Six Questions Content Marketers Must Ask About Their Audience

If only more content marketers would ask themselves what their audience wants.


by Dave Robson

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As a content marketer, it’s important to know your audience. That’s why after you’ve nailed down all the basic demographic information, it’s time to ask some deeper questions. Deeper questions lead to a deeper connection with your content…and a deeper connection with your content means deeper engagement.

What questions? Well, we have some suggestions.

What does our audience need?

Everyone wants the answer to this question to be “Our content, immediately!”, but it’s worth asking this less cynically. Need is the great driver of human action, so this is a question worth asking over and over until you’ve fleshed out a satisfactory answer.

Example: The readers of Canadian Living need recipes for fast, simple, straightforward, and nutritious food so they can spend more time with / be better members of their families.

What frustrates our audience?

Why go negative? Well, a surprising amount of media is driven by frustration. After all, John Oliver has made a career out of it. If you understand what frustrates your audience, you can commiserate with them.

Example: The readers of American Rifleman are frustrated by the lack of federally recognised concealed carry.

What does our audience find funny?

You can tell a lot about a person based on what they find funny. After all, when Ned Flanders tells Homer, “When I want to laugh, I’ll take Bob Saget, thank you very much,” we understand exactly how family-friendly and lame Flanders is—and we assume that Flanders never ended up seeing The Aristocrats.

Example: Fans of the YouTube channel VlogBrothers are fans of wry humour that takes a little bit of thought to appreciate, mild but not overt cynicism, and slightly worried explanations about how the world works. A frenetic pace probably also helps the laughs along.

What does our audience fear?

Fear is a major motivator of people and the content they like sharing, especially if those people happen to be our panicky relatives on Facebook. According to some biologists, fear is the major motivator—more important than love, happiness, anger, and all that stuff.

Example: Turn on any 24-hour news network and you’ll see what we mean.

What drives our audience’s purchasing decisions?

You’ve probably already asked yourself this question about your customers. Well, this information will be important to defining your audience too. Do they most value price? Exclusivity? Coolness? Ethics? Convenience? Peers?

Example: Readers of Pitchfork value coolness when they’re deciding what they buy. (Well, they think they do, anyway.)

What other media does our audience consume?

Is this sort of an obvious question to ask, perhaps to the point of cheating a little? Yes, but that’s okay. Look at the audience you want, figure out what they’re reading / watching / listening to / consuming, and learn from that content. It’s a useful jumping-off point.

So long as you actually jump.