Content shock has hit marketing like a tsunami. We marketers are no longer assured of reaching our audiences in any medium:
- Organic social media content’s reach continues its decline to zero.
- Public relations struggles with traditional media’s ongoing demise, as more news outlets close up shop.
- Paid advertising’s reach and clickthrough rates to broad audiences are outlandishly bad.
As a result, reaching large, broad audiences requires budgets and efforts affordable only to the largest companies. What are the rest of us supposed to do?
What audience should we reach?
The most important part of content strategy is defining what audience we want to reach, and what context that audience is in when they seek us or companies like us out:
- Who are they?
- What do they want from their business partners?
- Where do they learn about topics relevant to our business when researching?
- When do they search for problems we have solutions for?
- Why should they consider us?
- How do they make decisions about services or products like ours?
Consider Google’s generic customer journey mapping tool:
As the customer progresses – not necessarily linearly – towards purchase, they have different needs. To ensure we’re able to create an affordable, practical content marketing strategy, we must define our audience in each channel, at each stage.
For example, suppose social media is a touchpoint for our business at the very beginning of a customer journey. Who should we be making aware of our very existence? What should we say? What shouldn’t we say? An enormous number of businesses fill their social media channels with “Buy now!” promotions on social media – but don’t realize their customers aren’t even close to making a purchase, and thus don’t achieve any kind of performance for their efforts.
On the other hand, suppose social media is a nurturing touchpoint deep within the journey. Should that same company be welcoming people every day, or should they use social media to advance the customer’s narrative? The latter is the clear choice, but without understanding where social fits in your journey, it’s easy to make a relationship-ending mistake.
Consider the McKinsey customer journey:
What channels, messages, and ideas do each stage demand? Map your efforts from Google’s generic journey to McKinsey’s map, and now you have a clear idea of how your business should communicate.
This is audience-first marketing strategy: understanding who your audience is and what they want from you before doing anything else.
Audience Definition Creates Results
By defining our audience by both channel and behavior, then focusing our efforts appropriate to each context, we will reach our audiences in an affordable, practical manner.
We won’t be spending thousands or millions of dollars on messages our audiences don’t want.
We won’t be ruining first impressions with last-touch persuasions.
We will create better results.
If you’d like more information about how to create a customer journey mapping specific to your business and industry, enroll in my Data-Driven Customer Journey course. You’ll learn how to go far beyond the generic maps above, creating a map that reflects just your audience, as well as what budgets and resources you’ll need.
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Also published on Medium.