How to Write Content for the Right Reader

Posted by Emery Pearson on Mar 5, 2020 11:30:22 AM

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If you're writing content for a website and you're hoping that website will grow and attract plenty of visitors, then you understand the importance of getting that content just right. There's a lot that goes into optimizing your site for search engines and user experience, but what you write is just as important as any of those SEO and UX tactics. 

However, crafting the content that will appeal to your target market can be tricky. You want to write what you know, what you want to share, and what vibes with the overall goals of your website. But you also want to meet your visitors where they are and give them whatever it is they need. How do you do that? First and foremost, you have to write for the right reader. 

Why the Right Reader Matters

If your content isn't focused, visitors aren't going to want to read the whole thing. If you're addressing a demographic that isn't part of your ideal customer profile or one of your buyer personas, you might be getting traffic, but you won't be getting conversions. And, if the right reader happens to find your content, but it isn't what they need or want, you will have lost them as quickly as they found you. 

All of this means that it's definitely worth your time to do some planning to ensure your content is designed for and appealing to the searchers who are most valuable to you. There are a few ways to do this. 

Where to Start if You Have No Idea Who Your Audience Is

Ideally, you have figured out your buyer personas and are creating content based on those characters. But if you haven't, that's okay -- you can still determine who you're writing for right now. 

One way to get specifics is to check out Google Analytics and see what your audience already looks like. You'll find some fairly broad categories like demographics and interests, and you can start to get a sense of who is already interested in what you're offering.

Other ways to learn about your audience include:

  • Conducting pop up surveys on your site (this can also help you figure out what sorts of things your visitors want to know, which means more content ideas)
  • Consider customers you already have -- what aspects of their demographics, shopping habits, personality, etc. can you use to visualize your ideal reader?
  • Viewing insights on your social media pages to see if any of that data is useful
  • Using the products or services you offer to understand what problems your business is (or could be) solving and for whom
  • Learning about your competitor's audiences 

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How to Write for Your Target Audience

Now that you have an idea of who your target audience is -- either by figuring it out with the steps above or by looking at your buyer personas -- you can get even more specific. 

Here are some tips to help you stay focused on your target audience. 

Write to One Person

It can be really helpful for some writers to envision one particular person (real or imagined) and write directly to them. Using this method can help you stay focused, and it can help you feel and sound confident in your writing. Writing for one person can also help you find ways to connect to the reader, as you're better able to understand what they want to know, what they need to know, and what they already know. 

Get Specific About Their Experience

While the person or people you're writing for may be imagined, it's a good idea to get very particular when talking about their experiences. Doing so shows that you understand and offers up a compelling reason to keep reading. One way to do that is to talk about a scenario that your target audience may find themselves in. Even if it's not exactly what the reader is experiencing, they are probably going to see how that example relates to their personal experience. Another option is to tell a story about yourself, a customer, or someone you know to illustrate your point. Vivid details, a personable approach, and a bit of storytelling go a long way. 

Get Specific With Your Message

Specificity is even more important when it comes to your message. Too often, blog posts make broad statements, shift focus often, or fail to match the reader's expectations based on the title and meta description. If you have a focused message that you are able to retain throughout your entire article, you're already doing much better than a lot of other websites out there. Make sure your point is clear from intro to CTA. 

Evergreen, but Make It Timely

While evergreen content is always a good idea, you might need to find ways to incorporate a sense of timeliness in order to reach your target market. This can be easy in terms of seasonality, holidays, or other broad-reaching times, but it can be even more powerful if you're able to inject timeliness that feels personal to the reader. That might mean getting ultra-specific in your examples or message, but it can also mean utilizing the buyer's journey or searcher intent to infuse your content with applicability. 

Use Google's Definitions of Searcher Intent

In addition to (or instead of) the buyer's journey, you can also take into account Google's own research about searcher's "need states." Google identifies the driving force behind every search as falling into one of these six needs:

  • Surprise me
  • Thrill me
  • Impress me
  • Educate me
  • Reassure me
  • Help me

Understanding which of these needs you're attempting to meet -- and ensuring your content sticks to it -- is another fantastic way to meet your ideal reader where they are, and potentially creating a long-term relationship with them. 

Add a Dash of Credibility

Finally, there's no sense in writing to a target audience if you lack credibility. This doesn't have to mean you're an expert in your field. But it does mean you thoroughly demonstrate enough trustworthiness to keep your reader's attention. Some basics of credibility include:

  • Writing that is grammatically correct and copyedited
  • Facts that have been checked and backed up with evidence, when applicable
  • A secure website that prioritizes user experience
  • An understanding of your reader's needs 

One of the best ways to create content that ranks is to offer unique perspectives and useful information readers can't find anywhere else. Want to know a secret to doing that? Start by being hyper-focused on your target audience and give them what that want, need, and didn't even know they wanted or needed. 

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Emery Pearson

Written by Emery Pearson

Emery is the content strategist at Tribute Media. She has an MA in rhetoric and composition from Boise State University, and she is currently an MFA candidate in creative writing at Antioch University. She lives in southern California with a bunch of creatures and many plants.