landing on your blog or article is going to be different than someone landing on your service or offerings page.
Once you have answered these basic questions, you can start to write your targeted content.
General Musts for Writing Content
Remember: If it is a blog post, don’t try and sell your services the entire time -- no one wants to read that. If it is a service page, then yes, chances are users are there to learn about your services. Be sure to highlight the benefits of your services and how it directly relates to them.
Remember: like I said before, the level of awareness for someone reading your blog is going to be different than someone reading your service page. Your tone and strategy should be different for both.
Remember: people scan content when reading; they hardly ever read it through and through. Keep it concise, and break up the content as much as you can with bullet points and headings.
Remember: Don’t try and push the user towards doing something that they might not be ready for. For instance, on an article or blog post, your call to action should be significantly different than on other pages on your website. Don’t prompt the user to sign up for your service or buy something right then and there when chances are they’re not ready to. Trying to force them to may cause them to bounce!
Get Out of Your Own Head
Content marketing on the internet is not only a great way to talk to potential customers and communicate your company’s value, but it’s also a great way to get your website to rank for the terms that you want it to. With both of these in mind, you can strategically create content that appeals to customers and answers their questions, while also providing value for your company through increased exposure and visibility.
The big takeaway here is to get out of your own head for a second and try to get in the user or customer’s head. Try your best to think of their perspective and their awareness more than your own. If you can do that, you’re on your way to creating better, more intelligent content that will help grow your business!