An often overlooked feature of high quality content is that it creates conversations rather than just contributes to them. You want your material to make an impact, and the most effective way to do so is by crafting innovative content that gets things started and makes things happen. Doing so, however, is often easier said than done. Online content development is not a process that should be undertaken with anything less than meticulous dedication.
You have to commit yourself to providing your target audience with what they may not even realize they're seeking. Regardless of any superficial reasons behind someone's search for specific online content, people seek online information to solve their problems, answer their questions, fulfill their wants, or meet their needs.
The First Step
The first step in online content development, and a step frequently skipped by many content creators, is to gather information. To be able to develop and deliver original and engaging content that appeals to your audience and gives them what they’re looking for, you have to answer two essential questions:
- What goal are you trying to accomplish with your content?
- Who, specifically, are you trying to reach with your content?
You might be wondering how web designers, marketers, or business owners could begin, much less complete, the online content development process without knowing the answers to those two questions beforehand. Surprisingly enough, a great deal of content is created for online audiences without the answers being found to either question. For obvious reasons, content that has no predetermined goal or target audience is content that is designed to fail.
Identifying Your Target Audience
Knowing who your content is intended to reach is the most important question to answer because you can't meet needs, solve problems, or answer questions if you have no idea who has those needs, problems, and questions. The characteristics of your target audience can also influence what marketing channels you will be using to distribute your content, how or in what format the content should be provided, and when you should make it available online.
For example, if you are working on an online content development plan for social media distribution, you need to further narrow down the demographic of your desired audience. This will help you choose the social network best suited to receive your marketing content. Each social network has a distinctly different user base demographic.
When identifying your audience, a basic profile is your first stage in the process. You'll want to know various things about your audience like:
- Marital Status
- Education Level
- Occupational Sector
Some of these qualities may not be as important as others, and some may not apply at all for your marketing campaign. Once you've narrowed down your target audience to a basic demographic profile, you'll then want to fine tune the details even further and identify more elusive qualities. Ask yourself what your audience reads or watches, what their web surfing and shopping preferences are, what appeals to them or engages their emotions, what problems or challenges they face on a daily basis, and what they want out of life on a variety of levels.
Defining Your Goals
After you know who your content should be directed toward, you can then define your marketing goals. Goals can be as simple as establishing a consumer-initiated connection or more complicated like achieving a sale that includes at least two viable referrals that are eventually convert to sales. Your goals can also consist of statistical accomplishments like a specific number of sales or the collection of a certain number of qualified leads within a predetermined time frame.
When setting marketing goals, it's nice to dream big but you want to set goals that are reachable with your current capabilities. As you grow and expand both your business and your marketing outreach, you can then raise the bar for your goals and reach higher than before.
The Final Step
The final step in your online content development process is to create content that is hand-crafted for your target audience and tailor-made to assist you in achieving your goals. When content is designed specifically for a definite type of customer it is instantly more appealing because it appears more personal. Goal-oriented content is significantly more successful than marketing content that appears to have been developed just for the sake of filling the "white space" on a web page.