Lead by Following: Audience Led Approaches to Content Mastery

In the wild world of online marketing, user intention determines whether your content strategy will sink or swim. 

For a long time, content marketing relied on goals set by the business—what keywords provided the best brand visibility? What type of content gets the most views? How can we create content to generate more leads?

Things work a little differently these days. It’s not enough to market for the sake of marketing; you have to market with specific intention.

We’re not talking about the intention of your business, though—it’s the intention of your audience that helps separates the good content from the bad.

The Rise of Audience Intent

A basic content strategy in our modern realm of digital marketing relies on three questions:

  • Why are we creating this content/what are its goals?
  • What benefit does this content provide the business?
  • What needs does it address for the customer?
Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 4.05.10 PM

Personalization of content to fundamental to marketer’s online strategies, as found by Econsultancy.

While all points are important, the last one is critical—the content you create must provide value to your consumers. The why of this is easy. More pain points addressed means more eyes on your material. It’s no secret—econsultancy found that 52 percent of marketers saw personalized content as critical to their digital marketing. It’s the how that tends to trip marketers up. How can you guarantee that the content you have on offer provides actual value to your readers?

Luckily enough, our audience is happy to help us meet this goal by providing a treasure trove of data just waiting to be applied—social media.

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 4.10.45 PMThe number of active users on social media in millions, as found by Statista

Social Media and Big Data

Social media is an unstoppable force in the online world. Facebook recently broke 1 billion active users, Instagram is near 400 million, and Twitter clocks in at 316 million, according to data by Statista in November of 2015. While there’s certainly some overlap there, that’s still over 1.5 billion social media profiles filled with user preferences, interests, and priorities—from only 3 social platforms!

 This type of data is foundational to the concept of audience intent. To understand your audience’s goals, you need appropriate user information to provide the insight.

This trend is reflected in Google’s most recent Hummingbird update, which prioritizes the context of a piece instead of the specific keywords. The “conversational search” functionality of the Hummingbird update highlights this well. The platform actually tries to guess at audience intent based on search context and previously aggregated data instead of just throwing up whatever results best match the search terms.

For example, a query containing the phrase “best restaurants in Toronto” may have once returned the top keyword matches for “restaurant” and “Toronto,” naturally. However, with Google-backed audience intent in mind, the new results may turn up restaurant results near your geographic location, options similar to previous restaurant queries, or even suggestions for various dining options.

This approach allows marketers to understand the deeper meaning behind the search; the underlying goals that drive the user. Updating your content to reflect these behaviors is known as “real-time” marketing, a concept that 77 percent of marketers believe is crucial, yet 60 percent claim to struggle with, according to research by Adobe. This is a more complex and comprehensive approach to content marketing than simple keyword analysis. Greater consumer understanding is what all marketers strive for, and gaining insight on audience intent can be a powerful factor in how future marketing strategies are based.

Audience Focused Content

Audience intent both requires and provides insight on the behaviors, intentions, and needs of key audiences. Marketers interested in positioning themselves as industry leaders must spearhead this campaign by tailoring their content to the specific goals and desires of their audience. This is where big data and social media shine—everything from marital status to brand preferences to projected income all factor in to how you can tailor your outreach to various demographics.

Content that resonates with readers on a personal or emotional level is the content that goes viral—and content that addresses real-world problems is the cornerstone of engagement. Just imagine the impact on your SEO value, content strategies, and marketing goals that audience focused content and greater engagement brings.

The Leadership Cycle

Audience led content is fast becoming a necessary part of content management. This type of outreach is cyclical; users provide their preferences via social media and other consumer channels, marketers aggregate this data and apply to their content appropriately, and consumers find value from this personalized outreach. The process then starts over, creating a consumer lifecycle of user-provided data and targeted content that generates value to everyone involved. Audience focused approaches to content strategies are still new—and there’s plenty to learn on the subject. Tell us about how you personalize your content to your audience in the comments below!

Share this: