Would you rather create content that attracts 100 visitors and converts 10, or attracts 50 and converts 30?

If you’re in the latter camp, you’re one smart cookie.

The goal of every content marketing strategy is to convert as many visitors as possible. Though the former group may have more brand awareness, their content isn’t as profitable for their company or as valuable for their customers.

Think about this: between 2013 and 2014, brands increased their content by 78%, but content engagement decreased by 60%.

The culprit behind these pitiful numbers? Irrelevance.

See, it doesn’t matter how awesome your content is if it’s not connecting with readers who convert. Your team will only be wasting time researching and developing content — which is time spent away from selling — without a real ROI.

So how do you always make sure you’re preaching to the right choir?

We’ll help you solve that problem today so you and your team can discover your target audience in less time than they spend Snapchatting during their lunch breaks.

Bonus: Get to know your ideal customer with this free worksheet of questions, steps, and tips!

 

First, Determine Your Brand’s Identity

It may seem a little backward to discover your target audience by thinking about your own brand but trust us: you need to know your own identity before you can find other like-minded individuals to connect with.

So think about the image you want your company to project to the world.

When visitors skim your ‘About Us’ page on your website and scan your social media posts, they’re really deciding how much they like you, your interests, and what you have to say. Ideally, all of these should correlate with your visitors’ interests and beliefs as well.

If it helps, try to personify your brand as if they were a person standing right in front of you.

Would your company wear flip flops and shorts or an expensively tailored suit? What kind of music would they listen to? Which social media platforms would they use the most?

Though these details may seem unimportant, they’re the kind of subtle nuances that prompt consumers to choose one seemingly similar brand over another.

Think about what your brand stands for to the customers you want to help.

For example, if you’re a sneaker-wearing skateboard company, you’re not going to appeal to the nothing-but-high heels crowd no matter how many times you tell them how comfortable your favorite shoes are.

Your visitors have to see that your brand not only understands who they are and where they’re coming from, but that you can help them overcome their current and future challenges because you know them so well.

Take Action Task: Brainstorm a few keywords that relate to your brand’s identity. Then, create a brand story that grabs the attention of visitors and lets them learn more about who your band really is.

 

Play to Your Brand’s Biggest Selling Points

Let the products or services you offer direct you to the people who will benefit most from them.

Let the products or services you offer direct you to the people who will benefit most from them. Click To Tweet

As Adrianne Glowski writes for Technori, “Don’t think about who you would like to sell to, think about who is looking for the products and services you offer.”

Knowing these finer details will help you discover which types of consumers will find value in these perks.

Plus, it also helps you come up with other keywords relating to struggles in your niche.

Case in point, if your product solves time management problems, use keywords such as “procrastination” or “inefficiency” that will bring you to people (ahem, leads) currently struggling with those issues.

Take Action Task: Ask your team about how your biggest selling points make you different from other competitors in your niche. Write down your product/service’s three best features.

Tools of the Trade: Keyword Alerts

Ok, you should have a list of keywords that relate to your brand’s identity and a list of your brand’s biggest selling points by now.

Using keyword tools such as Google Alerts or Mention, you’ll be able to track searches for your specific keywords in real time. You’ll not only be able to see who’s interested in these keywords, but you’ll also see what other interests these people share.

Event planners may use keywords relating to invitations, decorations, and party locations to discover a huge niche market in surprise weddings or destination vow renewals, for example.

Take Action Task: Set up your brand’s personal alerts on Google by using your list of keywords.

Google Alerts Screenshot

You can modify settings for where you want your results delivered (via RSS feed or email) and how often you’ll be notified whenever your chosen keywords are searched for or mentioned online.

Whittling Down Your Target Audience

Now that you know who your brand is and what sorts of people are looking for information in your niche, it’s time to connect with your specific audience.

“Don’t assume that you can think like your target market,” Greg Habstritt, founder of SimpleWealth.com, says. “You have to ask them and talk to them to really understand them.”

So how do you interact with your potential readers and customers?

Take Stock of Your Existing Customer Base

Your current and recent customers represent the pulse of your business right now. If you can paint a general picture of your happy (paying!) customers, you’ll want to build on these demographics.

Take Action Tip: Try to schedule short interviews over the phone or send out email surveys to get honest feedback from your customers as to why they like your brand and your product’s features. Use this intel to fill out your buyer persona later.

Find Problems to Solve

Online open forums such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Quora, and Reddit, where users can ask a large community of “experts” to answer their questions or help them solve their issues, are the best places to start your team’s market research.

Here you’ll have access to the struggles of real people looking for products, services, and advice.

In essence, that’s exactly what your content marketing and education-based marketing strategies are all about: giving your readers the information to help them better their lives (while promoting your brand).

Brian Halligan Buyers SlideSlideshare source

Take Action Tip: Search for posts containing your specific keywords and take stock of the similarities between users and experts replying (aka your competitors).

Write down specifics you encounter, such as profession or industry, age range, skills, interests, etc., to refine the details of your target audience.

You’ll be using your content to solve these problems for your audience after you’ve identified them.

Get to Know Your Buyer Personas

We spent a lot of time discussing why buyer personas are so important for your business so we won’t rehash those (crucial!) details again.

But basically, a buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. This is who you want your team to spend the majority of their time marketing to.

Now that you’ve spoken to your existing customers and checked out the problems other leads are facing in your niche, it’s time to build your buyer persona.

You can use standard demographics to start out, such as age, gender, education level, income range, etc., but your team will also need an understanding of your customer’s deeper buying characteristics. These will help you connect and create content on a more personal (and lucrative) level.

Think about your target audience’s:

  • Lifestyle and daily activities
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Beliefs, values, fears, and expectations
  • Personality, humor, intelligence

When you have this information, you’ll know exactly how to write for your target audience instead of to them, making all the difference between a one-on-one connection and a sales pitch.

When you have this information, you’ll know exactly how to write for your target audience… Click To Tweet

Use these characteristics to create content that attracts leads to your website. Once there, they’ll make their way through your highly-efficient and automated sales funnel all on their own.

Bonus: Click here to fill out your free worksheet to keep your market research handy and organized in one place!

When you find your target audience and create high-quality content tailor-made for them, you’ll never waste manpower hours pitching to the wrong audience again.

Your team’s time spent creating content will be both productive and profitable as long as every piece created reflects the interests and needs of the audience members in your niche.

The biggest benefit to understanding your ideal client, besides building rapport and increasing engagement, is that you’ll establish a connection that will help you better predict your customers’ needs and interests in the present and future, ensuring steady growth and success.

Since one of the purposes of identifying your target audience is to create high-quality content just for them, check out this infographic about how and why you should build a loyal blog audience for some final tips:

Keys to Creating a Loyal Blog Audience

From Visually.