The content you want to create and the content your audience wants to consume aren’t always one and the same. It can actually be quite demoralizing to see content you’ve spent dozens of hours perfecting — like a microsite for a new product or an expose on a cutting-edge new approach to an old workflow problem — only to see it bring in a fraction of the traffic you expected.
You could spend a lot of time building content your audience doesn’t care about instead of focusing on content it craves, so it’s important to plan your content to what your audience wants to consume. The better you come to understand your audience, the easier time you’ll have planning new content they’ll want.
Creating content that your existing audience wants to read and can also expand your audience are both solid business marketing ideas. It’s a very hands-on way to grow your business that runs with instead of against social media’s ever-increasing role in daily life.
For starters, look at your existing content and examine what’s worked and what hasn’t worked in the past. For example, articles that stand out over others for bringing in much more traffic than the norm provide insight into what your audience wants to read. This information can also help you identify article types that aren’t resonating with your audience.
It’s also important to examine web analytics on your content to see not just what your audience is consuming, but how they are getting to your content. For example, a conversation piece may pull in lots of traffic from sharing on Facebook and Twitter, whereas a “How-To” guide may only draw in traffic from Google searches.
Also, pay attention to how often people comment on and share your content on social channels. If the content starts a conversation it can bring in more visits as well as increase brand awareness in your audience, which can’t be quantified by clicks.
Alternatively, some content creators find it easier to plan projects by creating a buyer persona. You can go as far as giving your persona a back story and a name. There are a lot of ways to gather information to establish the personality traits, interests, and product-relationship of your audience members through quantitative research like surveys, hosting focus groups, or just keeping an open ear on your social channels.
For example, if your small business sells customized automotive upgrades and parts, the bulk of your audience could consist of 30-something males who do tinker with their cars. You could call this customer “Dale.” However, that’s not your entire business. You may find that your audience also consists of a large number of women in their mid-20s that like to maintain motorcycles. You could call this customer “Brianna.” Now you can take that information and craft content that explains how to use your business’s custom parts as well as how to tell when specific parts are showing signs of failure.
When your business is in the content planning phase, ask yourself questions like “does Dale care about this” and “would Brianna want to read this” to help decide if those projects are good time investments.
Dan S is a former news journalist turned web developer and freelance writer. He has a penchant for all things tech and believes the person using the machine is the most important element.