You’ve got your marketing strategy all worked out – you’ve defined your target market, you’ve worked out your buyer personas, you’ve listed out all your content ideas and mapped them along the buyer journey.
But before you jump into action, creating your content, there’s one key decision left to make – how broad or narrow should your content be?
If generating leads is your overall goal, then sharing content that will appeal to a broad audience could mean you reach more people and find new audiences. However, it may not achieve the desired results quickly enough.
Yet if you go too narrow, you could be missing a trick by alienating some people who may have gone on to become clients in the future.
So, what should you do?
Defining your audience
The first step is to ensure you truly understand your audience. Think who it is you want to reach through your content marketing activities.
Every company has a variety of different audiences, which may include:
- New growth opportunities
Within each of these categories there will then be different subgroups and each one will come into contact with your content, in one way or another.
That means it’s important to decide what your overall objective is: Who do you want to engage with? How? When? And where?
Your website may need to cater for all these different audience groups. For example:
- In B2B, you’ll be missing out on potential opportunities if your website doesn’t cater for new prospects and have some sort of lead generation mechanism set up.
- It also needs to offer something for existing clients. They will want fast and easy access to support and other information. (Potential clients may also look at what you offer existing ones and this could form part of their decision making).
- From an employment perspective, you need to be attractive to potential employees. How will you communicate with them?
- The same goes for investors who may be considering investing in your business.
Another interesting point Rand Fishkin from Moz makes in this Whiteboard Friday video is the effect that a very narrow content strategy can have on potential growth opportunities. If you go too narrow, you could miss out on invaluable market information that could help you diversify, or even pivot. This is particularly true when you’re in an industry that faces potential disruption from some new way of doing business.
A great example of a firm that has excelled in this area is Red Bull. They are a content marketing machine and their media house has a very different monetization strategy to any other drink manufacturer, yet it grew out of efforts to sell more energy drinks.
So, the question of which audience you should focus on with your content strategies is complex – far more so than just figuring out a handful of buyer personas. You need an overall strategy behind your content approach, which includes all materials, platforms and any other uses it may have.
Content marketing audiences
If you focus on content marketing alone, it can be a great tactic for attracting potential clients. But the question remains, how narrow or broad should you go? And how will you communicate with your different audiences?
The truth is, creating content for many different audiences isn’t easy and doesn’t work unless you can put substantial budget behind it. And of course, you need to be able to prove a positive ROI, which is really important.
What you’re looking for is the perfect mix of strategies. The ones which will give you the best results for whatever budget restraints you are working within.
It starts, as always, with knowing your audience. Defining your buyer personas and target markets is the first step. Making strategic decisions about who to focus on is the next.
One option is to work in stages. Start with one particular group, then the next, and so on.
Where is your audience?
Another consideration is where you will find your audiences. Depending on the channel you are using and the audience, you may need to communicate very differently.
Your B2B approach may be to focus on lead generation via LinkedIn and to use Facebook for employer marketing activity. The messages and content going out on these two channels would be different and need to link through to different sections on your website.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t use LinkedIn to find new employees, or Facebook to find new leads. You are just going to have a primary objective for each, so you can aim at a clearly defined audience.
It’s about understanding who your target audience is, where to reach them and how to speak to them, while at the same time never alienating the other parts of your audience.
Creating different content
When you follow a content marketing strategy that aims to reach different audiences, not only does the content need to be tailored and to talk to specific groups, but so do your landing pages and other promotional activity.
You may need a mechanism to help your audience self-identify.
For example, imagine you’re a SaaS company with a product that has various features, which can be used differently. You may find that having clearly separated sections on your website – so people can self-identify – works very effectively.
Another way to distinguish content that is for different audiences, is to make use of modern web development techniques. It’s now possible for different content to be shown to a visitor depending on where they are, what language settings they have, or whether they are on a mobile device, etc.
Know your numbers
The beauty of new digital marketing tactics is that it’s now possible to know exactly what works and what doesn’t.
Knowing what is most effective for your individual circumstances comes down to measuring your efforts and their results. Just be sure you are measuring and tracking the best data.
Put sensible reports together and regularly review them, to change what needs changing and do it all over again. Your best benchmarks will always be ones you’ve created yourself. Measuring your results, against the same set of results from last month and last year, will give you a great idea of what’s going on, in terms of performance and how to improve it.
One of the key numbers for you to check is your audience appeal. You need to know which audiences are coming to your website, how often, how long they stay and what they do when there.
One way to do this is by using tracking codes and of course, Lead Forensics software can help you to identify anonymous website visitors and keep an eye on their behavior. Find out how in the infographic below.
The easiest way to cater to different audiences
There is one strategy that can be particularly useful when you have various audiences you’d like to address, but you don’t have the budget to put individual content and strategies together: tailoring templates.
Often, the content you need for each specific group won’t be that different. They may, for example, have the same problem, which you can solve with your product being used in a slightly different way.
In sales, it works best to have a well written and thought through email series, including: first contact, follow up, reminder, etc.
The process works the same for each recipient, just with each email being tailored to the individual. You can therefore use the basic template and update it (make sure it’s fully tailored, we’re not talking about just changing the name of the person it’s addressed to).
The same is possible for your general content marketing:
- Make your blog content a mix of highly, moderately and broadly targeted content
- Blog regularly with a specific mix that will cater to your different audiences
- Produce core content and other download assets that have broad appeal, then create different introductions and call-to-actions to match your different audiences
- Set up a different landing page for each different piece of content, which will speak to the specific audience it is intended for
- Use highly targeted advertising to distribute your content. Making ads that only a subset of your audience will see, based on their demographics/interests
You may not even need to change the specific download you are offering. If it’s a very interesting and valuable eBook that will work for any audience, then instead of creating different versions just keep one. Keep it broad and instead differentiate strongly with your advertising and landing pages. Produce content for the ads that is targeted and speaks in very narrow language.
When it comes to providing content for different audiences, there really is no quick or easy answer. Figuring out what to do with multiple audiences, what content to produce and which marketing strategies to follow, comes down to making an assumption, testing it, checking the results, making new assumptions, creating new results and comparing them. Every cycle of this process will help you get better and better and your results get stronger.