As the digital marketing world matures, we’re seeing ever-more sophisticated segmentation and targeting techniques emerging, allowing businesses to personalise content to their different audiences.
But that’s not the whole story. What if you’re limited to addressing everyone through a single channel, such as a social media account? Can you still be successful and effective? We believe so – and here are a few techniques to help you succeed.
1. Go for the goals with benefit-led messaging
Benefit-led writing, i.e. content that focuses on positive outcome for customers, rather than features and attributes of your products, naturally helps signpost your audiences towards relevant content. It’s also a general all-round best practice tip for marketing and promotional content. Here’s an example, based on a recruitment company that deals with both jobseekers and employers:
Get daily talent alerts and pick the cream of the candidate crop with our People-Finder bulletins
People-Finder uses the latest social and analytics data to browse a wide range of sources and deliver talent to your inbox.
In the benefit-led example, it’s clear to any HR professionals who read it that the product is for them, because it’s talking in their language. Anyone glancing at it will understand that it’s aimed at recruiters and employers, even though the social channel also contains content for job candidates. With the non-benefit-led example, it’s not clear until you’ve read right to the end that this is a tool for recruiters – meaning you’ve probably confused and wasted time for your other audiences.
2. Keep on top of it all with a modular approach
You have different things to say to different audiences, but that doesn’t mean you have to craft a new message every time. Dorie Clark, writing in the Harvard Business Review, describes splitting content into modules to help reach different audiences.
Rather than producing a single message which covers everything and is reproduced in a rote way, she pre-prepares a library of content modules which cover the full range of her expertise and messaging. Some of the modules are suited to an expert or specialised audience, while others are more basic in nature. These building blocks of content can be combined and re-arranged to produce a wide range of unique audience experiences, with minimal extra effort from her.
She’s talking about public speaking, but fortunately digital channels – including websites and social feeds – lend themselves beautifully to this technique thanks to their bite-sized updates and menu-led structures. Even video channels can be modularised into separate playlists.
You can use the modular approach to generate a body of content and messaging that acts as both scope-definition and sourcebook for your multi-audience strategy. Then combine and curate it to suit your purposes, all without losing coherence or unbalancing your audience focus during day-to-day interactions with your different visitors.
3. See audiences as flowing, not fixed
It’s easy to fall into the pattern of thinking about audiences as fixed groups. That’s especially true if you work with audience personas which can start to feel like old friends. But more often than not, the reality is that individuals are moving between your audience categories over time in a lifecycle pattern as time passes and their relationship with your brand matures.
When creating content on a single channel, you’re not only catering to different audiences, you’re actually promoting the journey along this lifecycle. Do it right, and you can use your single-channel messaging to recruit from one segment (let’s say young professionals) into a subsequent one (mid-career specialists, for example).
By targeting your messages too precisely, you could be over-siloing your customers and missing out on the benefit of their curiosity taking them into new territory within your content. Rather than being a drawback, single channel marketing can be a way of promoting their evolution along the customer journey. Exposing your visitors to content aimed at audiences at a later stage in the lifecycle can actually be a business benefit.
4. Don’t mistake simplicity for dumbing down
Here’s one of the golden rules of content marketing: simplification isn’t the same thing as dumbing down. This is worth remembering when you’re puzzling over how to reconcile ‘expert’ and ‘basic’ level content on a single channel.
Many marketers worry that over-simplifying content will annoy their expert and specialist audiences and cause them to switch off. But that’s just not the case, providing you’re simplifying the language you’re using rather than the message itself. A case in point – a recent study showed that language used in The Sun newspaper is as easy to understand as CBBC, although as anyone who has read it knows, the Sun’s content is definitely not kid’s stuff.
Writing for your least immersed audience can make content more accessible for everyone, which could improve comprehension, brand sentiment and loyalty too. Short sentences with simple constructions, avoiding jargon, spelling out abbreviations at first mention and providing clear, well-signposted links to related content are all best practices here.
After all, we are mostly talking about digital audiences who are famously distractible and low in patience and attention spans. Making things easier to read can only be good news.
So is a single channel a limitation for marketers? We believe it doesn’t have to be, and there are plenty of creative ways to turn it into a positive that can cut down your workload and bring your online community together.
Want to hear more? Get in touch.