Before you begin writing and exploring different content type and formats, it's important to understand who you're writing content for. To handle the demands of content creation, marketers have been told again and again to "think like a publisher".
Like publishers, inbound marketers must have a detailed picture of their target audience in order to create optimal content for them. Who are your ideal customers and prospects? What are their biggest concerns, needs and interests? Where can you reach them – on search engines, social media, or blogs – and what kinds of content do they prefer? These questions will help you develop buyer personas.
Personas are fictional representatives of your ideal customer based on data about demographics and online behavior, along with educated speculation about their histories, motivations and concerns.
Start developing personas by researching your existing customer base to identify the most common buyers for your products and services. You may have several different types of buyers, so give each one a detailed description, including name, job title or role, industry or company info, and demographic info.
For example, a community bank's biggest customer may include small business owners and mothers managing the bank accounts for a family of four. In this case, the bank's marketers might name these personas "business owner Bob" and "Mary, the busy mom," and extrapolate details about their responsibilities, the typical size of their business or household income, what geographic region they're in, and so on.
Based on those profiles, you can outline the pains, needs, and challenges of each personal by asking yourself several important questions such as:
What are the problems customers are trying to solve?
What does he or she need most?
What information are they searching for?
Analyzing the path that prospects take on the journey to becoming a customer is a great way to get insights about the needs and challenges of your target audience. Using a marketing platform or analytics can highlight which search terms brought prospects to your site, how long they stayed on your site, which pieces of content they viewed, and which forms they've filled out. Such lead intelligence will help you make better decisions when identifying the characteristics of your ideal customers and ways to nurture your new prospects.
For example, in the case of our hypothetical bank, "Business-owner Bob" may typically be searching for merchant services such as accepting electronic payments and securing lines of credit. Once on the site, he reads articles about how electronic payments can improve cash flow and researches how lines of credit can fund ongoing operations. Based on that activity, his persona pains/needs/challenges would include managing cash flow, achieving cost savings, and offsetting the effects of a slow economy.
To learn more about targeted buyer content and personalization, I encourage you to download the eBook below, How Context Marketing Is Going To Help You Grow Your Business.