Six steps to targeting your content online

Time is money, and in the online world time is a very scarce resource. This is because people scan web pages rather than read them, and will move on unless you grab their attention within a couple of seconds.

This is not necessarily a problem. If you know your market well enough, then you can target your web content, ensuring that it is of interest to those people who are most likely to take you up on your offering.

Know your market

I came across a good example of this a while back, when talking to a lawyer friend of mine. Like many legal firms, her office produces an online newsletter for clients, but the members of staff responsible for it had argued over whether to include a very technical story on an esoteric point of employment law. In the end they added it in, because they had noticed that one particular client always clicked on stories on that topic. Sure enough – he clicked on it again.

I guess you could call this ‘extreme targeting’ but, in a market where a single client can generate a huge revenue stream, it must be worth it.

Who are you trying to impress?

Most businesses do not have the time or resources to do anything so focused as my friend’s firm. But a little thought can make all the difference. Ask yourself this – who am I trying to impress?

  • Existing clients? Existing clients are a known quantity. You should already know their interests and their level of knowledge, and can more easily target the topics and style of your writing.
  • Perhaps you have identified firms/people you would like to have as clients? Again they are a relatively known quantity: you will have knowledge of the individuals involved, their fields of expertise, and areas of interest – or if you don’t you can find out. You can then adjust your writing accordingly.
  • A particular market? As the potential breadth of your audience grows, so should the generality of your writing. Think broadsheet newspaper, rather than sector journal. You should also try and write so that the average employee of your target sector can understand what you are saying.
  • Perhaps you want to raise general brand awareness? With this approach you lose your sector focus, but can cover issues that are of interest to a broader range of people. More explanations will be necessary and you should write in a way that the average business man will understand.
  • Maybe you are aiming for a high Google ranking? If this is the case then quantity and keywords are the priority. Keywords are the phrases that people are most likely to enter when they are searching online. A liberal sprinkling of keywords in an online writing campaign increases the chance that your web page will be the one that comes up top of the search list.But you can have too much of a good thing. Too many keywords make for disjointed reading – and put people off.
  • Or maybe you simply want to impress yourself? Thought leadership should not be constrained by rules. If this is you, I would just let it flow…

(This post was first published in 2012, on an earlier version of this website)

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