The ingredients for relevant and exciting content
Online communication and relevance go together like salt and pepper. When they’re in balance, they can really improve your dish, but it’s crucial to get the ratio right. If you’re interested in booking a holiday in the sun, then you won’t want to be ‘bothered’ with offers for city trips. And vegetarians are seldom thrilled with special offers from the butcher’s. If you want to build customer loyalty, you’ll need to pursue relevance. Right?
In fact, things are not quite that simple. Clearly, relevance is a key aspect when it comes to creating online magazines. In general, the idea is to adjust your content to your reader’s profile or to other known indicators. Carpenters get tips on carpentry, and butchers get information and news about the meat industry. But relevance works even better if you ‘play around’ with it. You can do so by fishing around for topics that might be of interest to your target group alongside your main topic. It’s like adding a pinch of paprika to accent the other spices in a dish... the results can be surprising!
What are your target group’s interests?
The linear flow of an online magazine encourages readers to instinctively discover more and more new content. You can surprise your readers by having them ‘browse’ from topic to topic, where they’ll find special items and interesting angles. Without even noticing it, they’ll spend more time on your story, brand or message if you present them with content that is of interest to them, but that they were not necessarily looking for.
So make sure you know your target audience and how you can surprise them. Butchers will generally not be interested in carpentry tips, but they are often open to suggestions about wine pairings or tasty vegetable recipes. The same goes for consumers in general. Women who are interested in hair and skin care will often enjoy reading fashion tips or learning about an upcoming event.
Take, for example, Sunweb’s inspirational ‘Destination Guides’. Visitors to this magazine about Portugal will be looking for information about their destination, but the magazine offers even more and surprising content! What are Portugal’s five most beautiful beaches? Where can you go snorkeling? But also: what are common Portuguese habits and dishes?
Create a persona
The combination of relevance and the element of surprise are all well and good, of course, but how does it work? Creating a persona is a practical way to find out how you can keep surprising your target audience with relevant content. A persona is a fictitious representative of your target audience and their interests.
Your target audience will come to life
You create a persona by brainstorming with a few individuals who know your audience well, or, even better, by using available data. Give your persona a name and assign him some characteristics. What are his favorite brands? Where does he like to go on holiday? What are his likes and dislikes? Write down all of your persona’s characteristics with as much detail as possible, and your target audience will come to life. Whenever your editorial staff suggest a new topic, you should then give some thought to how David, Genevieve or Peter might respond. If it doesn’t fit the persona, then you can reject the topic. This way, you can keep the topics that have real potential, but that your target audience is not necessarily looking for.
Mailchimp researched their users and then used the results to create a number of personas. They visualized their personas and assigned them various characteristics.
Relevant & surprising
You can use the topics you discover to create a smart editorial formula. This will be the basis for an online magazine that your target audience will find both relevant and surprising. The statistics will rapidly tell you whether your readers really are only interested in a long, lazy holiday in the sun, or that they might also enjoy a city trip to a sunny destination. Take note of the exit rates from your pages. If a lot of users exit from a specific page, then you’ll know something is not quite right.
Creating online magazines is often a matter of testing, experimenting and occasionally getting things wrong. You’ll notice soon enough whether a butcher who sometimes adds tasty recipes for meat substitutes to his magazine actually manages to surprise his vegetarian readers.
Wolters Kluwer’s "Slim samenwerken in Retail" magazine is a great example of this formula. Its main topic is the Retail industry, and the magazine surprises the reader with insights from experts, success stories and practical examples.
The essence of creating a magazine lies in leveraging your editorial formula to surprise your readers time and again. Go for it!
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