Building an Audience-Focused Content Strategy

Generating content that is relevant to your audience is easy; delivering unique content that actually serves its needs is significantly more difficult. That requires a content strategy.

Generating content that is relevant to your audience is easy; delivering unique content that actually serves its needs is significantly more difficult. That requires a content strategy.

These days, it’s not enough to produce loads of content based on keyword research alone. That might have worked years ago, when Google judged a webpage’s relevance and quality by keyword density. Since then, Google has revamped its algorithm and leaned on artificial intelligence to reward content that’s unique, useful and engaging. Focusing on people’s needs — not just their search queries — is the new goal of content marketing. And yes, there’s a big difference.

Does your content strategy really speak to your audience? And, equally important, does your audience notice? Forging a content strategy that achieves these objectives will likely help all of your marketing efforts. Here, we’ll review the basics for building an audience-focused content strategy.

Step 1: Know Your Audience

To build an audience-focused content strategy, you must first understand your audience. Who are they, and what do they need? What are their hardships? Why might they want your help? In terms of your content, would your audience prefer articles, blog posts, video tutorials, infographics or something else?

Listening is the key to answering these questions. Keyword research — specifically long-tailed keywords in your analytics reports — are one piece of the puzzle. There are better ways to get actual human feedback, though. Check websites such as Yelp and Reddit to see how people talk about merchants and issues in your sphere, or read your own social media comments for more insights on customers’ needs and wants. Brick-and-mortar business owners can ask their employees about what’s on customers’ minds.

Only after you truly know your audience can you move on to the next step.

Step 2: Find Your Content Tilt

At the core of this endeavor is finding your content tilt. Don’t worry if this is the first time you’ve heard this term — you’re not alone. Your content tilt is a form of branding; it’s what ultimately makes your content valuable in a way that’s unique to your business. Finding your content tilt doesn’t just mean pumping out articles that are relevant to your customer’s needs. Rather, it’s about diving deep into the core purpose of your business — thinking carefully about what makes your business remarkable — and then understanding how you’ll help your customers in ways no one else can.

Want an example of a content tilt? Think of how Kelley Blue Book established itself as the go-to resource for people who want to buy or sell used cars, or how Consumer Reports became known as the authority on informative, objective reviews. For another example, go to YouTube and watch different videos of chefs demonstrating their recipes. Then, watch one clip of Nadia G’s “Bitchin Kitchen.” That’s one heck of a content tilt!

Most businesses these days produce plenty of content. They barrage customers with online and print ads, coupons, blog posts, Facebook posts, Twitter posts, Instagram pictures, email blasts and more. And yet, still, people in business are often dissatisfied with their marketing.

That’s because content without a tilt is just noise in the crowd. Find your tilt, and you’ve found your voice. Unlike noise, a voice can send a message.

Step 3: Set Goals

What do you hope to accomplish with your content strategy? Your answer to this question depends largely on your website or the type of business you run.

Content Marketing: How to Produce Better Content Faster

Whether your content marketing team is 10 members strong or it’s just you, having a content production workflow is critical to success. Putting a process in place will make you more efficient and keep your efforts on track even when time is scarce. Even better, a strong process will improve the quality of your output.

Whether your content marketing team is 10 members strong or it’s just you, having a content production workflow is critical to success. Putting a process in place will make you more efficient and keep your efforts on track even when time is scarce. Even better, a strong process will improve the quality of your output.

There’s no one process setup that will work for everyone, but there are some basic parameters common to all successful content development processes. Here a few that should be part of yours.

Strategy Matters

Though not technically a part of the content production process, before putting processes in place for your day-to-day tactical efforts, you have to have clear strategic goals in mind. Without them, you will flounder as it will be difficult to clearly define the topics you should be covering and the needs of the audience you’re trying to reach.

If you’ve already been doing content marketing without a formalized strategy, all is not lost. You can put one in place now. In fact, you probably have really useful analytics data on what resonates with your audience and (unfortunately), what doesn’t. Use that data to craft the strategy that helps you engage with your audience.

Schedules and Calendars

The next logical step — and another important factor in avoiding that floundering feeling — is creating an editorial calendar and a schedule for publishing the content you create.

Much has been written about the value of delivering on a regular schedule — only “Game of Thrones” level popularity will allow you to publish erratically without losing your audience’s interest — but there’s great value to a schedule internally, as well. It’s far easier to make content production a part of your work routine if it’s, well, a regular part of your work routine.

Be realistic in assessing your resources as you create the schedule. If you’ve never done social media before and don’t have resources for a new hire, scheduling hourly tweets is probably setting yourself up for failure. Better to succeed by doing a few things well. As you can comfort you can expand your scope.

The Bullpen

Even with a realistic set of content goals, there are times that other priorities will intrude. That’s why having a bullpen of content you can tap into is perhaps the most important part of your process.