These days, you’d be hard pressed to navigate very far on the web without encountering the term “content is king.” From the smallest mom and pop shops to major corporations, most businesses have a content strategy — or at least, they think they do. But just updating the blog every couple of months or reposting other people’s content won’t make much of a dent into today’s flooded content market. To really develop a killer content strategy and grow that bottom line (which is really all that content marketing is about), it’s important to take the time both to really get to know your potential customer and to get creative in your approach for capturing those eyes.
So, how to go about all of this? Let’s take a look at a few strategies.
Identifying Your Audience’s Wants and Needs
Knowing what your audience wants and needs means, well, knowing your audience. To do that, a little old school sleuthing will be necessary. Start by interviewing a sample of your current customers, sending out surveys or polls, networking with your target audience, following potential customers on social media sites and analyzing their feeds, and otherwise conducting more traditional demographic and psychographic research.
From there, one of the best ways to determine the wants and needs of that audience you’ve just defined is to do a little keyword research. This will help you determine just what your intended audience is searching for, so that you can produce content that better anticipates their searches. The best (and simplest) way to do keyword research is to use Google’s keyword tool, which allows you to enter terms related to your business or industry and see the similar searches customers are conducting along with a ranking of how competitive each term is. This is a great way both to refine the keywords on your site (though be careful not to overuse them, as you don’t want the search engines to penalize you) and to spark content ideas you may not have otherwise considered. Pair this with industry knowledge, your own experiences with customers, and customers’ feedback, and you’ll have an excellent sense of just what customers want to see.
But don’t breathe that sigh of relief just yet. Now that you know who your potential customers are and what they want, you’ve got to deliver content to them in a unique, engaging and compelling manner — a feat that requires a little creativity in terms of strategy to get you beyond that basic, repetitive blogpost. Here are just a few ways to mix it up.
Chances are, your company has its fair share of competitors. One of the best ways to distinguish yourself is by establishing your expertise and proving your success. For that, case studies are just the thing, as they allow the customer to get an inside glimpse into just how your company works, what kind of results you get, and what it’s like to work with you without actually having to invest.
Amazon’s case study center is an excellent example of case studies done right. With each study, the company highlights a different feature of what they offer, whether that’s “Flash Sales and Scalable ecommerce” or “Direct to Consumer Retail”. The case studies are in-depth, analytical, and chock full of data and examples that prove the company’s effectiveness and credibility. However, if you don’t have the resources to do something so in-depth, a casual customer case study written more like a story with photos or infographics can have just the same effect, as long as it’s done well.
Offer Free Tools
Another great strategy is to offer potential customers free resources — tools especially. This gets customers on your site and has the added benefit of keeping them there, while again establishing your usefulness, your expertise, and the ways in which you’re relevant to your potential customer.
A great example of this is MetaCDN’s site speed test. As the name implies, MetaCDN is a Content Distributed Network on which users with high network demands can host their sites for faster and more powerful processing and greater site uptime. As such, this tool is a fun and interactive way to see how their own sites could be improved while also learning about hosting with the company. It’s marketing that doesn’t feel like marketing because it’s useful along the way.
Make Potential Customers Feel Like Insiders
Customers want to feel like they’re insiders both with your company and with your industry at large, and making them feel special can go a long way. To stay on top of the latest developments in your industry, set up Google Alerts for industry-specific terms, and either blog about the latest and the greatest developments or repost them on your social media feeds.
Helping potential customers feel like they’re a part of your company (and therefore, like they’d one day want to give you their business) again means knowing who your customer is and what they like. Car enthusiasts, for instance, certainly enjoyed learning all about how the Pontiac Solstice made it from concept to showroom in 18 months, while Disney enthusiasts enjoy getting a glimpse of the exclusive Club 33 at Disneyland. You could create the same kind of insider feel by having an employee produce a video diary inside the offices for the day, or revealing peek preview photos of a new product only to those on the mailing list. Make potential customers feel in the know and special to your company, and they’re far more likely to convert.
No matter what approaches you take, there’s one thing you HAVE to do…
Make it Scannable
Whether you’re producing a full-out blogpost or a longer video description, you’ve got to know how users read the web and format accordingly. That means organizing your text clearly into scannable chunks with bolded headings (hey, kind of like this article) and providing plenty of bullets or numbered lists when necessary. And while you’re at it, few interesting photos can’t hurt things either. Web visitors process things quickly and visually, so throw them a bone once in a while.
Giving potential customers the information they want means both getting to know them inside and out, anticipating their needs before they even know they’re there, and packaging that information in a creative and engaging manner. Take the time to do this research ahead of time, measuring the results along the way, and you’ll have a tight, compelling and effective campaign on your hands.
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Rob Toledo is Outreach Coordinator at Distilled, aka marketing coordinator with experience heavily focused online. Technologically driven, with a love for SEO, outreach, link building, content creation, conversion rate optimization, advertising, copywriting, graphic design, SEO, SEM, CRO, Google Analytics, social media, creative content…you get the picture. He blogs at stenton toledo