How to write for your audience
First off – let’s stop calling them customers or consumers. We are talking about people here. Living breathing souls just like you or me. The key to writing for your audience in a way that really resonates with them is of course, to write from the heart. To write something inspiring and fresh. To talk to the reader, rather than dictate. That said, there is some intelligence you can apply to your research, that will help your content to be more successful.
In addition to weaving your writers spell, you also need to do your research and planning. Ultimately you need to:
- Decide who you are talking too
- Find out what interests them
- Write something that will do one or more of the below (ideally all three!);
- Resolve something for them
- Activate a memory or experience
- Inspire, educate or entertain them
Who are you writing for?
A digital marketing agency will usually kick off with some audience analysis. This is the process of defining your audience into three or four groups and applying a more focused persona to each of them. While the final definitions are only ‘guestimates’, this will help you to be more focused in your writing.
For example, let’s say you are B2C mixed gender fashion brand and you want to target three groups:
- Young FEMALE digitally savvy shoppers who love fashion (16-24)
- Young MALE digitally savvy shoppers who love fashion (16-24)
- Professionals who take pride in their appearance (25-45)
Here is how we can then further breakdown each group into a persona, using group one as an example:
- Name: Rosie Watts
- Age: 17
- Occupation: Studying marketing at college, part-time job in New Look
- Comparative Celebrity: Ariel Winter (Modern Family)
- Loves: Fashion, music festivals, socialising with friends, comedy films, reality TV (TOWIE, Made in Chelsea, Love Island) – taking selfies!
- Hates: Politics, country music, being left out!
- Hobbies: Blogging, writing, clubbing at the weekends…. fashion!
- Reason for loving fashion: Loves vibrant colours and patterns, wants to fit in with her social group, but also likes to be unique. Loves shoes!
- Social channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat!
- Social activity: Rosie is always checking her phone and posting selfie’s or updates on social. She uses Twitter for following her favourite celebs and gossip, Facebook for keeping up with friends and sharing her blog posts. Pinterest is her favourite place to spot new fashion trends and she uses Instagram or Snapchat to share any new outfits or music festival experiences.
There is no limit to how far you can go with this process. You can list what they like to eat, their favourite drink, what magazines they read – the list goes on. Think of it like building a character in a story. An actor needs to know everything they can to help them get into character. As a writer you need a strong visual of who you are writing for to help you write something that will engage that audience.
TOP TIP: Rather than trying to hit all of your audiences in one blog post, try to interchange and focus on one at a time.
What interests them?
There a few ways you can get some insight into your chosen personas interests.
Social Media Browsing – First have a browse on your social channels. If you see any connections that have similar personalities to your persona take a look at what they read, what type of posts they have been engaging with. You can also take a look at your ‘comparative celebrities’ profile.
Google it! – Now that you are getting a feel for your new persona, try googling some subjects that have come up. What type of articles are showing? Which websites are ranking highly? These may come in handy as inspiration and sources later on in the process.
By now you probably have a few good ideas in mind. List down potential titles and subjects for your blog post and any keywords that you think people will search in Google to find them. Next I always recommend doing a little keyword research. This means that you are not only writing something that your audience persona will be interested in, you are also writing optimised content that is likely to gain more traffic.
Keyword Research Basics – There are plenty of tools out there, but I personally use Google’s keyword planner. Paste your list of keywords in and ‘get ideas’. Even better, try to find some longtail keywords – longer phrases such as ‘what is the most flattering dress’, which will inspire some great sub-headers for your article. You also want your chosen keywords to be ‘low competition’. This means that big companies are not competing to get to the top of google rankings, so it is a low hanging fruit. Keyword research requires a lot of patience and experience to get it right, but you can get a good overview if you do the research first and add in some highly likely keywords.
Next, make a note of any good keywords and have them ready when you create your article. Try to use the high search terms in the main title or sub headers, but whatever you do – don’t overuse them. Only include them when it is natural to do so or use high search keywords as inspiration for the subject of your blog post. This blog post still needs to be well-written and interesting to your audience, not keyword heavy.
TOP TIP: Throughout the process open up a word document and take notes or paste any good links as you go. You can refer back to this research document when you need to during the writing process and for future articles.
Time to get writing
Now that you have done your research and got yourself into the mind-set of your audience persona it is time to get writing! While planning out your article first works for some, I like to first have an inspired burst of free writing. This helps me to fully harness all of the research I have done and put more life into the writing. Once the burst is over, it is then time to really think about structure and break that down. You can then dive back in and refine your content.
Need a hand?
I am currently available for freelance writing projects or content marketing consultancy and offer reduced rates for small businesses or startups, so just get in touch to find out more.