Content may be king, but context is God.

Trying to get people to visit your website and buy your stuff or use your services is not a one-size-fits-all process. Search engine optimization (SEO) is fundamental to attracting people to your site, but if you're not optimizing for various different customer personas then you're wasting your resources.

Good SEO means understanding a customer's intent to act and putting their needs first when devising and optimizing the content you want them to consume.

If your audience is new to your brand, the hard sell is not going to work. But if they are familiar with your brand and want to buy as quickly as possible then a direct call to action fits the bill. In both these scenarios, it may be the same person you're dealing with but at different stages of their buying cycle. This means you need to think about different content for each stage of the buyer cycle for each persona you have identified.

In my business, we use the approach of "See, Think, Do, Delight" as a sales funnel, which draws on and develops the model developed by digital marketing evangelist Avinash Kaushik. Here's how we put our model into practice and what we seek to achieve at each stage of the funnel.

1. See

The objective here is to raise awareness, so our activity at this stage is all about keywords, language, and content that is designed to attract new uninitiated "strangers" at the start of their buying journey. We don't want to beat anyone over the head here, we just want to be seen, and to make sure there's an awareness of our existence among our target personas.

Great content at this stage would include blogs, infographics, industry data, and podcasts that discuss the experience and expertise that your identified personas will find of interest. Get your team and network to share this content and your profile starts to rise with your target audience.

2. Think

The objective here is to position our business as a potential solution to our customers' challenges and problems. Activity at this stage consists of content that is designed to provide material surrounding our brand and the specific initial needs of our audience. So we move out of the shadows and start to share content that will appeal to their needs.

Content at this stage is all about offering solutions, so following on from the general content about your expertise in the "See" stage, at this stage your content now needs to actively address some of the pain points and problems that you know your audience is experiencing. Blogs, infographics, and videos that talk about your approach to such problems and how you can help are what's needed at this stage.

3. Do

By this stage, we want to facilitate a transaction of contact details, gain insight into individual needs, or start to see what the sale might look like. So we are looking to convince a relatively qualified audience to take some form of action. This might not be moving in for a sale but it could be a download or a request for a call or for more information.

Great content at this stage would include a webinar or a Facebook Live event where you can really get under the hood and showcase your expertise. Ask your audience to sign up to the webinar or to submit questions during the event and you'll move closer to making a sale while demonstrating that you speak their language and can solve their problems.

4. Delight

Our objective here is to maximize the life cycle of our customers and provide an opportunity to refer more business. So our activity consists of creating and sharing content that is designed to add value for existing customers or very warm prospects by building trust, empathy, and loyalty. This will help retain them as customers and provide ongoing opportunities to do business.

"How-to" videos, short animations, and e-books that help your audience develop their expertise or flag industry changes they need to be aware of will cement your reputation with your audience as a "preferred partner" and trustworthy source of advice and services. In my business, we've started using Facebook Live as a great way of showcasing services to new customers and offering additional expertise and services to existing clients.

Understanding your audience at this granular level allows you to integrate your content strategy with best practice SEO. You can maximize the reach of your content by using the right semantics and language throughout your inbound marketing. Engaging with your audience on a more personal, tailored level at different stages of the marketing funnel means you can also communicate with a greater degree of accuracy and expect better results by providing a better user experience.

Published on: Jul 20, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.