Small Business

Relevance: Matching Topic and Title to Target an Audience

Anyone who undertakes writing professionally is writing to purpose. Otherwise, we’d all be writing nonsense – and it’s surprising how many new writers do that. The purpose of the content needs to be clear to the writer, to whoever is paying the writer and, most of all, to the audience. There are plenty of quality creative writing courses online that teach a prospective writer the fundamentals. A good copywriter will always get repeat work as they know how to meet this requirement. Those who do not will leave the paying customer with editing to do, time wasted on communication and potentially lost funds from missed opportunities or from having to pay for rewrites.

Goals, KPIs and business objectives

Everything you are paid to write has a goal. A goal is the expected change that takes place as a result of your efforts. Ensure you and the person paying your bill are clear on those goals and can articulate them in writing. Those goals should be linked to KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) – desired measurable results – called ‘metrics’. A goal may be to engage a particular audience – but a KPI lets you know the type of engagement and which metrics should prove that the audience was engaged. An increase in social media reactions, comments and shares are common KPIs. Clicked links are another. All are attached to an overall business objective, which you may not be informed of directly, but the KPIs are a clue. This information, or at least most of it, should be ‘briefed’ to you. This ‘brief’, helps you to make decisions towards a purpose for your writing.

Switching to write for different styles and audiences can be jarring at times, but try to always start your copy knowing who you are targeting, what you want them to do, when you want them to do it, and how.

This still applies for SEO link building content as relevance is always the priority.

Keeping purpose in mind

Try to understand the context of why you are writing the content beyond the brief, so that you’re not tempted to go off in a completely unhelpful direction under the impression you’re going to exceed a KPI target.

The KPI isn’t the full story, just a part of it.

To give a good example of bad content: the social media post shown here from the local newspaper of a British town has very low relevance for the reader. As the topic is about the safety concerns of using baby carriers, you would expect this to have strong appeal for new and expecting parents. With the title ‘Injuries caused by baby carriers soaring’, the presentation of the topic suggests that this is vital new information that the audience should be aware of. The title, along with the remark “Worrying news…” that introduces the article in the status, ensures the content is presented in such a way as to cause alarm and generate clicks.

Click generation might have been the only KPI required of the writer. For the audience, however, the result is a loss of trust. The content is not news – the article quotes a study that is six-years-old without adding anything new. It’s not local either – the study was done in America, where the products available and safety legislation are very different. While the topic may have high potential for engagement, the article, its sources, and its presentation are alienating to the reader, who expected something highly relevant to their lives but were misled. This may result in a loss of credibility for the newspaper, followed by unfollows on social media and loss of subscribers to the publication, particularly if this is an ongoing problem.

So whether audience satisfaction was specified as a requirement or not, relevance should always be a priority.

Assessing the audience

A webmaster may ask you to write a blog post for a particular website and provide a brief for this. That website will be targeted at a particular type of reader. Demographic statistics may be available, however, you can get always a good idea of who you are writing for by reading the website, and so understand the purpose of what you are writing better. In the case of this website, we are looking primarily at professional writers – particularly freelancers – of an unspecified geographic location, who seek the benefit of other writers’ guidance and experiences. Perhaps this applies to you. The secondary audience is guest bloggers, like myself, providing the content that engages with you and meets those needs.

My process for this post

My brief is to place a relevant link and keywords in this post that you, the audience, may find useful. The goal of the post is to improve SEO rankings for a website. However, the goal of this website is to provide a resource for you. And so, we combine those requirements to inform my purpose. The only thing missing is an assessment of your requirements as my target audience for this post.

So, let’s drill down a little here. You don’t want to read someone else’s copy for the sake of it. You want to learn how to be where the guest blogger is – getting paid to write and having full confidence in a
financially stable career. It’s a steep and largely self-taught learning curve and you hope to fill some of those knowledge gaps. There’s a good chance you would also like to feel less isolated in your own growing experience, too. These are likely factors influencing the primary audience’s wishes and
responses – the human element.

Your wants and expectations as a member of the primary target audience are my deliverables for this content, and they sit alongside my brief to give me a purpose for my post. I need to:

  1. Convince you that I am an experienced professional copywriter earning a living as I write this.
  2. Impart some sound guidance, with knowledgeable examples that you can apply to your own work. Note that real-life evidence is always clearer and more trustworthy than anecdotal evidence.
  3. Include an industry term or two that you can research and expand your awareness for future projects. That’s added value – something beyond the basic deliverables that the audience can take away and use; and which helps to make the website a resource.
  4. Impress on you the importance of matching topic with title.
  5. Reassure you that writing is very much a self-taught profession and that you will get there as long as you keep learning.

My title and topic are a reworking of a general assumption a loose brief that the beginner-writer audience for this website would click a title similar to ‘how to choose a topic/title for the intended audience’. However, someone who is already embarking on a writing career, and so reading this website, is not a beginner. That’s another example of relevance not quite hitting the mark for the audience and of content potentially being produced that isn’t quite fit for purpose. Be sure of your audience and then drill down to their requirements – the problems they are trying to solve or the benefit they wish to gain, and match the topic and title to deliver that. Make it unique. We do not re read articles on the same topics without expecting something new from them.

Reminder on relevance 

Localise your subject matter to within the geographic location of the audience, or else ensure the topic has the broad relevance necessary for wider-geographic reach. Understand the preferences of your target demographic and try to get an understanding of their environment and what they’re usually exposed to. Back up any statements you make with recent, relevant and trust-worthy evidence. That can be presented informally – just avoid looking like you’re making things up for the sake of word count.

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I am a digital marketing exec at an agency in the UK. I specialise in Link acquisition, Outreach, Social Media Management and Content writing.

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