As customers evolve, so must our content strategies. You've heard the saying "The customer is always right." Well, the digital-era version of that might be "The customer is at the center of it all."
The demand for content has grown significantly over the last few years. The interaction customers have with your brand during their buying lifecycle has become the critical differentiator in today's global marketplace. However, you may be surprised to find how much of an impact content can have on the customer and how it can guide the buyer's purchase decision. It can either win over a lifetime's worth of wallet-share or alienate a customer completely.
Content marketing needs to be customer-centric, which means taking a holistic view. Don't just describe products, features, and benefits-show value. Share useful experiences to inform, entertain, and engage the customer. In an age when customers have access to vast amounts of data about your company and its competitors, the value of delivering content rich experiences can develop emotional connections that translate into loyalty and advocacy. Here are six strategies to start developing an effective, sustainable customer-centric content strategy.
Recognize Your Customer Issues and How Your Brand Solves the Problem
When a customer has an issue, where do they go? Online. This may be through an internet search or going directly to a brand's website. They're there to look for answers - also known as "content." Relevant content is key to helping customers gather the insights and information to overcome their challenges. This means marketers need to create content that is meant to help customers, not sell to them. Providing useful content that resonates can build trust - an essential element if you plan to sell anything - and ultimately elevate you as a thought leader in your industry.
Check the Data Behind It
In this era of Big Data, it's more important than ever to understand user behavior to create actionable content. Many brands are spending way too much time generating reports when they should be focused on gathering the insights they need to make quick and confident data-driven decisions with their customers in mind. Technology has evolved to the point where you can collect, track, and use data from implicit and explicit sources. We have seen a positive result for our clients through social monitoring and analysis, linguistic modeling, and simple analytics. Adopting a data-driven strategy ensures that the work of writers, editors, designers, and developers is optimized to generate the right customer-centric behavior.
Always Listen and Learn
Now, more than ever, it's essential for brands to listen to customers across all media channels. There is a growing expectation that good customer experience should feel effortless and personalized. Personalization, which boosts relevancy, is a prerequisite for catching customers' attention and making them feel that you care about their needs. Social listening can give real-time access to what your audience is talking about, sharing, and consuming. This allows marketers and content strategists to better craft high-quality, customer-centric content more effectively.
We All Have to Work Together
How important is customer experience in your company? Are you making great strides to personalize your content and address customers' biggest frustrations? Do you have a customer-first culture? Many companies are still working in silos and are not structured to interact and discuss the main issue - the customer. Some marketers are solely focused on selling programs or products. They're developing content without the end user in mind. Teams must learn to unite and execute programs based on customer experiences through all aspects of their marketing, including creative, social, email, and content creation. For example, marketing and customer support teams should be aligned because both sides can learn quite a bit from one another. If there's a collaboration on customer issues, marketers can proactively produce content to address customer needs. The benefits of integrating efforts can transform regular customers into proud customer advocates.
Look at All Content Channels Whether Online or Offline
Content is all around us and plays a significant part in purchasing decisions. Building a community online and offline of useful content requires patience and understanding. But those brands that embrace this approach are better equipped to provide meaningful, relevant information to their audiences where and when they need it. Companies can be more effective if they understand how, when, and where people want to engage. There is an opportunity to build strong relationships through all channels if we understand the impact on the user experience. Can they find what they are looking for? Is it convenient? What's their mobile and online experience? Answering these questions can be a strategic asset that is essential to business success.
Keep it Fresh
Continuing to keep your content current, relevant, and informative will lead to a steady distribution of content that resonates. Doing so can nurture a community of people who follow your content updates and regularly engage. A helpful tactic is to conceptualize your website and social media as something to be "experienced." Your content should answer the basic question "Am I giving customers details they need to make a purchasing decision?" Providing consistent and compelling content will help to build awareness and create preference for your brand.
The more brands understand the value of customer-centric content and the need to dedicate time, effort, and resources to creating it, the better they will be at exceeding customer expectation and gaining a competitive advantage.