As content producers, we all know the importance of creating content that our users actually want. Basing our content on our users’ needs means that our audience is more likely to come back time and time again and that our content will work as hard as it possibly can to meet our goals.
Knowing how your audience experiences the world around them and understanding what motivates them to turn to you (or others) can help you to create content that really matters.
Here’s five ways that you can make sure your content is packed full of insights.
It’s always a great moment when, after hitting a few dead ends on search, you manage to find a piece of content that offers you the information or support that you are looking for.
To deliver that for your audience you need to understand both them and their context. It’s easy to understand that someone who is looking for health-related content at two o’clock in the morning is probably in a very different headspace to someone who is browsing your event pages during the daytime.
Tools such as analytics, surveys, social media monitoring and listening, keyword research and performance data can all provide you with the insight that you need to help you make sure your content, layout and tone match your users’ needs.
Understanding your users’ whole experience
In the charity sector, we often create content to support people who are experiencing difficult moments in their life. Whilst metrics can help us to understand ‘what’ content a user is searching for and ‘how’, user research can help us to understand their full experience – the ‘why’.
At We Are MC2, we recently worked with the MS Society to deliver a major research project to understand how different moments in life could impact their audience. We spoke to nearly 50 people from the community to understand the underlying emotions and challenges that they face in everyday life and their impact.
We used the findings from that research to develop a set of experience maps. The idea was to tell a story of what life is like with MS. A good example would be how MS, a condition which often hits a person in their thirties, can impact dating, relationships and pregnancy.
Understanding the challenges, fears and decisions that people face and what is available to help them through those moments has helped us to develop a rich set of data for our content production.
At this point, it can be tempting to jump straight into writing, scripting or storyboarding. Before you do that, use your research to complete the following steps.
- Get all your content producers together and try to get into the mindset of your users. If your insights do show that they are researching health-related questions at two o’clock in the morning, then spend some time looking into what sort of content they find.
- Develop a set of goals for your audience and your content – what does your content need to do to help your users?
- Do a gap analysis – make sure you know what you already have that meets your users’ goals and where there are gaps.
- Run competitor analysis. To find the most inspiring content, try and think outside of the box. For the MS Society, we reviewed a wide range of sources – magazines, news outlets, international websites, mainstream podcasts and apps – as we all know users don’t only turn to charities for their content needs. If you are feeling particularly on-trend, you can even use AI to help you find original ideas – but be careful of misinformation.
When you’re finally ready to develop your ideas, there are tons of tools out there such as Crazy 8s (thinking of eight ideas in eight minutes) that can help to break up the monotony of churning out idea after idea in a workshop.
Seeing the wider context of your users’ experiences can help you to understand how content can support people through various challenges and emotions, opening up all sorts of opportunities for content development.
Real people, stories and a range of formats (video, illustration, animation, audio) can push your content that little bit further and add depth to your ideas.
We used our experience maps to workshop over thirty new pieces of content for the MS Society. We gave depth to the content ideas by adding people with lived experience of the condition, experts and healthcare specialists into the content mix and used the community to help us develop our ideas further.
Prioritise, monitor, optimise
Charity budgets are often tight and it’s normal to have far more demands for content creation than you can meet. Prioritising your ideas based on the insight you have gathered, and criteria such as cost, effort or reach, can help you to deliver effectively with limited resources.
Using analytics against a clearly defined set of metrics will help you to continuously learn and improve what content engages your users most effectively. Use those learnings to improve your existing content and take those learnings forward into the next piece of content.
Related reads on insight:
- How to get the most from audience insight gathering
- Using social media insight to understand, reach and engage vulnerable groups
Banner Image: Alexander Sinn on Unsplash