Like any type of effective marketing effort, you must know your audience well if you want to create relevant content that they will read and use for purchasing decisions.
Content marketing represents a strategic marketing method that utilizes relevant content to inform and attract prospective customers. Different types of content are required at different stages of the buying process.
As prospects move closer to making a decision, different types of content are necessary. Detailed information in demo videos, product descriptions, case studies and how-to content is preferred by more serious audience members.
At the bottom of the sales funnel, it is time to close the deal. The goal is to sell the prospect by using unique value propositions and product descriptions. After the customer buys, the relationship is not over.
It’s time to start focusing on customer retention with help documentation, how-to information and special offers.
Content Marketing Strategy
Content strategy ensures that the “best and most relevant” content is delivered in a timely manner to your prospects and customers.
That sounds simple enough, but there is a lot of research and work required to deliver the “right message” to the target audience at the “right time” and in the “right place.”
A key component of any practical and workable strategy relates to the vision of your company.
It should answer the “big” questions about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Setting short-term and long-term goals and then determining how content will help you achieve those goals is a good way to get started. The vision always comes first.
Defining your audience is the first step in the process of planning and creating relevant content for your audience. You have to get this right or risk missing the boat on obtaining positive results.
Some of the information you’ll need to know is who they are from a demographics standpoint:
- How old are they?
- Where do they live?
- What gender are they?
- What is the ratio of male to female buyers?
You also need to know where your customers hang out on social media:
- What sites do they frequent?
- Do they like YouTube or is Facebook a more likely place to find them?
- Do they tweet?
The last piece of the profile puzzle you must answer is why will they buy your product or service? What pain are they trying to eliminate?
This crucial customer information forms the foundation of your content. You can’t get their attention and sell to them successfully if you don’t fully understand the answers to these questions.
You need to take inventory and organize it, taking note of the topic, length, relevance, features, and tone of each content piece. Then evaluate each post using metrics to determine the success of the content.
Record all your information related to the traffic results, social shares, average time spent on the page and conversion rates.
After completing this task, it’s time to analyze your results. Review your successes and look for patterns or trends you can use in the future. Evaluate any gaps of information.
For example, are you missing information geared toward beginners who know very little about your product or company? Be sure to design content for your audience at all stages of the buying process from beginning to end.
Then check your vision against the content you have and analyze your results. What can be improved?
Set your goals based on past performance and future objectives. Don’t forget to add details pertaining to your brand and to include voice guidelines. Will your prospects respond better to a playful voice or an authoritative one?
This document should provide guidance to new employees and contractors working on content.
Research Tools and Methods
There are several helpful tools that can be used to conduct customer research.
Creating relevant content requires research into what is currently working in the marketplace. It always makes sense to find out what content your competitors are using that is getting the most attention.
Research efforts must be ongoing because things change quickly, and what worked yesterday may no longer work today.
Obtaining information about what is trending and which content is getting links is information that you can use as you determine what content you want to create.
Check out Open Site Explorer to see which of your competitors’ pages are getting links.
It also makes sense to see who is linking to those pages. By reviewing this data, you can gain some understanding about what topics are popular with your audience.
The Open Site Explorer tool also provides actionable feedback showing who is linking to your competition and ignoring you.
Evaluating keywords is always important. Check out Similar Web to see which keywords are generating the most traffic. Simply Measured is another tool that can be used to analyze your competitors’ best ranking posts.
Social media is an integral part of content marketing and also provides important clues about what your customers like.
Followerwonk is a tool that can be used to see who is following your competitors. This type of insight can be very helpful as you formulate a plan to reach your prospects.
Using the search tool on Facebook is another way you can get some key information about your competitors’ prospects.
You can search for “Liked pages by followers of (competitor’s name goes here)”. Another tool to consider using is Rival IQ. One more tool at your disposal is the Share Metric plugin designed for Chrome.
Google Alerts and Fresh Web Explorer can also assist you in conducting research about competitors. They locate brand references on the web so that you can see what content is attracting attention.
These tools are also great for seeing what people are saying about your brand. Some companies use them for damage control, when their brand is mentioned in a negative way.
One obvious research source is customer service surveys. Q&As; also provide helpful insights.
There is a wealth of information from these two sources that can be examined for customer profile purposes and possible brand weaknesses that need to be addressed.
How to Create Great Content that Fuels Increased Sales
Ideas for new content can come from a variety of places. Brainstorming sessions are a time-tested method for coming up with new ideas.
Establishing a set of rules for this type of activity is helpful.
Since brainstorming is a creative process where there should be no bad ideas, there should be rules in place to keep people in the group from discussing each idea and criticizing suggestions.
If anyone in the group is allowed to wage negative comments, then it will stifle the group and people will stop sharing.
Record everything said. Even the craziest ideas deserve to be written down for evaluation.
Great content has certain characteristics. First and foremost, it has to be relevant and targeted.
That sounds logical enough, but far too often you see outdated or extraneous information that will not appeal to prospective buyers.
Evergreen information is the cornerstone of any content marketing strategy.
When you invest a fair amount of money into creating content, you don’t want it to become dated any time soon. Evergreen content remains relevant for a long time.
Customizable content is hard to beat.
Some people like audio while other people would rather read the information. Savvy marketers are delivering content that can be consumed in a variety of ways based on whatever the consumer wants.
Videos, articles and audio content all have a place in the content equation. Making it easy and pleasant for the consumer means you will get more views.
Make it personal if you want to get your prospect’s attention.
Targeting consumers with highly specific content based on information you have about what they are interested in represents an excellent way to get their attention.
Using the research techniques above will likely give you the information you need to target your prospects in personal ways they will appreciate.
Content marketing is mandatory for any business who wants to seriously compete in today’s digital world.
You have to be willing to meet your customers wherever they spend time.
With so many people in front of a screen most of the day, there is no denying the fact that your customers are spending much of their time communicating via social media or surfing the Internet.
The wealth of information available using research tools means you have what you need to reach out to your prospects with the content they want.
Content marketing offers businesses an excellent opportunity to find out exactly who their customers are and what they want.
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Updated: Originally published April 23rd 2018