The primary goal for every piece of content is to be consumed and appreciated by as many people as possible. However, no matter how well-written or polished the content is, if it’s not covering the subject your target audience is seeking, it won’t bring visitors to your site or convert website visitors into leads.
For any piece of content to be successful, it has to be personalized. It has to speak to a specific person, with a specific need, at a specific point in his or her buyer journey. Simply put, a one-size-fits-all approach rarely works!
To create relevant content for your target customers, you need the appropriate messaging to shepherd them through every step in their journey.
First, let’s define content.
Content is not just about writing articles and throwing it on the internet!
Content is the material that you produce to market your business and build relationships with customers. It can include the text found on your website, the messages on various social media platforms, and your brand’s images, videos, or webinars.
The goal of your content is to educate and engage the audience. By positioning your brand as the trusted leader, you increase the likelihood that your potential customers will select your product and services, and convert on your page.
Of course, understanding content is only part of the equation. To truly create a successful marketing move for your business, you also need to thoroughly define your content strategy.
What is content strategy and why your business needs one?
A content strategy is a tangible but iterative plan. This plan allows you and your team to clearly define the process, timeline, and stakeholders needed to coordinate, create, and distribute your content. Your content, when executed through a content strategy, will be engaging and consistent.
With this content strategy, your primary objective should be to provide the right content, to the right audience, at the right time, with the right goals. This goal, is to not only align with but also bolster your business’ overall mission.
Moreover, your content strategy should adapt to your target audience’s needs. Each piece of content will have meaningful analytics associated with it, that you can track, understand, and analyze. Equipped with this meaningful insight, you can make data-driven decision to develop future content to more effectively engage your audience and further your business’ mission.
So now, take a deep breath and read on to discover 7 effective steps to create content for your target customers:
Step 1: Define Your Target Customers
To create valuable content, you need to identify the people who really want or need what you’re offering. Targeting (or segmenting) these people means you’ll be able to build your content and business for the right audience.
This should be fairly obvious but it’s surprising how many marketers forget to think about their target audience. When it comes to marketing, if you’re trying to talk to everybody, you’re going to have a difficult time reaching anybody.
Vague and generic messages are far less likely to resonate with audiences than specific, direct communication – which is why knowing your target customers in marketing is so important!
In order to effectively identify your target audience, consider these tips:
Understand what your product or service is.
First, you must understand what your company is offering. You must fully understand your Unique Selling Point and how will it benefit your potential customers. The more you know your business inside-out, the better it will help you build a clear-cut profile for your potential customers.
Once you have figured out what your offerings are, start to identify the pain points of your target audience through empathy mapping. Start making a list of customers who suffer from the problems your product or service can solve.
Understand why your existing consumers are buying your product or service, especially the repeating customers. It is an opportunity to discover the real reason why you should focus more on these types of people. Also, it will help you come up with different ideas and approaches to engage with your target customers.
Create buyer personas
To really understand the buyers you’re targeting, it’s critical to take the time to construct corresponding Buyer Personas. It’s like a fictional biography that describes the daily lives of your typical customers.
There are two aspects of a buyer persona including demographics like age, gender, location, race, employment, etc.; and psychographics like personality, values, lifestyle, hobbies, interests, etc.
Although there is no one-size-fits-all list of buyer persona questions, there are some common ones you use as a starting point. Take a look at this nifty infographic by Amy Wright:
Study your competition
You can learn where, when, and how to find your target customers based on what your competitors are doing. By studying your competition, you will find out how they have positioned themselves in that market niche, why people like their brand, and what channels they are using. It will give you the opportunity to get more information to decode your target customers in detail.
Evaluate your target customers
Once you have settled on your potential target audience, you need to test it before refining your content. Note that you can have more than one niche and can refine your content strategy accordingly.
Find out if there are enough people who fit your target customers criteria and don’t narrow too much. However, a broad and unfocused target audience makes it difficult to create a tailored content strategy. It will be as bad as not targeting anyone at all!
Bottom line: A well-defined target customers allow you to create more engaging and valuable content. It makes perfect sense because the foundation of your content strategy should be who your customers are and what they want.
Step 2: Determine which type of content you want to create
Now that you’ve identified your target customers, the next step in planning your piece of content is to decide what form you want it to take.
For example, some ideas will be stronger if they are represented visually– like an infographic or video. Or, other pieces of content may be best suited for plain text such as a blog post, article, or eBook.
Let’s take a look at this magical content marketing periodic table from Chris Lake which underlines the different examples of content types and formats:
The blue blocks represent content promotion formats; the red ones denote content types.
It clearly shows that there are a variety of options out there for content you can create. To help you dig deeper into content marketing, here are some of the most popular content formats marketers are creating:
Blogging is one of the most popular types of content marketing for small businesses. And we clearly know why… Blogs are one of the best ways to improve SEO and drive more organic traffic to your site from the search engines. This can help you make the most of your limited marketing budget by supplementing any advertising with inbound marketing.
