Content marketing 101: Why you really need to know your audience

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Content marketing is about connecting with your audience. People are great at tuning out messages that they’re not interested in, so to attract them you need to give them content they want to consume. Rather than going in for the hard sell and telling them what to buy, you’re telling them what they want to know.

Brands face many challenges like the difficulty of cutting through in a crowded online market, lower retention rates, competing for share of voice in social media, and the fragmentation of audiences. Content marketing seeks to answer these challenges by finding new ways to engage.

Owned media such as blogs, websites and social networks offer brands various ways to distribute their content. Businesses don’t have to rely on media publishers as the only gateway to their audiences anymore and have found that direct connections are great at capturing attention. The best way to create these connections is to know who your audiences are and understand their habits. And like the old saying goes, knowledge is power, so the more you know about them, the better!

Provide your audience with something of real value

Successful content marketing is based on being at the centre of what an audience consumes. Before a content marketing strategy is planned, you must know who your audience is, what they consume, and as much about their lifestyle habits as possible. This will help you understand their needs, and then offer something of real value to their lives. Identifying the content you need to create is the next stage in the process – be that news articles, industry-related “how-tos” or videos.

Once you’ve created great content and captured attention, you have to retain your audience. Audiences keep coming back for more when content is frequently updated, so it’s important to ensure they always have something new to consume. They’re drawn to the brand as a source of useful new information. Keeping this content in line with your company keywords will also benefit your SEO and push you up in the Google rankings – in itself one of the best ways to attract people to your brand’s online presence.

Content is then streamed across all channels to have the greatest effect. This can be owned or bought media, but ultimately you want to generate as much earned media as possible, which will help you extracting monetary value from your content. An audience with access to the content via Facebook or Twitter might share the content with contacts or attract people to it with likes. This aids content in developing and retaining an audience and also helps you monitor your content marketing strategy, which should be adapted as needed to stay in sync with the audience’s needs.

Track the effect properly

The final stage in a successful content marketing strategy is tracking content. Facebook likes and shares can give insight into your audience’s interests and habits, as can tracking when your site is busiest and which topics or keywords generate the most traffic. The ability to analyse this data allows you to fine tune your campaign over time, adapting very specifically to what your audience is attracted to.

Content analysis (the way you interpret the data you extrapolate from the tracking process) is key to implementing changes in strategy. If you don’t understand the data and how to use it, your content marketing plan can’t adapt to the audience’s needs. In content marketing, what the audience finds relevant is everything. Understanding that is what’s going to set you aside from the competition.

Image: Bigstock photo

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