Google’s on-going quest to make search results more valuable to the user experience requires refining your content strategy so that it is highly relevant to your audience and potential customers beyond identifying obvious keywords around your products and services.
But how do you develop a solid audience-centric content strategy for the digital age?
It begins with a well-defined persona analysis plan…When Find and Convert engages a new client, we do the prerequisite discovery that any respectable digital marketing agency delivers. Before we dive into keyword research though, we begin with an in-depth collaborative persona analysis process to discover direct and indirect audiences that actually live in our client’s digital journey. The objective is to discover highly relevant yet sometimes indirect keywords that are significant to the way in which our clients solve their customer’s needs, and then integrate them into the content across digital assets.
Often times, our clients have a clear perception of their buyers. The objective of the persona analysis is to look beyond the most obvious audiences and discover related verticals that are relevant to the buying journey. And to keep the discovery smooth and focused, we unveil the process in steps.
Step One: Identifying Groups
Groups consist of a number of related audience silos relevant to a business. Sometimes groups are as simple as buyers, indirect influencers and promoters.
But for most businesses, it is rarely that simple. Let’s take a look at ACME manufacturing as an example. ACME sells a variety of LEED-approved widgets used in residential and commercial construction sold through big box stores and through other distribution channels. Their ultimate buyers are consumers, construction firms and distributors. However, are the buyers always the decision makers? While it is possible, more likely the buying process is greatly influenced through additional channels and influencers not directly related to ACME. Identifying the need for the widget may require creating awareness of its existence to the architect, sub-contractor, designer or other influencers that have nothing to do with the actual purchase. So how do you get discovered when your target audience may not yet be aware that you offer the perfect solution to their needs? In order to be discovered, you need to be found through quality, informational content in highly relevant searches and communities.
A more accurate grouping of this example may look something like this as your target customer and the primary influencers or decision makers may be in loosely related or even completely unrelated communities and interests on the web:
Step 2: The Breakdown
Once everyone has agreed on the roles and who belongs in each group, we break down the groups further into specific sections. In this persona example, we created four sections. One for each silo that we will examine in closer detail:
Step 3: Identifying Audience Needs
Once we have established roles within each group, we unveil Step 3. We ask our clients to remove themselves from the equation by not thinking about their company, their products or their services. Instead, we ask them to think of themselves in each role and focus on the individual needs, the pain points and the problems that may require a solution. When then ask them to identify the pain points for each type of role. We do this for each of the groups within each identified silo.
Step 4: Identifying Company Solutions
As a digital agency that is deeply passionate about meeting our clients’ needs (my apologies if that sounds a little advertorial), this is usually the rewarding ah-ha moment for us and our client. Pre-conceived ideas on messaging begin to take a right turn as often times, additional audience-centric messaging opportunities emerge.
Step 5: Keyword Free Association
Before we can identify relevant messaging or content valuable to your audience and how they will discover your content, we need to free associate words and simple phrases in each group that pertain to those pain points and solutions. We do this using one-to-three word phrases.
Step 6: Keyword Research
Now keyword research can begin. Out of the thousands of keywords and variations that Google will suggest as you begin researching the word associations you have discovered, a pattern will begin to emerge in identifying keywords relevant to your audiences, your services and products that are pertinent to your content marketing goals. These root keywords or themes will often fall into one of three types of messaging: Brand-centric, industry-centric and audience-centric.
Why Identifying Brand, Industry and Audience-Centric Keywords Are Important
Our primary objective in this exercise is to define an audience-centric content strategy. Understanding the relationship between themes that are advertorial, industry informational and highly relevant to your targeted audience’s interests will help you stay focused. You’ll be empowered to create and deliver highly relevant content that is eagerly discovered and consumed by your direct and indirect target audiences through social and search behaviors. Identifying the most relevant keywords into three segments forms a topic strategy for your website, blogging content and other digital assets within your content marketing strategy.