Your Customers: The Heartbeat of Your Content Marketing Strategy
Content marketing is a business driver that can deliver an impactful ROI - if performed with a customer-centric approach. Far too many organizations are allocating their marketing spend toward optimizing their digital channels - which is smart - but without meaningful, targeted content to disseminate across those channels, it’s challenging to realize the impact.
What’s a Facebook ad campaign without compelling images & text? Or, an email marketing campaign without gripping messaging and CTAs? If the content doesn’t matter to the recipient, the most optimized channel still won’t work.
The content a brand presents to its buyers needs to be tailored to their interests, answering a question they have, and helpful in pushing them towards a logical next step. It’s about the buyer, not the marketer.
Marketing teams have to evolve past the point of bucketing content topics into groups like:
The above bucketing process is A) assuming there aren’t other avenues a buyer may go down - i.e. it’s too linear - and B) decided upon by the marketer. In other words, the marketer is deciding where they think a content topic belongs in the “funnel” and not leaving enough room for customer data to drive the strategy.
Here are the steps we’ve found to be effective in developing a process for content conception and production that’s long-lasting, consistent, and strategic.
1. Nail Down Your Buyer Personas
At this point, it probably sounds like a broken record that you need to have documented buyer personas. I know what you’re thinking... building buyer personas, at this point, is a tired and outdated exercise. But, I’ve found that in today’s marketing tech arena, personas still act as an effective launching pad for all top-of-funnel marketing strategies.
Buyer personas outlining demographic, psychographic, firmographic, and in some cases geographic characteristics are extremely helpful in narrowing the scope of your team’s ideation process. In deciding the content topics you’ll focus on for the next 60-90 days, grouping those ideas by persona is a really easy place to start.
Insider Tip: Get up from the comfort of your own desk and collaborate with your customer support team and your sales team. I promise they will have insights into what types of information to include in a really useful set of buyer personas - soak in the knowledge of those around you and break out of your silo!
2. Jump Into the Customer Data
The user experience should be at the heart of every move you make as a marketer. It can be easy to get caught in the trap of making decisions in a vacuum based on what you think you already know. However, oftentimes, if customer data is made available to the marketer, there are buyer insights and behavioral indications that could revolutionize the way your team tackles content marketing.
A pivot in what you as the marketer think your customer journey looks like could reveal opportunities to develop content for buyers at new stages of their lifecycle. Leveraging engagement data to derive how your buyers are actually interacting with your brand across channels will help to inform content marketing decisions.
Insider Tip: I suggest looking at closed-won opportunities in your CRM dating back the last 12 months. What content did the primary point-of-contact on the account download? Which emails in your campaigns did they open? Which pages on your website did they view? Start to piece together their purchase journey through a content lens, attributing pieces of marketing content to the stages of their lifecycle from lead to customer, and see what you find.
3. Record Your Buyers’ Questions and Categorize
It’s important to remember that we’re in the age of technology-driven, empowered, fast-moving buyers. If your content doesn’t answer a question they have within the first 10-30 seconds, they’ll skip it and move on. So, what questions are people seeking answers to when they hit your website? Which educational opportunities are there to teach your buyers about a problem they may not know they have?
It becomes a fairly simple exercise to record all of the buyer questions you believe your buyers are typing in their search engines surrounding the problems your product/service solves. From there, with your pool of questions categorized by persona, you’ll discover that some of the questions on the list are not sufficiently answered in your digital content.
Prioritize the buyer questions that you haven’t clearly answered. Create a piece of digital content to answer every buyer question, in every buyer persona group, at every stage of their purchase journey. You’ll probably discover that there’s a lot of green grass to run into and a ton of creative ways to develop interesting content beyond what you’ve done in the past (infographics, videos, podcast episodes, etc.).