Look to any article or resource online for tips on how to design and execute a better content marketing campaign, and you’ll see a ton of common descriptors encouraging you to make “good” content — with occasional semantic deviations like “great,” “amazing,” or something similarly ambiguous. The problem here is that truly “good” content is actually good in a number of different ways — it’s well-written, thoroughly researched, timed appropriately, and so on. But there’s one quality of “high quality” content that seems to be neglected more than any other — proper targeting.
The Importance of Targeted Content
Targeted content is content that’s been written for a specific audience and for a specific purpose. A piece of content may fulfill all other requirements of being “good,” but may not be targeted efficiently — or may not be targeted at all. For example, an article like “How to Pick Fruit” loosely targets fruit-buyers, but doesn’t appeal to any one specific niche, such as people hunting for a specific fruit or those only interested in a particular season of fruit. It also doesn’t distinguish between “picking” fruit at a grocery store or “picking” fruit from a tree. Even for a fruit vendor, this would be an example of a non-targeted article, and few people would be interested in it due to its overwhelmingly general nature.
An article like “How to Pick the Perfect Watermelon for a Beach Party,” on the other hand, caters specifically to the watermelon party crowd, drastically increasing the relevance to potential readers. (There’s more to targeted content than just choosing the right subject, as you’ll see). You’ll lose some potential volume by narrowing the field, but you’ll get higher engagement rates from the readers who you stand to benefit from the most.
Strategies to Achieve It
With that in mind, how do you actually produce targeted content?
1. Choose a more specific niche. Your first job is to carve a specific niche for your content strategy. This doesn’t necessitate changing your brand or your business strategy, but it will help you gain some early momentum with a specific audience early on (and you can always make it more general at a later time). If you have multiple demographics, start by considering only one of them. If you have any way to differentiate yourself from a competitor by specifying a line of service, do so — for example, instead of being a “marketing expert,” you could be a “visual content marketing expert.”
2. Create buyer personas. Once you’ve identified a target market, you can use buyer personas to better understand that market and start developing content that specifically caters to it. There are a handful of strategies you can use to create a buyer persona, but I’ve found one of the simplest is also one of the most effective; interview your existing customers to come up with a composite fictional character that represents your “average” customer. Define this character thoroughly, and imagine yourself talking to this character in real life when you write. It will help you find the right subjects and the right tone of voice to use.
3. Segment your blog. If you’re interested in covering more topics than those specifically catering to one target audience, you can segment your blog to capitalize on several niches at once. The degree to which you do this depends on your volume of content and the size of your audience; smaller companies can get away with setting up separate categories, while bigger organizations might do better by setting up completely separate subdomains.
4. Funnel your traffic. You can also deliberately segment and direct your traffic by using funneling systems. This isn’t a strategy to produce targeted content, but will help your targeted content get in front of more of the right people. For example, you can set up separate landing pages, or direct traffic to your different blog segments using offsite strategies like paid advertising. With this, you can cherry-pick your potential readers
5. Understand the buying cycle. Readers respond to content that speaks to their specific situation; you can capitalize on this by delving into the buying cycle of your industry and audience. What does the average customer go through before eventually making a purchase? What kinds of things do they research early on versus things they research in the later stages? You can use this to your advantage by speaking to those different customer needs, and gradually moving your readers toward the final stages of the buying cycle. You’ll also want to play up your conversion opportunities with content targeted toward users who are almost ready to buy.
6. Use more specific titles. Compared to the other, somewhat conceptual items on this list, this strategy is straightforward and basic to execute. If you’re ever in doubt about one of your content topics being targeted enough, take a step back and work to make your title more specific. Can you include another adjective that makes your content describe a less general situation? Can you include more information that speaks to a specific type of user? It takes practice to do this without making your title too long, but it can help you drill down to that next level of targeted specificity.
These strategies will help you create more targeted content, increase engagement rates with the most valuable segments of your audience, and hopefully increase the overall ROI of your content marketing campaign. It’s worth noting that targeting involves a spectrum — highly targeted content is extremely relevant to a small number of people, while loosely targeted content is fleetingly relevant to a large number of people. Though more targeted content tends to perform better in general (from a conversation rate perspective), it’s also a good idea to hedge your bets with some types of content along the spectrum, rather than only at one extreme.