Content marketing is more effective and efficient than other marketing strategies, and costs less for a greater return. For example, content marketing costs 62 percent less than outbound marketing and generates more than three times as many sales leads. Yet, according to Altimeter, 70 percent of marketers lack a consistent or integrated content strategy. This is shocking when you consider how crowded the market is, how quickly changes take place and how difficult it can be to engage readers in new ways that convert.
In this blog post, we look at five ways to use customer feedback to inform cohesive, strategic and integrated content marketing strategies.
1. Understand your readers and buyer personas
Rather than make assumptions on your audience based on a loose idea of who your buyer personas are, what if you could ask them directly? By gathering customer feedback over time it becomes easier to separate your readers from your non-readers, and find similarities and differences between the two. By asking them about their content preferences and habits, you can build more accurate audience personas and improve your content marketing efforts as a result.
For example, if you discover that within your dedicated readers group, there is a growing number of young professionals, your content marketing strategy for 2017 should include new ways to target them. Use customer feedback to understand who your buyer personas are, who is most likely to convert (and why) and learn what type of content those readers gravitate toward.
Rather than make assumptions on your audience based on a loose idea of who your buyer personas are, what if you could ask them directly?
2. Identify gaps in your current content marketing strategy
Many best practices for creating a content marketing strategy suggest creating a content inventory to pinpoint gaps and areas of oversaturation. That’s one way to decide what content to focus on for the new year, but it’s also a massive, time consuming undertaking. Instead, the best way to identify the gaps in your content marketing strategy is to understand your customers’ pain points and ensure that content maps back to each pain point. Use feedback to get to know your readers, unearth their pain points and find out what they want to read more of.
Customer feedback may uncover that you actually just have a discoverability problem, and that the content is already there, but it’s hard to find. Or, you might realize that you have an untapped opportunity to expand your target market because you have a new understanding of who your readers are and why they read your content (or why they don’t).
3. Create more impactful content with your readers in mind
Now that you understand what your readers want more of, and where there are gaps in your current strategy, it’s time to create a content plan. Ask your audience if they have suggestions, new ideas and fresh perspectives on the content you plan to create. After all, interesting content is one of the top reasons that people follow brands on social media. What better way to surface interesting content for your readers, than by asking what they find interesting? Likewise, use feedback to uncover the key pieces of content that merely need updating or should be brought to the forefront.
4. Select the right distribution channels for your audience
On average, B2B companies use eight channels, such as social media, blogs and email, to distribute content. As this number continues to grow, content marketers must think strategically about where they want to engage customers. Use customer feedback to find out what marketing channels make the most sense for your content marketing plan, and why. For example, ask your audience which channels they spend the most time on, and where they’d prefer to connect with your brand. These conversations will help you select the right distribution avenues for various audience demographics so that your content gets to the right people at the right time.
5. Validate marketing campaigns
Once you begin to plan your major campaigns and marketing materials, use customer intelligence to help validate the direction and find inspiration on ways to improve your vision. Ask your audience what they think of campaigns, taglines, ad copy and marketing messaging before investing in taking them to market. Post-launch, find out how a particular campaign went by gathering feedback directly from the source. Customer insight will add extra context to your data, helping to improve your marketing campaigns in the future and create more impactful messaging.
Your customers want to give their feedback and feel heard. Ask them what they think of your current plan for content marketing and see if and where there’s room for improvement.