Have you been to a shopping mall lately?
Walk around one and you’ll hear hundreds of people talking at once. If you only heard one or two voices, you could distinguish them. When you have a crowd of people, all you can hear is a dull roar.
It’s also important to distinguish between B2C audiences and B2B. This article focuses on business-to-business audiences. Still, you shouldn’t forget that people and their personalities exist behind those businesses you’re trying to reach.
If you don’t know who you’re trying to reach, you won’t be able to reach the right audience. Create buyer personas, or profiles, to help you decide which arguments and evidence will convince your audience to buy or subscribe.
Identify their goals and their pain points. Once you know what your reader needs, you can show how your product or service will benefit them.
Learn how to sell more effectively to your core buyer persona here.
To decide which audience to target, try looking at your existing customer base. Where do they live? What do they buy, and how often? Track demographics, psychographics, and behavior.
You can accomplish this with surveys or by analyzing existing data. Quantitative analysis gives you hard numbers and statistics, but qualitative analysis provides insights essential to building realistic buyer personas.
You also have many ways to use outside sources for research. Social media monitoring, for example, is a great way to get insights into your market in real-time. However, be careful not to rely on this method too much. Sites like Twitter or TikTok are notorious for being unreliable and subject to volatile swings.
Google Trends tracks how often users search for a term on a day-to-day basis. Typically, people Google topics that have recently been in the news.
Users also search for subjects they have an interest in, such as products and services they want to buy. Don’t forget to Google your own business and see what consumers are seeing.
You can also buy information from other companies that have already done the work for you. However, this data is expensive and can be out of date. You’re much better off monitoring your customers yourself in most cases.
Summarize the information about your audience with tools like Excel or Access. You can find dozens of sites that will also help you compare data, some of which are even free.
John Lydgate said:
“You can please all of the people some of the time, or some of the people all of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”
Don’t go too broad when deciding which customers to target. Instead, segment your audience based on demographics and other areas of interest.
Once you’ve decided who your core audience is, set up buyer personas. These will help determine which arguments and evidence will get the most interest. They’ll also help persuade your audience to follow through on your call to action.
Where does your customer live? What’s their socioeconomic and educational background? What types of media do they use, and where do they go when they want more information?
These profiles help you envision your audience so that you can write copy that feels tailored to them.
Imagine that you’re marketing to companies that sell novelty jewelry. Some companies may focus on fruits such as bananas or apples, and others may create products showcasing cars or Disney princesses.
If you sell banana-shaped earrings, you’ll want to focus on companies with the more common fruits that everyone recognizes. While the other companies may be interested, focus on the audience more likely to buy.
It’s not enough to have the right keywords for your content — you also have to take search query intent into account. Depending on the modifiers a consumer uses, you end up with different SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages.)
Research and experiment with keywords to see which ones draw the most attention to your business. Shorter keywords will show up on more SERPs. Long-tail keyword with modifiers (think “small batch bananas” instead of “fruit”) that give more specific information make it easier to get a top ranking.
Navigational searches have a specific destination in mind. Users already know what company they want to reach — they’re simply not sure what the exact web address is.
These terms include:
They’re probably the most straightforward searches, so they’re easier to optimize for. However, that’s not the only reason that people search the internet.
People use informational searches to find answers to specific questions. People write these in natural language as if they were part of a conversation.
Examples may include:
The search for “Where did David Ogilvy grow up” leads to a snippet at the top of the search engine results page that will inform us he was from West Horsley, England. Google snippets provide quick answers to searches.
Commercial investigation usually happens at the top of a sales funnel. People research and look for reviews and comparisons, including:
Transactional searches happen when people have already made up their minds to buy something. It could be anything from an item in a store or a subscription to a SaaS.
Identify your direct competitors and research them to look for ideas and points of differentiation. A SWOT analysis defines the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats another company may pose for your business.
When browsing sites and stats for your competitors, consider the following questions:
“Where’s the content being posted?” Is it YouTube, TikTok, or Twitter? Where are they reaching their core audience? Is it worth it to advertise on the same social media sites, or do you want to reach a different audience?
“Which influencers are sharing it?” Influencers are social media users with a large following who use their audience to promote sponsored content. Keep on top of trends — influencers can have a shorter shelf life than celebrities.
Track reactions, engagement, and follower sentiment. Those reaction buttons on social media posts have valuable sentiment analysis information already sorted out for you. For example, on Facebook we have: Like, Love, Care, Haha, Wow, Sad, and Angry.
How frequently does the competition update its content? Make sure your blog, podcast, or YouTube channel has regular updates to stay current and fresh in your viewers’ minds.
