You might have read about the importance of having a content strategy in place, for the success of your business. That’s because the content is at the core of whatever you plan to achieve. If your ‘long-term’ goal, for example, is to become a thought leader in the XYZ industry, you need to create a strong content game plan for the same. Need to win at the organic game? Again, you’ll need to put create a solid content plan with all your keywords and competitor research in place.
However, before you start creating your action plan for content, it is important that you answer a few questions. This exercise will bring in more clarity to the whole planning process.
- Who are you creating content for?
- What type of content will you be creating?
- What goal are you trying to achieve with your content?
- How will you be distributing that content?
- What will be your key success metrics for content performance?
- What makes your content stand-out, or different?
If you are in the B2B industry, a smart content action plan must target the entire conversion funnel, i.e. awareness or top of the funnel, interest or middle of the funnel, and conversion or bottom of the funnel. All these levels, if you read them once again, seem quite product focused, right? The main purpose of this type of content action plan is to make the ‘product’ the focus point.
For any business, B2B or B2C, solely creating product or business focused content is not sufficient. While you might have a different long-term goal that you wish to achieve through content, say, becoming the thought leader in your industry; however, unless you are creating your content strategy with a 360-degree view keeping customers at the center, you will only inch very slowly towards thought leadership.
Having the right mix of content – business/product focused, and customer-centric, is the only way to grow exponentially, speedily. But, what is customer-centric content? In simple words, a customer-centric content plan aims at addressing concerned, solving problems, and taking up any resentments that customers have from the brand, product. Unlike this, product-focused content is aimed at generating traffic, increasing searchability on the web, and converting users to customers.
While you may successfully create awareness, generate interest, and bag conversions with product-focused content, the only way you can crack retention is by taking customer-centric content seriously.
Understanding customer-centric content
Some pointers that clearly define customer center content are that such content:
- Contains or talks about that information that is sought out by customers, as shown by audience data
- Is tailored or personalized by on user needs and preferences
- Solves customer problems, and addresses their grievances
Based on the above pointers, as a business, you can start creating your customer based content plan immediately. Here’s how you can get started.
Chalk out customer personas
Personas represent a real customer’s demographics, such as a fictitious name, job title, geographical location, income status, and so on. You can start creating personas using free templates available. Creating such informational ‘representations’ of who your real customers are, though not mandatory, are really important in understanding your customers, their behavior, motivations, pain-points etc.
Consider that Stephanie, a college student who earns some side income on weekends, is one of your customer personas. She likes fashionable clothes, yet not something that is very expensive. She is not brand conscious. Because she goes to college, her closet needs comfortable yet stylish clothes. Based on this persona outline, you can create content that reflects the preferences of such an audience.
Align content with lifecycle stage
As pointed before, content needs to cater to all stages of the sales funnel – awareness, interest, and conversion. However, when creating customer-centric content, the focus must not be on making the audience aware of the product’s features. Instead, it should be on making people aware of a problem and then helping them understand how the product solves them. The basic idea is the same – creating awareness – however, the approach is different.
Avinash Kaushik explains the same concept in his own framework called See-Think-Do-Care, which he calls intent clusters. His idea is that one should create content based on the level of intent that customer’s exhibit. If anyone ( based on exhibited behavior) is just a user and shows little commercial intent, he needs to be nurtured with educational content, so that he starts showing some commercial intent.
On the other hand, if someone is showing a little commercial intent, say by reading/downloading an ebook, then he needs to be nudged a bit more with content like ‘case study’, ‘use case based guides’ etc. to further generate more interest, and so on.
Pick the right content format
Now, picking the correct content format partly depends on which stage of the buyer’s journey are you creating content for. And, partly it depends on the kind of audience you are creating it for. For example, eBooks are a content type that should be targeted at those people who are ‘considering’ your product.
Similarly, if you are creating content for an audience who is always on the go, keeps super busy, belongs to top-management levels, and is usually short on time, then instead of feeding them ebooks, opt for podcasts. They’ll appreciate that you value their time.
Remember, the more conversational your content is, the better it is consumed by your target audience.
Be where your target audience hangs out
Majority of Millennials are addicted to Snapchat. People in their 30s are more about Instagram and Pinterest. The socially active middle-aged population still relies on Facebook and Whatsapp. People’s channel preferences are truly varied. However, it is also true that ‘serious’ communication is all about emails for everyone. When it comes to communicating with businesses or brands, 89% millennials opt for email.
So, while you might educate them or create interest about your product on Snapchat, Facebook, or any other channel when you have to send them important information like product pricing, or material that holds the power to convince, convert, retain, don’t forget the good old email.
Measure your content performance AND optimize
It’s important to measure how your content is performing on both micro and macro goals. Micro goals of your content assets could be improving shares, tweets, and other engagement metrics. Macro goals, however, mean how marketing-based revenue have you been able to create from your content. Attributing revenue to content is a tricky thing; however, if you slice and dice your content performance data and regularly look into channel-wise content performance, you can get a close picture of how your content based campaigns are doing.
For example, how many sign-ups you got on your webinar to how many people registered for a free-trial post the webinar to how many people actually called you to post the webinar to how many people became billable users.
You can also, on the other hand, find out metrics such as drop-out rate, number of people who signed up but did not attend, attentiveness level, etc. Based on these metrics you can optimize your content for more engagement in upcoming webinars. It will also make sense to ask the ‘drop-outs’ for their feedback on what made them leave. Talking about feedback, the voice of customer surveys work great. And, so do customer satisfaction surveys.
That’s a wrap
It might seem easy; however, creating customer-centric content cannot be done in a day’s time. You need to gauge your customer behavior analytics properly and understand the why behind what customers do. And, what they don’t as well. For digging out data about customers and their behavior, there are a number of tools available to marketers, with the most widely used one being Google Analytics.
Take the first steps closer to understanding your audience, and you’ll soon be on your way to long-term business success.