Turn It Up

Expanding Audience Reach with Content for a Digital Music Service


“More music to more people.” That was the goal of a major digital music streaming service when they came to Portent. It was time for them to revamp their entire content effort, and to do so they needed to understand their audiences and get data to support changing tactical direction. They had been limping along with a week-to-week editorial calendar and no user funnel. Portent created a multi-stage content strategy to prepare them to start using content production effectively in lead generation.

Client Challenges

  • Struggled to clearly identify and segment their audience
  • What kind of content to create?
  • Can’t keep to a schedule
  • Don’t know how to best use internal resources

Portent Solutions

  • Developed user journeys and personas for three main audience groups
  • Created strategic content plan and specific types to target each audience
  • Designed multi-month editorial calendar, theme and topic guide, specific recommendations for content production
  • Created workflow, trained writers on personas, trained internal content team on workflow process


This is a story of internal challenges. A digital music streaming service came to Portent after having serious difficulty in engaging their audiences. They had no formalized audience research or established personas. They did not know how to consistently develop and populate an editorial calendar, how to distribute content, or how to allocate resources to content projects. They wanted to widen the top of their funnel and create more relevant content. They knew that the content they had been publishing—infrequently and without clear goals—was failing to attract, engage, and retain their audience. Our internal contact needed to make a case to the rest of the team to change directions in their content efforts.

Over our 6-month engagement, Portent produced a series of assets to help this music streaming service better understand their existing and potential audiences, the competitive landscape, best practices for the types of content they produced, and tactics to improve editorial workflow and effectiveness. Beyond in-depth analysis and written guidance, we provided training and workshops for their internal teams over several sessions to prepare them to act on the documentation we developed. Much of this strategy focused on top-of-funnel improvement, which was the client’s self-identified biggest challenge.

Music streaming service goals:

  • Improve organic lead generation with content
  • Widen top of funnel by reaching new audiences
  • Boost engagement with more relevant content

Portent answers:

  • Audience research and documentation
  • Training for internal team on audiences, user journey, and relevant interests
  • Calendar and relevant topics for year-long content production


Portent’s Approach: The Customer Journey Content Funnel

Portent developed a strategy to focus both on top-of-funnel interaction and on driving audiences through the decision journey via a content funnel.

The content funnel includes three types of content: Inform, Answer, and Educate. It was the overarching theme for our work. The model supports the customer journey of awareness, consideration, decision, and the loyalty loop.

Customer Journey for Content Strategy and Mapping - Portent Digital Marketing Case Study
Inform content is shorter and published often. It is useful and usable, showing search engines and visitors that the site is a credible resource for music and can help customers choose a subscription service.

Answer content targets the questions people ask about digital music services as well as music, artists, and playlists, providing clear and accurate answers quickly.

Educate content is deeper, designed to support ongoing interactions with the brand and turn customers into advocates. It is also the most shareable, as it is information-rich.

Using this content model, the client can effectively move prospective customers through a funnel from awareness to consideration to decision and keep current customers engaged with the brand. Each type of content is relevant for each audience group. With this model as our framework, Portent addressed each client challenge with deliverables that included user journeys, personas, a content calendar, and workflow guidelines.


Challenge 1: Struggling to Understand Audience

Portent solution: Audience research and persona development

We divided the music streaming service’s audience into three categories: beginner, intermediate, and expert. Each audience inspired different content themes:

  • Beginners: What’s New and Now
  • Intermediates: Inspirations and Connections
  • Experts: Anthologies, Artist Backgrounds, and Deep Cuts

We created a user survey to learn more about how listeners integrate music into their lives, what they want from a music streaming service, and how they choose music services. From this, we teased out data about three groups—generations Z, Y, and X—and developed user journeys for each group.

User Journey for Content Marketing - Generation Z Example - Portent

These user journeys gave the client a much clearer understanding of how each audience navigated touch points such as word-of-mouth recommendations, social media, the client’s site, and third-party websites (such as music blogs or competitor sites). They used this information to identify gaps in their own site content that would help potential audiences learn what the service has to offer and make informed choices between the client and its competitors.


Challenge 2: Inconsistent Publishing Schedule, Low Confidence in Published Content

Portent solution: Create a year-long blog calendar with regular feature themes and guidance for other recurring content topics

The client’s lack of an organized content production process was causing them to fall short in publishing timely content around festivals and new releases. In not establishing consistent content types, they were spending time on potentially useless content and missing out on creating a strong brand voice. Using established content types would not only help readers recognize their brand when reading the content, but would also allow the company to measure what worked and what didn’t so they could produce more successful content.

Based on our audience work, we created a theme and topic guide that included types of content by length and lead times for each, events to include on an editorial calendar (such as major releases, music events, and significant artist or album anniversaries), and detailed ideas for regular features beyond these themes that would carry the editorial calendar throughout the year.

We also created a calendar template for the client to use that included topics, short descriptions of the topic, what format the content would take, and which personas it targeted. This might seem obvious. But when you’re considering hundreds of music festivals per year and a virtually unlimited range of potential content formats, organizing and executing with consistency and quality can become overwhelming, if not impossible, without a central document to track it all.


Challenge 3: Lack of Understanding about Resources Needed for Ongoing Content Production

Portent solution: Workflows and training of internal teams

Throughout this engagement, we created materials and held trainings with the client’s internal team. Our goal, after all, was not to make them dependent on Portent, but to enable them to improve their content processes and outcomes.

We started by charting their existing workflow to highlight current constraints, then charted new workflows for creating short, medium, and long pieces. We also provided workflows for ideation, editorial calendar maintenance, and measurement and ongoing strategy work.

With these processes clearly outlined, the client was able to identify all the roles needed for each aspect of production as well as potential pitfalls. They could proactively assign people to roles to head off mistakes and momentum-killing delays during production.

We took this further by training writers on the company’s new audience personas. We also trained the internal content team on the process of ideating and filling the calendar with a content mix that targeted audiences at all stages of the funnel. Our example calendar for the client gave them a template to work with going forward and helped identify what key pieces of information they needed to account for when scheduling all content.

And we trained the team on using the content funnel as a tool to increase their reach with specific subsets of new audiences.


Summary: A Content Plan to Grow Audience

The goals: Reaching more people with more content about music to attract and retain a wider audience. Creating better lead generation through content.

The challenges: Different audience groups with different priorities, limited audience knowledge, muddled workflow, an inadequate calendar, and lack of insight into what types of content succeed.

The solutions: User research and persona development, content plan with types to target each audience, topic guide, new editorial calendar, new workflow mapped to calendar, and training for internal teams.

Each stage of Portent’s work built on the previous one: audience research and personas came full circle to creating an editorial calendar and teaching our client how to create content to attract those audiences. We gave the music streaming service a holistic content strategy that would help them attract new users and hold the attention of new and returning audiences alike.

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