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Write For Your Audience: How to Tailor Your Content to Reader Profiles

Before you add any content to your website, it makes sense to know your audience. What are your readers’ goals, interests, demographics, preferred way of getting information?

Knowing these parameters will help your content reach the right audience and make sure it has the intended effect when it does. So, the first step in planning a content marketing strategy is creating reader profiles.

I think that three profiles is the perfect number. Three will let you tailor your content without going crazy diversifying. This number will, of course, vary depending on your business. So let’s say two to four profiles.

How to Create a Reader Profile

Find your readers’ motives.

  • What does the reader want to achieve?
  • Where are they in the buying cycle?

Let’s say that your company is selling IT services to law firms. Here are three realistic profiles we’ll use to discuss customizing content:

The Admin

She comes to your blog while researching potential IT providers. Her ultimate motive is to find a service that will provide a smooth user experience while keeping costs down. She has a mid-level understanding of technical details. She is likely to be the individual to make the final purchasing decision.

She is active on LinkedIn, community forums, and Facebook.

The Techie

The Techie, or the internal IT person, arrives at your blog while searching for details regarding a technical solution or product. While the techie is unlikely to have the final say in choosing the IT provider for his firm, he might be an important voice in the evaluation process. He has a deep understanding of technology. 

He keeps an RSS feed of his favorite blogs and is active on technology forums and Twitter. He is quick to try our new apps and social media networks and has a cynical view of email marketing.

The Partner

Responsible for the overall running of the firm, she looks at things from a high level. Her primary goal is to outpace competitors and impress her clients. The Partner, depending on the firm’s structure, may be making the final decision in the purchasing process. She is interested in general trends, and will depend on the Admin and Techie to help her make important decisions.

This type of reader is likely to be older—it’s taken her a long time to get to where she is. She has recently learned the words “blog” and “app,” and come around to using email instead of the phone. She is still working on “hashtag.” She relies on traditional media, such as well-established newspapers, for getting information.

Focus on the Customer’s Perspective, Not Yours

Instead of describing how great you and your company are (I’m sure you and it are fabulous), focus on the reader’s goals, challenges, and interests. Rather than creating a blog post called “How We’re Using the Cloud,” make it “How You Can Use the Cloud.”

Tie Subject Matter to Reader Goals

It is easy to imagine the Admin downloading a white paper with the title “Does Going to the Cloud Really Save Money?”

She will be interested in questions of budgeting, licensing, and the costs of leasing as opposed to buying. She is also likely to be interested in the converse – e.g., “How a Faulty Security Plan Will Cost You.”

The Techie is likely to see things more from the IT department’s perspective than from the end-user’s point of view. An easy-to-use dashboard on the back end, for instance, may be more a more compelling subject for him than for the other two readers.

When writing for the partner, on the other hand, skip the tech jargon and details on systems configurations. Instead, show that you understand the industry and its general trends and challenges.

Consider the Form

Notice that each profile above mentions the reader’s preferred way of receiving content. That means you shouldn’t post a video meant for the Partner on Snapchat or send a cold email to the Techie.

Brand Awareness versus Decision Time

The Admin is likely to come across your content when it’s time to make a buying decision.

Some reader types, such as the Techie and the Partner described above, are more often perusing information for general information, rather than for the sake of performing specific research. If they glean genuinely interesting information from your content, they will remember it.

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