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Know Your Audience: Writing Content That Reaches the Right People

Note: ContentCal no longer offers products through TechSoup.

In this blog post, we'll walk through six simple steps to consider when developing a content strategy and calendar at your nonprofit. When people research a cause they are interested in, the two main channels they use are Internet searches and social media. These areas are great opportunities for content marketing, and learning how to harness them is essential to your nonprofit's growth.

drawing of a woman sitting at a computer desk looking at a hand dropping a coin in a jar next to a calendar

Keep reading to learn about some great tools and ideas you can use to guide members of your target audience toward becoming loyal advocates for your organization. And if you'd like to dive even deeper into the useful information we'll share below, don't miss this recording of the TechSoup webinar that I led on this very same topic.

The Marketing Funnel

The marketing funnel is a tool used to map out the stages an individual goes through before taking an action, whether that is starting a subscription, making a donation, or buying something. Individuals will first become aware of a cause before educating themselves further and eventually becoming loyal advocates for the cause.

Emotion and education are two of the most effective elements of top-of-the-funnel content. Education shows your audience the value of your cause while emotion creates a connection that makes an individual more likely to become a long-term donor and advocate.

drawing of a funnel with descending levels awareness, consideration, conversion, loyalty, advocacy

Knowing Your Audience

We can't cater to our audiences unless we truly understand them. The more we know about the people we are trying to appeal to, the more impactful we'll be.

Here at ContentCal, we have created a persona based on the demographic of our audience to help us better understand who our content should be aimed at. To develop your own audience persona, begin by noting what you know about your audience. This might include demographics like age and gender, but it can be more helpful to focus on "psychographics" such as the ambitions and fears of your audience.

graphic of ContentCal's persona, showing age, gender, org size, where they go for information, values, fears, industries, goals, and job titles

Having an understanding of the marketing funnel and audience persona in place can provide a great foundation before you begin creating a content strategy.

The ContentCal 6 Cs

Here are six steps we use at ContentCal as part of developing our content strategy. These are all useful things to consider when in need of ideas and direction to better engage your audience.

Step 1. Customer

Content marketing starts with understanding your audience. It's important to learn how to get inside your customer's mind and understand what they need. You can use a keyword tool to find out what your target audience is searching for on Google or YouTube.

From the list of keywords you find, you can filter out questions people are asking using question words like how, when, what, and why. Once we've got a list of questions, the final step is to look at the volume of searches behind each question, which will then establish a priority list of the content we need to create.

Once your ideas list is established, ContentCal is a great platform to store it in. ContentCal can be used to create and organize all of your ideas, strategies, and content plans.

Step 2. Context

Learning about the wider context of your target audience can help you to ensure that you appeal to them. You can use tools like best-hashtags.com to find the most relevant hashtags related to your specific niche, helping you to tap into what your audience cares about. You can also keep track of national holidays or anniversaries and take advantage of those in your marketing plan. You can also add these dates to your content plan in ContentCal.

Step 3. Creativity

Creativity will be fostered by the research you conducted on keywords, questions, hashtags, and national days, but it can be further empowered by capturing inspiration as it strikes. The ContentCal Web Clipper allows you to save ideas as and when they appear. The ideas you save show as snippets in your Content Hub on ContentCal. Think of the Content Hub as a "digital pinboard."

Step 4. Collaboration

Something else that encourages creativity is collaboration with others. With ContentCal Contributions, you can ensure that all of your colleagues or partners get the opportunity to suggest content ideas. These ideas once again appear in the Content Hub, which by now is buzzing with inspiration from the articles you saved and the contributions of others.

External collaboration is often overlooked but can be very effective. You might want to ask someone you respect to contribute to a blog post you're writing, or maybe you'd like to interview them on your podcast or webinar. Creating content with others can take longer, but it is likely to be more successful because of the varied perspectives it includes. It also extends your reach since those you collaborate with might also share the content. 

Step 5. Channels

When your research is complete, you can use all of this insight to build a cross-channel content plan. By using either a spreadsheet or a content planning tool like ContentCal, you can add a line to your plan for each channel you intend to use.

Step 6. Calculation

Once you have planned, created, and published some content, you can focus on reporting results from the previous week, month, or quarter so you can understand what type of content works best for you and why.

The learnings from these results will inform future content. Connecting solid research to a consistent workflow, and backing that up with accurate data, creates a process that generates predictable, reliable, and scalable content marketing results.

Create Content That Connects

By getting to know your audience, and understanding their journey from awareness to donation and beyond, you can build content that caters directly to their questions and needs. ContentCal is a great tool to help you keep track of trends, keywords, and ideas, enabling you to plan content that will drive donations and create loyal supporters. Use the six Cs above to guide your social media strategy and deliver impact to your organization!

Additional Resources

Top photo: Shutterstock