Whether it’s for your blog or for social media or even for your website, one of the most challenging parts of content creation is actually understanding what your audience wants to see.
How many times have you created a blog post or a video or even a social media status for your brands’ account, so proud and sure it was going to rock people’s minds, only for it to seem to fall a little flat?
While sometimes the content distribution strategy may be lacking, in many cases it may also be an issue of wrong content, wrong audience.
If a high-end wedding planner was creating content like “10 ways to have a budget wedding,” their content would be missing the mark completely; their clients are shelling out the big bucks to hire them, the last thing they care about is having a budget wedding. Even though other people would love this information, it’s useless in front of the wrong readers.
While content strategies and creation can take a little trial and error (who doesn’t love some good ole fashioned marketing testing, ammirite?), there are a few key steps that you should always take in order to ensure that you’re strategizing content that your audience actually wants to see. Let’s take a look at each one.
Search for Current High-Performing Content
The most important thing that you should do to start is to look for what’s currently performing well with your target audience.
If you already have social media, a blog, or any other content-oriented channel that’s up and running, take a look at your analytics. Native social media analytics like Facebook’s Insights or Instagram Analytics can show you what posts are doing well, and Google Analytics can give you the same information for your blog post. Look for engagement, clicks on links, and social shares as indicators of relevance here.
Big metrics to watch include time spent engaging with content, like view time on videos or average time per page views on Google.
You’ll also want to take a look at what your competitors– direct or indirect– are doing in the space, and what content is working well for them. For this, you can save yourself a lot of time by using a content research tool like BuzzSumo.
BuzzSumo will let you search for any competitor, any keyword, or any general topic and allow you to immediately see the top-performing content related to your search based on social sharing factors like “retweet ratio.”
When you’re looking at both your own content and your competitors’ content to see what’s doing well, make sure you’re looking at it on multiple levels, including the following:
- What specific mediums do well? Video, infographics, long-form content, and short-form blog posts all may perform differently for different audiences.
- How long is the content? Videos clocking in at thirty seconds may have higher view retention rates, for example, while you may find that blog posts over 2000 words get the most social shares due to added value.
- How is the content organized? Are there cue cards, subheads, or visual breakdowns that help keep it all easy to skim and understand?
- What types of topics are being covered? Some audiences want more information-based content (IE: “The Best New Years Parties of 1999”) while many others will prefer actionable, valuable content (“How to Throw an Incredible New Years Party”).
Once you understand what’s doing well for the audience that you have, you can start to put together pieces of the puzzle to decide what you should create moving forward. Remember to look for competitors who share your target audience; those who are in a similar space but targeting completely different audiences may be able to give a few good ideas, but the focus should always be on your specific audience.
Do Question-Based Keyword Research
One of the most ironclad ways you can create content that your audience wants to see is to answer questions that they’re asking. If you notice that a lot of your clients are getting in touch with the same question again and again, that’s a pretty good place to start for a blog post.
You can also use question-based keyword research tools to identify question queries that users are making online. Tools like SEMrush allow you to search for related keywords to a term that you enter, and you can choose to view question-only keywords.
You don’t have a ton to go on with a keyword like “professional photographs,” for example, when understanding your audience’s search intent, but seeing “what to wear to a professional photographer” or “how to find a professional photographer” are much more specific.
Understand Their Language
This is a relatively simple tip, but it’s also one that many businesses and marketers overlook.
When you’re creating content of any kind, it’s important to think about how your audience will perceive it. It’s easy to swoop in and use technical or esoteric terms that feel native to you, but that seem as foreign as another language to your audience.
A few weeks ago, I was reading an online article about different types of air conditioning units, but the language was so technical that I– as someone with no technical knowledge– couldn’t even follow along.
I was a prime audience for readership and purchase, because of course my AC went out in the middle of July in Florida– but I couldn’t understand the content. It wasn’t relatable to me, and the posts were rattling off technical differences without explaining what they meant.
Make sure that your audience has whatever information they need to fully understand what you’re writing. Provide backlinks to other content you’ve written or other high quality resources when needed, and use casual language that clients– not peers– would easily understand.
Diversify Your Strategy
When you’re creating a content strategy, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s a good idea to use diversity to your advantage.
It’s likely that your audience will have different segments and personas that are interested in different things, and that they’ll respond better to unique types of content. Some may want to see more videos about any and all new changes in the field, while others want actionable blog posts instead of just industry updates instead that may not matter to them.
Keep your content diverse. Use a mixture of images, video, infographics, and copy to engage your audience, and try to cover an array of topics in a connected way. You can have different branches off of a singular campaign, engaging as much of your audience as possible and keeping it interesting by switching it up.
The above key principles are all essential to keep in mind when you’re trying to strategize content that your target audience really wants to see. It’s also crucial to remember that you should stay agile; testing your strategies immediately after their development and on an on-going basis will be important.
Consumer behaviors change, after all, and what they want to see in content will evolve, too. Keep an eye on what you’re doing, and continue optimizing what’s working and trimming away what doesn’t.
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