Understanding your audience is vital to effective content marketing.
After all, how can you create content that resonates with your potential buyers, if you don’t know what makes them tick? What challenges they’re dealing with? Where they live and what sort of resources they’re working with?
Still, getting to know your customers is easier said than done. With hundreds of channels, platforms and devices competing for their attention and a market rife with competitors, it can often be hard to find them – let alone sit down for a heart-to-heart.
A few years ago, we came up with some creative ways to really get to know your audience. While some of our suggestions are still effective today (talking with your customer service team will never get old), we’ve come up with a few even better ways to understand buyers in the current digital landscape. Here are our favorites:
1. Social listening.
Tuning into social media chatter is vital if you want to stay on top of customer trends and preferences. Set up alerts for mentions of your brand name, products, services and even your competitors, and assign a designated person to monitor this chatter with content production in mind. What blogs, articles or white papers could address the concerns or questions that are coming up? What videos or webinars does there seem to be a demand for?
You’ll also want to work with your social managers who handle the day-to-day tweeting, Facebooking and Instagramming. They have one-on-one interactions with your customers and can give you deep insights into what content those buyers really like and resonate with best. Use these to guide future content strategy and production efforts toward success.
2. Quizzes and surveys.
Sending out automated surveys, questionnaires and feedback forms are great ways to get info straight from your customers – but you have to make it worth their while. Consider offering an incentive like a discount code or coupon for taking part or, if this isn’t an option, try the stealthy route: format your survey like a fun Buzzfeed quiz. Tell them their fortune or which “Friends” character they are by asking questions about their demographics, interests and preferences. They’ll have fun taking the quiz, and you’ll get your customer insights. It’s a win-win for everyone. Just make sure you include a disclaimer about your intentions with the data (for legal/ethical purposes).
3. Following industry publications, blogs and other content resources.
There are lots of reasons to follow publications, blogs, newsletters and other content hubs in your space (including your competitors’). For one, it gives you an idea of what your customers like to read and learn about. What topics are those resources always covering? Which ones seem to be getting traction on social media? Could you add something to the conversation? Often, it can be hard to pinpoint what content is really resonating with consumers, but tech like the Story platform can help. Offering real-time insights into your content and how it’s performing across all sites and placements, it’s a great way to tune in to your customers’ preferences content-wise. It will even adjust your content’s placements based on performance and engagement.
Remember, your audience (and the digital landscape) is constantly changing, so the job is never done. Stay tuned to social media, subscribe to all the industry newsletters and email lists you can, and constantly watch your data and metrics as you go about content production. The better you understand your audience – as well as the places, devices and websites they prefer – the more effective your content strategy will be on the whole.
Want to find out how Story can help you learn more about your audience, optimize your content to their needs and distribute it in the most effective channels possible? Contact us today.
Aly J. Yale is a longtime freelance writer and content marketer from Houston. She specializes in digital marketing, content strategy and SEO topics. View her portfolio at AlyJYale.com or connect with her on Twitter at @AlyJwriter.
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