What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is a strategy employed by businesses to establish trust and nurture brand loyalty. It is executed through free offerings that educate, inform, and entertain. When done right, it adds tremendous value to the customer journey.

Content marketing consists of any online activity that involves creating, publishing, and distributing content through various marketing channels. These channels include websites, social media platforms, forums, blogs, news aggregators, and more.

Regardless of the medium or the message, the ultimate goal of content marketing is to connect and engage your target audience through the anticipation of their needs. Savvy marketers use content to establish and promote their brand while luring potential customers into a sales funnel.

The Problem with Content Marketing

The road to a successful content marketing campaign is full of obstacles. Many marketing gurus will promise you the keys to the kingdom only to extol the virtues of creating great content. That’s all well and good, but this advice is vague and obvious. It oversimplifies content marketing and neglects other important considerations.

Namely, how does one compete with the sheer volume of content available online? Everyone is trying to make great content but clearly it isn’t working for everyone. Building it does not necessarily mean they will come.

According to an article published by Smart Insights, over 200 million pieces of content are published online every 60 seconds. Every…60…seconds. That means that over 200 million pieces of content have gone live on the Internet since you started reading this post.

I don’t know about you, but I find that difficult to wrap my head around. It’s an unfathomable amount videos, images, tweets, blogs, posts, and infographics. The ridiculously high volume of content being generated makes it easy to get lost in the vast digital sea – regardless of the quality of your content.

So how can we “make great content” that actually moves the needle?

It is beyond the scope of this article to divulge the mysteries of effective content creation and promotion. Instead, we’re going to focus on using customer personas to concentrate your content marketing efforts.

Using Customer Personas

Great content is in the eye of the beholder. Using customer personas will help you clearly define your targeted audience and get you pointed in the right direction. When it comes down to it, effective content marketing takes time, patience, and experimentation. But customer personas can help you better understand who it is you’re trying to reach.

It’s important to keep in mind that your target audience isn’t an abstract idea – it consists of real, three dimensional people (with lives and everything). For content marketing to be successful, you need to create content that attempts to anticipate their questions and concerns. Customer personas can help with this.

What is a Customer Persona?

A customer persona, or buyer persona, is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. This information should be based on research and analysis of real data concerning your actual customers. Google Analytics provides a wealth of insight about key demographics for your audience that can help.

Use it to create a three dimensional customer persona profile that includes key demographics, behaviors, motivators, and goals. The more detailed you are, the better. This will enable you to develop a crystal clear image of who you’re creating content for.

Customer Persona Development

Here are some example questions to getting your creative juices flowing. Feel free to make adjustments to these questions to suit your specific industry or purpose. The point is to meticulously define your customer persona so that you can better create content with them in mind.

Step 1: Define Key Demographics

  • Male or female?
  • Age?
  • Does they have a family or are they single?
  • Where do they person live?
  • What do the do for a living?
  • What industry do they work in?

Step 2: Get Specific

  • What is their biggest pain point?
  • What challenges or difficulties do they face that your product or service can help with?
  • Is your target persona the decision maker or do they need permission?

Step 3: How Do They Consume Content?

  • Do they primarily use a mobile device or a desktop computer?
  • Do they primarily consume content during business hours or while they’re at home?
  • How much content do they want to consume?
  • Which social networks do they use most?
  • Who do they consider an influencer?
  • What pain point would lead them to purchase your products or services?

Conduct research and analyze data provided by Google Analytics, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. These platforms are prime sources of data collection that offer many keen insights into how to understand and accommodate your audience.

Creating content with a persona in mind will help refine your processes. By clearly defining who your products and services are for, you whittle away everyone who it isn’t for. While we can’t do anything about the sheer volume of content being generated from moment to moment, we can frame our content in a way that focuses its impact.

Creating and using customer personas is a great place to start when trying to get noticed through the clutter.

The Takeaway

It’s easy to get caught up in bite-sized answers and life hacks, but to properly answer this complex question is beyond the scope of a single article. Experimentation and refinement are the best teachers.

If you want to get serious about content marketing you have to become a student. You have to take the time to learn about the various facets and complexities involved in creating and promoting content that engages an audience.

One of the biggest benefits of content marketing is that it effectively creates brand awareness and fosters engagement. Creating an accurate customer persona is a great place to begin refining your efforts.