Content

How to Write Content for Multiple Audiences

Published: 10.06.16

We all know that user experience is a huge factor in successful SEO. A great user experience can set a site apart, while poor user experience can leave your site hidden amongst the spam. Knowing your audience’s wants and needs – and speaking directly to them – is key for their user experience.

But what if your audience is divided into multiple audience segments? How can you speak to all of them at once? We’ll walk you through a few options.

But first, let’s look at why this is so important.

Technical Problems

Some believe if too many people are clicking away, or “pogosticking,” search engines will notice, and your rankings will suffer. Whether you believe it’s a ranking factor or not, you can’t argue its impact on conversions. This bounce can happen when a visitor goes to your site, decides it’s not for them, and then immediately clicks away.

Even if there’s a gain in organic traffic, that gain wouldn’t matter if a poor user experience prevented those visitors from completing a site’s goals.

Emotional Barriers

I’ll give you a real life example here, in which I discovered audience segments at the age of four. Every day as soon as Sesame Street was over on PBS, a man would come on screen to say, “Hey kids, go get your parents in the room.” So I would run and grab my Mom to tell her the TV needs her. Every. Day.

Eventually my Mom had to explain, through a furrowed brow, that I didn’t need to do everything the TV told me to do (except all that nice stuff on Sesame Street!), and they were only requesting her attention because they were selling tote bags.

I remember thinking that surely there was a better way for them to communicate with my parents, right?

I didn’t understand the struggle of a public broadcasting budget at the time, and I didn’t yet know the word “disingenuous”…I just knew I didn’t like it. Feelings like this can do real damage to your brand (and obviously last for decades!).

So what’s a company to do?

Unless you’re a very niche B2B company, chances are you have more than one audience segment. My ‘parents and children’ example will follow us throughout our entire lifespan, from children’s shows to student loan companies to nursing homes (cue Cat’s in the Cradle). Some other common examples of audience segments are sites that cater to both pros and novices, or buyers and sellers.

So how can you speak to everyone in your audience? Let’s start by asking them.

Gather Data About Your Audiences

If we had it our way, we would start every project with audience conversations. They’re the richest and least-tapped resource for creating valuable content. If you can, ask them specific questions about the company or product/service/offering, about the industry at large, about their decision-making habits – anything that will help you understand what they need and how content can connect with them.

Sample questions for gathering audience information

Choose the Best User Experience for Them

Once you understand the positioning of your audience segments, you can decide how to create content that works for their needs and your company’s goals.

Option 1. Give them separate experiences from the start.

Example of giving audiences different online experiences

The classic version of this path is a landing page with two big buttons, asking someone to select their identity in order to navigate your site. This is a point of contention with a lot of people, especially if they don’t want to be identified as one of the segments you’ve named. For example, they may be a babysitter uncomfortable identifying as a “caregiver”. On the other hand, maybe you want to weed out those who only consider themselves babysitters. This is where audience questioning and a little strategic thinking is key!

Doing upfront work to guide separate journeys is a bigger investment of time and resources, but also one that is more likely to pay off.

Option 2. Speak to all of them at once.

Example of writing to multiple audiences at once

Switching back and forth can be confusing, and vague language means you’re never fully committing to one. So the trick here is to find the underlying unifier. The audiences might be different on the surface, but if you dig a little deeper you can find the connection/goal that they share.

Let’s look at the example of ecommerce shops specializing in bridesmaid dresses. The two main audience segments are 1) brides and 2) bridesmaids. Their journey is different, but the outcome is the same. So discover which elements are important to both of them. This might include: easiness, wide variety of styles and colors, personal attention, and/or timeliness.

Option 3. Write for the audience more likely to convert.

Example of writing to a converting audience

You may have a segmented audience with one segment more likely to convert than others. As long as this lines up with your company’s goals, the obvious solution would be to focus on them.

For example, say you’re a pet insurance provider, and you have the data to support the fact that dog owners are more likely to convert than cat owners. Instead of always using generic “pet owners” copy, you might speak directly to “dog owners”.

Or if the gap in conversions isn’t too wide across the entire site, but dog owners are more likely to convert from one particular part of the site, you might just write to them there.

Option 4. Devote different channels to each audience.

Mapping content themes to channels

Think about the themes that should be conveyed across all communication channels. In the example above we’ve chosen thought leadership, conversions and brand/culture as the main purposes for this fictional company to create content. And then each purpose points to the channels that will help promote it.

Your audience across channels will differ, so considering purpose and general content themes is a good way to decide how to write. While you should never completely change your brand’s personality/voice across platforms, changing your tone is typically necessary. For example, your prospective employees would probably have different wants and needs than a customer, and the channels should reflect that.

Finally, Keep Testing and Improving Your Content

Now that you’ve done audience research, decided a method for creating the content, wrote and published it, it’s time for testing and improving. In other words, make sure it’s functioning the way it’s intended to. Some ways to do this include:

  • Set up tags and track the analytics.
  • Have stakeholders (who know the audiences) proof the content.
  • Test the user experience design on fivesecondtest.com.
  • Review KPIs of individual pieces of content and the overall experience (best to do this at least one month after publishing).

Unlike my example of PBS in the 90’s, today there are more ways than ever to reach and talk to your audience. So take time to do the research, consider the best content and user experience for your audience(s), and write with their particular journey in mind. Tote bags not required.

 


Interested in learning more about digital content? Read our previous post on Writing Content in your Client’s Voice.

Maddie Goodwin
Maddie Goodwin
After earning a B.S. in Professional Communication from Philadelphia University, Maddie worked as a Content Producer for a leading digital agency in Wellington, New Zealand. With a few years working abroad under her belt, including a stint teaching English in Taipei, she moved back stateside, bringing serious writing chops and creative content ideas with her. …
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  • M Adam

    I really like your article! A very interesting and unique take on the subject of varying audience ranges; which can be a difficult task to deal with! I particularly enjoyed your emphasis on “emotional information,” in that I think everybody would be more likely to read a page or buy a product if they had some sort of connection. Going hand in hand with the emotional aspect, creating a website that can appeal to different audience segments in the most personal manner is important: i.e. “If you like option A, or B, or C…”
    Really interesting read, thanks!!

    Milan Adam
    http://torontoseoexpert.org/

    • Maddie Goodwin

      I’m glad you found this interesting, thank you!

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