Infographics help businesses educate their audiences and give useful information that can add value for leads and customers. This visual content marketing format helps viewers better visualize data so that they can have a better idea of why something is valuable or how something works.
eBooks are an effective type of content that businesses can use to provide value for their leads and customers. The popularity and perceived value of eBooks have made them a favorite of online marketers. In fact, digital marketing expert Neil Patel lists eBooks second on his list of ways to create lead generating content, behind data-driven case studies.
If you want to remain competitive in the busy digital marketplace, it’s vital that you find a way to grab your target audience’s attention and engage them quickly. Consumers today are viewing more video content than ever before.
In fact, one-third of all online activity is spent watching video content. This fact makes video one of the best types of content marketing for reaching and engaging your target consumers, no matter what industry you are in.
Another one of the most valuable types of content marketing is the case study. Case studies are basically customer stories that illustrate how your business has helped a specific client or customer become successful. Potential customers like case studies because this type of content helps them better understand how your brand can add value to their lives or businesses.
A webinar is an online meeting or presentation held in real-time. To put it simply, it is an online event, which connects individuals with viewers across the world. When you do a webinar, you’re providing tons of highly valuable information by presenting your best, super relevant information for free.
Apart from the aforementioned types of content, there are a plethora of different content formats to diversify your website. Check out more on this article about 113 Content Types To Organize With Your Marketing Calendar.
Step 3: Generate Content Ideas and Topics
Creating great content starts with a well-established process. At this point in the content creation process, you are to identify a new topic you want to write about, decide which form you want the content to take, and formalize your strategy.
Content ideas and topics can come from a variety of places, both from within your marketing team, from your customers, from new data, or from something that inspires you. And, depending on the goal of the piece of content, deciding the correct angle you should take on a specific topic can prove challenging.
To help you find innovative and effective approaches to potential pieces of content, here are a few methods we know will help get your creative juices flowing:
Brainstorm with your team
Your team-wide knowledge is a powerful tool to utilize when coming up with new content ideas and topics. Doing so is not only insightful, but it can also be transformational and effectively move your content strategy forward.
Keyword research is a fantastic way to discover how your audience is talking about a topic. In addition, keyword research can help you discover new opportunities for content that you may not have considered on your own.
Solicit Customer Feedback
Asking your customers may sound like a simple way to get an idea, but often, there are unanswered questions they have about your product or your space that you can answer. Creating content around those questions will have a direct and meaningful effect on your existing customers.
Investigate your competition
As a marketer, you should always be aware of the topics your competitors are covering. Understanding how your competitors approach a topic will help you identify gaps in their content strategy and help your content stand out in the sales process.
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes
As a content creator, your first responsibility is to understand your customers. So, when you’re looking for new ideas, think about what your customers might find engaging, interesting or helpful. Then explore how those ideas could work with your content strategy.
Eager to know more about generating fresh ideas for your next piece of content? This article about The top 15 ways to come up with new content ideas will surely be of great help!
Step 4: Conduct Extensive Research
When creating content for your target customers, you need statistics, facts, or even opinions to back up your point. How do you find the necessary information? The answer is Research!
Research is a vital step when developing and executing a content strategy. In fact, Research is 50% reading and 50% shaping your strategy. (source)
Through each step of your content strategy, you need to engage in extensive research to ensure that you are following the correct path. Research is the foundation of strong content, it adds validity and unique value to your content.
Your target customers will not want to consume content that was created out of speculation. By thoroughly researching, you will show your target customers that you care about providing them with highly educational and relevant content.
Most importantly, by conducting extensive research for your content creation process, you will be able to:
- Familiarize yourself with the latest trends in your industry.
- Accumulate more essential knowledge.
- Add more value and relevance to your content.
- Get to know the technologies, platforms, and web tools for your content.
- Do your SEO and keyword analysis.
- Check your competitors and interview your customers.
- Boost overall success.
Having said that, conducting extensive research is indeed essential to your content strategy’s success. Although it’s possible to get lucky from time to time without research, repeatable success isn’t possible without intimately understanding the components of the model below:
Image from HubSpot
Bottom line: The research you gather should inform every recommendation you make in your content strategy, including what content your brand should create, how often it should be created, and where it should be distributed.
Step 5: Create Engaging Content
It’s been no secret that the goal of content marketing is to engage your target audience and to be known as a thought leader in the market.
Although, the content creation process is nuanced and not always as simple as it might seem. But if there’s one place to start for ensuring successful content marketing results, it’s learning how to create engaging content for your target customers. Again, FOR YOUR TARGET CUSTOMERS! (Go back to step 1, in case you forget)
You must speak directly to the people you want to target. By doing so, your content will more effectively reach the people most likely to want to do business with you. Instead of pitching your products or services to everyone, you must provide truly relevant and useful content to your target customers to help them solve their issues.
