From research to content tools: Audience messaging cards


Drawing with chalk

Focus your content with audience messaging cards


While personas represent your highest priority audience groups, they can’t possibly cover all the variants in demographics, topics of interest, basic content needs, or other elements that you’ll want to integrate into your content at times.  

You’ll most likely find that some of your content is not targeted directly to a persona. In these situations where you’re communicating with an audience that isn’t fully represented by a persona, you can use audience messaging cards.

Like personas, audience messaging cards are based on research and help you remember your consumer needs during the development, design, and maintenance of your content. They also help teams work more efficiently and diplomatically, removing personal bias from the decision making process. If you want a reminder, we wrote more on the benefits of personas last week.

Create your audience messaging cards

Start with attributes

Attributes identify common characteristics of strategic audiences. These characteristics can be pulled from your online survey results, market research, or audience interviews. The categories of your attributes will depend on your industry and which ways it’s most relevant to segment your audience. We recommend using five to ten categories. See below for a sample attribute table.

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Identify targeted messages

For each attribute, write out a list of three to five messages that are important to communicate to that audience group. These key messages should address the needs of this particular audience segment.

Prepare messaging cards

Basic messaging “cards” can be as simple as a spreadsheet containing attributes matched to key messages. If you have the time and interest, you can make physical cards – one for each attribute – like the examples below.

Sample messaging cards

Use your messaging cards

Follow the rules of play

Create a set of rules that works with your own content strategy, outlining what’s necessary for each piece of content you create. Use the example below as a guide.

1. For each piece of content, choose:

  • One primary persona (required)
  • One primary attribute (optional)
  • One secondary attribute (optional)
  • One tertiary attribute (optional)

2. Choose the most important one or two messages from each card to focus your content.  
See below for an example of prioritizing attributes.

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So, this content piece would target a variation of the persona Sue, with messaging from the cards for affluent, online shopper, and bedroom furniture needs.

Audience messaging cards allow for hundreds of configurations so you can keep your content super targeted and your message variations aligned with key content purposes.

Further reading

From research to content tools: Personas and scenarios

More tools from our content strategy toolbox

Our content strategy services