More than half of the most active companies and content writers deliver new material to their readers several times each week (if not every day).
As the buyer journey continues to evolve, disrupted by new technology and new social interactions, original and engaging content is still the best way to capture customer attention. However, while pretty much everyone is doing content marketing these days – not everyone is doing it well.
There are still plenty of brands out there that take the wrong approach to content. These are the companies that blindly churn out posts to fill gaps in their SEO strategy.
The trick to success, however, is to ditch the meaningless drivel and deliver something that your audience cares about.
So, how can you craft content that hits the mark?
Step 1: Build your Buyer Personas
It’s tough to create the perfect content for your audience if you don’t know who you’re writing for in the first place. A “buyer persona” gives you a map to follow when designing material that resonates with your target audience.
These documents highlight what your audience cares about what they struggle with and what they need to succeed in the current marketplace. Just some of the questions you might cover with your persona profiles include:
- Where does your customer work, and what is their job title?
- What kind of education do they have?
- Are they married? Do they have children?
- What are their biggest challenges in life?
- What are their driving values?
- What do they spend their free time doing?
- What upsets them or angers them?
The more information you collect, the easier it is to write something that speaks to the customer that’s most important to you. You can use tools like Google Analytics to find necessary information, then gather other data from surveys, polls, and even email sign-up forms.
Step 2: Offer Exclusive Insights
Stats estimate that there are more than 500 million blogs online today. With so many Sources of information and entertainment available, there’s bound to be some overlap. However, it can often seem like many brands are just copy/pasting the highest performing material from other companies onto their own channels, and that’s where problems arise.
There’s nothing wrong with getting inspiration for your blog from your competition. However, you can’t just publish the same thing as everyone else and expect to stand out. With that in mind, look for a way to deliver a new insight. For instance, could you use findings from a poll to give context to your claims? How about conducting some of your survey research? Or sharing results from your email marketing efforts?
Even if you don’t have new statistics to share, you can at least provide a new spin on an old topic to show your audience that you’ve considered the issue from a new perspective. Startup CollegeRaptor went from zero traffic to 100k in organic visitors when it created an infographic using nothing put publicly available data from various sources.
Step 3: Listen to your Customers
Listening to your customers is the best way to find out what they want to hear about from you.
The age of social media means that your target audience is always engaged in an endless conversation. Tuning into the noise can teach you about their favorite brands and products, their dislikes and concerns, and provide countless sources of useful information.
Social media listening allows organizations to gain real-time intelligence into their competition, as well as unfiltered feedback on how the brand is perceived. With the right tools, you can even set up alerts and notifications to give you information every time a specific keyword is mentioned. Even insights into what your audience doesn’t like will help you in creating content that directly addresses their most pressing pain points.
Leading financial brand Visa used social listening and sentiment analysis to find out what their customers genuinely cared about. As a result, the company was able to achieve a 50-60% increase in positive sentiment through their content.
Step 4: Use your Customer Relationship Management System
Speaking of learning about your customers, a customer relationship management system or CRM is an excellent place to mine for information. These tools have been growing in popularity over the years as a place where businesses can keep track of their interactions with clients. Within the software, you’ll be able to track everything from conversions to sales and marketing output.
A CRM is a useful source of data when it comes to building a complete picture of your customer, and what they need from your brand. You’ll be able to see clearly what your customer’s likes and dislikes are, which kinds of products or services they’re most interested in, and even what kind of questions they ask when they interact with your brand.
For instance, you may use your CRM to curate a list of the most frequently asked questions that your customer service team needs to deal with each day. From there, you’ll be able to create everything from insightful infographics, videos, and written guides to help the customer find the answers to the queries that they have without having to connect with your team. This not only improves the quality of the content that you share – it also takes some of the pressure off your employees too.
Step 5: Appeal to Customer Emotions
Why should people care about what you have to say?
When people browse through content online, they’re looking for something. It could be entertainment, it might be information, but they always want to know what’s going to be in it for them if they spend their time on your website.
Rather than just using content to explain the benefits of your product or service, think about how you can connect with people by appealing to their emotional side. For instance, can you address a problem that they have in a unique way so that you show them you understand how they feel?
For instance, Zendesk, a leading SaaS customer support company, created some compelling video content to tap directly into their audience’s emotions. The videos “Sh*t support agents say” highlighted the usual strain that people go through when they attempt to get phone support in an entertaining way.
Content like that isn’t just emotional; it’s evergreen too. The video speaks to Zendesk’s target audience and draws attention to the brand’s underlying values, helping audience members to understand what the company is all about.
Step 6: Be More Data-Driven
Content needs to be creative and artistic, sure – but there’s a science in the art too.
Aside from examining your CRM system and engaging in plenty of social listening, don’t forget that there are other sources of data that you can use to power your content marketing plan too. The more information you have about your audience, the industry you’re operating in, and the surrounding environment, the more informed and fine-tuned your material becomes.
Some of the data-driven strategies you can use include:
- Website analysis: Using your favorite SEO tools, find out which of your pages get the most traffic. Use that insight to determine what kind of content your customers might be searching for when they visit your website.
- Content analysis: Find trending topics and content types in your niche from across the web. Remember to look at ideas that are tangentially related to your business too. Analyze what makes this content so engaging.
- Competitor analysis: Examine your competition and find out what their content strategy. Discover not just which topics work for them, but also what styles of content most connect with their audience.
Once you start producing the material that aligns with the information you find, keep your data collection strategy going by checking your content performance.
Track customer behavior to see whether your strategy is working and adjust your campaign based on what you learn. Content strategies aren’t static; they require constant work and development.
Ultimately, there’s more to content marketing than consistency.
While it’s essential to deliver plenty of material for your audience, it’s also crucial to deliver the kind of content that your people want to see.
Learn about your customers, your competitors, and your marketplace, and you’ll be able to design insightful pieces that make a real difference to your community. The information you need to deliver more effective content is already available. All you need to do is figure out how to use it.
About the Author – Gael Breton
Gael Breton is Co-founder of Authority Hacker. He is passionate about online marketing and is tinkering with new marketing techniques all the time. You’ll often find him testing the latest tools or getting hands-on with the latest online marketing trends over at Authorityhacker.com.