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Personalized Content Pays Off

by Rasheite Radcliff

Content is King: It seems that phrase, attributed to a Bill Gates article circa 1996, will never expire. It is the most important aspect of the internet these days, and unless you are satisfying your customers with great content you probably aren’t returning good search results.

But it goes far beyond writing interesting combinations of words and phrases. Content is more than a blog of good ideas. For me, content should work in phases. There is a strategy that must be involved. You never want to just jump in and start producing content because without a purpose, there is no point and without a point, there are likely no results.

Who’s your audience?

The first step in a content strategy is to analyze your audience. Assessing your audience is not a foreign notion to those of us with a background in writing and editing and especially to those in sales and marketing. Without knowing and understanding the person you are trying to attract, you’re stuck writing a lost cause.

When determining your audience, the main question to be asked is the who. Narrow down exactly who your target audience is. I’m into shoes, so I’ll use these products as an example. If I was given the task of producing content for a shoe boutique, Savvy Social Shoes, I’d begin by developing a buyer persona. It’s not enough to identify the target market as women. What is there to know about this woman? What does she look like? Is she married with children? How about her annual salary?

Developing a buyer persona can be the most useful step in your content strategy. And a well-developed buyer persona incorporates more than just target market demographics; rather it uses those demographics to determine buyer behaviors and habits. The content marketing session at MBO 2011 even suggests giving her a name. Let’s take a look at her:

Taking it a step further

Remember I pointed out the key to developing a buyer persona is determining buyer behaviors and habits. From those habits you are able to define the buyer’s needs, which leads us to the next step to extract the user’s needs.

Kim K. Style is not quite sure where she wants to be in her career. The persona notes that she is still maneuvering through her options. Combine that with her salary and we realize that, as much as she loves what’s in vogue, she needs style that’s inexpensive. And Kim’s attitude shows you that she strongly desires attention. See how the behaviors and habits can lead you to what the buyer is actually looking for? Kim comes into the store for shoes, but she is actually looking to buy more than that.

Once you’ve settled on buyer needs, it’s time to decide on deliverables. And think beyond text; text is great, but it doesn’t encompass the world of content, and it can limit your reach if you choose not to cross that text boundary. Content also includes videos, infographics, images and interactive messaging and beyond. I’m not saying divorce text, but consider an open relationship. Your content should be directed towards your buyers. What might Kim K. Style be looking for when she’s online? What type of content will appeal to her? Getting this step right is critical as the wrong type of content will lead you to that lost cause. Without the right content you may not catch Kim’s attention.

Notice any areas you could improve and recognize the ones that worked well.

Finally, we move to the remaining steps of your content strategy: produce content and then assess your results. After you decide on the deliverables, make sure to keep the buyer persona in mind as you produce the various levels of content. And, as is always necessary in any methodology or strategy, it’s important to assess your results.

Content is important. You’ll never hear me deny that. But just because content is important doesn’t mean you should immediately turn to content production. There must be a method to the madness. Google may not be a person, but the algorithm is designed to model human behavior as close as possible. You’re a human: Do you just want a flood of content or would you rather produce content that makes sense and maximizes your internet marketing campaign?

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