The Key to Content Marketing: Knowing Your Audience


As I’ve gained more experience as a content marketer over the past few years, one thing has become exceedingly evident to me: We are all selfish people.

What does this mean for content marketers? That the majority of individuals don’t read content for the sake of gaining knowledge. Instead, they seek out new information that they believe could serve beneficial to themselves, their business or their goals. Although this mindset may seem narcissistic and arrogant, it’s a natural human instinct; and the sooner content marketers understand this, the sooner their content will begin to truly engage their audience.

1. Define Your Audience

The first step in understanding your target audience is to define them. Consider important demographics that contribute to their overall identity, like age, sex and nationality. While this step seems fairly intuitive, it’s crucial in tailoring your message to connect with your public. Next, consider socioeconomics and psychographics; concrete characteristics like standard of living and level of education, as well as conceptual characteristics like values, morals and interests.

All of these attributes play a role in the overall development and persona of the audience you’re trying to appeal to, whether they realize it or not. By taking the time to truly understand your target audience, you can tailor your message in a way that speaks directly to them and evokes a response.

2. Research Your Audience

Nobody is born with the ability to know their audience and their wants and needs. In order to fully understand your consumers’ hierarchy of needs, you must conduct an extensive level of market research.

Business insight frameworks, such as VALS, eases the research process for marketers by segmenting U.S. adults into different categories using psychographics and demographics that drive consumer behavior. From this consumer insight data, marketers can adapt their message to speak to the needs and wants of their audience. In addition, it’s crucial to garner information on how publics obtain their content, so you can speak through these same effective platforms.

3. Tailor Your Content – Adapt Style and Tone

The overall goal of content marketing is to leave your audience with a better perception of your brand and goals. The most effective tactic to ensure that this information is clearly relayed is to make it stand out to your audience. Consider yourself outside the realm of a content marketer and solely as an everyday consumer. You want to read content that speaks directly to you, and content that does so typically resonates with you long after you’ve read it.

While it’s not always an easy task to relate your message to the interest of your audience, you can do so by tailoring the style and tone to match that used by your audience. For example, if you were speaking to a group of high school students on the basics of marketing, you would likely keep the conversation basic, while only using fundamental terms. On the other hand, if you were presenting a marketing plan to a client, you would go into detail about each step, not straying away from technical terms. By understanding the tone and style of your publics, you’re able to transform your content marketing piece into a real-life conversation.

4. Set Goals to Engage Your Audience

The last advantage to understanding your audience is being capable of setting goals that engage them. A crucial goal for content marketers in the digital era is to transition from clicks to conversions, executing the actual advice or task that is suggested in the content.

While gaining leads from content is definitely a benefit, content marketers should establish goals to measure their overall success. These goals should be SMART goals; ones that are specific, measureable, achievable, relevant and time bound, to ensure that marketers can definitively assess the content’s success level.  

There can be several goals that a marketer hopes to achieve through their content, but completion of a call-to-action is the most essential. At this point in the writing process, the content marketer should understand how to frame their call-to-action to guarantee that it speaks directly to their audience.

Just like any other form of marketing, you want to emphasize how your solution can solve or alleviate your audience’s problem. Once again, don’t forget that we are all selfish people, and everyone wants to discover a solution that can make their life easier or safer. 


Look for more resources from McDonnell Group in coming weeks and months as we launch a series of materials focused on helping energy marketing professionals succeed in content marketing.

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