Content Targeting: Know Your Audience or Never Hit the Mark

February 18, 2013

Over the past few months, I’ve worked with a handful of OpenView’s portfolio companies. One thing I’ve noticed in that time is that they don’t always recognize how important content targeting is to their content marketing efforts.
content targeting
It turns out that a lot of companies struggle with personalizing their content so that it speaks to their buyers’particular needs at whatever unique point they’re at in their buyer journey. The question is, how can their content possibly be effective if it doesn’t reflect a deep understanding of who their audience is and where they are on their way down the path to purchase?
The answer is simple: it can’t.
Fortunately, the solution is content targeting, i.e., creating the right messages to resonate with your audience and shepherd them through every step in their journey. For example, depending on where your audience is in their buying process, they may need content that:

  • Raises awareness by helping them understand what your company does and that you understand a particular set of problems they face.
  • Promotes discovery by drawing their attention to the fact that your company has the products or services necessary to solve those problems.
  • Fosters comparisons by allowing your company to showcase its knowledge, expertise, and high-quality products and services, thus differentiating you from your competitors.
  • Encourages a sale by providing the right information to ensure that the target has everything he or she needs to confidently purchase your products and services.

The tone of your message, as well as how often you communicate it, will vary depending on where your target audience is in its journey. For B2B content to be truly effective, it needs to resonate with the very specific audience it is intended for. In other words, a one-size-fits-all approach rarely works.
Of course, understanding your buyers’ journey is only part of the equation. To truly create targeted content, you also need to thoroughly understand who your buyers are and develop detailed personas for them.

Developing Buyer Personas is the Key to Content Targeting

To really understand the buyers you’re targeting, it’s critical to take the time to construct corresponding personas, i.e., detailed profiles of those buyers made up of a combination of demographic and behavioral information. Those personas should clearly illustrate who your buyers are, which pain points they share, which factors they care about the most, and where they are in the buying process. Doing so is often the most important step toward ensuring that the content you create will resonate with your audience.
To build those personas, you need to do some research.

Gathering the Right Information

Start by gathering some basic information. Interview your existing customers. Talk to your customer-facing colleagues. Mine any databases you may have. Your goal is to identify your customers’ most obvious and important characteristics, bearing in mind the need to focus on the actual people, not the companies they work for. As part of your data collection effort, you’ll be looking for two main types of characteristics:

Demographic information, including:
  • Job title, role, and responsibilities
  • Department
  • Company size
  • Industry
  • Location
  • Budget
Behavioral information, including:
  • Motivating factors
  • Expectations
  • Concerns and pain points
  • Role in the purchasing process
  • Understanding of your products and services
  • Needs met to ensure a purchase

Developing Personas

Using the information you gather, develop a persona like the following that describes who they are:
Jane Doe: The VP of operations at a company with more than $10 million in annual revenue who needs a better e-mail archiving solution. She has an existing service in place that she finds frustrating because it’s too slow and unreliable. She’s in the research phase of the buying process and is the primary decision maker. Although she’s not aware of our solution, her pain points directly align with our product’s core value proposition. While price is an important motivating factor to purchase, she’s most concerned with functionality and ease-of-use.
Be sure to create multiple personas to correspond with the various types of buyers you’re targeting. Doing so will not only force you to think about your target buyers more systematically, but also to craft content that’s more customized for their needs.
Content targeting helps you to understand who you are writing for, what challenges they face, and what expectations they have. Once you know that,  it’s much easier to create content that will resonate and ultimately help get them to buy.

Content Marketing Director

<strong>Kevin Cain</strong> is the Content Marketing Director for <a href="">BlueChip Communication</a>, Australia's leading financial services communication firm. Before joining BlueChip, Kevin was the Director of Content Strategy for OpenView.