Writing for a single target audience is a challenge for most writers. You have to get in tune with your audience’s perspectives, histories, values, wants, and needs, then choose a topic that suits them and adopt a tone they can relate to. Even if you’re used to writing for a particular niche, it’s still exhausting work.
So what happens when you want to target two different audience segments? If you offer programs for both children and adults, or if you cater to both consumers and business customers, you’ll need to find a way to tailor your content strategy to target both simultaneously—at least, if you want to continue seeing results.
Let’s try to define what the key challenges in writing for multiple audiences are, and work on strategies to overcome them.
The Key Challenges
Ultimately, our goal is to overcome the following hurdles:
- Perfecting our understanding of each audience. When you’re creating the “right” tone for a single audience, you can pour all your resources into understanding that audience. When you introduce a new segment, you have to learn a new set of values, perspectives, and tonal changes.
- Creating a clear division. When a member of one audience segment visits your site, how can you make it obvious which content is intended for them? This is especially important if you offer white-label products or services for business customers.
- Dividing our effort optimally. Assuming you’re working with a finite budget and a finite number of resources, how can you divide your budget and efforts optimally among your audience segments? Should you prioritize one, or attempt to distribute these evenly?
Strategies for Success
Depending on your available resources and content goals, you may not be able to use all these strategies—but there’s still something to learn from each one, as it uniquely tackles a hurdle associated with multiple-audience writing.
Consider each of these tactics carefully:
- Prioritize your most valuable audience. If you’re going to split your resources, try to split them in favor of the audience you know will be more profitable. If you’re adding a new audience segment, that means prioritizing your main, existing audience. If your audiences are perfectly balanced, your budget should be perfectly balanced as well.
- Assign different writers to different audiences. If you have multiple writers on your staff, or if you have the option of hiring another content manager, consider assigning a different point person to each audience segment. This will eliminate the segment confusion problem, since each writer can become much more familiar with their respective segment, and not worry about the possibility of overlap.
- Set up a subdomain or separate website. If the difference between your audience segments is stark, consider the benefits of setting up a subdomain—or even a separate website, if you’ve considered launching a different branch of your brand. This will make the distinction clearer both for your visitors and for your staff, but may come at the cost of brand consistency.
- Use distinct branding and/or visuals to denote different content. If you want to make a stark distinction between your target audience segments, consider using distinct branding or visuals to denote different types of content. For example, you might offer a signature logo for content targeted at teens, or a different background color for men and women.
- Establish clean category pages. If you don’t go the subdomain or separate domain route, make sure your category pages are distinct on your blog page. If possible, use a landing page to ask incoming visitors to distinguish themselves, so you can send them to the right cluster of content pages. Otherwise, make each category of content—and their respective target audience—clear and prominent, so visitors see them immediately.
- Create customer personas to evoke the right tone. If you want to nail the tone correctly for each audience segment, you’ll need some formal documentation about what that tone should include. Develop specific customer personas for each of your audience segments, so you’ll have a consistent resource, no matter who’s writing at the time.
- Avoid gear-switching while writing. If you’re working on the content campaign solo, avoid “gear-switching” as you’re writing. In other words, avoid writing an article for one target segment, then jumping to an article for the other segment. It’s better to write those articles assembly-line style, all at once for each segment; if you can’t do that, at least allow a break between articles so you can reset your frame of mind.
- Use social channels to balance your efforts. You can split your efforts in different ways than just the total number of articles written for each segment. For example, you could focus the majority of your onsite content toward one audience segment, but use a specific social media channel to focus on another. This is especially valuable, since each social media platform is going to have different demographics associated with it.
- Rely on interlinking to keep customers grounded in one category. Once you start writing multiple articles for a single audience segment, use internal linking to keep that segment confined to their intended category. Include multiple links to other posts within the same category as the current post, and make sure your calls-to-action (CTAs) align with each audience segment.
- Work with separate lists of offsite publishers to attract the right audiences. If your content strategy has an offsite component, think carefully about how each publisher you use relates to your target audience; for example, if a publisher targets retirees, you can use your guest posts there to link to your onsite content that also targets retirees. If your other audience segment is young professionals, consider finding a separate publisher to link to that material.
No matter what, writing content for multiple audiences is going to be more difficult than focusing on a single audience. That said, if your company will find value in bringing multiple demographics to your site, it’s likely worth the extra investment. Utilize these strategies to keep your campaign grounded, and succeed in reaching out to a new audience segment.
Photo by William Felker on Unsplash