Content marketing is meant to give your company a voice. Its purpose is to let your customers and your prospects understand that you possess expertise in your industry that other companies simply don't have. It can drive home the value that you deliver for your customers, it can strategically increase your search optimization efforts, and in certain cases, it can fix a broken sales pipeline.
In today's hyper-digital world, there is a growing importance placed upon customer focused content marketing efforts. However, digital marketing experts around the world forget the most important aspect of their content marketing, that is, their customers.
Content marketing must be created for your customers, and it must be valuable to truly be effective. Jay Baer, of Convince and Convert, said it best: content without value is just a brochure.
To have a customer-focused approach to content marketing, you need to:
- Truly understand your customers
- Understand & prioritize what needs to be done
- Don't dwell (too much) on the details
- Keep your SEO authentic
Getting to Know Your Customer(s)
When was the last time that you asked your customers how you were doing when it relates to their goals? (Emails don't count.)
Instead of speculating about what information your leads want to see, ask your customer what made your company stand out. What motivated them to enquire about your services? What problems were they facing before you joined the campaign? Uncovering the motivations of your customers will help you understand broader challenges that they face, which will help you see gaps in your current content marketing strategy.
If a client was motivated to sign with you due to your need for a customized partnership instead of only paying for a vendor, it is up to you to recognize the opportunity to add that into your company's content. You don't need to reinvent the wheel with a detailed explanation of your services. Simply mention how each project is tailor-made to meet the unique requirements of each customer, and look for opportunities to pepper that detail into other content pieces, as necessary.
Lastly, reaching out to your customers to obtain feedback on how you're meeting their needs is a great account management tip.
Don't Get Ahead of Yourself
Content marketing does not produce immediate results, and it's best to work at a realistic pace. It takes time to understand what was and was not effective.
I remember Ann Hadley, of MarketingProfs, make the claim that some content marketers don't work slow enough. This might seem like a counter-intuitive approach since we live in such an interconnected and fast world. However, it's not about the mere aspect of slowing down. It's more important to slow down at the right moment, and with the right things.
The truth is, in a fast-paced business world, slowing down just might be that the best way to tackle your content marketing needs. Take time to pump the brakes and determine the objective of your content. Evaluate whether or not your content will fulfill its objective. Even more, ask one of your colleagues to review your content and ask for some feedback.
Of course, being too slow can be incredibly detrimental to your bottom line. Make sure to slow down to analyze and evaluate if your campaigns are meeting the goals that you've set. This period of analysis can last for as long as it takes to find a significant win for your customers.
Remember, content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. The only way to understand if a piece of content is compelling is to slow down and spend the necessary amount of time analyzing it.
"Perfect" Content is Unrealistic
I hate to break it to you, but you have a higher likelihood of getting struck by lightning than winning a Pulitzer Prize from your content marketing.
Every piece of content should have an objective associated with it. For example, a blog post is likely to educate website visitors while an eBook might generate leads and display expertise. This content is not meant to be the best possible eBook currently on the market; it is meant to work as a tool that nurtures prospective customers.
If you're going through excessive rounds of revisions, then you're detracting from your overall production capability. There is little to no value gained from wordsmithing a content piece.
Make sure your customers understand that fact. Content marketing is meant to give your company a voice, and that voice should deliver some value for the best results.
Now, it's important to note that I'm not saying that the details aren't important. Digital marketing is all about the details. There are simply more essential things than word choice and diction. For example, it's imperative that your landing pages for one of your offers have alt-text, meta descriptions, and optimized keywords. It's far less important to list out how your offer will benefit the prospect.
If your customer is dragging behind by requesting more than two or three rounds of revisions on content, it will be worth your time if you take the time to explain how that harms the company's overall content marketing efforts.
Don't Force Your SEO
Search engine optimization is a huge part of content marketing.
Notice how I said that it's a "part"? Content marketing and SEO have to be separate from each other to deliver the most value.
Keyword rankings are important. Ultimately, they help you become found on search engines. However, SEO has evolved. Gone are the days where a company can list out all locations they serve on all their pages. You can no longer list out random keywords that you'd like to rank for. Instead, your keywords are the most effective when they appear authentically in your content marketing.
It's also important to understand the power of long-tail keywords. These are longer keywords that are more of a phrase than normal keywords. For example, instead of using just "content marketing" as a keyword, a long-tail keyword would be more like "customer focused content marketing."
While your customers' prospects are unlikely to understand why a keyword is appearing, it does look lazy. There are better and more authentic ways to incorporate keywords into your content. It's up to you to figure out how.
Overall, content marketing is a cost-effective way to generate leads, to increase your search engine rank, and to display your firm's credibility.
For the best results from your content marketing, it's best to understand your customers by creating buyer personas that cover the motivations and pain points of your target audience. Be mindful of the amount of time it takes to determine your content's success, and don't get stuck making excessive rounds of revisions when your time could be better spent somewhere else.
Need some content marketing inspiration? Head over to our blog for thought-provoking articles on all aspects of digital marketing, or download our buyer persona workbook to obtain a better look at your ideal customers.