Note: The following post is an overview of the presentation given at SMX West 2017. The full presentation can also be downloaded here.
One of the things I love the most about marketing is the psychology behind it. I love the fact that words and colors impact decision-making, that different people behave different ways, that technology is changing the landscape, and that we are always having to rethink what we are doing to reach our customer.
Needless to say, when I saw the “customer” track at SMX West, I was really excited. I was excited to learn what other people had to say and I was excited to be able to talk about how customers should be the basis for any content marketing program. Specifically, I was excited to talk about how content can help take the customer through the buyer journey.
Because think about it: We go on journeys every day, from small decisions like what we are going to eat for breakfast to bigger decisions like what car we are going to buy. And, for marketers, and specifically for search and content marketers, we need to be continuously thinking about our customers and how they are making decisions:
- What are they doing to get to that decision?
- Where are they going to find the information leading to their decisions?
- What type of content are they using to help them make a decision?
As we start to figure that out, we have to create content that actually addresses their wants and needs and make sure it’s located in the places they are looking.
What are those needs?
To find what our customers need, we can guess, or we can turn to the age-old tradition of keyword research. Keyword research is essential and it’s really the core of any search or content marketing program.
Haven’t performed keyword research in a while? Here are a few resources:
- Keyword SWOT analysis: Finding your content opportunities
- How To Prioritize Your List of SEO Keyword Research
- How to Generate New Keyword Lists and Ideas
But I digress. When thinking about our customer needs, we want to look at keyword research, but not in the traditional sense. Using our core keywords, we want to understand what QUESTIONS people are asking.
With search queries generally becoming longer, voice search on the rise, and consumer expectations rising, we see answer boxes popping up left and right. People have questions and search engines want to give them answers.
To find these questions, I turn to these four primary tools:
Each of these tools offers data in a different way but allows us to identify the questions people are asking around specific topics and keyword themes. By understanding what people are asking, we can identify if 1) If we have the answer, and 2) If we are presenting it correctly.
Which takes me to the next point…
Where our customers are asking these questions?
Consumers aren’t just spending all their time on Google. Which means we can’t create a content strategy that only captures search traffic. We have to consider search, social, video, chat, etc.
If we go back to our tools we looked at earlier, FAQFox and Bloomberry will show us the places people are asking the questions. We can also use BuzzSumo.
We talk about BuzzSumo a lot here on the KoMarketing blog, mainly because it’s awesome. But, in this case, BuzzSumo can show us where people are talking about particular topics.
Along with third party data, we can also take a look at our own data to see where our audience is engaging. Using Google Analytics, we can see:
- Where are referrals coming from?
- Which networks are driving shares?
And of course, we have competitors:
- Where are competitors being mentioned?
- What questions are people asking about their products?
- Are they being asked questions on social? What?
- What are they showing up for in search?
There are a number of places to obtain competitive data from but we primarily use the following tools:
But there’s more…
If we are trying to answer our customers’ questions, we also may need to think about places like TripAdvisor, Yelp, G2Crowd. Because not only are people asking questions there, those sites are showing up in search results.
Understanding our data to identify gaps
When content marketers are just starting out and you tell them they need to spend time looking at data, they typically aren’t psyched. After all, writing comes from creativity. Yes, but…
The data we collect allows us to make more informed content decisions. It allows us to determine what our customers want, what they need, and most importantly, it helps us figure out the content we need to take them through the buyer journey.
Analyzing your data
After you’ve collected all your data, it’s time to start mapping it to the customer journey itself. Take your questions, channels, existing content, search result data, competitive data and start laying it out.
By mapping your data to the funnel, you can immediately see where your weaknesses lie.
Creating a customer-driven content marketing strategy can be tricky. After all, we can have different goals, departments may be pulling us in different directions, and resources can be scare.
The key however is to remember this – your customers need content to make decisions and it’s up to us as marketers to give it to them. Ensuring you are giving them the right content is crucial and it starts by understanding what questions they actually are asking.
You can find the full presentation below: