In a previous post, we wrote that it’s high time for (content) marketing to become more about storytelling. But to really draw people into a story, a marketeer or copywriter must know who their audience is. The more you know about your target group, the easier it is to reach them. Understanding your audience enables you to adjust the language you use, your writing style and your tone so that it perfectly fits them. Sounds great, but how can you actually get to know your audience? Here are seven great tips to get you started.
1. Conduct market research BEFORE you start creating content
Researching your target group’s demographics enables you to create a profile of your ideal reader. This profile needs to be based on all the real, factual information you have at your disposal—avoid making assumptions about your audience. At the same time, there’s no need to overthink things: even just knowing a few key characteristics of your audience already enables you to create more effective content.
2. Scope out your competition
If you don’t have a lot of information on hand about your target group, it’s a good idea to look at the content your competitors are creating. Look for competitors who are trying to reach a similar target group, and observe how they are communicating with their readers. Focus on aspects like the language they use, their writing style and their tone, so you get an idea of how you should communicate with your target group. At the same time, observe how the audience is responding to your competitors’ content, so you can identify ways of making your own content even stronger. Think of your competitors’ content as a good source of information for figuring out what works and what doesn’t.
3. Create a persona for your ideal target group
To gain an even clearer view of your target group, try creating a persona of your ideal reader. A persona is an archetype-like character who represents all the characteristics of the reader you want to reach, such as their education level, areas of expertise, age, family life, income and even personality traits. By working with a persona, you gain a clearer view of precisely who the content is for. This ultimately makes the content work even better.
4. Get to know your target group personally
If you’re working directly with your target group, then it’s definitely a good idea to invest a little extra time in getting to know them better. For example, if you’ve already received some responses to content you’ve put out in the past, you can use this to start a conversation with your target group. This helps you understand their thoughts and figure out what they find interesting or exciting. This is very useful information which will help you improve your content. Some of the insights you gain may not be 100% applicable to your entire target group. Still, by talking to multiple people, you can quickly gain a general overview of who your ideal readers or consumers are.
5. Keep track of comments and responses to your content
This is particularly important for content marketing and social media strategies. It’s important to keep track of the kinds of responses your content receives. That means looking at things like how often people comment and what they are saying. The more often people engage with your content, the better! By keeping track of this, you can easily identify which types of content work well for your target group, and which don’t. Over time, you’ll also be able to identify trends which will help you to fine-tune your content even further.
6. Social listening
Social listening, also known as media monitoring, involves watching social media and the internet in general to see what people are saying about your company and your competitors. It also means following topics that may be of interest to your target group. If you’re aware of how your target group is engaging with other brands and people, you can spot trending topics to include in your own content.
7. Use surveys
The most straightforward way to find out more about your target group is to simply ask them questions. You can either hold one-on-one interviews with members of your target group, or send out surveys, asking for feedback from your readers. Take advantage of free online survey tools like SurveyMonkey and SurveyPlanet. Create a few questions, put together a survey and then distribute it amongst your social media followers or mailing list subscribers. You can’t really count on too many people voluntarily responding to a survey, so consider offering them a reward for taking part.
All of these tips will help you understand your target group even better. But remember: that’s only the first step. Once you’ve got a clear idea of your readers’ lifestyles, reading habits and preferences, it’s time to apply that knowledge into creating appealing content. Knowing your audience is also an ongoing process. You’ll need to continually monitor your target group to make sure your approach stays relevant over time.