There are numerous strategic ways of producing quality content. To make your content more engaging, it should be:
- Timely and relevant – by providing current and trendy topics which can drive the audience to your content.
- Conversational – by not using the robotic industry jargon your audience probably won’t understand.
- Relatable – by thinking about your customers and the type of content they care about.
- Educational – by providing relevant information which can help your target customers solve their problems or improve their process.
- Creative – by making your content more unique, visually appealing, interesting, and shareable.
- Entertaining – by developing entertaining content that can keep your existing customers engaged and can attract new potential customers such as videos, comic strips, or games.
- Raising Awareness – by helping them understand what your company does and that you understand a particular set of problems they face.
- Promoting Discovery – by drawing their attention to the fact that your company has the products or services necessary to solve those problems.
- Responsive – by taking the time to respond to user comments on social media, emails, guest reviews, etc. This is one of the best ways to build brand trust and attract more visitors to your content.
If you are intrigued and ready to learn more about successful content creation, here is our previous article to dig in 8 Tips To Create Content That Doesn’t Feel Like Marketing.
Step 6: Refine your content
When people talk about content marketing, they often focus only on the end result. However, the key to great content is taking enough time to refine details. Don’t overlook this important process in content creation.
In our previous article where we talked about critical content marketing mistakes to avoid at all costs, we mentioned to never take content creation too lightly. If you want to skyrocket your audience engagement rates and improve your sales potential, you should work hard to take a long, hard look at your content process.
You may want to refresh your content as you go, or you might wait a few days and review the work with fresh eyes. When writing an article, you might care a great deal about grammar, or you might aim for a more colloquial piece.
Either way, there are few things that should definitely look out for as you refine your content:
This is a set of words or phrases which convey your organization’s messaging intent, priorities, and goals. It keeps every aspect of your business’s communication aligned and helps you deliver consistent messaging.
It’s smart to be as descriptive as possible especially when you’re reaching your potential customers. Improve by making complex topics as easy-to-digest as possible through a multi-sensory approach.
When writing an article, focus on refreshing your content details– like active voice, clear language, short sentences, and grammar. Some tools that will help you cut down on your editing time are Writeboost and Hemingway Editor.
Always proofread your content and make sure that the information you deliver is correct, credible, and current.
The balance between content that will promote your service and content that will educate your target customers should be considered. Your content shouldn’t be promotional material disguised as information, nor an educational material lightly dusted with mentions of your company. There should be a balance between providing substance to your audience and your calls-to-action.
“Here’s everything you need to know about creating killer content in 3 simple words: Clear. Concise. Compelling.”Demian Farnworth
Step 7: Publish and Manage your Content
Publishing content is as simple as clicking a button. So, why include a section on it? Well, because it’s not always that simple.
Yes, you can publish your content immediately after uploading, or you can maximize its impact by waiting for an optimal time. But if you’re just starting out, clicking “publish” right away probably won’t impact your target customers too much.
You have to manage, optimize, and promote your content!
Once publishing day finally arrives and you’ve released your content out into the world wide web, don’t forget that the content creation journey is still ongoing.
It’s smart to have a content strategy that has a solid creation process in place, as well as a promotion plan for both pre- and post-release. Your job as a content marketer is to see every piece of content along its full journey.
Note that each piece of content you create is an experiment. Always monitor analytics on your site on a consistent basis. Knowing what stats you’re tracking and comparing month-to-month provides structure and clear goals. Use that knowledge to inform your efforts when you start the creation process anew for your next piece of content.
Bottom line: Once you’re in the habit of analyzing stats on a routine basis, you’ll be in a great position to learn from the data, optimize your content to perform better, and develop new, high-performing content for your website.
Bonus: Ever wonder how the content you publish reaches your consumers? Check out this infographic by O’Neill:
As you write, film, design, or produce, keep in mind that content creation is a living, breathing process.
In a nutshell, if you want to create awesome content, it has to be targeted at an audience you know and understand. You can achieve this by creating relevant content specifically for them. Utilize the plans you’ve made and ideation you’ve done to produce a phenomenal finished product.
Next, you can start developing exciting content that will keep your existing customers and visitors engaged and attracts new potential customers.
But, If you notice something is wrong with the angle you decided to take or the content format you decided on, don’t be afraid to take a step back and refine your content. This process should be fluid and may need adjustment as you gain new information about your customers and audience.
And finally, it’s time to publish and manage your content! If you’ve set up steps 1 to 7 effectively, you should have everything you need to create amazing content for your target customers.
That’s a wrap!
Apply these steps to your next content plan and you’ll be on the right track to success!
Don’t have the time or right tools to achieve these steps? Our talented team of marketing experts is happy to help you every step of the way!