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The golden rule of content marketing

Whether you are hoping to drive traffic, boost SEO or position yourself as something of a specialist in your industry, content marketing is the way forward, and there’s one thing you need to know before you get started. This is actually so crucial to the process that really it counts as rule number one, two and three combined: Know Your Audience.

Well, duh, I hear you say. But this content commandment goes beyond stating the obvious; it is oh so easy for a campaign to fall to pieces, no matter how elaborately constructed it might be, if it does not follow this golden rule. Knowing your target audience (and I’m talking inside out and back to front) is such an all-encompassing requirement, one which directly impacts every stage and aspect of content marketing, that it is worth breaking down into a set of smaller, manageable rules:

  1. Content is king in this game, and producing high quality, well researched and genuinely interesting pieces is an absolute must. The first thing you need to ask before you type a single word is – will my target audience want to read this? You need to conceive your subject matter around solid data on your customer’s interests. This means conducting extensive market research, and writing what will excite your followers, not you.
  2. Another important consideration is medium. The recent proliferation of content marketing strategies has given consumers a taste of the variety with which information can be delivered, from particularly engrossing case studies, to slideshows, infographics and videos for individuals with a more mercurial attention span. What you need to decide is; which form will your target audience prefer? This can be gaged partially if you are already familiar with your customer demographic, but a more accurate strategy can only be defined over time, as you deploy a range of media and observe engagement.
  3. Measure ROI. This means posting content regularly and carefully tracking the response it gets through analytics data. If an article or video on one particular subject goes viral, you have a perfect model for future reference. Your next step depends on your ultimate aim. If you are hoping to enhance your Facebook following, for example, then tools like PageLever Now are invaluable in monitoring and maximising content traction in real-time. If you are more interested in driving web traffic or sales, then the free Google Analytics platform includes a host of features such as Event Tracking and Advanced Traffic.

You may well find as time passes that your subject matter, medium and even your ultimate aim can shift considerably as your target demographic changes. You might start out covering news stories specific to your industry, but if you and your clients are working within a particularly static business area, then you will most likely end up revising your model. Content marketing is all about adding value, and rewarding readers with genuine insight. The second most important question to ask in content marketing is as follows; now that you have determined your target audience, what can you give them?

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