How Your Customers can Help You Create a Better Content Strategy

According to a recent Moz & BuzzSumo’s study, 50% of articles get two or no tweets, while 75% of posts have zero inbound links. Moreover, I bet many marketers would love to see greater engagement with the email newsletters they send. All this ultimately results in fewer leads that marketing activity generates, which makes us marketers keep on searching for ways to create content that correlates with our audience.

In what follows, I want to talk about how marketers can get and use insights to improve their content marketing efforts in the B2B space.

All this is motivated by the fact that producing engaging content is the #1 challenge for B2B marketers.

Source: Content Marketing Institute

Let’s cut straight to the chase and look at some useful tips that will inform your marketing strategy and set it on the right course:

Tip #1. Narrow down your market

Sometimes, marketing efforts fail to show results because the set targeted market is too big and the audience is too large, with a broad range of interests.

Here is an example of how this would translate in the content marketing space.

Say you’re trying to get published on Entrepreneur.com in an attempt to reach medium eCommerce owners. But there are two main issues: first, it might cost you a solid budget and a lot of time. Second, Entrepreneur’s audience is very much dispersed in terms of interests. As such, a more viable alternative would be to choose a niche specific blog that’s easier to outreach to, that gets you published faster, and holds much higher chances of evoking interest in potential leads.

Here are just a few examples of sites that could easily replace Entrepreneur.com in the example above:

newsgento

This is also the reason why Twitter recommends you to avoid choosing very popular accounts when you select similar target audiences for an advertising campaign.

Tip #2. Learn your audience’s habits

When I talk to our sales team about the social media habits of our clients who are business owners of small and medium enterprises, I frequently hear that our customers don’t hang out on Facebook or Twitter much. Indeed, Twitter is a platform for news junkies, or those who are more in the marketing field (from my experience). Facebook is overwhelmed with posts and information, and many people want to follow their friends and relatives for updates, meaning not everyone is willing to go on Facebook for business related issues.

Perhaps this is one reason why LinkedIn proves to be more effective. This study by the Wall Street Journal shares some statistics according to which small business owners perceive LinkedIn as the social media platform with the greatest potential to help their company.

use vs usefulness

For our team, where the target audience is comprised of small and medium online business owners, LinkedIn shows good results. LinkedIn is among the largest referrals to our blog and the top networks where our guest posts are shared.

Top sources of traffic for one of Promodo’s blog posts.
Top sources of traffic for one of Promodo’s blog posts.
Buzzsumo’s report on social platforms where Promodo’s guest post has been shared the most.
Buzzsumo’s report on social platforms where Promodo’s guest post has been shared the most.

Check if your business customers are of the same type. If it is true, each time you post on LinkedIn, monitor users who like or share your content, check their profiles and connect with them. This could be an easy and soft start for potential partnership or dialogue.

Tip #3. Cover multiple topics

Be the source of quality information for topics a little bit beyond your main business specialization. In other words, your audience can be narrow, but the range of topics that interests them is wider.

If you cover a more comprehensive list of topics, you will become an ultimate source of useful information for online entrepreneurs in the niche. This will result in more traffic to your site/blog and higher audience interest.

Getting back to eCommerce owners, a great example of a blog that serves this particular audience’s needs is Shopify’s blog. More than anything else, they cover online marketing-related issues, but they also dig deeply into neighboring issues and become very helpful in the niche. It is therefore no wonder that one of their most linked-to posts is The Ultimate DIY Guide to Beautiful Product Photography, where they offer a very detailed description of how to choose the best camera and edit the photos you take with it.

Ahrefs report on top Shopify’s blog posts by number of backlinks.
Ahrefs report on top Shopify’s blog posts by number of backlinks.

Tip #4. Ask questions

The best way to learn what your customers want is to ask them directly.

Here’s a quote from Charlie Williams, who recently spoke at #BrightonSEO and said the following:

How do we create content that actually serves our audience’s needs? … A question is the most powerful force in the world.

So it comes down to the fact that you if want to be relevant, you need to keep on talking to your target audience and ask questions.

Let’s consider the trick that Groove shares in GrowthHack’s newsletter:

You can’t have good copy without first doing the work to understand your customers. Much of the copy on our site now came directly from our customers’ mouths in our conversations with them, and that’s why it converts: because it speaks their language, not ours. […] To understand their language we send an email to every new customer simply asking them why they signed up.

Here are some ideas on whom you can talk to:

Loyal customers: Use polls and send them via emails, or talk directly over the phone with people whose loyalty and sympathy you have already won.

Early adopters: This is in case you are producing some kind of innovative product or technology. Your biggest fans are the greatest source of insights and real, valuable feedback.

Sales and project managers: These people are in direct contact with your clients. They know what question or problem made the client search for your company, and what issues interest them the most during the negotiation process.

For better insight on how to ask questions during audience research, and what questions to address, check out this post by Harriet Cummings.

Tip #5. Listen to your consumers

Question-based forums are great places to visit if you want to learn your consumers’ language and know what is on the top of their minds.

These days, almost every niche has forums where people hang out and talk about issues that interest them. If you haven’t found forums for your niche yet, try SimilarTech, a very useful tool which shows the most popular technologies in every niche. If your area is eCommerce, you can find technologies that are popular in this niche and check whether there are any communities built around the most used technologies or eCommerce platforms.

SimilarTech

If that won’t work, there are always alternatives, like the communities on Reddit, LinkedIn groups, Quora, industry associations, or boards. Once you’re ready to become active in an online discussion group or community, it’s important to know a few rules and tricks that will make your time spent there worthwhile. You can check out this post for some great rules on how to participate in B2B social forums to generate results for your business.

In conclusion, there are a lot of things you can do to improve your content strategy if you pay attention to where your target audience hangs out, what they’re talking about, and how they’re saying it. The five tips and tricks above are not foolproof in any way, but if applied correctly, can bring a lot of positive results.

Do you have any other experiences or tips to share? Add to an ongoing conversation about content strategy by leaving a comment with your story!

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.

Author: Elena Ruchko

Elena Ruchko, is the International Marketing Manager at Promodo. Enthusiastic about SEO, content marketing and eCommerce, she is also contributor to eCommerce forums with free SEO tips and site reviews. In her spare time she organizes local events for the IT community and start-ups in her hometown.

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