You’ve read all the advice. You’ve started a corporate blog or a branded content hub. Then you published a ton of articles that run the gamut from your company’s response to the news story du jour to how your new gadget works.
Then – crickets. It might be tough hearing it – but just publishing blog articles isn’t enough. You need to publish more of the kind of high quality content that your audience wants. Here’s how to know when you’re on the right track.
- First, identify your customers’ needs. Then, map out the buyer’s journey.
- Create content for every step of the buyer’s journey.
- Turn customers into advocates after the sale with content that helps them get the most mileage out of your product or service.
First, Zero In on Your Customer’s Needs
If you start with last night’s newscast for your inspiration, you’re already on the wrong track. Sure, timely insights make you aware of the world outside your company. A world that affects your customers.
However, if your insights have little to do with your customers’ needs, you’d be better off turning off the news and updating your customer personas. You do have them, don’t you?
The key to successful content marketing is always – and always will be – understanding your customers’ needs. If you haven’t created customer personas yet or need to update ones you already have, use this easy-peasy “recipe” from GetCRM to cook up your own:
Now that you know what makes your customers tick, zero in on their needs. Laser-focus on those needs that you can meet with your expertise, products, and services. That needs to be the axle around which all your content marketing turns.
Look at Every Stage of Their Buyer’s Journey
Take a deeper dive into your target customers’ needs to understand what types of content they need at each stage of their buyer’s journey. Jot down ideas to pencil in on your content calendar.
At any one moment, your blog has readers who are at every stage of their customer journey. Plan to publish at least two posts per month for customers at each stage.
We’ve found that most companies don’t spend enough time and effort at the earlier stages of the customer journey. At this stage, people are only doing research.
Capture them during this time with content that answers all their questions. With such a content marketing strategy, you’ll be well ahead of your competitors.
The Buyer’s Research Phase
During the early phases of the buyer’s journey, as Yoast’s Jono Alderson points out, people need more than a standard blog post – they need resources.
- Tools your target customers can use to better their businesses or their lives
- Comprehensive sources of information that can help customers research topics around their needs
- How-to videos or illustrated guides that help them solve a problem or tackle an unfamiliar task
- Answers to the questions they ask relating to your field of expertise
The best thing about taking the time to hunt down the information your target customers need and working them into blog posts they’ll want to bookmark? It’s an SEO superpower.
Here’s why. With Google’s new bent toward natural language searches, content that answers questions beats those optimized around your brand’s pet keywords six ways from Sunday, as Alderson shows.
For example, let’s look at how this works for an accountant trying to make a name for herself in a Midwestern city. Instead of her usual blogs optimized for “accountant in Milwaukee,” she takes our advice. She creates a resource that lists some legal tax breaks that most small businesses aren’t aware of. She titles it “How Can I Know If a Tax Deduction is Legal?”
Not only does she grab Position Zero (the first thing searchers see when they type in a query), she also quadruples her reputation in her field.
Small business owners who never even heard of her before are ringing her phone off the hook to thank her for the resource. They share it with their colleagues, friends, and family – and soon, her website traffic shoots toward the moon.
Some of those businesses – strapped for time as tax season looms closer – hire her to do their taxes. They tell their colleagues, who tell their colleagues…and…you get the picture. That’s the power of providing a resource that solves a problem for your target customers.
Even though Alderson advises using a block-style page editor to give your resource a slick format, it’s not necessary. Just break up your text with some related visual elements, such as images, videos, or infographics.
The Comparison Stage
After you’ve established yourself as a major player in your niche, some of those target customers who decide that they need what you sell will begin the comparison process. They usually have some of your competitors on their list and will weigh what you have to offer against them.
Or, they might compare the costs and benefits of solving their problem on their own against hiring you or one of your competitors. Either way, they’re seriously considering doing business with you.
Here’s where you might want to send personalized, targeted content to decision-makers at your B2B customers’ offices. Called account-based marketing, this strategy has proven to work for companies bold enough to try it.
White papers, detailed, long-form blog posts, and case studies, too, can tell the story about how your products or services have helped solve your customers’ problems. These long-form pieces can showcase your expertise, positioning you as a thought leader in your field.
Explainer and how-to videos featuring your product or service work equally well for B2B and B2C customers. Hero’s journey stories that put your customer – not your product – in the cape and tights can also help drive decisions your way.
The Buying Stage
For B2B customers, a free trial or in-person consultation can point out all the ways that your product or service can help them solve their problems and make more money. Detailed brochures and videos that lay out the ROI and other benefits that will come their way are also beneficial.
Whether B2B or B2C, customers want to know that you stand behind your product. Content that details the support process in easy-to-follow steps can assure potential customers that you won’t let them down once the sale happens.
Here’s where employee-generated content can really earn its pay. The trust factor is way higher when content comes from the employees who make and service your product. At this stage more than any other, trust is a critical ingredient of success.
The After-Sale Stage
Too many marketers leave communication at this point to the customer service team. Big mistake. Instead, publish content that helps customers get the most mileage out of their product or service.
Documents and videos that demonstrate troubleshooting, too, can help build customer loyalty. Use customer questions as the basis for blog posts, FAQ updates, and how-to videos.
The more you encourage your customers to maximize the value they get from your products, the more likely they’ll be to recommend you to their colleagues, friends, and families. Turning customers into advocates through quality content will start the journey all over again for a new cadre of buyers.
The Right Content at the Right Time – Your Sweet Spot for Success
When you publish content that helps people at each stage of their journey, you won’t have any trouble hitting that “sweet spot” for content marketing ROI: at least two to four times a week. It’s all about getting the right content into the right hands at the right time.
If you are ready to get more traffic to your site with quality content for each stage in the buyer journey, check out our Content Builder Service. With targeted posts published consistently, you’ll see an uptick in results!