Synopsis — Content marketing has always been a key part of online marketing, but is even more important today, as search engines refine their evaluation of quality content and implement ranking changes based on those evaluations. But there is another aspect of content marketing that you need to not lose sight of in your efforts to improve the quality of your online content — the importance of keeping the needs and wishes of your customers primary as you develop content on your website.
In her article, “Boosting Content Marketing’s Effectiveness With Consumer Insights,” Viji Davis discusses six tips for leveraging consumer insights to improve your content marketing efforts. By integrating the substance of these tips into your content marketing plans, you can enhance your ability to maximize the effectiveness of the content you work so hard to develop and implement.
The complete article follows …
Boosting Content Marketing’s Effectiveness With Consumer Insights
There’s no doubt, content is king today. But is all content created equal? Hardly. To boost the efficacy of a content program, marketers should incorporate customer insights into their strategy. Let’s take a look at how.
Understanding The Value Of Content Marketing
By now, most marketers realize the role content marketing plays on the web. Long gone are the days when just having content on your website was sufficient. Today, brands need to be publishers — creating and distributing great content online, far beyond their own domain. Doing so provides marketers with numerous benefits beyond what they derive from an SEO perspective. A good content program enables marketers to reach their target audience at all points during their consumer journey. Providing relevant content along the path will allow a direct connection with consumers when they are engaged, letting marketers demonstrate their thought leadership and expertise on a topic, drive leads, and help convert leads into customers.
How Customer Insights Aid Content Marketing
In order for a content marketing program to accomplish its objective, it needs to contain material that will resonate with its target audience and foster user engagement. In other words, marketers need to ensure that the content they are developing speaks directly to their intended audience. By understanding the digital consumer, marketers can provide meaningful content along the consumer journey. By leveraging consumer insights, marketers can initiate a strategy that creates the relevant content consumers are looking for. Doing so is a critical step, and one that essentially acts as an insurance policy to ensure the investment you are making in content development will pay off. Ultimately, incorporating consumer insights can greatly boost the effectiveness of a content marketing program.
Leveraging Customer Insights For Better Content Marketing
To get the most out of your content marketing program, incorporate customer insights into your strategy. These six tips should help you do just that:
1. Understand the Differences — Quite often, the language used by your target audience differs by audience segment (demo, preferences, etc.). Given that, gaining an understanding of these differences can greatly influence the effectiveness of a content marketing strategy. By leveraging customer insights, you can augment your marketing message and targeting strategies to ensure that the target audience is reached at the right time, in the right location, and in the right way.
To get the job done, gather customer insights from third-party research tools, including Google Insights, comScore, Hitwise, etc. Use these customer insights to build out specific user experiences, including messaging, creative, and website experience to ensure you target audiences that have a higher affinity for your products and services. During this process, build specific tests to understand which audience performs the most desired actions. With web analytics tracking enabled, monitor audience engagement and analyze how your audiences are consuming the content provided. This should become an ongoing test, learn, and optimize loop.
2. Behavior Matters — A consumer’s digital experience is so much more than just surfing the web at work or at home. Today’s consumer is always connected, and their online behavior has evolved along with technology. To be successful online, marketers need to be able to connect with consumers when they’re seeking information. Fortunately, your content marketing program can help you do exactly that. However, it is important to incorporate an understanding of your target audience’s unique search behaviors, especially since they are becoming more search-savvy and tapping into many different outlets (search, social media, etc.) to find and digest their information.
A number of tools can help you gain insight into consumer search behavior. Google Ad Planner can definitely shed some light on this. In addition, you might want to also leverage Quantcast or comScore for additional insights. The YouTube keyword suggestion tool is another resource to help you see how consumers interact with media content. Yahoo! Clues provides demographic data based on a given term (or you can even compare different ones). This tool enables you to drill down into certain categories, location, date range, age, and gender. It also provides previous/next queries around the given search term in addition to related searches. Use these tools to research your target audience, identify where you can reach them, and create a content marketing strategy to connect with them along their consumer journey.
3. Break Down the Silos — Many marketers look at digital channels as separate entities, but doing so can cause you to overlook important customer insights with the potential to boost the effectiveness of your content marketing program. For example, paid search campaigns represent a virtual treasure trove of customer insights. Specifically, ad copy testing can quickly help you determine the phrases (e.g., call to action, benefits, value propositions) that draw a consumer’s attention and drive them to action.
To get the most out of ad copy testing for this purpose, your test should include a hypothesis, timeline, and strategy, and be inclusive of high-volume keywords and buying cycle considerations (e.g., path and time to convert). In addition, be sure to only test one variable at a time to ensure test results are accurate. Remember to use third-party tools that show conversions at the ad level. Leverage learnings from your paid search programs and roll out to other programs that may take longer to optimize and/or gather learnings, such as SEO or traditional media.
4. Think Outside the Box — Research is at the root of developing a robust content marketing program. Understanding how keywords are related to each other and the ways consumers search via a semantic map can play a big role in helping your content marketing program do its job better. One way to leverage it for this purpose is by expanding and testing new keyword ideas — ones that are a tad different from what is typically associated with your brand. For example, a one-way car rental service that is trying to build brand awareness might want to tap into airport/taxi-related terms.
Recognizing that products and services are referenced in a variety of ways online will allow you to think creatively about new keywords and help you identify new ways to increase audience reach and build brand awareness. To employ this strategy, start by researching how audiences search for your products and services, how you traditionally reference these products and services, and how your competitors reference the same. Understand the relationships and develop a keyword list for alternative services/solutions. Once you determine which alternative solutions resonate with consumers and get the best response, incorporate these insights into your content marketing program.
5. Put Your Dynamic Duo to Work — Beer and pizza. Milk and cookies. Batman and Robin. Some things just naturally go together and are better when combined. Social media and paid media fall into that same category. A recent comScore study found that clickthrough rates increased by 94% when consumers were exposed to both brand-specific search results and social media. The duo can help you build brand familiarity amongst users, increase consumer interaction, and identify which message has the highest user engagement. In turn, you can leverage this information to drive your content marketing program.
To make it happen, start integrating social media assets into your paid media campaigns today. For example, tap into any of your existing video content across your social media properties and put it to work in YouTube sponsored video campaigns. For all your integrated efforts, be sure to use a consistent ‘look and feel’ and messaging.
6. Realize It’s Not All About You — Even though your brand/product might be great, chances are that your consumers have a life beyond it. Given that, you should strive to understand the other things they are interested in. Gaining an understanding of this information will help your digital marketing strategy in many ways, including developing effective content outreach efforts.
To start your investigation, use Google Ad Planner as the primary data source to identify the types of sites that have the most reach for your audience. Google has a very large dataset to work with, and unlike many other tools, allows a marketer to sort websites by an ‘affinity score,’ which is essentially how closely the site is tied to the parameters you set. In addition, Google categorizes these sites, which is really the wheelhouse of the data set. Finding the commonalities among these categories is a very powerful way of understanding what subjects are of the most interest to your users. For instance, you may find that your target consumer also has an unusually high affinity for golf. Marketers can use this information to understand a range of characteristics (e.g., keywords searched on, demographics, geographics, psychographics) to market to their customers along a consumer journey.
Overall, content marketing can play a vital role in filling the sales pipeline for a business, as it can drive leads and help convert prospects into customers. To boost its efficacy, smart marketers will be sure to incorporate customer insights into their content marketing efforts. Doing so will drive user engagement and boost the overall effectiveness of your content marketing program.