When preparing a Content Marketing strategy, it is important to know who you are writing for. A plan without a distinctive target group could lead to the failure of your online marketing objectives.
Target audience analysis is therefore a core part of any marketing strategy. If you don’t know your audience, how will you know their content preferences, typical online behaviour or preferred communication channel? Even knowing their language style amounts to critical content success.
In this piece, we shall be discussing in detail, the guide to analysing the right audience for your Content Marketing activities. It is only when your message hits its mark that your returns will begin to grow.
What is Target Audience Analysis and why is it Important?
Your target audience is simply everybody who may be interested in your product or service. However, due to limited marketing budgets, you don’t have the luxury of serving every single potential customer.
What’s more, your target audience will often consist of a wide variety of groups who visit different websites. They may not even share the same pain-points or use the same social network platforms.
A good example of this is one of our clients, whose target audience analysis revealed four target groups or ‘personas’; DIY users, professional users, students and domestic users. Because of this variation, you cannot use a one-size-fits-all type of content with which to communicate.
Therefore, a target audience analysis helps you:
- Seek and target only the audiences that will be drawn to your product/service.
- Write personalised content aimed at certain target audiences
- Develop longstanding relationships with your customers by finding solutions to their real problems, through meaningful content
- Have a Content Marketing strategy that is more cost-effective
- Target a specific market niche to be more competitive
- Increase your customer-base through improved conversion-rates
As a content writer, you may have been involved in producing campaigns that required two or more different niches. The scope of your research will depend on the size of the project and your familiarity with the niche.
Naturally, you wouldn’t need to conduct the same kind of research for the target audience of a client that requires only a few editorials. However, we are not suggesting you neglect certain important procedures for content writing services. We are merely saying that it is ideal to adjust your step-by-step procedures, according to the scope of the project.
First, discuss the details fully with your client. Find out their main objective, then note the biggest customers within this group and develop a strategy that suits them.
Getting Familiar with the Product/Service
For Content Marketers who work in-house and already know their business’s products/services, this is easier.
If you work at an agency, you will need to do some research. It is dangerous to create and publish content about something you only know rudimentarily. It is even worse when you do not know the benefits your client’s products can offer their customers.
Not knowing your client’s products can cost you the following:
- A potentially lucrative target market
- The quality of your content
- A significant area of the relevant markets
- Incoming traffic and conversion rates
Here are some tips to get you acquainted with the product itself:
- If possible, try out the product for yourself. Get a feel for it. Otherwise, let the client describe it to you in their own way.
- Study the client’s website to get an overview of what it entails. What kind of customers comment under the blogs? What are their complaints/suggestions?
- You can make this easier by preparing a simple questionnaire for your client to complete. Beware of making it too long or complicated, or they will lose interest.
Specifying the Target Audience
There are various steps to take before going deep into the target audience research. Define certain characteristics common to the average customer. Knowing their demography is important and probably the most common attribute to begin with, but you should also consider other important factors.
What kind of people are you communicating with? What do they like or dislike and what are their pain-points? Asking these questions will give you are good idea of what to cover.
It is important that you have accurate demographics data to boost organic promotion. However, it is particularly important if you intend to share and distribute your content through paid channels like Facebook, Twitter, Google AdWords and other major social networks.
The following customer demographics are essential; age, sex, income, location, occupation, education level, marital status, religion, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation.
Some of these characteristics could have a significant impact (or not) on your content, depending on the project you are working on. It is also possible that certain factors not mentioned above may also be responsible, so keep your options open.
Psychographic data is used for classifying audiences by studying their aspirations, attitudes and other psychological standards. It is the non-technical data that allows you to understand the motives behind the purchases people make.
It can be quite challenging to define psychographic data, because it focuses on subjective information rather than statistical data, which is the underlying factor for demographics.
You can define psychographics data in the following ways:
- What are your target audiences’ interests?
- What type of activities (hobbies) do they engage in?
- What are their opinions/attitudes towards certain projects?
You can gather psychographic data in different ways;
- Through surveys
- Direct interviews with clients
- Study the websites and forums they visit
- Analyse the analytics of your website
- Work with great tools (Heatmaps, website survey software)
Classify your Target Audience
The Decision-Making Unit (DMU) is a term used to describe a group of people that are often involved in the purchase process of a product or service, especially in the B2B world. The DMU has six important roles you need to know (it is worth noting that some people can occupy more than one role).
- Decision Makers
Since we are covering it from a Content Marketing point of view, there are three roles we must concentrate on; the users, influencers and the decision makers.
Content Marketing does not avail the resources to attend to everybody. Therefore, you will have most impact on these three roles through Content Marketing.
The users are those who use your products or service. They are important, because they are the ones who experience the problems (pain-points your content seeks to overcome).
Sometimes, users can assume the role of initiators. This is because people who use the product or service are in the best position to know if it is helping and whether they need a new one.
An Influencer is someone in a position of authority, who is able to influence the purchase of a specific product/service. Influencers can drive business your way or not. If you deliver Web Design services, imagine getting a recommendation from a digital evangelist like Vala Afshar. There would be huge scope for traffic and conversion rates to your website to skyrocket above its current rate.
Decision Makers usually have the last say in the purchase of any product. In a family unit, either parent could be a Decision Maker, while the Office Managers are Decision Makers in their units. Developing content that convinces Decision Makers can fast-track the purchase of your product/service.
The Roles of Decision Makers in the Content Marketing Funnel
The main reason for differentiating each role in the DMU is that you need to target each group with a specific type of content. You want to target them with appropriate content for the particular phase of the marketing funnel which they occupy.
This may not be so easy, as some of these roles and phases overlap each other.
Here is a guide:
- Users – knowledge, interest
- Influencers – interest, contemplation, intent
- Decision Makers – Intent, assessment, purchase
This is an interesting and creative part of the target audience analysis; creating the personas of your target audiences.
Your objective is to create a fictitious person that has all the characteristics of your target audience – just like a character in a novel, with a back story and relatable challenges. Start with basic things like name, gender, age and then progress to more in-depth elements, such as personality, job roles and societal contributions.
In creating a persona, you are trying to define a person’s purchasing process; their difficulties, preferences and information sources.
A successfully created persona can inform the type of content you produce for them. By using this one persona, you can help to overcome the problems a real-life customer encounters.
Of course, the ‘persona’ created will be formed from deep research and client input, otherwise you will merely be creating a story with no solutions.
When identifying your persona’s pain-points, use clear, convincing language to engage and help them overcome their doubts. By understanding your target persona deeply, you are half-way to resolving their problems.
However, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to write content based only on your audience’s pain-points. Think about them as real people and add other areas they might find relevant. Remember to always focus on the benefits of your product.
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