As always, look up your competitor’s website and see how it ranks on Google Trends and Moz. Check backlinks, domain authority, and keywords.
Take your buyer personas and think about them critically. Then, try brainstorming with your team and see how many factors you can come up with in each category.
We discussed buyer personas earlier, but we didn't come up with any examples when describing them. So let’s use some hypothetical ones for now, but keep in mind, yours should focus on solid research — not assumptions.
Take the case of a teenager with acne. For demographic reasons, let's consider people between the ages of 10 and 19.
Learn about your prospect's stages of awareness in this article.
Again, always research when you create buyer personas and empathy maps. Never assume that you understand a demographic without research.
Experience maps describe the marketing funnel and customer journey. These points of contact document the circumstances of the journey. Experience maps highlight all interactions between a business and its customers — from the first interaction to the conversion into a customer and building of a relationship.
The four stages you’ll want to consider are:
Remember that we’re talking about B2B, not B2C. You want to appeal to other businesses, not people. So, while we’re using influencers as an example, these might not apply to a business when you’re trying to convince them.
Or will they? Do your own research and find out. The results may surprise you.
If you don’t know what you’re aiming for, you won’t hit the right target. So, what are you hoping to accomplish with your content? Are you looking for sales, or are you increasing awareness?
Here are some goals you may want to reach:
Don’t forget to build audience rapport and develop a relationship with your customers. Solid branding ensures brand loyalty. Retaining customers costs a lot less than getting new ones, so reducing churn is an essential goal of content strategy.
Set goals that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound:
The amount of data and metadata you can collect on a project seems to be infinite. While we’re not going into detail here, we have some Key Performance Indicators you might include:
Be sure to crunch the numbers and come up with KPIs relevant to your content and its goals for your business. Don’t waste time on “vanity metrics” that look good without measuring anything meaningful or actionable.
A good KPI is quantitative, relevant, and easy to calculate. Ask yourself whether improving your chosen KPIs makes a noticeable difference in customer loyalty and customer sales.
We’re focusing on multi-product companies for this article. For simplicity’s sake, let's picture it as a chart with many products for one buyer type.
Use a product-based approach. Don’t focus on differentiating the audience, but on segmenting the products you have to offer. Consider the top, middle, and bottom of the marketing funnel.
Include a column for each product and have the stages of the funnel in your rows. You can do this with Excel or even on paper if you like a more tangible process.
Are your goals broad and overarching, or would you like to be more specific? What marketing channels are the most effective?
Use multiple channels and different types of content to ensure a broad mixture of exposure and media types:
Inbound marketing attracts consumers with your own channels — your blog, website, or social media channel. Basically, the content you’ve produced.
Outbound marketing is paid or earned advertising on other sites and channels to get a reader’s attention and start the awareness cycle.
Here's how you can authentically position your offer using copywriting.
Content strategy for a business to business (B2B) model will have different goals than business to customer (B2C) interactions. We used the example of a shopping mall, but you could also consider the perspective of the companies that supply products to the stores.
Do solid research with metadata you already have on hand from existing sales and use other sources like survey research if you have the means to do so.
A store that sells novelty jewelry will have different needs than a company that sells diamond engagement rings.
Consider your ranking on sites like Google or Bing. Include the intentions (Navigational, Informational, Commercial, and Transactional) of the searcher when describing the content of your site to improve your SEO.
Check out the competition and see how they rank. Analyze their strengths and weaknesses, and identify points of differentiation. Create superior content that exploits these weaknesses so you can find your own niche.
How do they manage their social media accounts? Do they track sentimental reactions? How often do they provide new content? What kind of comments are they getting from their users?
Use consumer research to build profiles of the customers you want to reach. Consider their needs, challenges, and demographic information such as education and socioeconomic class.
Take advantage of the data you’ve collected from current customers. Extend your search for other information to focus on market segmentation. Narrowing down your audience helps you to create content that feels personal to your viewers.
Once you have your buyer personas, you can identify your goals. Be sure that they’re SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.) Determine the metrics you’ll use to evaluate your progress.
A multi-product company offers many products to a few audiences. Rather than focusing on the audience, focus on showing the difference between your products and how they serve your audience’s needs.
Chart the top, middle, and bottom of the marketing funnel. Examine your content to find the areas that need to be filled in or improved. The research you did at the beginning comes into play here. You should have a rich store of information to use.
There’s so much content on the Internet that it can feel like a jumbled mess sometimes. It may seem hard to pick out one voice above the others, but that’s just what you’ll have to help your customers do.
The good news? You have the tools you need to get started.
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