How to Find What Your Target Audience is *Really* Searching For

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The transition from an outbound-based marketing world to an inbound one has progressed steadily in terms of tools and outward evidence in the last decade or so, but changing hearts and minds is always a little more uphill. Content ideation, for example, tends to be very insular if precautions aren't taken - echo chambers abound, and naturally-inherent bias poisons the well with self-serving concepts.

In other words, you may have a good grasp on what you want your target market to search for, but wishful thinking - or in this case, wishful content marketing - doesn't translate well in metrics. You need to follow the organic paths already tread by your ideal prospects, but how can you make that happen when you're trying to woo them in the first place? It's easy with a little reverse-engineering and a lot of conscious content.

AnswerThePublic and Google

If you haven't heard about AnswerThePublic yet, prepare to have your content world upended. This insanely useful free tool takes a snippet of a phrase you'd like to "listen in" on and provides you with a comprehensive spoke graphic showing popular completions of that phrase. Not only will you get a rich list of ideas to organically mold your content to, you'll even receive hierarchies so you aren't accidentally chasing the 7th most popular listing of a sub-phrase by accident. While this is a powerful concept for adapting your existing content ideas for better traction, it can even be used to inform and evolve other areas of your company, such as R&D, to provide solutions to newfound client problems.

While less sophisticated in terms of output metrics, Google's autocomplete feature works in a similar fashion, and gives you a peek into popular search completions. "Scrub" those list items through AnswerThePublic to find clear winners, and suddenly your editorial calendar looks a lot brighter in terms of ROI. Google can be tapped into through the simple Google.com searchbox, which will offer a list of completions wherever you pause your typing - whole words are, of course, likely to produce the best results. You don't need to shoot feature-length movies, either: sometimes a simple minute-long explanation of a concept by a company expert can go viral, bringing more eyes - and leads - back to your expanded content library or website.

Video Marketing Made Easy

B2B video is hot right now. Decisions are made and finalized with the support of digital concepts, which offer a clear ready-made demo for C-suite prospects. Beyond how-to and product demonstration videos, however, a lot of B2B companies run dry when it comes to video ideation. YouTube, as a company under Google's Alphabet umbrella, offers the same auto-fill help as its parent company's search box. Take some time to search what your competitors are up to in the video world, and type in some of the questions offered up by AnswerThePublic to see what's already out there. If you're seeing a question come up a great deal in text but not in YouTube, that could signal a great opportunity to fill in the gap with your company's own videos and establish authority.

Ultimately, if the only concepts you're contributing to the conversation are the ones you want to sell, you've already lost the organic attention of your target audience. If you don't take the time to get to know what they need, you shouldn't expect them to fulfill what you need: orders. Tools like Google's autocomplete and AnswerThePublic give you insight that marketers a scant decade ago could only dream of - so don't waste it! Listen, learn, and build around what your target market is searching for, and much like Google, you'll always be the one on hand with the right answers at the right time.

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Sarah Hayes

Project Manager at 21 Handshake, a strategic marketing company, driven to grow relationship-driven businesses. A self described life long learner that thrives on detail, I love bringing these skills to the table to help others succeed.

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