You might think you understand your customers. After all, you’re servicing them and manage to move units off shelves. But it’s not that simple.
Customers aren’t one-dimensional. There are more factors to consider – technological innovations, customer behavior changes (COVID-19 certainly changed how industries operate), and how needs tend to evolve over time.
Your content strategy depends on creating content people can use.
Why is creating useful content important?
Everything you do online has to serve one purpose – maintaining a relationship with your target audience. Your online presence should function as a conversation with your customers and content that can assist a customer and solve a problem helps in building trust and brand loyalty.
How do understand what customers want?
There are a few ways to approach this. The good news is that the sources can all be found online with relatively low barriers.
Competing brands often share a core audience, which can shift easily from one competitor to the next, so an easy way to see what works in a general sense is to turn to your competitors. Check out what content generates the most buzz and social interactions. Most importantly for what reason.
Then cross-reference with your brand message, product features, voice, and marketing goals in order to generate the best, most competitive content out there.
Sentiment analysis (sentiment analysis tools) is a natural language processing technique used to determine whether data is positive, negative or neutral.
Social media monitoring
The easiest way is to turn to social media and use the best free resource there is – your customers. What are people tagging you in? What are they messaging your accounts? You already should be paying attention to customers who took the time to write to you directly.
The gesture itself signals a need for attention and even if it’s a negative social interaction, receiving any sort of engagement greatly improves brand sentiment over time. Praise and questions and even memes are a lot easier to handle, but complaints are the most rewarding in terms of actionable data (though handling complaints requires a certain finesse as Cinnamon Crunch Toast recently found out).
Other ways to gain insights are to ask your audience and search for your brand name on the platform. This is important because not everyone will tag a corporate account.
Get to know your customers with RSS feeds
RSS has emerged as the unlikely tool for any and every occasion. Just as easily as you can order your reading you can use your RSS reader to perform some social media listening. Whether you rely on Google Alerts to receive information on important keywords or use other search options, you can automate how you collect qualitative data on your customers. You can do it on a mobile app or on a browser with an extension.
It’s also quite possible to directly monitor social media platforms and forums. Inoreader has superb support for Twitter with access to everything from lists to tweets other users like. There’s also the integration with Reddit that makes finding anything on the platform easy breezy.
What to do after identifying your target audience and their needs?
The methods above flesh out the buyer persona you start with. You learn where your audience is on the Internet? What preoccupies them? How they purchase and why?
You learn preferences and pet peeves alongside important demographics data. So what happens now that you’ve built a richer understanding of your ideal customer.
We outline three courses of action, which cover from short-term sales conversion to long-term brand growth.
Create content that answers their questions
Any content marketing strategy has to have a reason for existing. If you’re generating content only for the sake of SEO or vague hopes of going viral, then you’re not going to have a satisfying impact on your audience. It’s money lost, customers unbothered and sales opportunities missed.
A powerful reason to create content is to help a customer. Everyone needs a helping hand every once in a while. Hubspot is the granddaddy of useful content. You’re more likely to associate the brand with the never-ending stream of tutorials and guides on sales rather than the actual software they offer for marketing, sales, and service.
What are your ideal customers searching for when they want a new product or have a problem they want to solve? Answer these questions and only do you solve their problem, but form a connection that shortens the sales funnel and leads to more sales.
Address their pain points
No product is perfect, so pain points are expected to rear up their ugly head as soon as you’re done with customer and brand monitoring. Revealing your target audience and subsequently, their needs also highlights where your products fall short.
This can be a pricing issue – as in you are pricing out your target audience. It can be about convenience to use or purchase. Issues with packaging, suboptimal performance, outdated design. Whatever the issues may be, they need to be addressed. In the long run, this is best achieved through the rollout of changes to the product where possible or the development of a much stronger offer.
In the short term, your content strategy should reflect people’s complaints, be transparent and try to solve any problems right now. These can be instructional posts or videos, a Twitter thread or a survey.
Keep following how their needs are changing
You’ve done it once. You have to do it again, and again, and again. Content creation demands consistency over a period of time. Content fuels interactions on social media and fortifies positions on search results for your top keywords. Brands need to keep their visibility going through content and just because you’ve succeeded in hitting the mark once doesn’t mean you should stay in one place.
As with everything else in life, consumer needs and demands change over time. Brands ought to keep listening and respond when there are changes. Does the target audience have ethical concerns or changes in heart about a specific product or production process? What are the styles and the features coming up on the horizon? Where in life is your ideal customer right now?
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