4 Tips for Generating Successful Audience-Centric Content
1. Sell Your Product, Not Your Content
Content marketing provides marketers with a way to engage consumers with articles, blogs, videos and more through which they can integrate their brand message as well as specific products and services. But if that content doesn’t speak to the interests of the consumer or contain information that the consumer is seeking out, then marketers end up needing to sell both the content and their products and services.
For content to be relevant to consumers and attract their attention, marketers need to know the interests of their audience. Online search data is a great resource for this critical insight. Not only can search tell marketers what topics consumers are looking to learn more about, but search success rate (a metric that reports how often a given search term resulted in a click) can help marketers identify undeserved topics or topics for which there is a dearth of content.
A marketer in the pet space was seeking to engage pet lovers through owned content hosted on their site. Analyzing thousands of variations of online searches that included the words “cats,” “dogs” and other common household pets using Hitwise® online intelligence tool, several common themes emerged. One of the themes that appealed to the marketer was that of consumers seeking content related to pet consumption of human food.
To help the marketer prioritize the development of specific pieces of content to support that theme, Hitwise identified common human food-related search variations that had below average success rates. The result was the identification of food types for which consumers were seeking information, but for which they struggled to find content. Searches related to chocolate, for instance, were common but they also had a high success rate. Searches related to apples, on the other hand were less likely to result in a click.
By developing and hosting content around the foods with below average success rates, the marketer was able to attract a large share of clicks on related searches. Those clicks mean more opportunities to engage their target consumer, introduce them to their brand and convert them to customers.
2. Understand how consumers speak about your products
Marketers can sometimes get so caught up in industry vernacular and expressions that represent either the traditional or the ideal way they feel consumers should search for their products and services that they lose sight of how people really speak. In addition to simply stepping outside of their bubble from time to time, online search reports can provide an eye-opening level of detail into both the common and uncommon ways that consumers search for information in their vertical.
Reports can track thousands of search variations, such as those that include important product or service related keywords or those that successfully drive traffic to select sites. Marketers can also keep tabs on the competition by examining the search terms driving traffic to their sites and whether they are paid or organic. Monthly, weekly or daily reports comparing trends can further help marketers stay a step ahead of shifting consumer tastes as well as vernacular.
A retail marketer was looking to optimize their search campaigns and site architecture to better reflect current online consumer shopping behaviors. To accomplish that task, they leveraged consumer data from Hitwise, which provided insight into the different ways that men and women look for swimwear online.
An analysis of the data revealed that the terms “swimwear” and “swimsuit” were the leading terms with nearly equal dominance used in searches for women followed closely by “bathing suit.” Yet among men, “swimwear” was a more singularly dominant term. In fact, “bathing suit” and “swimsuit” were used considerably less often in searches for menswear. Specific swimwear styles claimed greater dominance among items for men with terms like “swim trunks” and “board shorts” garnering a high share of search to the category.
With this insight, the retailer was able to adjust its paid search campaign to bid more aggressively on those terms used differently by men and women. They also examined the architecture of their site and made adjustments to category headings to provide swimwear-seekers with a design and online experience that reflected the natural terms that come to mind when shopping in the category.
3. Generate Content and Messaging for Key Audience Segments
Knowing what interests an audience and exactly how they search for products and services is important, but successful marketers know that they need consumer insights that extend beyond their business and their vertical in order to create meaningful interactions. To successfully tailor content to today’s complex, always-on consumer, marketers rely on high definition audience profiles drawn from rich consumer insights layered on top of their own transactional and behavioral data. These profiles deliver vivid insights that tell marketers how their target audience thinks and behaves as well as their purchase history, channel preference and the optimal mix of media.
Maximizing the benefit of the high-definition profiles requires a specific tailored approach for each targeted audience. It would be a huge waste if an audience is specified but there was no attempt to personalize the content and messaging to suit their individual interests. Marketers that take that extra—and necessary step— are able to create that meaningful and personalized connection that consumers demand, which leads to higher conversion rates and, ultimately, greater ROI.
A financial services firm struggled to develop an effective content strategy due to a lack of understanding of key audiences beyond their basic demographics and credit information. Leveraging an integrated dataset comprised of the bank’s own customer data and that of Hitwise, Hitwise created a sophisticated segmentation analysis that produced five distinct audiences and produced high-definition profiles for each.
One of the key segments was Motivated Leaders. These investors were younger, image-oriented and on-the-go, but uneasy making investments. The need of Motivated Leaders for others to see them as knowledgeable created an opportunity for the bank to develop content that would help strengthen their financial know-how and begin a relationship with these individuals early in their investment lifecycle.
Another important segment known as Thoughtful Realists were more mature and had years of investment experience under their belt. Bracing for—or already in—retirement, they needed a bank that would be a trusted partner that would ensure they are taken care of in their senior years.
Clearly a one-size-fits all content strategy would not be able to effectively engage these two different audience segments. Hitwise advised the bank to develop different sets of content as well as unique messaging strategies that would take into account the insights gleaned from the high-definition audience profiles.
4. Know the Preferred Channel for Your Target Audience
Knowing the preferred channel of a target audience is necessary before any specific content can be designed or created. That’s because the channel has a significant impact on the format and style of content that is most easily consumed.
For instance, print media allow for much longer-form content, but virtually no ability to customize or adjust the content once it has been “put to bed.” On the other hand, mobile is a channel that is garnering an increasing share of consumers’ attention, but often in shorter intervals. As such, mobile content needs to be “snackable,” meaning it can be consumed in a few minutes or less. But because mobile is a digital channel and enables geo-location-based targeting, it can be more highly customized to the reader and their location.
In fact, when marketers awaken to all of the different elements that need to be considered when choosing the content delivery channel, they realize just how important channel preference is to the entire content plan. High-definition audience profiles, like those discussed in the previous pages, should always include a focus on each audience’s cross-channel media consumption. This insight will help marketers make informed decisions about the best channels around which to optimize their content.
The same financial services firm cited in the previous case study needed to identify the best channels through which to reach their two key audience segments with personalized content and messaging. Through the high-definition audience profiles developed by Hitwise, it was clear that Motivated Leaders were significantly more likely than average to be digitally-inclined and savvy users of mobile devices. As such, the content would need to be easily consumed on mobile devices and in short periods of time. Infographics, quick investment tips and short videos with high visual appeal were the content format recommended for successfully engaging this segment through smartphones and digital tablets.