4 Ways to Understand your Audience

4 Ways to Understand your Audience – and create the content they want

Posted by Kelly Montgomery on Wed, Mar 05, 2014 @ 12:03 PM Tweet

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Do you really know your audience? With the intense content needs that all marketers face, it’s easy to jump right to creating content and pushing it out before figuring out exactly who you want to read that blog entry, white paper, or social media post. We know all too well that creating or curating enough content to keep up with the competition often outweighs other priorities, but it will pay off down the road to stop for a few minutes and learn about your audience. Once you’ve figured out who your audience is, it’s a lot easier to determine what they need and want. Creating content is one thing, but creating content that resonates with your audience — making them want to come back to you or buy your product — takes a little more finesse.

So, before you panic about how many blog posts or white papers you have to write this week, stop and consider the points below. Try to develop buyer and reader personas, either in your head or on paper, and look back to those every time you create a new piece of content.

1. Define your ideal target audience – for both buying your product and consuming content.

While the buyer persona is probably the most important audience to define, you may also want to think about a reader persona. Some people in your industry will be interested in purchasing your product (buyer persona), while others may be engaged members of your industry who are interested in what you do and may read or share your content, but are not likely to buy (reader persona). Both of these can be valuable for creating leads and brand awareness. Maybe your buyer persona is a CMO of a Fortune 500 company, but your reader persona is the social media specialist at a smaller company in your industry. Both are valid. When defining each one, think about what their job may entail, why they would come to you, and how you can best reach them.

2. Think about what their pain points and challenges are on a daily basis.

Now that you’ve created a general outline of your audience, or audiences (job title, duties, industry, etc.), you need to learn more about what challenges they face – so that you can then present them with thoughtful information about or solutions to those problems. Don’t just think about what your product or company does, but think about that person and what kind of problems they face day in and day out. Are they a marketer who is stressed about creating enough content each week? Are they in charge of helping their company stand out on social? Are they an apparel brand trying to engage their audience in new ways online? Try to make a long list of problems you think they might face, or even reach out on social media to find ou moret. From that list will emerge themes that you can create content around – content that will provide value to your audience, because you know them and their struggles.

3. Find out where they are online, and when.

The most engaging content will be content that is presented to your audience in a space they know and like, and in a format they understand. Because you’ve already created your buyer and reader personas, you’re halfway there. Think about your personas, and think about where they consume the most content. What are they doing while they consume the content? How much time do they spend? Are they engaging or just perusing? All of these small questions will have an effect on your content strategy. If you’re dealing with C-level executives, you might want to focus on content for LinkedIn or high-quality white papers for your website. If your audience is younger online professionals, Twitter and Facebook might be the right space for your content. And if you’re going for the teens and tweens, look to the latest popular social media apps like Vine and Snapchat.

Think about what mindset they might be in when they see your content. Are they lounging at home with their iPad, ready to read a thoughtful long-form article? Or are they trying to keep up with the latest news at work, with only enough time for a quick tip-sheet? Adjust the time you post your content based on whether you want to reach them at work, at rest, or somewhere in between.

4. What do they need to know about you and your product?

Now that you have a better grasp on what kind of content your audience or audiences may want in general, and when and where to give it to them, it’s also important to think about what information they need from you about your company and your product. While “sell, sell, sell” is not exactly a recommended motto in the blogging world, your audience does need to be informed about you and your company. What are your most frequently asked questions? What are the most common gripes or suggestions you hear? What might they be thinking if they are comparing you against a competitor? Content on your website, blog, or social media can be a great way to answer these questions and show your audience exactly who you are and what you offer them. Now that you’ve discovered their pain points, you can use thoughtful content to gently show them that you and your company may offer a solution.

– KellyTags: audience

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