Content marketing is only successful when your target audience responds to it. This is no “AH HA” moment; as marketers, we’re all aware that our efforts are useless if they don’t engage the people we’re trying to reach. Developing buyer personas is a useful way to get in the heads of your audience, but we need to gain a deeper understanding of what they want so we can present messages that directly respond to their needs. Here are a few tactics to supplement your buyer persona strategies.

Connecting Offline

Sometimes it’s necessary to step away from your laptop and connect with prospects in real life to hear their concerns and learn their business pain. Marketers should make a point of meeting with prospects regularly, setting goals for engagement just as they establish targets for new leads and conversions. Current and former customers provide a wealth of information that can be used to build buyer personas, so meet with them in the field. Listen to their frustrations and ask about their challenges. Spend time with them in their work environment and walk through a typical “day in the life” to witness the obstacles they face first hand.

It’s necessary to keep in touch with your target audience offline so you know what you need to do online with your content marketing.

Listening to Conversations on Social Media

“Social listening” refers to monitoring different social media platforms and blogs to see what your target audience is talking about online. They’re having conversations about the hurdles they face and asking questions about how to resolve them: Take note of these discussions and provide the answers through content that resonates with them.

Still, don’t just eavesdrop on these conversations. Become a part of them by taking polls, asking additional questions and requesting feedback. Take surveys to see how you can improve your products or services, and post the results. In addition, it’s wise to conduct keyword research to identify terms that are trending regarding certain topics. Your potential customers are looking for solutions to their problems, and using keywords to guide them. These terms can help you understand what your audience wants to know more about.

Deep Diving into Data

Many marketers overlook metrics as a means of learning more about their prospects, thinking these numbers are mostly used to measure performance of marketing efforts. However, your metrics tell a lot about your target audience – far beyond click-through rates and email opens. You need to dig deeper to determine ratios of click-through on certain topics and conduct A/B testing. Get almost to the individual level to find out what your target audience wants from you.

These methods demonstrate that developing buyer personas is just one of the ways to learn what your target audience really wants to see. The best approach to your content marketing strategy is to employ these tips alongside buyer personas to gain a sharper understanding of your prospects’ needs and business pain. Once you’re inside their heads, you can deliver more responsive content and provide better customer service.