Designing a content marketing strategy is a step by step process and the first step in any good plan is to research your brand and audience.
This week we will look at how you can identify your audience and set yourself up for success. The only way to create content that will be read and shared online is to appeal to your ‘audience’ and provide them with content that is useful, relevant and in depth, emotionally engaging and targeted.
Research is where every good campaign starts and it’s easy with online tools like Google Analytics, keyword planner, Google Trend and BuzzSumo. Start by getting to know where the most popular pages on your site are – what are people wanting to know about your brand, products or services?
Next find out what words they are using to search online for these things and connect the dots. You need your content to include the terms and phrases that people use most often- don’t guess, let Google tell you. Google does know best.
Have a look in Google Trends, it is a great research tool that can show you what people are searching for. See what people are searching for around the topics you are considering and add these terms to your content list. Compare terms and topics and see which ones perform best or get the most search traffic.
Google Trends can help you frame content by identifying the latest trends online. You can find out exactly what New Zealanders are interested in and compare ideas to see which has the broadest appeal, all with a little mouse movement. You can use Google Trends to whittle down a keyword list and see which terms are hot and what’s not.
Google trends screenshot
You can see in the example above that if you are writing about nutrition and want to write an article about diet you would be better to discuss the Paleo diet than the Atkins diet, according to search volumes.
Try other tools like Buzzsumo to see what people are sharing most on social media. Try to ensure that your content appeals to search engines and that it is also being ‘liked’ and ‘followed’ on social media. Include popular keywords and phrases but tailor the tone, style or flavour of the content to appeal to social media audiences.
How to articles and lists are popular at the moment (‘9 ways to get in shape in a week’) as are infographics. The two elements these content styles share is that the formats both make getting information from content quick and easy.
Just like a good stew your content strategy needs a variety of information or ingredients from a few different sources to make it an interesting, rich dish.
Knowing your audience is another key ingredient. If you aren’t sure who you are writing content for you need to sit down and spend some time thinking about who your customers are and who will be reading this content.
Who is your audience?
Google analytics should tell you more about who is visiting your site and interested in your content? You also need to consider who the brand’s customers are and what kind of people are going to be researching this subject.
If you are writing about the Paleo diet you might have a potential audience filled with young guys wanting to build muscle and lose fat and some women in their middle years wanting to stay healthy and combat the ageing process.
When you have some information about the different ‘types’ or groups of people in your audience it helps to give them a face and some character. Name them and write a short description of the things they are interested in, their dislikes, quirks and characteristics.
The best way to write content is to have a reader in mind when you create it, so that you are talking to that person, or group of people.
Take the basic data from your analytics and flesh it out a little. What would these people want to know about? Where are the gaps in their knowledge? What kinds of pain points does your product or service solve for them?
If you had a young male, Paleo diet brief you might want to talk about how the meat in the Paleo diet helps build muscle and improve metabolic rates. Older women might be more interested in recipes or the impacts on beauty and health.
Now, by the time you get to this paragraph, you should have an idea of your market, who your audience is and the most popular content online.
You should have a list of the best keywords to target (long tail keywords are ideal), hot issues, news and an idea of what is being shared online. You should also have a few characters or personas that represent your target audience.
Content marketing is part science and part, so even though you have reliable data about trends, audience and online behaviour, you do need to get a little creative to make the magic happen.
Put yourself into your ‘characters’ shoes and ask yourself – what kind of content would you like to see? What do you want to know about this particular topic? How can I make that information unique and interesting? How can I add depth, target it or make the story more relevant to you?
You’re almost ready to start writing. Refine your list of keywords, phrases, content types, hot topics, and things being discussed and shared online. From this master list find your best two story ideas.
Next week we will use the information you have gathered and your story ideas to formulate a strategy…with a handy downloadable template and more tips about creating great content.